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.
When Archer arrived in Dardenne Prairie in Saint Charles County on October 8th in 1829, he was 23 years old. Born in 1806, his parents Aleck and Chloe were the property of the Alexander family. He was owned by James Alexander of Rockbridge County, near Lexington, in Virginia. His wife Louisa, born as property of the McCluer family, and was part of the dowry of James’ wife Nancy. Together Archer and Louisa would have ten children, Ralph, Nellie, Wesley, Eliza, Mary Ann, Archer, Jim, Aleck, Lucinda, and John.
The enslaved person called Archey, was named for William Campbell’s maternal grandfather, Archibald Alexander, who was also an ancestor of the Alexander and McCluer families also in the caravan. All Presbyterian elders, and farmers in Virginia, they had served in the Revolutionary War and all owned slaves. Archer, who was born in 1806, also had a son named Archer Alexander who may have born as early as 1828. Archer’s father Aleck, was said to have been born in Africa, and brought to America. He had heard the Declaration of Independence read many times, by his owner’s sons and grandsons who had fought in the War with Great Britain. He knew the words well… read more
Forty one days ago, on August 20, 1829 William Campbell first wrote: I started from Lexington, Virginia on a journey to the state of Missouri. My own object in going to that remote section of the Union was to seek a place where I might obtain an honest livelihood by the practice of law. I travel in company with four families containing about 50 individuals, white and black.
Like his father and mother before him, Archer had never been away from Rockbridge County Virginia where he had been born in 1806. He had never seen anything what he’d encountered these past six weeks. The caravan had entered Illinois, where the first state Constitution in 1818 stated that while slavery shall not be “thereafter introduced” it was still to be tolerated. Illinois was a ‘free state’ all the same, and this was something that Archer would always remember. He also thought No sight can be more magnificent…
The caravan completed its’ crossing of the state of Indiana. America was on the move.These things are not on the mind of these fifty weary travelers, of which Archer Alexander is a member. In 1876, the Freedom’s Memorial a monument in Washington, D.C. was the vision of thousands of the formerly enslaved people that President Lincoln had helped free. The monument with Archer Alexander (1806-1880) portrays a slave who had worked to free himself, had broken and thrown off his shackles and was rising with the vision of the future on his face. The face of freedom.
On the 27th of September the caravan is crossing Indiana. This is the journal of William Campbell, moving four families from Rockbridge County Virginia to Saint Charles County Missouri. The caravan is made up of just four families. Between the Alexander, McCluer and Wilson families, they own twenty-five people, half of the caravan. Archer Alexander is a part of this. Its’ 1829, and America is on the move.
On the road for thirty-seven days, William Campbell’s journal tells us that Archer and the caravan have traveled over five-hundred miles. As these four families, and their enslaved people from Lexington, Virginia move to Saint Charles County in Missouri they would also travel through today’s West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. In 1829, roads were… read more
The caravan is on the migratory route of buffalo, known as the Buffalo Trace, facing several difficulties now. The roads are bad and rocky, and are thickly wooded. When their best horse dies from eating green corn, William Campbell blames the locals. Things are not going well for Archer and the group that left Lexington, Virginia, back on August 20. William Campbell seems to feel the local population is not the most welcoming he’s encountered either. They are near Portersville, crossing DuBois County in Indiana…
This would have been 23 year-old Archer’s first encounter of a place where blacks enjoyed freedom! Campbell would write: Next day passed through a barren corner of Harrison Co. It is destitute of both wood and water. Poor soil covered with low brush. The roads alternately good and bad.Crossed Blue River at Fredericksburg…