In 1829, a small group of four families, Campbell, McCluer, Wilson and Alexander, all wealthy and well educated . planters from Virginia, came with their enslaved, about two dozen of them. They settled in “Dardenne” along the Booneslick Road, south of the Zumwalt place, (O’Fallon) in St. Charles County, Missouri. They were all members of the Dardenne Presbyterian Church. Alexander and his wife died during the cholera epidemic and by 1835 the enslaved were all under the management of the estate’s executor William Campbell. The enslaved would build the Campbell house on the Booneslick (Today Hwy N – just west of Hwy K) completing it in 1836 (This historic home still stands today).
One of the enslaved was named Archer Alexander. He was born in Rockbridge County, Virginia in 1806. He was smart man and given a lot of responsibility. He and his wife Louisa would have 10 children. By 1843, she was owned by James Naylor, who owned the mercantile, was the postmaster and was a stop on the Booneslick Road. Her husband Archer, was owned by Richard Hickman Pitman, who was a Methodist, and a member of Mt. Zion Methodist in O’Fallon. Archer was considered an uppity slave because he often talked about freedom. In February 1863, he got his chance. Knowing that his owner and several others in his neighborhood had undermined the nearby railroad, he took a brave step and informed the Union Army stationed there, that the next train to cross would most likely collapse and kill hundreds. Immediately, he was the prime suspect as the informant, and the local Slave Patrol was out to lynch Archer. Using what we call the “underground railroad” he escaped to St. Louis. There he was befriended by William Greenleaf Eliot founder of St. Louis’ Washington University who is buried at Bellefontaine Cemetery and Arboretum.
Today, Archer is the enslaved man rising and breaking his chains with President Abraham Lincoln on the Emancipation Memorial in Washington DC, in Lincoln Park. He is also the ancestor of Muhammed Ali. Seven children of Archer and Louise were born in St. Charles County, and today we are looking for descendants of them. They were all born before 1843 when their names and their values were listed as:
- Eliza $325 married a Campbell
- Mary Ann $300
- Archer $225
- James $200 married 1)Hattie Yates 2)Caroline Callaway
- Alexander $175
- Lucinda $150
- John $125
Archer died Dec. 8, 1880, and is buried in St. Louis in St. Peters Cemetery. Louisa died in 1865 and is buried in St. Charles County. We know many of their children remained here, and married and have descendants living here. We are hoping that someone reads this and has heard their family story and knows they are connected. We have DNA kits for anyone who would like to test.