Entry 32 – 27 September 1829 Next day had incessant hard rain nearly all day. We pushed on to get over the Little White River. Got very wet. Crossed the river easily. A fine stream nearly the same size as Big White River. Roads very muddy after the rain. The country between the forks of the White is level, a part of it is good land but part is barren. Encamped at Purcells, road and country level; many movers.
Entry 33 – 28 September 1829 Next day came through Vincennes, a beautifully situated town, on the bank of the Wabash, with a number of fine brick houses and some miserable old French dwellings. Here we obtained the first sight of a beautiful prairie, a noble sight. The Wabash is a fine stream, smooth, gentle and magnificent. Crossed on a good ferry, a decent ferryman. Ferriage $1.62-1/2.
Set foot in Illinois. Soon entered a fine prairie, the greater part of which is sometimes overflowed so as to make the Wabash five miles wide. People rather more cleanly in their persons and house than in Indiana. More marks of industry. Encamped at Sheildier’s Orchard. The country is alternated prairie and woods. Some of them glorious views. Passed through Lawrenceville, the county seat of Lawrence county, a small town of twenty houses on the Ambrose (Embarrass) River.THIS IS THE JOURNAL OF WILLIAM CAMPBELL (1805-1849) LEADING SEVERAL FAMILIES FROM LEXINGTON, IN ROCKBRIDGE COUNTY, VIRGINIA TO ST. CHARLES COUNTY MISSOURI, WRITTEN IN 1829, 25 OF WHICH ARE ENSLAVED, AND AMONG THEM IS ARCHER ALEXANDER, BORN IN 1806, IN ROCKBRIDGE COUNTY, VIRGINIA THIS JOURNAL IS LOCATED IN THE COLLECTIONS OF THE LEYBURN LIBRARY, SPECIAL COLLECTIONS AND ARCHIVES, LOCATED AT THE WASHINGTON AND LEE UNIVERSITY, IN LEXINGTON, VIRGINIA, AND FOR WHICH WE ARE DEEPLY INDEBTED TO LISA MCCOWN. EDITOR IS DORRIS KEEVEN-FRANKE
On the 27th and 28th of September the caravan crossed Indiana. This is the journal of William Campbell, traveling to Saint Charles Missouri with Archer Alexander. America was on the move. Before President Thomas Jefferson made his great land grab, the Louisiana Purchase, Americans had already turned westward. The French-Canadians from upper Quebec who had migrated south after the wars between Great Britain and France, had joined the French Creole population who had migrated north from New Orleans. By 1763, the same time period that Saint Louis and Saint Charles (in Missouri) were being established, on February 10, New France was being ceded to Great Britain. George Rogers Clark would later acquaint his younger brother William Clark to this territory. Many years later President Thomas Jefferson, would send both Clark and Captain Meriwether Lewis, to complete what Jefferson considered to be America’s Manifest Destiny, its great western movement. The enslaved York would be part of that story in American history.
Vincennes was founded as part of the French colony of New France. Later on, it would be transferred to the colony of Louisiana. Several years later, when France lost the French and Indian War it was ceded to the British. As the French colonials pushed north from Louisiana and south from Canada, however, the British colonists to the east continued to push west. In addition, British traders lured away many of Indians who had traded with the Canadiens. The population grew quickly in the years that followed, resulting in a unique culture of interdependent the American Indians, British and American colonials. Its commerce was fueled by the fur traders.
William Clark’s older brother, Lieutenant Colonel George Rogers Clark, and others created a plan to capture the French forts that the British occupied after Louisiana was ceded. After Kaskaskia was captured by Clark, Lieutenant Governor Henry Hamilton sent British soldiers and reinforcements from Detroit to Fort Vincennes and helped to rebuild the fort. During our Revolutionary War the Patriots won the Battle of Vincennes on February 23–24, 1779. Although the Americans would remain in control of Vincennes, it took years to establish peace. By 1798, the population had reached 2,500. Vincennes was no longer considered a trading outpost, but a thriving city. In 1826, a party of 500 Shawnee Indians passed through Vincennes, Tecumseh and his younger brother, also known as The Prophet, were among them.
Three years later, William M. Campbell, is following the same route to Saint Charles, Missouri. With him is his sister Sophia, and her brother Dr. Samuel McCluer, the doctor’s sister Nancy, who is married to James Harvey Alexander, and their children, among others. Also traveling in this group is their enslaved, including the enslaved Archer Alexander.