The Journey continues… This is the journal of William Campbell, leading four families, Alexander, McCluer, Wilson and Icenhower from Lexington, in Rockbridge County, Virginia to Dardenne Prairie, in Saint Charles County Missouri. It includes at least 25 enslaved people, including the enslaved Archer Alexander, who today is found on Washington, D.C.’s Emancipation Monument. The journal is located in the Leyburn Library, Special Collections and Archives, located at the Washington and Lee University, in Lexington, Virginia. They had departed Lexington on August 20, 1829… Campbell has spent the past five days in Charleston, (West) Virginia waiting on the wagons that are loaded with household goods to catch up to him in Charleston..
5 September – Our wagons arrived and we put 5,000 pounds out of them into a keel boat to go by water and they lay one day at Daniel Ruffner’s. Encamped on a short turnpike at Hamiltons. Staid next day to rest our horses and selves; it being Sunday. Started on Monday morning…
The confluence of the Kanawha and Elk Rivers made Charleston a great location to stop and rest. Apparently William Campbell had ridden way ahead in his buggy. Campbell had left Lexington on the 20th of the August and traveled approximately 210 miles. Campbell had also made this journey before, and most probably Robert Cummins, had as well, as he had invested in property in Missouri before statehood. Cummings was most likely staying with the slower wagons. Twenty-four year old Campbell, who had studied law at Washington and Lee University makes friends easily.
The confluence of the rivers would allow them to ship their furniture, and household goods on ahead, thereby allowing them to travel easier and faster. The boat, called a keelboat, is essentially a large flat bottom boat used for these purposes. Not designed for passengers, it was more like a barge. Perhaps Cummings was then assigned the task of staying with the goods, that were being shipped on ahead. This was a common practice, whether coming from the north down the Ohio River from ports like Baltimore, or from the southern regions. This would allow for much easier travel. Sunday was a day of rest, and most likely the Alexanders, McClures and Icenhower would have visited a Presbyterian church in the city.
Using today’s Interstate highway, the distance is shortened not only to 176 miles, it can be traveled in one day. No longer do we ship our belongings ahead by boat either.
We invite you to join us on this journey. The next journal entry is dated September 7, 1829