27 August 1829 – Traveled twelve miles to Stockton’s for breakfast, excellent fare. The turnpike ends eight miles from Ganly [Gauley]. A new contract had just been taken by Trimble and Thompson to continue to Charleston, 30 miles at the rate of $1595 per mile, bridges included. Very cheap road. The sixty miles between Charleston and Sandy will be let out on the first of October. We this day passed through the rich narrow bottoms of Kanawha, a great part of which is covered with a heavy crop of corn. Ten miles of the valley are called “the Licks” from their being covered with salt works. There are sixty furnaces which manufacture 2,000,000 bushels of salt annually.* The manufacturing of salt would be much more extensive if it were not entirely monopolized by a company. It will someday be a place of much more importance. The buildings about the salt works are miserable shells and hovels, temporary and unsubstantial. We passed the Burning Springs and came to Charleston about night. Charleston is a town about as large as Lexington, Virginia. It is built on a bottom along the Kanawha River. One street is laid off along the margin of the river, scarcely leaving room for a row of houses between the street and the river; here all the business is done. The other street has but few houses on it. The beauty of the town is very much diminished by the row of houses on the river bank. The houses are principally of wood, some brick.
28 August, 1829 – Strayed about town without any acquaintance and all the feeling of a stranger in a strange place.
29 August , 1829 – We waited patiently for the arrival of our wagons. In the meantime I became acquainted with a number of the citizens, with whom I was well pleased.
William Campbell had gotten quite a bit ahead of the rest of the caravan, and would spend 10 days in Charleston waiting for the wagons to catch up. A man on horseback makes much better time, than wagons loaded down with household goods, and those who were walking. He would spend his time exploring the City of Charleston while waiting for the wagons to catch up. The next entry he makes in his journal is September 5, 1829, ten days later, the eleventh entry.
*The Kanawha salt furnaces were labor intensive. The salt makers employed many slaves, making Kanawha County an exception to the fact that Western Virginia had relatively few slaves. By 1850, there were as many as 1,500 slaves at the salt works, owned by the salt barons or leased from other owners. See https://www.wvgazettemail.com/life/historian-shines-light-on-regions-forgotten-history-of-slaves-owners/article_a5dcfb35-fd5f-50c7-9b06-51f456cde046.html
After the Revolutionary War, settlers began moving westward from the early settlements. Many slowly migrated into the western part of Virginia. Charleston’s history goes back to the 18th century when Thomas Bullitt received 1,250 acres near the mouth of the Elk River, then it was inherited by his brother, Cuthbert Bullitt, upon his death in 1778, and then sold to Col. George Clendenin in 1786. The first permanent settlement, Fort Lee, was built in 1787 by Col. Savannah Clendenin and his company of Virginia Rangers. Six years later, the Virginia General Assembly officially established Charleston, on land that made up the town in 1794, 35 people inhabited seven houses. Daniel Boone who was commissioned a lieutenant colonel of that Kanawha County militia, was elected to serve in 1791 in the Virginia House of Delegates. Daniel Boone would move to the Spanish Territory in 1799, with his enslaved and settle on land that was was the St. Charles District in the Louisiana Territory purchased by the U.S. in 1804. This is the same location this caravan is headed for in 1829.
In 1804, Daniel Boone’s son’s Daniel Morgan Boone and Nathan Boone, were partners with James Morrison in what became known as the Boone’s Salt Lick enterprise in Missouri’s Howard County. The salt licks were worked 10-15 enslaved men according to records. The road from Morrison’s mercantile to the Salt Lick and its’ surrounding region which is called “the Booneslick” ran from the village of St. Charles on the Missouri River to the town of Franklin, this is the beginning of the Sante Fe Trail, and was known as the Boone’s Lick Road. For more about the Booneslick Road see https://booneslickroad.org/
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. 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. 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.
Charleston continued to grow until the Civil War began in 1861. The state of Virginia seceded from the Union, and Charleston was divided between Union and Confederate supporters. On September 13, 1862, the Union and Confederate armies met, but occupation of the city was short-lived, as Union troops returned just six weeks later and stayed through the end of the war. Charleston is the largest city and state Capitol for West Virginia, with an estimated population of 51,400 in 2010.
TO CONTINUE THE JOURNEY ON SEPTEMBER 5TH… https://archeralexander.wordpress.com/2022/09/05/5-september/