23 August 1829 – Fourth entry

Came to Callahan’s for breakfast. A fine Tavern stand. Finely kept by the owner who is much a gentleman. We now commenced traveling on the turnpike. The road is very excellent considering the mountainous regions through which it passes – crosses the Alleghany. Passed the White Sulpher Springs where there were two hundred visitors. This is the most valuable mineral water in the world and would be frequented by double the present number of visitors if there were good roads to it and it was owned by an active and energetic man. Crossed Greenbrier River by the finest bridge in Virginia Toll 93-3/4 cents and came to Louisburg in the evening. Met many acquaintances with some of whom we staid.

Harrison, H. H., Handley, J. O. & A. Hoen & Co. (1887) Map of Greenbrier County, W.Va./ from actual survey. Baltimore/ A. Hoen & Co. [Map] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https///www.loc.gov/item/2012593055/.png

While William Campbell and McNutt and Cummings may have stayed the night at an inn or “Tavern stand” as they were called, the families would not have. Most were considered a little too rough for women and children too. They would have camped nearby. Archer, Louisa, Mary, Bill, Sam, and the other enslaved would have slept either in or under the wagons. Daily life would continue much the same as always. When the caravan stopped, the women would do the cooking, childcare, and other chores as always. Someone would be stationed to watch the cattle and horses as well. Travel was rough through the Allegheny Mountains and could be expensive too, as the 93 – 3/4 cents would amount to nearly $25 in today value, just to be able to take those buggies, wagons, horses and cattle across the wide Greenbrier River, and stay in Lewisburg, which is West Virginia today.

[Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https///www.loc.gov/item/2006679024/.jpg

Written in 1829, 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…

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 24 August 1829. 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. To continue the journey click here https://archeralexander.wordpress.com/2020/08/24/entry-5-from-virginia-to-missouri/

Today

In order to follow the trek from location to location we found that we were taking the Midland Trail National Scenic Byway or Highway 60 in West Virginia. The route was full of breathtaking vistas, that made us wonder in amazement what it must have been like for these fifty people. In the comfort of an air-conditioned vehicle one can traverse what took them a day in an hour or sometimes even less. We found friendly people willing to share directions, history, and their own stories all along the way. For more about the route today see http://www.midlandtrail.com/

Midland Trail, West Virginia (2019 Photo by Dorris Keeven-Franke)

White Sulpher Springs, Greenbrier County, West Virginia (2019 Photo by Dorris Keeven-Franke)

3 thoughts on “23 August 1829 – Fourth entry

  1. U.S. 60 is, indeed, a beautiful drive! I drove it many times in the early 70s between my childhood home in Huntington, WV, and my adult home in VA before I-64 was an option. If I recall correctly, I-64 from Covington, VA, to Charleston, WV, was the last stretch of highway to be completed in the original interstate design — because any route is difficult to build through the mountains, plus the WV legislators couldn’t agree on whether or not to incorporate what was the WV Turnpike. In the end, the Turnpike route won out and was upgraded to meet interstate standards, so that’s why I-64 goes from Lewisburg south to Beckley and then back north to Charleston. I think I-64 through WV is a bit nerve-wracking, but if one wants to save 30 minutes, go that way. When I have the time, I prefer meandering along U.S. 60!

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