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St. Louis

When Lincoln, a personal friend to Eliot, was assassinated, the formerly enslaved wanted a monument to Lincoln, and St. Louis’ former slave, Archer Alexander would be the one, to represent them, rising up and as Eliot says “breaking his own chains”.

Entry 34 -37 – Date 2nd of October 1829

This is the journal of William Massilon Campbell written from August 20, 1829 until October 8, 1829, describing a journey from Rockbridge County Virginia to St. Charles County Missouri. The transcript is located in the collections of Leyburn Library, Special Collections and Archives, at Washington and Lee University in Lexington Virginia. We are deeply indebted to the Library, and Lisa McCown. Editor is Dorris Keeven-Franke.

Entry 27 – Date 22 September 1829

THIS IS THE JOURNAL OF WILLIAM CAMPBELL (1805-1849) LEADING SEVERAL FAMILIES FROM LEXINGTON, IN ROCKBRIDGE COUNTY, VIRGINIA TO ST. CHARLES COUNTY MISSOURI, WRITTEN IN 1829. AMONG THEM IS ARCHER ALEXANDER, BORN IN 1806, IN ROCKBRIDGE COUNTY, VIRGINIA 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 IS DORRIS KEEVEN-FRANKE

Entry 14 Date 9 September 1829

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, born in 1806, and with him is also his own son, Wesley. His mother is the nurse for the McClure’s youngest child. 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.

Entry 8 Date 27 August 1829

“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” through the labor of the enslaved.

Entry 7 Date 26 August 1829

This is the journal of William Campbell (1805-1849),, on a journey from Lexington, in Rockbridge County, Virginia to St. Charles County Missouri, written in 1829, and includes the story of the enslaved Archer Alexander. It can be found in the Leyburn Library, Special Collections and Archives, located at the Washington and Lee University, in Lexington, Virginia.

From Virginia to Missouri

Our purpose is to share the story of these people, both white and black, who made this trek of over 800 miles, and not only the mountains and the plains that they crossed, but the rivers they followed. In 1829, they would all walk the same pathway, climb the same hillsides, and follow the same rivers. The women and children would ride in the wagons, and the men and many of the enslaved would follow on foot. Join us as we follow their journey, and share photos taken today in July of 2019, in order to gain a better understanding of their journey.

A journey into the past

In an effort to trace Alexander’s early roots Keith Winstead and I will begin in Virginia. Join us as we take a journey along the same route, footstep by footstep, laid out in Campbell’s diary that brought these people to Missouri. Winstead, who shares the DNA of his cousin Muhammad Ali, has been researching his family for thirty years. We invite you to share in this journey of Discovery.

A new telling of an old story

Archer Alexander descendant Keith Winstead and I will make that journey again and share that story on the Archer Alexander blog. Starting in July, you too can follow the Archer Alexander blog and join in the journey. To truly know an ancestor, we sometimes have to take a walk in their shoes. What better way to understand a story, than to take the journey for oneself?

The Genealogy of a Slave

The search for that special slave known as Archer Alexander has begun and needs to be found. Only then can that “true” story, as Keith Alexander calls it, be really known. Not easy when you are trying to find the genealogy of a slave. This is what is known as thorough and exhaustive research, for those of you who like the leaf, click and save method. And while it is not easy, the rewards are truly “Amazing”!

A journey to Missouri

Beginning on July 15, 2019, we will once again make a Journey to Missouri and share the story from Virginia, through Kentucky, and visit all of the places in their journal. Join us in our journey as we share the past and the present, and the untold story of Archer Alexander.

The Emancipation Memorial

When his friend William Greenleaf Eliot shared a photograph of the Emancipation Memorial with Archer Alexander, he emotionally exclaimed I’se free![i] The bronze monument features Alexander, an enslaved African-American on one knee and wearing a slave’s cuff and rising before President Abraham Lincoln. It was dedicated April 14th, 1876, marking the 11thAnniversary of Lincoln’s assassination, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. The beautiful monument located in Lincoln Park was placed[ii]in direct view of the U.S. Capitol during America’s period of Reconstruction, and is the only Washington, D.C. monument featuring an African-American and funded entirely by America’s former enslaved themselves.

William Greenleaf Eliot

Within two years, he would take in a Fugitive Slave from St. Charles County, and under that law, could have been jailed himself. However, he would instead assist that slave in achieving that freedom, an act that he said President Lincoln himself (who was a personal friend) helped in.