Rain – drove on, came to New River, passed along its stupendous cliffs, by a magnificent road, crossed Goly* Bridge, toll $1. This is an open bridge lately erected by B and S. It is built on piers at the same place the Arched Bridge formerly stood. It is an handsome bridge. Two miles below the bridge we passed the great falls of Kenewha*, a great natural curiousity, an admirable site for water works. A great quantity of timber is sawed here and several hundred large flat boats are built here for the purpose of taking salt down the Ohio. Staid all night at Huddleston’s; fared very well. Had a good deal of conversation with the citizens of Ohio, Mississippi and Indiana, who were traveling and had called to stay all night.
*Goly Bridge is Gauley Bridge, great falls of Kenewha is Kanawha Falls
When one follows the route in the original journal of 1829, they might wonder why they seem to be going the way they do. Campbell and the caravan are following the best routes’ they can find, that have not only the necessary amenities, but have bridges and passes through the mountains. Trails had been blazed through the mountains, and travelers that had gone before Campbell would have shared the best routes. Intent on publishing the journey himself, his journal shares more information about what he encounters than on those that are making this journey with him. James H. Alexander is bringing his slave, Archer Alexander, born in 1806 in Rockbridge County and Archer’s wife Louisa is the property of the McCluer family. She serves as a nurse, meaning she is a nanny to the children, or nursemaid to the babies. Louisa has given birth to her baby, Wesley Alexander.
What an awesome sight this must have been, and as William Campbell writes these words, at least fifty people are seeing these places for the first time. Written in 1829, 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. The white families 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 27 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.
This is one of the most beautiful sights in West Virginia. The wood mills that once made flatboats for travel down the Ohio River are today’s paper mills. The lumber industry fuels the economy. Traveling the side roads such as Route 60, the Midland Trail and a National Scenic Byway one sees so much more history and beauty.
From Twice Sold, Twice Ransomed Autobiography of Mr. and Mrs. L. P. Ray, L. P. Ray
320 p., ill., Chicago, Illinois, Published by THE FREE METHODIST PUBLISHING HOUSE 1132 Washington Boulevard Call number 326.92 r263t (Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, Duke University)