Written 191 years ago, this is the journal of William M. Campbell. This is also the story of Archer Alexander, an enslaved man born in Lexington, Virginia, who was taken to Missouri in 1829 and who is with President Lincoln on the Emancipation Monument in Washington, D.C. today. Our story began on August 20th in Rockbridge County Virginia with four families, the McCluer, Alexander, Wilson and Icenhauer; and their enslaved. They were well-educated, whose fathers had fought for America’s Independence. These were families that had small farms and large plantations, worked by their enslaved, just as many generations had before them. Missouri was a young state with lots of inexpensive land that would allow these families to continue the only way of life they had known since 1619. Fifty people, both black and white would make this journey together…
Made an early start, crossed the Warm Spring Mountain, lately improved by turn piking. Passed the Warm Springs where there were forty visitors and Hot Springs, where there were sixty. Were detained on the road by the oversetting and breaking of a South Carolina Sulky. We met in a narow place and he capsized and we had to help him refit before he could proceed; crossed Jackson’s River and the steep Morris Hill and came to the Shoomates [Shumates] at dark. He was an officious, sensible, kind and talkative landlord. This road is crowded with travelers passing to and from the springs. Our horses came.
In 1829, the issue of roads was extremely important to someone traveling across the country. William Campbell’s sharing of his journey was a common practice at this time. Travelers were migrating across country, and needed reliable information. He had stated “Our caravan when assembled will consist of four wagons, two carryalls, one Barouche and several horses, cows.and fifty people.” Then to come upon someone on a narrow road and have them capsize, meant your group coming to a complete stop and helping them ‘re-fit” everything packed back on to the wagon.
Roads followed the rivers because your horses and cattle would need watering. And while necessary, it could also be dangerous if bad weather ahead sent a flash flood rolling down the valley at you, By the expression turn piking Campbell means that a open pathway has been cleared which may even have a packed surface, perhaps rounded, setting itself out as a road way. The roads would twist back and forth because a fully loaded wagon was heavy and the grade was too steep to just climb straight up – or down. With four wagons, there are household goods, tents, and clothing packed in one for the McCluers, one for the Alexanders, one for the Icenhowers, and one for the Wilson family as well. Two more were carryalls, which used one horse each and would carry four or more people. A barouche is a wagon that carries four people, as there are two seats for two people and they are facing each other. Campbell, McNutt and Cummings are most likely each riding horses.
There are 38 entries in Campbell’s journal, which begins on August 20, 1829 that you can read and follow the story of Archer Alexander. The next journal entry is dated 23 August 1829. To continue click on this link https://archeralexander.wordpress.com/2020/08/23/entry-4-from-virginia-to-missouri/
Campbell’s journal is located in the Archives at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia and is being shared here so that we may hear all the voices, including those whose voices were not shared originally. Please keep in mind the context of the time in which this journal was written. Feel free to share your comments directly on this blog or on Archer Alexander’s Facebook page. You may sign up for alerts of the blog posts on your left.
In 2020, you are on US 60, where a portion has been renamed Sam Snead Highway. US 60 heads southeast on its own course apart from Interstate 64, its replacement. The road follows the Kanawha River to its source at Gauley Bridge, where US 60 then climbs out of the river valley and follows a twisting path through Rainelle and back to Interstate 64 at Sam Black Church. This stretch was the last section of US 60 to be bypassed by the Interstate system in West Virginia. This is also part of the Midland Trail http://www.midlandtrail.com/ .