William Campbell was a young attorney, in search of a place to set up a law practice in the future. The weather has become rainy, and the terrain is very rough, with only small settlements. Determined to see the Courthouse in every County Seat along the way, he has moved on to Clarksburg, Kentucky…
In passing through Lewis County we saw a poor broken country. The county seat is called Clarksburg a miserable village of 8 families with a log courthouse and jail..*
Campbell had halted the caravan in the small village of Vanceburg, Kentucky (See September 13 Entry) in Lewis County for rest, and because it was Sunday. On Monday, the group has moved slightly forward…. to Clarksburg, a community only about a mile west in 1829, and probably because it was the County Seat at that time. Clarksburg was named for William Clark and was the seat of Lewis County (named for Meriwether Lewis) from 1809 to 1864, when the seat was then moved to Vanceburg. The Lewis County Court House Post Office was opened in 1811, and was renamed Clarksburg in 1820. Lewis County has more border with the Ohio River than any other County in Kentucky.
The area presently bounded by Kentucky state lines was a part of the U.S. State of Virginia, known as Kentucky County when the British colonies separated themselves in the American Revolutionary War. In 1780, the Virginia legislature divided the previous Kentucky County into three smaller units: Fayette, Jefferson, and Lincoln. In 1791, this area was separated into the State of Kentucky; it became effective on June 1, 1792. From that time, the original three counties were divided several times. A portion of Fayette County was split off as Bourbon County in 1785; a portion of Bourbon was split off as Mason County in 1788; in 1806 the present Lewis County was split off from Mason.
Lewis County’s County Seat is Vanceburg. Clarksburg is a mile to the southwest.
Archer was born enslaved by the Alexander family in Rockbridge County Virginia in 1806. In 1829, the Alexander family moved from Virginia to Dardenne Prairie in Saint Charles County, in Missouri. He lived there enslaved for over thirty years, working first in the brickyards of St. Louis, and then as a carpenter. By 1844, he had been sold to David Pitman, while his wife Louisa lived a few miles away. In the winter of 1863, Archer would risk his life to inform the Union Army that his owner had sabotaged the nearby railroad bridge. With his owner and a lynch mob in pursuit, he used a well known route of the Underground Railroad, to make his way to St. Louis. There he was taken in by William Greenleaf Eliot, a Unitarian minister, founder of Washington University, and a member of the Western Sanitary Commission. When Eliot’s close friend James Yeatman shared Charlotte Scott’s dream for a memorial to Lincoln in 1865, it would be another American hero Archer Alexander seen rising from his broken shackles alongside Lincoln on the Emancipation Monument in 1876. Today, the Emancipation Monument in Washington, D.C.’s Lincoln Park is in danger of being removed. This Federal Monument, was paid for entirely by the former enslaved people, as a memorial to President Lincoln. To sign the petition to keep it in place see https://www.change.org/EmancipationMonumentDC
*This is the journal of William Campbell (1805-1849) leading four families from Lexington, in Rockbridge County, Virginia to St. Charles County Missouri, written in 1829. There are 55 people in this caravan, 25 of which are enslaved. Among the enslaved is Archer Alexander.\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 and author is Dorris Keeven-Franke.
The next entry in Campbell’s journal is September 15, 1829. https://archeralexander.wordpress.com/2020/09/15/15-september-1829/