Born in Virginia

Archer Alexander was actually born in 1806*, in Rockbridge County, Virginia, the son of the enslaved Aleck and Chloe. Aleck’s owner was Archibald Alexander whose wife was the former Jane Margaret McClure. The Alexander land was along the South River in Irish Crossing. Archibald Alexander had come from Manor Cunningham, in the Taghoyne Parish near Donegal in Ireland; to Augusta County ,Virginia where he would serve as Captain for the Sandy Creek Expedition against the Indians in 1756, and then Administrator for the Benjamin Borden Grant for the British Crown. Archibald Alexander is buried at Timber Ridge Presbyterian Church, near Lexington, Virginia. Aleck was then inherited by John Alexander, who was sixteen when his father Archibald died.

Timber Ridge Presbyterian Church
Photo by Dorris Keeven-Franke

John Alexander would sell Aleck, Archer’s father when Archer was about 16, because he was considered “too uppity, and had somehow acquired the skill of being able to read, and talked about being free.” The neighbors had encouraged John Alexander to do “what was right so as not to lead to trouble.” Aleck was sold south and Archer would never see his father again. John Alexander would die soon after, leaving his enslaved property to his son James Harvey Alexander. The family’s financial problems soon led James to decide to join his close friend William M. Campbell who was moving to Missouri in 1829, with his cousins the McClure family. On August 20, 1829 they would begin their journey from Virginia to Missouri leaving behind Archer’s mother Chloe. She would pass away six months later and is buried in Virginia.

Lloyd’s official map of the state of Virginia from actual surveys by order of the Executive 1828 & 1859.,0.025,1.068,0.495,0
Library of Congress

The caravan of 55 people included 25 slaves, one of which was the nurse for a newborn child of the McClure family. Her own newborn child is thought to be Wesley Alexander, the son of Archer Alexander, who was left behind, along the journey near Louisville, Kentucky. The group settled in Dardenne Township of St. Charles County in Missouri in October of 1829. There they would immediately become members of the Dardenne Presbyterian Church begun in 1819 by John Naylor. James Alexander had married Nancy McCluer in 1820 and they would bring seven slaves with them to Missouri. They had five children when they left Virginia, but only four when they arrived, John, William Archibald, Agnes and Sarah. Archer had met Louisa, a slave of the McCluer family, who had been inherited by James Alexander’s wife, Nancy when her father died in 1822. Archer Alexander would marry Louisa, and it is said they would have ten children together.

*Sources: 1) Cemetery records of St. Peters United Church of Christ, 2101 Lucas and Hunt Road, St. Louis, Missouri 63121 2)St. Louis Recorder of Deeds, Birth and Death Records, St. Louis, MO

Source – St. Louis Recorder of Deeds, St. Louis Missouri

From Virginia to Missouri – August 20, 1829 – the first entry

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