22 August 1829 – Third entry

Written 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…

Made an early start, crossed the Warm Spring Mountain, lately improved by turn piking. Passed the Warm Springs where there were forty visitors and Hot Springs, where there were sixty. Were detained on the road by the oversetting and breaking of a South Carolina Sulky. We met in a narow place and he capsized and we had to help him refit before he could proceed; crossed Jackson’s River and the steep Morris Hill and came to the Shoomates [Shumates] at dark. He was an officious, sensible, kind and talkative landlord. This road is crowded with travelers passing to and from the springs. Our horses came.

In 1829, the issue of roads was extremely important to someone traveling across the country. William Campbell’s sharing of his journey was a common practice at this time. Travelers were migrating across country, and needed reliable information. He had stated Our caravan when assembled will consist of four wagons, two carryalls, one Barouche and several horses, cows.and fifty people.” Then to come upon someone on a narrow road and have them capsize, meant your group coming to a complete stop and helping them ‘re-fit” everything packed back on to the wagon.

Roads followed the rivers because your horses and cattle would need watering. And while necessary, it could also be dangerous if bad weather ahead sent a flash flood rolling down the valley at you, By the expression turn piking Campbell means that a open pathway has been cleared which may even have a packed surface, perhaps rounded, setting itself out as a road way. The roads would twist back and forth because a fully loaded wagon was heavy and the grade was too steep to just climb straight up – or down. With four wagons, there are household goods, tents, and clothing packed in one for the McCluers, one for the Alexanders, one for the Icenhowers, and one for the Wilson family as well. Two more were carryalls, which used one horse each and would carry four or more people. A barouche is a wagon that carries four people, as there are two seats for two people and they are facing each other. Campbell, McNutt and Cummings are most likely each riding horses.

Map from the Library of Congress

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. The next journal entry is dated 23 August 1829. To continue click on this link https://archeralexander.wordpress.com/2022/08/23/entry-4-from-virginia-to-missouri/

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.

In 2020, you are on US 60, where a portion has been renamed Sam Snead Highway. US 60 heads southeast on its own course apart from Interstate 64, its replacement. The road follows the Kanawha River to its source at Gauley Bridge, where US 60 then climbs out of the river valley and follows a twisting path through Rainelle and back to Interstate 64 at Sam Black Church. This stretch was the last section of US 60 to be bypassed by the Interstate system in West Virginia. This is also part of the Midland Trail http://www.midlandtrail.com/ .

Omni Homestead Hotel at Hot Springs Virginia (2019 Photo by Dorris Keeven-Franke)
Walk bridge near Warm Springs Virginia (2019 Photo by Dorris Keeven-Franke)
Warm Springs, West Virginia (2019 Photo by Dorris Keeven-Franke)
Big Sandy River in Virginia (2019 photo by Dorris Keeven-Franke)

Entry 2 – From Virginia to Missouri

Leaving family behind 8.21.29

Took a final leave of all my fathers family and turned our faces toward the West. We found the roads very bad and of course traveled slowly. Crossed the North Mountain and at noon ate a harty meal of bread, beef and cheese at a spring on the side of Mill Mountain. Fed at Williams and started for Warm Springs about 3 o’clock. We had not proceeded more than two hundred yards before we broke a singletree and were detained until almost night to have a new one made. Then drove four miles to Stewards. Fared well on a plenty of plain substantial food.

This journal of a journey from Lexington, in Rockbridge County, Virginia to St. Charles County Missouri, was written in 1829, and includes the story of the enslaved Archer Alexander. Written by William Campbell (1805-1849), it can be found in the Leyburn Library, Special Collections and Archives, located at the Washington and Lee University, in Lexington, Virginia. A very special thanks goes to Lisa S. McCown, Senior Assistant and all of the staff there. . This journal is presented here with the spellings as presented by the writer in 1829. All photos by Dorris Keeven-Franke with a special thanks to Donna LaBrayer Sandegren.

The journal’s author is twenty-four year old William Massilon Campbell, born in Lexington, Virginia, on the 19th of June 1805. The family, descendants of Duncan Campbell, had come from Ireland “between 1730 and 1740, emigrated to Pennsylvania and thence to Augusta County Virginia.” (1) His grandfather, Col. Charles Campbell, was an officer in the Revolution, a member of the General Assembly, and a Trustee of Liberty Hall. (2) Campbell graduated in 1825 with a degree in law. The family that Campbell refers to is Reverend Nathaniel Calhoun, another graduate of Liberty Hall. Members of the Presbyterian Church, the first church built in Lexington, which was situated on what is known as the Borden Grant.

Campbell’s sister Sophia Alexander Campbell (1795-1867) married Dr. Robert McClure (1762-1834) another Alumni of Liberty Hall. They and their five children, Jeanette Campbell McClure (1817-1880), Samuel Campbell McClure (1821-1888), John Missouri McClure (1822-1834), Susan McClure (1827-1833), and Sallie Campbell McClure (1829-1833) were also members of the caravan with their thirteen enslaved, which seems to have included Archer Alexander. Another enslaved female of the McClure family served as a nurse during the trip for the McClure’s youngest born in May. She herself was a young mother, most probably the mother of Wesley Alexander, who was the son of Archer Alexander.

Dr. Robert McClure’s sister, Nancy (1791-1833) was married to James Harvey Alexander (1789-1834) son of John Alexander (1764-1828) and Sarah Gibson (1768-1823) and grandson of Archibald Alexander, another recipient of land in the Borden Grant. His family were members of the Fallen Timbers Presbyterian Church, near Lexington. The Alexander’s enslaved seven people, one male under ten, one male between the age of 24 and 35, two females under ten, and five females between the ages of ten and twenty-three. One of these females is Louisa, who would later marry Archer Alexander and raise ten children in St. Charles County.

Between the two families of the McClures and Alexanders, they owned all but four of the enslaved on the journey. James Wilson, who had married Mary Borden, the evening before the departure, owned four people, a young woman between the age of 24 and 35, and her three children under ten, two boys and one girl.

Many of the enslaved were leaving family behind as well. All of the enslaved would make the journey to Missouri but one. Oral history of Keith Winstead’s ancestor, Wesley Alexander, says that he was “dropped off near Louisville, Kentucky. ” Perhaps the young mother was being pressed for the need to nurse the McClure’s baby Sallie, and her own child, Wesley was taking too much milk. The reason why may never be known.


Perhaps the Stewards were Stuarts, the family of Alexander B. Stuart who would later become guardian of the James H. Alexander children. It is incredible to believe the demands that the terrain must have made on these people. If you leave Lexington on Maury River Road, which is Highway 39, you will encounter beautiful mountain sides, with steep valleys, which the river flows through. In 1829, the caravan would have followed the rivers. This will take you through Goshen, and you will end up in the quaint Warm Springs. The springs were thought to provide cures for all kinds of ailments, but also provided relaxation for those that could afford the luxury.

Learn more…

(1) The Campbell Clan of Virginia by Leslie Lyle Campbell, Washington and Lee University, Special Collections of the Leyburn Library

(2) Washington and Lee University was founded in 1749 and was originally Augusta Academy, and became Liberty Hall following the Revolution. Liberty Hall is said to have admitted its first African-American student when John Chavis, a free black enrolled in 1795. Chavis accomplished much in his life including fighting in the American Revolution,  studying at both Liberty Hall and the College of New Jersey, now Princeton University, becoming an ordained Presbyterian minister, and opening a school that instructed white and poor black students in North Carolina. He is believed to be the first black student to enroll in higher education in the United States.

To continue the journey and read tomorrow post https://archeralexander.wordpress.com/2022/08/22/entry-3-from-virginia-to-missouri/

August 20, 1829

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 fifty individuals, white and black. The first family is that of Dr. McCluer, his wife (my sister) and five children from six months to thirteen years old and fourteen negro servants. Two young men, McNutt and Cummings, and myself form a part of the traveling family of Dr. McCluer. Dr. McCluer leaves a lucrative practice and proposes settling himself in St. Charles County Missouri on a fine farm which he has purchased about 36 miles from St. Louis. The second family is that of James H. Alexander, who married a sister of Dr. McCluer, with five children and seven negro slaves. Intends farming in Missouri. Third family, James Wilson, a young man who is to be married this night to a pretty young girl and start off in four days to live one thousand miles from her parents. He has four or five negroes. Fourth family, Jacob Icenhoward, an honest, poor, industrious Dutchman with several children and a very aged father in law whom he is taking at great trouble to Missouri, to keep him from becoming a county charge. He has labored his life time here and made nothing more than a subsistence and has determined to go to a country where the substantial comforts of life are more abundant.

Our caravan when assembled will consist of four wagons, two carryalls, one Barouche and several horses, cows.and fifty people. Two of Dr. McCluer’s children are in Charleston, Kenahwa, with their Uncle Calhoun. Our caravan will not start until the 25th of August. But I, with my sister and nurse will proceed forthwith in the Barouche to Charleston, Kenawha, where we will await the arrival of the caravan. This evening we left Lexington, our native town; possibly never to see it again.

I bid adieu to numerous friends and acquaintances, all of whom professes to wish me well. Many of them sincerely, some of them from the bottom of their hearts, some deceitfully and others with indifference. I parted from many whom I respected and esteem highly. I left a numerous tribe of relatives and many old friends. Many requested me to write to them and give them an account of the country and numbers intimated a hope of coming to Missouri in a few years. We came three miles to the residence of my aged father and mother with whom we stay all night, perhaps for the last time. Tomorrow morning we will start in our barouche for Warm Springs.

This is the journey of Archer Alexander, taken to Missouri in 1829. To continue the journey and the journal click here https://archeralexander.wordpress.com/2022/08/21/entry-2-from-virginia-to-missouri/

Archer is taken to Missouri

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 fifty individuals, white and black.” On this day in 1829, fifty people, would leave everything behind to start a new life. The families of Alexander, McCluer, and Wilson would have their enslaved families with them, that would make up over half of the caravan. Jacob Icenhauer, a German from Pennsylvania, had also joined the group, but didn’t own any slaves.

Journal of William Campbell, Washington and Lee University Library

Part of this caravan was Archer Alexander, owned by James Alexander, whose father had been sold a few years back, because he was uppity. With Archer was his wife Louisa, who had been inherited by James’ wife Nancy McCluer, when her father John McCluer, died a few years back. With them were their children, as Louisa had just given birth to their son Wesley Alexander, and was the wet nurse for the Alexander’s youngest of five children.

This story, of Scotch-Irish Presbyterians, making their way to the frontier for a new beginning, is one of the thousands that would come from Virginia at that time. Missouri, had entered the Union in 1821, and was a fast growing slave state carved out of the Louisiana Territory with the Missouri Compromise. With this link, you can follow their journey, day by day, with entries from the Journal of William Campbell, son of Samuel LeGrand Campbell.

You won’t hear the story of those who were enslaved making the trek, but they are there. They feed and water the cattle and the horses, they set up the tents, gather the firewood, cook the meals, and tend the children. They don’t rest when the caravan stops.

To begin Archer’s journey DAY BY DAY begin here https://archeralexander.wordpress.com/2022/08/21/entry-2-from-virginia-to-missouri/

Upcoming events on September 24th

Imagine yourself trapped between two hostile forces during the Civil War in Missouri. Caught in this huge conflict the enslaved Archer Alexander would earn his freedom, because of his brave act at the Peruque Creek bridge in St. Charles County. When he learned of his enslaver’s plot to destroy the vital railroad bridge, he rushed to inform the Union Troops stationed at the guardhouse. This critical knowledge would save hundreds of lives, and precious military supplies. With the local area’s men in hot pursuit, Archer fled for his life, via the network to freedom, otherwise known as the Underground Railroad. He would find safety in the home of a Unitarian minister, and founder of Washington University in St. Louis, William Greenleaf Eliot. It would be dangerous to harbor a fugitive slave and though given protection by the military, Archer would be hidden in Alton, Illinois until his emancipation was announced in the newspapers on September 24, 1863. Eliot and Archer would develop a friendship that would transform both of their lives and span generations. Eliot is the grandfather of poet T.S. Eliot.

Now over 150 years later we will honor the life of this hero with two important events, on Saturday, September 24, 2022.  Saint Charles City and County will recognize Archer Alexander at 10 am in front of the OPO Startups at 119 South Main, where the courthouse stood in 1863. At 1 pm, that afternoon, his family invites the public to join them for a Memorial Service for this heroic man’s life, in the St. Peters UCC Cemetery at 2101 Lucas and Hunt Cemetery in St. Louis County (Normandy).

Archer Alexander is known as the face of freedom on the Emancipation Monument in Washington, D.C., a monument erected and dedicated by the formerly enslaved people and the U.S. Colored Troops in 1876.  His descendants will gather to celebrate their brave ancestor, who is also the great-great-great grandfather of Muhammad Ali. The public is invited to share in both special events. For more information about these events, contact us using the form to your right.

  • 10:00 AM          119 South Main Street, St. Charles, MO
  •                         Angela da Silva… Mistress of Ceremonies, Director of Mary Meachum Network to Freedom Site
  •                         Dorris Keeven-Franke…Archer Alexander, Author of Archer Alexander: The Untold Story
  •                         Martin Aubuchon.. Union Soldier (re-enactor Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War- Department of MO
  •                         Steve Elhmann…Proclamation from St. Charles County, St. Charles County…County-Executive Administrator
  •                         Dan Borgmeyer…Proclamation from City of St. Charles, City of St. Charles…Mayor of the City of St. Charles
  •                         Keith Winstead…Great-Great-Great Grandson of Archer Alexander, Descendants of the family of Archer Alexander
  •                         Angela da Silva…Close
  • 1:00 PM             2101 Lucas & Hunt Road (Normandy)
  •                         St. Peters United Church of Christ Cemetery
    • Jade Harrell…Mistress of Ceremonies, St. Louis Public Radio – Emmy Award winning speaker
  •                         Evergreens…Washington University Treble Acapella Group, Song…Down to the River to Pray…1867 Gospel Music
    • Dorris Keeven-Franke…Archer Alexander, Author of Archer Alexander: The Untold Story
  •                         Lynne Jackson…Presenting Proclamation from the City of St. Louis, Descendant and Director of the Dred Scott Foundation
  •                         Keith Winstead… Great-Great-Great Grandson of Archer Alexander, Descendants of the family of Archer Alexander
  •                         Peggy Neely Harris…Performing Artist, Singer and Actor, Song…Steel Away…African American Spiritual written in 1862
  •                         Rev. Kim Mason, First Unitarian Church of St. Louis
  •                         Rev. Dr. Anthony Witherspoon, Washington Metropolitan AME Zion Church…est. St. Louis 1865
  •                         Jade Harrell… in closing, St. Louis Public Radio – Emmy Award winning speaker
  •                         Peggy Neely Harris…Performing Artist, Singer and Actor, Song…Oh Freedom! The Audience is invited to join in
The Emancipation Memorial in Washington, D.C. See https://www.nps.gov/places/000/emancipation-memorial.htm


Abolitionist William Greenleaf Eliot

Over two-hundred years ago today, August 5, 1811, William Greenleaf Eliot was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts. A graduate of Harvard Divinity School, the young man arrived in St. Louis in 1834 and established the first Unitarian Church west of the Mississippi, the Church of the Messiah. In 1837, he married Abigail Adams Cranch, of the same family of the former President John Adams. Though parents of 14 children, only five would live to adulthood. When he lost his firstborn, Mary, Mary Institute would be named for her. He would work tirelessly for public education, and in 1854 establish Washington University, originally called Eliot’s Institute by his friend and co-founder Waymon Crow. Not stopping there, he would work to see St. Louis’ first Public Schools funded by tax dollars in 1850 and serve as the first President of the School Board of the City of St. Louis.

Eliot by Easterly MHS Collection ID N17201

His early years in St. Louis would soon find him caught between the two forces of the rising conflict regarding the issues of enslavement. Documents show that he had purchased at least two young girls, but only in which to emancipate these young women, as only an owner could manumit an enslaved person. Inside his church, author Charlotte C. Eliot, wrote in 1904 about how on at least two occasions, he spoke to his congregation about this important issue, but only to find nearly half of his audience depart and not return. Many churches besides the Unitarian would experience fractures at this time because of this very issue. However, that would not prevent Dr. Eliot from speaking his mind, and he turned to a popular alternative at that time, and that is to write letters to the local newspapers expressing himself, under a pseudonym, a pen name, The Crisis.

Eliot from the MHS Collections ID P0004-1015

When the Civil War broke out in 1861, he and his close friend James Yeatman would immediately work to establish the Western Sanitary Commission, which was totally funded through private donations. This commission would raise hundreds of thousands of dollars, and would be responsible for hospitals, nurses with the Ladies Union Aid Society, and care for all Veterans. He helped to establish Freeman’s Bureau, and also see supplies and relief provided for Contraband camps. Considered a conservative radical, and strong abolitionist, his beliefs were tested when his wife Abby, would bring the enslaved man Archer Alexander home, risking their family’s safety by harboring a fugitive. Eliot immediately contacted Archer’s owner, Richard H. Pitmen, through an emissary of Missouri’s Supreme Court Judge Barton Bates, who was the son of President Lincoln’s Attorney General Edward Bates, asking to purchase Archer. The result was that men would visit Eliot’s private home, attack and kidnap Archer, taking what they considered their property. They would place Archer in the City Jail at 6th and Chestnut to be sold south. But once again, Eliot would rescue Archer, securing a Order of Protection from the Provost Marshall. Eliot would then secret Archer in Alton, Illinois for his protection.

Archer Alexander

Archer earned his freedom, by a military order, which was announced in the St. Louis newspapers on September 24, 1863. He had bravely informed the Union Army that his owner had worked to undermine the local railroad bridge. Risking his life, Archer fled via the underground railroad to St. Louis where Eliot befriended him. A military trial was held, and Pitman was adjudged treasonous, and imprisoned in the Gratiot Street Jail. This was the legal repercussion of the provisions of Lincoln’s Second Confiscation Act of July 1862, when an owner found treasonous, lost his enslaved property. Eliot later wrote that Archer was the “last fugitive slave” in a biography written in 1885 titled “The Story of Archer Alexander from Slavery to Freedom. Without Eliot’s book, we would not know the story of Archer’s life.

At the close of the war, when the formerly enslaved of America wished to erect a monument to President Abraham Lincoln, Eliot would see that Archer was the one to represent slavery because of his heroism. Located in Washington, D.C. the monument was entirely paid for and dedicated by the formerly enslaved American people, freedmen and the United States Colored Troops, with a dedication of the monument held in 1876. Eliot and Archer would remain close friends during the last years of their lives, and Eliot would give a small sermon at Archer’s death on December 8, 1880, at an African Methodist Episcopal Church on Morgan, which is today’s Washington Metropolitan AME Zion Church on Garrison . William Greenleaf Eliot, the grandfather of poet T.S. Eliot, would pass away on the 23rd of January, in 1887 and is buried at Bellefontaine Cemetery and Arboretum in St. Louis.

Eliot from the MHS Collections ID P0004-1014

All photographs are from the Missouri Historical Society of St Louis, Missouri’s Digital Archives and the numbers shown are their identifiers.

What would you do?

Imagine yourself enslaved in a state that is caught between two hostile forces. On a cold winter’s night in Missouri in January 1863, Archer Alexander overheard his enslaver Richard Pitman holding a secret meeting in the back room of the local Postmaster and storeowner James Naylor, in his mercantile on the Boone’s Lick Road in St. Charles County.  Area slave owners were plotting the destruction of a vital rail link for the Union Army at the Peruque Creek Bridge, about five miles away. Without a word to his wife Louisa, who was enslaved by Naylor, he took off in the dark for the Union troop’s guardhouse, to warn them of the impending danger and what he knew.

Wm.G.Eliot Mo Historical Society n38667

The German farmers stationed to guard the bridge were Missouri’s Home Guards under the command of Lt. Col. Arnold Krekel.  Word was soon leaked of Archer’s bravery and the Union troops could not protect him. A lynch mob was out for Archer, the last fugitive slave in Missouri. Using the network to freedom, known as the underground railroad, Archer made his way to the home of William Greenleaf Eliot in St. Louis. A Unitarian minister and founder of Washington University in St. Louis, he served on the Western Sanitary Commission, a private non-profit charged with establishing hospitals and nurses for Union soldiers, fugitives and contraband, headquartered in St. Louis. Eliot immediately secured a Temporary Order of Protection for Archer from the local Provost Marshall, the military authority.

Eliot could have been imprisoned for breaking the law by harboring a fugitive. He immediately tried to purchase Archer to see him emancipated. Eliot sent messages to Pitman, offering to purchase Archer, through Missouri’s Supreme Court Justice Barton Bates, who was the son of President Abraham Lincoln’s Attorney General Edward Bates. This only served to alert Pitman to Archer’s location, as Barton was a neighbor of Naylor’s. Sending men to Eliot’s residence, Pitman’s men bludgeoned Archer senseless and kidnapped him, leaving him in the City’s Jail at 6th and Chestnut in St. Louis, to be sold south. When Eliot learned what had happened, he once again rescued Archer, gave him clothes, and moved him upriver to Alton, Illinois for safety.

Lynch’s Slave Market, 101 Locust Street. Daguerreotype by Thomas M. Easterly, ca. 1852. Easterly 121.
Missouri Historical Society Photographs and Prints Collections. NS 17134. Scan (c) 2005, Missouri Historical Society.

A military trial ensued, and Richard Pitman would be found disloyal and imprisoned, according to Lincoln’s Second Confiscation Act of July 17, 1862. Archer would be declared emancipated for his important services to the United States military forces. Brig. General Strong would sign an Order declaring Archer to be a free man by the Proclamation made by President Lincoln. This would be announced in St. Louis newspapers on September 24, 1863. Soon after, his wife Louisa, and three of their daughters joined him in St. Louis. However, Louisa would mysteriously die in 1865.

Announcement of Archer Alexander’s Emancipation

When President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in April of 1865, an enslaved woman of Ohio named Charlotte Scott gave her first $5 earned in freedom in hopes of seeing a monument to their fallen hero. The entire funds for the monument were given by the U.S, Colored Troops, freemen, and the formerly enslaved, and held in trust by the Western Sanitary Commission. The monument was entirely funded, approved and dedicated by a committee of prominent African Americans in 1876. The dedication had over 25,000 people, with the majority of those in attendance once formerly enslaved. The Emancipation Monument still stands today in Lincoln Park in Washington, D.C., as President Lincoln gestures to Archer, to rise and behold his new freedom. It was through the efforts of William Greenleaf Eliot that Archer portrayed the formerly enslaved man on the Emancipation Memorial.

Emancipation Memorial

Archer Alexander died on December 8, 1880, with his funeral held at what is today’s Washington Metropolitan A.M.E. Zion Church in St. Louis and then buried later that day at St. Peters U.C.C. Cemetery at 2101 Lucas & Hunt Road located in St. Louis County. A memorial to Archer’s life and bravery will be held at 1:00 p.m. in that same cemetery on September 24, 2022, with the descendants of Archer Alexander. Archer was also the great-great-great grandfather of Muhammad Ali and his family. Everyone is invited to join the family in this celebration of his life.


The Missouri Historical Society (MHS) was founded in St. Louis in 1866 “for the purpose of saving from oblivion the history of the city and the state“. As one of our nation’s most awarded institutions, MHS is committed to sharing the stories, giving us a greater understanding, of our community, the people who live here, and those who have enriched our history. They serve the community with award-winning exhibits that over 400,000 people attend yearly, they have over 175,000 artifacts (including Archer Alexander’s gold watch), and over 4,500 members.

On Thursday, June 16th, 2022 their blog History Happens Here shared Archer Alexander, American Hero

On a cold winter night in 1863, Archer Alexander was visiting his wife Louisa when he overheard some area men in a meeting in the back room of Naylor’s Store. Besides Louisa’s enslaver James Naylor, there was also Archer’s enslaver, Richard Hickman Pitman. The men were plotting the destruction of the wooden bridge over Peruque Creek—a vital and important link for the Union Army—on which hundreds of troops and essential supplies were moved daily

See https://mohistory.org/blog/archer-alexander

For more of this story visit their blog History Happens Here to read this blog see https://mohistory.org/blog/archer-alexander


Juneteenth or Freedom Day, is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery. It was on June 19, 1865 that Union soldiers, led by Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger, landed in Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that all slaves were free. Seventy-five years later, Archer Alexander is the second African American to be featured on a U.S. Postal Stamp commemorating the event.The Thirteenth Amendment was ratified on December 6, 1865, when Georgia became the twenty-seventh state to approve it out of the then-total thirty-six states. On October 20, 1940, the U.S. Postal Service issued this stamp with the image of Archer Alexander with President Abraham Lincoln on the Emancipation Memorial. The stamp was issued by the U.S. Postal Service in honor of the 75th Anniversary of Congress’ ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment which states “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”The monument is located in Lincoln Park in Washington, D.C., was dedicated on April 14th, 1876, on the 11th Anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination. The monument was funded entirely by formerly enslaved, freedmen, and U.S. Colored Troops of the Union Army as a memorial to Lincoln. Archer Alexander who was also known as the last fugitive slave was emancipated by Lincoln on September 24, 1863, for his heroic actions and services to the United States Military services. See ArcherAlexander.blog

The Constitution does not require presidential signatures on amendments, but Lincoln added his, making it the only constitutional amendment to be later ratified that was signed by a President. 


On a cold January night in 1863, Archer Alexander was visiting his wife Louisa at Naylor’s Store, when he overheard the area men in a meeting in the back room. He could hear his own enslaver Richard H. Pitman amongst the men, and Captain James Campbell too. They were plotting the destruction of the bridge over Peruque Creek, where the Union troops were stationed. Archer knew that bridge was a vital link for soldiers and supplies that traveled across that steep gorge daily and they had to be alerted. If it were to collapse hundreds of lives would be lost.  Archer said goodnight to Louisa, and without another word, did the unthinkable. He took off for the guard house five miles away.

Union Guard House at Peruque Creek Bridge in St. Charles County

It wouldn’t be long after that someone figured out who had alerted the soldiers.  He had to move fast because they were looking for him. Without a word to Louisa, he had no choice but to run, using the network of friends known as the Underground Railroad. He followed the stars and headed for the river, and then St. Louis. It took time, he slept in the woods during the day and made his way during the night. It was cold, and he was hungry. Finally, he came to the edge of the city, and when he turned up at a German butcher’s shop, he knew exactly what to say.  Soon Archer found himself in the home of a generous Unitarian minister named  William Greenleaf Eliot.

Beaumont, the home of William Greenleaf Eliot in St. Louis

Eliot had helped others achieve their freedom. He listened to Archer and knew exactly what to do. Early the next morning Archer and he visited the Provost Marshall’s office, The Marshall issued a temporary Order of Protection, and Eliot would reach out to Pitman, asking to purchase  Archer. But that only alerted Pitman to where Archer was hiding, and it wouldn’t be long before two men showed up at Eliot’s home. When Eliot left for work, they beat Archer senseless, right in front of Eliot’s children and threw him in the City Jail.  When he returned home that day, Eliot was furious and alerted the Marshall, who sent his officers to retrieve Archer and Pitman.

The old City Jail, at 6th & Chestnut, in St. Louis Missouri

By law, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 mandated that Eliot should return Archer to Pitman. However, in 1862 Congress had passed Lincoln’s Second Confiscation Act so that treasonous slave owners could be fined or jailed; and lose all of their enslaved property if found guilty. That is if Archer could live to tell his story.  On September 24th of 1863, Lincoln would officially emancipate the last fugitive slave, according to Eliot, named Archer Alexander. Citing his service to the Union Army, and his bravery, Archer was then a free man.

When Lincoln was assassinated, it would be this American hero named Archer, whose image would be used for the first memorial to Lincoln. The formerly enslaved people had raised thousands of dollars to erect a memorial to Lincoln; placed by a black committee the Emancipation Monument still stands today in Washington, D.C. Archer would die in 1880 and after a funeral at Washington Metropolitan A.M.E. Zion Church, he was buried in an unmarked lot in St. Peters U.C.C. Cemetery on Lucas and Hunt. Archer Alexander is the ancestor of Muhammad Ali.

The Emancipation Monument in Lincoln Park in Washington, D.C.

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