29 September 1829 – Thirty-fourth entry

No sight can be more magnificent… These are the words of William Campbell writing with so much emotion, about the great plains the caravan is crossing. Campbell was a 24 year-old well-educated and well traveled young man, a lawyer, leading fifty people to Missouri from Virginia. He has amazed at the new landscape they encountered.

Like his father and mother before him, the enslaved Archer had never been away from Rockbridge County Virginia where he had been born in 1806. He had never seen anything like 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

Next day finished our journey over fine roads. Generally through wide prairies. Some of the prairies are eight miles across and extended as far as the eye could see in length. No sight can be more magnificent than one of the boundless prairies, covered with grass, weeds, flowers and sometimes clumps of trees. They abound with larks and prairie hens. Crossed Fox River. Encamped at Muddy fork of Little Wabash. A deep dirty little stream which we were compelled to cross on one of the worst bridges I ever saw, for which we were charged an extortionate toll, 87-1/2 cents.*

While the Illinois state constitution did not have a clause forbidding an amendment to allow slavery, religions leaders like John Mason Peck, and voters had rejected a proposal for a new constitutional convention that could have made slavery legal, five years before, in 1824. Despite these laws tolerating de facto slavery, in a series of legal decisions the Illinois Supreme Court developed a jurisprudence to gradually emancipate the enslaved people of Illinois. The justices decided that in order for a contract of servitude to be valid, both parties must be in agreement and sign it, and it was registered within 30 days of entering the state. In one of the predecessors of the Dred Scott decision, Moore v. People, 55 U.S. 13 (1852), the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a conviction for harboring a fugitive slave from Missouri, as had the Illinois Supreme Court a few years earlier.

Crossing the River

Slave catchers from Missouri would travel to Illinois either to recapture escaped slaves, or kidnap free blacks for sale into slavery, particularly since Illinois’ legislature tightened the Black Code to state that recaptured escaped slaves would have time added to their indentures. A law barred blacks from being witnesses in court cases against whites, then two years later barred blacks from suing for their freedom. Illinois residents participated in the underground railroad for fugitive slaves  seeking freedom, with major routes beginning in the Mississippi River towns of  Quincy , Alton, Chester in Illinois and Hannibal, St. Charles, and Cape Girardeau in Missouri. Other routes ran from Cairo, up to Springfield where they would go up the Wabash River.  

Map of the United States compiled from the latest and most accurate surveys by Amos Lay, geographer & map publisher, New York. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.gmd/g3700.rr000020

TODAY

2019 Photo by Dorris Keeven-Franke

The Little Wabash River is a 240-mile-long tributary of the Wabash River in east-central and southeastern Illinois in the United States. Via the Wabash and Ohio rivers, it is part of the watershed of the Mississippi River. It is the third largest tributary after the White River and the Embarras River.  

Map by Kmusser – Self-made, based on USGS data. 3 June 2008 All structured data from the file and property namespaces is available under the Creative Commons License 

*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. 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.

The journal continues on September 30, 1829 https://archeralexander.wordpress.com/2020/09/30/30-september-1829-thirty-fifth-entry/

28th September 1829 – Thirty-third entry

The caravan completed its’ crossing of the state of Indiana and is starting across Illinois. America was on the move. They have come over 600 miles from Rockbridge County in Virginia on their own journey. These things are not on the mind of these fifty weary travelers, headed for Saint Charles County in Missouri, of which the enslaved Archer Alexander is a member. In 1876, the Emancipation 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 has worked to free himself, has broken and thrown off his shackles and is seen rising with the vision of the future on his face. The face of freedom.

Indiana

Next day came through Vincennes, a beautifully situated town, on the bank of the Wabash, with a number of fine brick houses and some miserable old French dwellings. Here we obtained the first sight of a beautiful prairie, a noble sight. The Wabash is a fine stream, smooth, gentle and magnificent. Crossed on a good ferry, a decent ferryman. Ferriage $1.62-1/2.

NARA – 518211.tif

William Clark’s older brother, Lieutenant Colonel George Rogers Clark, and others created a plan to capture the French forts that the British occupied after Louisiana was ceded. After Kaskaskia was captured by Clark, Lieutenant Governor Henry Hamilton sent British soldiers and reinforcements from Detroit to Fort Vincennes and helped to rebuild the fort. During our Revolutionary War the Patriots won the Battle of Vincennes on February 23–24, 1779. Although the Americans would remain in control of Vincennes, it took years to establish peace. By 1798, the population had reached 2,500. Vincennes was no longer considered a trading outpost, but a thriving city. In 1826, a party of 500 Shawnee Indians passed through Vincennes, Tecumseh and his younger brother, also known as The Prophet, were among them.

Baskin, Forster and Company, Chicago – Illustrated Historical Atlas of the State of Indiana 1876

Vincennes was founded as part of the French colony of New France. Later on, it would be transferred to the colony of Louisiana. Several years later, when France lost the French and Indian War it was ceded to the British. As the French colonials pushed north from Louisiana and south from Canada, British colonists continued to push west. In addition, British traders lured away many of Indians who had traded with the Canadians. The population grew quickly in the years that followed, resulting in a unique culture of interdependent the American Indians, British and American colonials. Its commerce was fueled by fur traders.

ILLINOIS

Set foot in Illinois. Soon entered a fine prairie, the greater part of which is sometimes overflowed so as to make the Wabash five miles wide. People rather more cleanly in their persons and house than in Indiana. More marks of industry. Encamped at Sheildier’s Orchard. The country is alternated prairie and woods. Some of them glorious views. Passed through Lawrenceville, the county seat of Lawrence county, a small town of twenty houses on the Ambrose (Embarrass) River.*

TODAY

We build monuments to our many American heroes. Each is erected to share the story of someone’s heroism. These monuments share a story, and allow us to hear the voice of the people portrayed. Placed there by those who want these people and their heroic deeds remembered throughout history and forever more. If one does not take the time to stop and learn the true story, and listen to the voices of those portrayed… its’ purpose may be lost.

The Wabash River at Vincennes Indiana. 2019 Photo by Dorris Keeven-Franke
The Old French House and Indian Museum in Vincennes, Indiana. 2019 Photo by Dorris Keeven-Franke
2019 Photo by Dorris Keeven-Franke
Photo of George Rogers Clark National Historic Park. 2019 Photo by Dorris Keeven-Franke

Learn the Hidden History of the Emancipation Monument from historians, researchers and authors. Marcia E. Cole tells the story of the former slave, Charlotte Scott, who conceived the idea of a memorial to President Lincoln paid for solely by former slaves and Black soldiers. Candace O’Connor explains the important work of the often overlooked Rev. William Greenleaf Eliot and the Western Sanitary Commission. Dorris Keeven-Franke shares details of the real-life Archer Alexander portrayed rising in the monument alongside President Lincoln. Carl Adams tells a little known story revealing Lincoln’s early thoughts and actions on slavery. And Jonathan White explores the powerful oratory delivered at the monument’s dedication by Frederick Douglass and a recently discovered Douglass letter shedding light on his views on the monument. The Emancipation Monument, also known as Freedom’s Memorial or the Lincoln Statue was dedicated in Washington, D.C. on April 14, 1876. It was paid for solely by donations from emancipated citizens and Black Union soldiers. Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton has introduced legislation requiring the National Park Service to remove the statue from its place in Lincoln Park and place it indoors in a museum. This educational video introduces the remarkable people who were part of this monument’s creation and hopes to convince viewers of the need to keep the Emancipation Monument standing, as it has for 144 years, as a testament to those who turned five dollars and a dream into a reality. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPmOmdadEIQ&feature=youtu.be

Hidden History of the Emancipation Monument

*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. 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.

27 September 1829 – Thirty-second entry

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.

Next day had incessant hard rain nearly all day. We pushed on to get over the Little White River. Got very wet. Crossed the river easily. A fine stream nearly the same size as Big White River. Roads very muddy after the rain. The country between the forks of the White is level, a part of it is good land but part is barren. Encamped at [Andrew] Purcells, road and country level; many movers.*

Even before the U.S. and President Thomas Jefferson made his great land grab, the Louisiana Purchase, Americans had already turned westward. The French-Canadians from upper Quebec had migrated south after the wars between Great Britain and France, joining the French Creole population who had migrated north from New Orleans. On February 10, 1763, when Saint Louis and Saint Charles, Missouri, were being established, New France was being ceded to Great Britain. Revolutionary War hero George Rogers Clark would acquaint his younger brother William Clark with this territory. Years later President Thomas Jefferson, would send both William Clark and Captain Meriwether Lewis, to search out what Jefferson considered to be America’s Manifest Destiny, its great western movement. To find the head of the Missouri River at the Pacific Ocean, was their assignment. The enslaved York would be part of that story in American history. And York is as much a hero as each and every member of that Expedition.

This caravan has packed more than furniture for this journey. They have brought their religion as well as all joined the Dardenne Presbyterian Church. They have brought their heritage, some Irish, and some German, but all American. They have brought their families, with children who would continue their family’s tradition and practices. And they have brought their enslaved people as well. They have all followed the same roads and rivers. They have all slept under the same stars. But only some of them were free.

TODAY

Washington, in Davis County, Indiana, was platted in 1815. The railroad was built through Washington 1857. By 1889, it was a major depot and repair yard for the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad.  The Baltimore and. Ohio Railroad took over the line in 1893. During this time, the railroad employed over 1,000 workers.

For more see the Daviess County Historical Society https://www.daviesscountyhistory.com/

Logootee, Indiana 2019 Photo by Dorris Keeven-Franke
East Fork of the White River 2019 Photo by Dorris Keeven-Franke

*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. 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.

Their journey continues on September 28th… https://archeralexander.wordpress.com/2020/09/28/28-september-1829/

Hidden History of the Emancipation Monument

Learn the Hidden History of the Emancipation Monument from historians, researchers and authors. Marcia E. Cole tells the story of the former slave, Charlotte Scott, who conceived the idea of a memorial to President Lincoln paid for solely by former slaves and Black soldiers. Candace O’Connor explains the important work of the often overlooked Rev. William Greenleaf Eliot and the Western Sanitary Commission. Dorris Keeven-Franke shares details of the real-life Archer Alexander portrayed rising in the monument alongside President Lincoln. Carl Adams tells a little known story revealing Lincoln’s early thoughts and actions on slavery. And Jonathan White explores the powerful oratory delivered at the monument’s dedication by Frederick Douglass and a recently discovered Douglass letter shedding light on his views on the monument.

The Emancipation Monument, also known as Freedom’s Memorial or the Lincoln Statue was dedicated in Washington, D.C. on April 14, 1876. It was paid for solely by donations from emancipated citizens and Black Union soldiers. Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton has introduced legislation requiring the National Park Service to remove the statue from its place in Lincoln Park and place it indoors in a museum. This educational video introduces the remarkable people who were part of this monument’s creation and hopes to convince viewers of the need to keep the Emancipation Monument standing, as it has for 144 years, as a testament to those who turned five dollars and a dream into a reality.

26 September 1829 – Thirty-first entry

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 often former animal traces, or Native American migration routes. They went were people needed to go…the Mill, church or courthouse. And the mill, the mercantile and the school were built along the roads…

Location, Location, Location

Came next day to the big White River at Hindostin. A year ago this was a flourishing town, but it is going to ruins in consequence of the county seat having been removed higher up the river. White River is a beautiful stream sufficient for navigation of large keel boats in season when waters are full. We forded it easily. Encamped at Washington, the county town of Davies County, a tolerably decent village.*

2019 Photo by Dorris Keeven-Franke

Sign: Site of Hindostan (.6 mile south) First settled in 1818, Hindostan became county seat of Martin County, boast a population of approximately 1,200 “A Great Sickness struck in 1828, brings death to the inhabitants. The town was never occupied again.

In 1829, your town’s location on a road that was well traveled was very important. Roads led to where people wanted to go! The County seat, the mill, any other important destination. Roads grew out of a need to get somewhere. Each and every stop by William Campbell is because it is that County’s Seat of Government. However, County Seats move.

An epidemic of cholera broke out in Hindostan in 1820. Water- and insect-borne illnesses were the bane of many towns on the Midwestern frontier. Situated along rivers for the purpose of easy transportation, towns were often built on flood plains that bred insects in huge numbers. Drinking wells, and cisterns would be overcome by floods, and become contaminated. However, at that time, it was thought that disease spread, by person to person contact. Even, it was believed that those buried in cemeteries, continued to exhume diseased vapors into the air. Many would enact laws that all cemeteries be outside of city limits, at least by a mile, to protect the residents. The ferocity of the epidemic that struck Hindostan however, caused an entire population to succumb to disease and abandon the area. By 1824, less than half the population remained in Hindostan, though many seem to have stayed in the county.

An economic depression around 1820 worked alongside the epidemic to drive people away. Some families who had bought land on credit defaulted and fled the area. Hindostan may have lost as many residents to the economic depression as to sickness. Residents who remained were unable to pay their taxes and county and local creditors foreclosed on their property. Hindostan is in Orange County and not to be confused with Hindustan, in Monroe/Madison County.

TODAY

2019 Photo by Dorris Keeven-Franke 

The site is now the location of an Indiana State Fishing and Recreation area. A historic marker on County Road 550 stands a half-mile north of where the town was. No buildings survive, but there are a few surviving pioneer cemeteries nearby, a restored church, and numerous square holes in a large flat rock along the river drilled to support the former mill at Hindostan. 

*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. 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.

The journey continues on 27 September 1829 https://archeralexander.wordpress.com/2020/09/27/27-september-1829-thirty-second-entry/

25 September 1829 – Thirtieth entry

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.

Next day came through a rough country with a miserable population of the lowest order. Country is limestone. Some stone coal. Water bad from wells. Encamped at Markells, where our best horse died suddenly, the effect of a hard drive, after a hearty dinner of green corn. Hard luck. Roads very hilly.*

William Campbell was born the 19th of June 1805, one of ten children of Samuel Legrand Campbell and Sally Reid Alexander. His brother Charles Fenelon Campbell had accompanied them until Ripley, Ohio. He had attended what what would become Washington and Lee University where his father was the second President. A recent law graduate, he hoped to establish a lucrative law practice in St. Charles County. Politically, he was a member of the popular Whig Party. Once he reached St. Charles County, he would be elected to serve as a State Representative in 1832 and 1834. He moved to St. Louis where he would also be elected as a State Senator in 1836,’38,’42 and 1846. In 1844, he would become the founder of the Historical and Philosophical Society of Missouri.

When living in Saint Charles, he would be owner/editor of the St. Charles Clarion Newspaper. When he moved to St. Louis he would be owner of the St. Louis New Era Newspaper, where he reported on the issues of slavery. Campbell was a close friend of the abolitionist Elijah Lovejoy, another newspaper editor who would be killed by a mob in Alton, Illinois in 1837. By 1836, Campbell had moved to St. Louis, where he died on December 30, 1849, perhaps a victim of the cholera epidemic that was sweeping the countryside then.

This journal’s author, William Campbell, has known Archer his entire life, because he’s the property of Campbell’s cousin James Alexander. Archer was born in 1806, the son of the enslaved Aleck (for Alexander) and Chloe, who were both property of the Alexander family of Rockbridge County, Virginia. When James and his wife Nancy (McCluer) Alexander both pass away during the raging cholera epidemic of the 1830s. Alexander’s Will clearly states that Archer is absolutely not to be sold, Archer, his wife Louisa, and their children are only to be rented or used for the financial support and benefit of the four small orphans. William Campbell becomes the executor of the Alexander estate and likewise the person who controls Archer’s life…and freedom.

TODAY

Photo courtesy of Ireland Historical Society 
Hobard McDonald and Henry Rudolph are pictured with two teams of mules and a large log on a box wagon chassis in Portersville sometime in the early 1900s. The sycamore log was said to be 58 inches in diameter. From the August 21, 2017 issue of the DuBois County Herald.
Sherritt Cemetery (DuBois County Herald file photo)

Information and photos are from the DuBois County Herald article by Leann Burke [https://duboiscountyherald.com/b/portersville-history-chronicled-starting-with-settlers]… “The Buffalo Trace was part of a buffalo migratory route that ran through Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky. It served as the first major road into what became Indiana and ran through Dubois County near the White River in present day Boone Township.”

*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. 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.

The Journal continues on September 26, 1829 https://archeralexander.wordpress.com/2020/09/26/entry-31-date-26-september-1829/

24 September 1829 – Twenty-ninth entry

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. Next day passed through a poor country, and a small town called Pool [Paoli] The county seat of Washington [Orange] County. Roads very steep and hilly. Encamped at Pistareens.*

INDIANA

From Virginia to Missouri, the road wasn’t easy for anyone. Our weary travelers are now crossing southern Indiana, and have been on the road for over a month. They would take seven weeks to travel through seven states, leaving Virginia in August and arriving in Missouri in October. Men, women, children, babies and their enslaved would make the same trek. No two days would be the same. They would rest on Sundays and find a church to attend. The roads were good in some places, and horrible in others. “Pistareens” must be an innkeeper that has disappeared with the sands of time.

Slavery was allowed when the land that would become Indiana was annexed to the United States in 1783. What became the ‘Northwest Territory’ was annexed to the United States had already been controlled by the French for the previous 20 years. In 1787 Congress organized the territory with the Northwest Ordinance which prohibited slavery by stating “that there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said territory“. It would later be decided that anyone who purchased a slave outside of the territory could enter and reside there with their slaves. Many who were from Virginia, like the Campbells, McCluers and Alexanders, living in the territory interpreted the Ordinance as allowing them to have slaves. The Ordinance stated that the Virginians “shall have their possessions and titles confirmed to them, and be protected in the enjoyment of their rights and liberties.” Many had decided to keep enslaved people as their property. Fear of French rebellion had kept the courts from acting against slavery, as did the violent actions of those who would kidnap escaped slaves. A court ruling of 1807 stated that pre-existing slavery could still exist under the Northwest Ordinance, only served to continue the practice of the ‘peculiar institution’ as some liked to refer to as slavery.

Many of the Northwest Territory’s early settlers came from the southern states, those who were anti-slavery settled in Ohio where a strong anti-slavery movement was already underway. The land was given as bounty for our Revolutionary War military service. The immigrants in favor of slavery generally moved to Indiana. When they relocated to the Indiana Territory, they brought what few slaves they owned with them. An 1810 census recorded 393 free blacks and 237 slaves in the Indiana Territory. After the Revolutionary War, George Rogers Clark and his soldiers, all Virginians, had been given land grants in southern Indiana. Those who settled in Indiana brought their Southern ideals with them, as many of the territory’s early settlers had come from the southern states.

In 1809, Dennis Pennington, one of the most outspoken anti-slavery men and a friend of  Henry Clay, was elected to the legislature and became speaker in the assembly. His prominence allowed him to dominate the legislature. Before the Indiana Constitutional Convention in 1816, Pennington was quoted as saying “Let us be on our guard when our convention men are chosen that they be men opposed to slavery. At the Constitutional Convention, the anti-slavery party was able to take control, electing Jennings as the President of the convention. It was by their actions that slavery was banned by the first Constitution. Despite slavery and indentures becoming illegal in 1816 due to the state Constitution, the 1820 federal census listed 190 slaves in Indiana. Many slaveholders felt that the 1816 constitution did not cover preexisting slavery; others would not care if it was illegal.   

In 1829, as William Campbell and the 25 enslaved people with him slowly traveled across the state, slavery was still accepted by many of Indiana’s residents, even though Indiana was considered a “free” state. This would have been 23 year-old Archer’s first encounter with that glorious ability of freedom for all of the black people in the state. The desire for such freedom, was surely growing within him…

The road through Indiana
Map from the Library of Congress

TODAY

2019 Photo by Dorris Keeven-Franke
2019 Photo by Dorris Keeven-Franke
2019 Photo by Dorris Keeven-Franke

*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. 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.

Twenty-three year old Archer Alexander is a member of this caravan. He is also the face of freedom on the Emancipation Monument. Please sign our Petition to keep this monument standing where the enslaved erected it as a tribute to Lincoln!

Please sign the petition
https://www.change.org/EmancipationMonumentDC

William Campbell’s journal continues on 25 September 1829…

23 September 1829 – Twenty-eighth entry

Archer is leaving Kentucky and passing into the free state of Indiana…

U.S. Steamer Lexington

Next day proceeded on our way to Lewisville (now called Louisville) a handsome well built business-like place on the Ohio River. Staid sometime in market house which was abundantly supplied with fish, flesh, fruit and vegetables. Supplied ourselves with provisions and left the second town on the Ohio River. Nearly forty steamboats were lying in the river near the town. Crossed the river in a horse boat, with a drunken, ill-mannered unaccommodating and extortionate ferryman. Toll $3.18-3/4. After passing through Shippings-port and Portland we landed in New Albany in Indiana, a finely situated village. A place of some business and which would be important if it were not swallowed up by the start and capitol of Lewisville. Passed 6 miles into Indiana over very steep bad roads. Encamped agter a big rain. The first county after our entrance into the state was Floyd, a rough broken county, heavily timbered with filthy, degraded, laxy population. New Albany is the county town.*

Steamboat plans

What an exciting day this must have been for everyone! The bustling city and its market, with all the steamboats lined up at the levee, waiting to be loaded. Oh how easy it would have been to slip away if you were an enslaved member of the caravan. But wait, we are crossing that beautiful river and proceeding through Indiana – a free state. What that must have felt like to Archer and the others. Not privy to the plans, the enslaved had no control over where they were or where they were going.

The Levee, Louisville, Ky.
Digital ID: (digital file from original) det 4a10070 http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/det.4a10069
Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-det-4a10069 (digital file from original) LC-DIG-det-4a10070 (digital file from original)
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print
Library of Congress

Days are growing shorter, and Missouri is steadily coming closer…They have been traveling for weeks…

*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. 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.

Next journal entry is September 24, 1829

https://archeralexander.wordpress.com/2020/09/24/24-september-1829/

22 September 1829-Twenty-seventh entry

This is the journey of Archer, the enslaved property of James Alexander of Lexington, Virginia. Alexander is a member of a caravan of families moving to St. Charles County in Missouri being led by his cousin William Campbell, a young attorney hoping to set up a law practice there. If we listen closely to Campbell’s words, we might hear the voices of the enslaved… after all this is their story too.

Started on Monday Morning. Passed into Shelby Co, tolerably good land. Went through Shelbyville, a handsome town and entered Bowers in Jefferson County. Jefferson County is a level rich county, sickly and cultivated for the supply of the Lewisville [Louisville] market. Large fields were planted in cabbage and other vegetables; the wagons and carts were running by our camp almost the whole night on their way to market.*

In 1829, Kentucky was an agrarian community. These farmers would have large fields, that were tended by their enslaved. Kentucky was formerly part of the Commonwealth of Virginia. On December 18, 1789, Virginia gave its consent to Kentucky statehood. These families, the McCluer, the Campbell and the Alexander families, were farmers. Like the family of Daniel Boone they lived close to the land. Unlike larger plantation owners back in Virginia, they owned a few hundred acres, and thus their community of enslaved, were often smaller as well. Often that meant everyone was more directly involved in the day to day tasks of living. Thus while there was still the social distinction, there was more familiarity, and even kinship. However, that never prevented an owner from doing what was best for his family or his commercial interests, with his enslaved. All of the enslaved people lived with the daily threat, that as they were just property, if they didn’t behave they would be “sold south” and separated from their families forever.

When the McCluer family left Rockbridge County, Virginia they stopped in Lexington Kentucky, to pick up members of their family. According to Campbell’s journal, the Alexanders, James H. and Nancy McCluer, departed Lexington Virginia with five children, but would arrive in Missouri with only four, all under the age of 10. The age of that fifth child, is unknown, however the child may have been a newborn. While it seems that William Campbell never devotes space in his journal for such tedious details as birth and deaths, there is oral history passed down in the family of Archer Alexander that seems to reveal a ‘backstory’ here.

Family historian, Keith Winstead, has researched his great-great grandfather Wesley Alexander for over thirty years. The family’s oral history was that Wesley seemed to have been “dropped off” as a infant in the area of Louisville Kentucky around 1829. Winstead has been unable to determine if Wesley had actually been born in Louisville, or if that is simply where the family history first puts him. Presumably the wet nurse for the McCluer family, was also mother of a newborn child herself. Recent DNA evidence shares descendants of Wesley are directly tied to the McCluer family as well. Descendants of Wesley also have DNA connections to the statesman Henry Clay, who hailed from Kentucky, the abolitionist Cassius Clay, and his namesake Muhammad Ali (1942-2016). Keith Winstead is also a cousin of Muhammad Ali. The Clay family also owned many acres of farmland west of St. Louis as well, where one of his enslaved descendants Squire Clay hails from. Sometimes, the true parenthood of these children blurs the lines even further, making their identities even more hidden and extremely difficult to unravel.

TODAY

Oral history of enslaved people should never be discredited, because with diligent and exhaustive research, much of it can be still documented. By 1855, Wesley had married the enslaved Patsy Fry, who gives birth presumably to their first of what is said to be 20 children. From this branch of the family, also comes the famous descendant, Muhammad Ali, born Cassius Clay in Louisville Kentucky. For more about that family connection see the Washington Post article of October 2, 2018. https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2018/10/02/dna-evidence-links-muhammad-ali-heroic-slave-family-says/ As it explains “The lineage” according to Keith Winstead, “goes like this: Ali’s father, Cassius Clay Sr., was the son of Edith Greathouse, who was Alexander’s great-granddaughter.

As Muhammad Ali said in 1964 “Why should I keep my white slave master’s name visible and my black ancestors invisible, unknown, unhonored?”  At that time, Ali did not even know of his family connection to Archer Alexander. And although Keith Winstead was unaware as well , the family has since said ““He would have loved knowing he was connected to someone like that [Archer].”

In October 2018, Ben Strauss of the Washington Post shared the DNA story [https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2018/10/02/dna-evidence-links-muhammad-ali-heroic-slave-family-says/] and I learned how Archer Alexander is the great-great-great grandfather of Muhammad Ali. I was contacted by Keith Winstead and he posed the question “Do you know where Archer Alexander is buried?” This research has led to even further discoveries of more amazing stories of Archer Alexander’s life. When the Unitarian minister William Greenleaf Eliot shared Archer’s story in 1885, America’s great “Reconstruction” was ending and so was what a Boston publisher was able to print, and so it became necessary to fictionalize some of the names in Archer’s history. Eliot explains this in the beginning of his book, From Slavery to Freedom which is a slave narrative of Archer Alexander. In order for Eliot to achieve his dream and see his story of Archer published, he turned to his close friend Jessie Benton Fremont, wife of the great pathfinder James Fremont for help. Jessie is also the daughter of Thomas Hart Benton, one of Missouri’s first State Senators and a granddaughter of James McDowell of near Lexington, Virginia. Extensive research completed in 2019 reveals that there is no Presbyterian Church Elder named Thomas Delaney that owned a plantation called Kalorama in Botetourt County in 1816. We know now, that Archer Alexander was born in Rockbridge County, Virginia in 1806 and came to Missouri in 1829 at age 23. Archer was buried on December 8, 1880 in St. Peters Cemetery (Lucas & Hunt Road) is St. Louis County (now Normandy) and not “Centennary Cemetery near the Clayton Courthouse.” For more about that discovery see Chad Davis’ story A Louihttps://news.stlpublicradio.org/post/louisville-family-learns-about-their-ties-st-louis-slave-who-saved-lives#stream/0

Family reunion in St. Louis Missouri. L-R Author Dorris Keeven-Franke, Rahaman Ali (brother of Muhammad Ali) and his wife. 2019 Photo by Michele Thomas.
Campbell House in Dardenne Prairie with descendants of Archer Alexander and author Dorris Keeven-Franke. 2019 Photo by Michele Thomas.

Archer Alexander portrays the face of freedom, as a formerly enslaved man rising and who has broken his own chains, on the Emancipation Memorial in Washington, D.C.’s Lincoln Park. This monument was the dream of the formerly enslaved Charlotte Scott in 1865 when she learned of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln “the best friend” of the enslaved. She gave her previous owner William Rucker five dollars and asked that he help her see a monument to President Lincoln erected. The small fund would be shared with William Greenleaf Eliot and the Western Sanitary Commission. This was a privately funded war relief organization located in St. Louis, Missouri. Funded by the formerly enslaved people and the United States Colored Troops, it was dedicated in 1876, on the 11th anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination, by the great African American orator, the formerly enslaved Frederick Douglass and President Ulysses S. Grant. For more about the monument see The Hidden History of the Emancipation Monument on You Tube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPmOmdadEIQ&feature=youtu.be

https://www.change.org/EmancipationMonumentDC

A petition has been started by the Archer Alexander family, asking that the Emancipation Monument remain in Lincoln Park, in Washington DC where the formerly enslaved wanted it. Please join us by signing at https://www.change.org/EmancipationMonumentDC TODAY!

*This is the journal of William Campbell (1805-1849) leading the Alexander, McCluer, Wilson and Icenhower families from Lexington, in Rockbridge County, Virginia to St. Charles County Missouri, written in 1829. 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. 

Dorris Keeven-Franke is the biographer of Archer Alexander working on “The Untold Story of an American Hero – Archer Alexander”.

Next entry is 23 September 1829 https://archeralexander.wordpress.com/2020/09/24/23-september-1829/

21 September 1829 – Twenty-sixth Entry

This is the journey of Archer, the enslaved property of James Alexander of Lexington, Virginia. Alexander is a member of a caravan of families moving to St. Charles County in Missouri being led by his cousin William Campbell, a young attorney hoping to set up a law practice there. If we listen closely to Campbell’s words, we might hear the voices of the enslaved… after all this is their story too.

Staid next day to rest our horses and selves, it being Sunday...*

Its’ September 20th if its Sunday … These travelers have been on the road for one whole month now… they have traveled over 350 miles of rugged terrain. They began on…

August 20, 1829… “I travel in company with four families containing about 50 individuals, white and black. The first family is that of Dr. Robert 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 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 Icenhaur, an honest, poor, industrious German with seven 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..

The Caravan has passed Lexington and Frankfort and is approaching Louisille, Kentucky.

These travelers would not forget their religion as they traveled from Virginia to Missouri. A caravan of 53 people, with nearly half of them enslaved, most would consider it a day of rest. The Campbells, McCluers and Alexanders were all devout Presbyterians. Many of them, or their parents had served as Elders in their church in Virginia. Their religion was packed, carried and brought along and considered just as important as the feather ticks, blacksmith tools, and slaves. Sunday was considered a day for rest for most of them.

from Lewis Miller’s Sketchbook

Half of the people making this journey are enslaved people. While the horses were rested, the meals still needed to be cooked, and babies were still nursed, while a carriage seat got repaired, all by the enslaved. The enslaved people would develop their own way to fulfill their spiritual needs, in songs and dance. Laws forbid marriage of slaves. Their ceremony, often referred to as “jumping the broom” solidified the act for the couple. And while Archer is the property of the Alexander family, his wife Louisa, who was born property of the McCluer family, was now owned by James Alexander, by right of his marriage to the former Nancy McCluer, daughter of John McCluer and Agnes Steele, as her dowry [property].

ARCHER

Archer was born enslaved by the Alexander family in Rockbridge County Virginia in 1806. In 1829, the Alexander family moved from Virginia to Dardenne Prairie in Saint Charles County, in Missouri. Archer lived there enslaved for over thirty years, working first in the brickyards of St. Louis, and then as a carpenter. By 1844, he had been sold to David Pitman, while his wife Louisa lived on another farm a few miles away. In the winter of 1863, Archer would risk his life to inform the Union Army that his owner had sabotaged the nearby railroad bridge. With his owner and a lynch mob in pursuit, he used a well known route of the Underground Railroad, to make his way to St. Louis. There he was taken in by William Greenleaf Eliot, a Unitarian minister, founder of Washington University, and a member of the Western Sanitary Commission.

Archer Alexander

In 1865, when the former enslaved Charlotte Scott heard the news of Lincoln’s assassination, she gave her first $5 earned in freedom to her former owner, William Rucker, with hopes that a monument could be erected to Lincoln. Rucker would see that the James Yeatman President of the Western Sanitary Commission would help the former enslaved establish the fund for the monument. When Eliot’s close friend James Yeatman shared Scott’s dream for a memorial with Eliot, it would be decided that Archer would be the face of freedom seen rising from his broken shackles alongside Lincoln on the Emancipation Monument in 1876. In 1885, William Greenleaf Eliot would publish the historical slave narrative From Slavery to Freedom – Archer Alexander.

Today, the Emancipation Monument in Washington, D.C.’s Lincoln Park is in danger of being removed. This Federal Monument, was paid for entirely by the former enslaved people, as a memorial to President Lincoln. To sign the petition to keep it in place see https://www.change.org/EmancipationMonumentDC

*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. 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.

The next entry in William Campbell’s journal is September 22, 1829… https://archeralexander.wordpress.com/2019/09/22/22-september-1829/

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