An American Hero

While the nation discusses matters of monumental importance, in Missouri, Archer Alexander is really a ‘local’ and also a hero. He was born in Rockbridge County Virginia near Lexington. In 1829, he moved to St. Charles County, albeit unwillingly as he was enslaved. His owner at that time, James Alexander was joining many of his relatives that had helped create the young state in 1821, like the Bates. As in Lincoln’s Attorney General Edward Bates. By 1844, Archer would find himself the property of Richard Pitman, who lived on the Boone’s Lick Road near where it crosses Dardenne Creek. Missouri was a slave state, but the demographics would change by the time of the Civil War, and its many German emigrants would help to keep it for the Union Army.

Krekel’s Home Guards were Union Troops stationed to guard the Peruque Creek Bridge

One cold February night in 1863, Archer would hear his owner and several other area men, discussing their plot. They had been sawing the wooden timbers of the nearby railroad bridge, where it crossed the Peruque Creek, and it would only be a matter of time now. Perhaps it would be “the next train” that would collapse the bridge and the vital link for the Union Army between St. Louis and the west. Knowing what a risk he was taking, Archer Alexander, took off at a run five miles to the north where Lt. Col. Krekel’s Home Guards were posted in the blockhouse. His warning would save hundreds of lives, while making him the target for a lynch mob. Fleeing for his life, leaving his wife and family behind, he made his way to St. Louis, and the home of William Greenleaf Eliot.

Eliot was a Unitarian minister and had founded Washington University, but even more importantly, he was a member of the Western Sanitary Commission. Charged by Lincoln, to assist troops west of the Appalachian mountains setting up hospitals and providing necessary supplies. It was not government run but relied totally on donations, which came from as far as the great city of Boston. When the war ended, tensions in America was high, and the best friend of the colored people, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.

A formerly enslaved woman in Ohio, named Charlotte Scott, took the first money she ever made as a free person, and gave it to her former owner. She dreamed of a great monument to Lincoln. That money was deposited with the Western Sanitary Commission, which had worked with the fugitive slaves, contraband camps, the Freedmen’s Bureau, and the U.S. Colored Troops. Thousands of formerly enslaved people would give their hard earned money to see Charlotte Scott’s dream become a reality in 1876.

Through Eliot and the Western Sanitary Commission, the formerly enslaved would see Archer Alexander as a man who by his own deeds, like thousands of others of the formerly enslaved, had broken his own chains.  Archer can still be seen today, rising from his knees, his shackles broken, looking up towards Lincoln. Archer Alexander is no longer just a local, as he rises next to Lincoln on the Emancipation Memorial today, in Lincoln Park in Washington, D.C.. Please sign the Petition to save the monument https://www.change.org/EmancipationMonumentDC

Save the Emancipation Memorial in DC

When President Lincoln was assassinated because he had freed the slaves, Archer Alexander was definitely already worthy of the honor, to be portrayed by the great man’s side. Archer Alexander’s warning to the Union troops, about the efforts to sabotage a Union Army railroad bridge, saved hundreds of lives. He had worked to break his own chains of bondage and is rising to meet President Lincoln who is acknowledging this hero.

Charlotte Scott had a dream to honor President Abraham Lincoln “the best friend the colored people ever had”. This great monument was entirely funded by thousands of formerly enslaved people, freedmen, and soldiers of the United States Colored Troops. This was the beginning of the end of slavery. We believe it should remain as a testimony to how far America has come, and to honor the sacrifices of those that gave to see this monument made. This memorial to Lincoln should matter to all Americans, as we cannot erase its history. Let those that feel pain, learn the truth of its great history, and only use this monument to teach and inspire future generations, as its’ original creators in 1865 intended.  

It is said that those that do not know their history, are doomed to repeat it. Let us all rise up, by learning the truth of our history. Our ancestors, fought side by side to put an end to slavery. There are those of us that are willing to stand side by side, to once again raise our voices and take a risk for something we all believe in. Its’ time to remember our true history. To save this monument will further acknowledge and lead to a better understanding of President Abraham Lincoln and Archer Alexander. 

PLEASE CONSIDER SIGNING OUR PETITION https://www.change.org/EmancipationMonumentDC

Bronze plaque on the “Freedom Memorial” in Lincoln Park in Washington, D.C.
Archer Alexander is the Great Great Great Grandfather of Muhammad Ali

The Emancipation Monument

In Lincoln Park, in Washington, D.C. sits the Emancipation monument.

FREEDOM’S MEMORIAL

ABRAHAM LINCOLN–ARCHER ALEXANDER

The slave rising has a name! He was a real man. His name was Archer Alexander, and he was called Archey by his family.

It represents President Lincoln in the act of emancipating a negro slave who kneels at his feet to receive the benediction, but whose hand has grasped the chain as if in the act of breaking it, indicating the historical fact that the slaves took active part in their own deliverance. He was, I believe, the last fugitive slave taken in Missouri under the old laws of slavery. His freedom came directly from the hand of President Lincoln … and his own hands had helped to break the chains that bound him. His oldest son had given his life to the cause. When I showed to him the photographic picture of the “Freedom’s Memorial” monument, soon after its inauguration in Washington, and explained to him its meaning, and that he would thus be remembered in connection with Abraham Lincoln, the emancipator of his race, he …exclaimed, “Now I’se free! I thank the good Lord that he has ‘livered me from all my troubles, and I’se lived to see this.

William g. Eliot, Archer Alexander from slavery to freedom, CUPPLES, UPHAM AND COMPANY, Boston, 1885

When the formerly enslaved Charlotte Scott heard the news of President Lincoln’s death, she took the first five dollars in money she had earned as a free woman, and gave them to her former master Mr. William P. Rucker a Union refugee from Virginia, who lived in Marietta Ohio then.  She asked him “to make a monument to Massa Lincoln, the best friend the colored people ever had”. Rucker would take those funds to Gen. T.H.C. Smith, and he would make sure that they were given to Mr. James Yeatman, of who he asked “Would it not be well to.take up this suggestion and make it known to the freedmen?” And with that it would soon come under the help of the Western Sanitary Commission, with William G. Eliot at the helm. He would share it with many of the benefactors of the Freedmens Bureau, active during the Civil War.

THE Western Sanitary Commission, originally established by order of Major-General Frémont, and afterwards recognized and made permanent by the secretary of war, Edwin M. Stanton. Its members were James E. Yeatman, J. B. Johnson, George Partridge, Carlos S. Greeley, and W. G. Eliot. Besides the hospital work for the sick and wounded, the Western Sanitary Commission was intrusted by the authorities with the care and relief of Union refugees, and of fugitive slaves from the South. Many thousands of both these classes of sufferers thronged to St. Louis, generally in wretched condition, not only impoverished, but thriftless and inefficient. In one way or another they were taken care of until some sort of work was found by which they could earn their bread. Special funds were liberally contributed, chiefly from New England, for such uses.

W.G.E.

By 1866 Gen. J. W. Davidson troops had helped raise $12,150, and then to $16,242 for the monument.  (Today that would be equal to over $130,000). The Monument was totally funded by the former enslaved people.

Keep the Emancipation Memorial Statue

What is a monument? Merriam-Webster Dictionary: says a lasting evidence, reminder, or example of someone or something notable or great (2) a distinguished person (b) a memorial stone or a building erected in remembrance of a person or event. Public monuments everywhere are being removed because some find them offensive. Do they know the history of these monuments? And before the desire to remove the Emancipation/Freedom monument in one of our Nation’s most historic cities succeeds, I would like to share with you a petition to KEEP THE EMANCIPATION MEMORIAL STATUE by the great-great-great grandson of the enslaved man rising on the monument. His name is Keith Winstead.

The EMANCIPATION monument in Boston was placed there in 1879, as a tribute to the citizens of that City.  A replica of the Freedom (Emancipation) Memorial in Washington, D.C., is located in Lincoln Park. The first monument was dedicated in 1876 on the 11th Anniversary of  Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, April 14th, 1865. When the formerly enslaved Charlotte Scott heard the news of President Lincoln’s death, she took the first five dollars in money she had earned as a free woman, and gave them to her former master Mr. William P. Rucker a Union refugee from Virginia, who lived in Marietta Ohio then.  She asked him “to make a monument to Massa Lincoln, the best friend the colored people ever had“*.  Rucker would take those funds to the Western Sanitary Commission who said,  Would it not be well to take up this suggestion and make it known to the freedmen?“* A member of the Commission, William Greenleaf Eliot would share it with many of the benefactors of the Freedmen’s Bureau, who by 1866 had helped raise $12,150, and then to $16,242.  Today that would be equal to over $130,000. Those benefactors were the former enslaved of America.

President Abraham Lincoln whose Emancipation Proclamation freed the enslaved.

“In the Capitol grounds at Washington, DC there is a bronze group known as Freedoms Memorial. It represents President Lincoln in the act of emancipating a negro slave, who kneels at his feet to receive his benediction, but whose hand has grasped the chain as if in the act of breaking it, indicating the historical fact that the slaves took active part in their own deliverance.”*

William Greenleaf Eliot, had helped create the Western Sanitary Commission, which was originally established to aid Union and United State Colored Troops hospitals and camps sick, and wounded troops. It was established by Major-General Fremont for the care and relief of Union refugees, of fugitive slaves, and those families. In today’s term it was a non-governmental organization, similar to our American Red Cross during the Civil War. Its funds came in the form of donations, and the largest amount of donations came from Boston. In 1865, when the monument was conceived, the former enslaved Archer Alexander, who is depicted on the monument was living in Eliot’s home.

Who was Keith Winstead’s ancestor Archer Alexander? In 1863, he was a man who chose to do the right thing. When he overheard his master plotting to sabotage the local railroad bridge, he risked being lynched and reported it. He fled from St Charles County to St. Louis, where he was taken into the home of Eliot, who worked to see Archey emancipated. Eliot wrote “His freedom came directly from the hand of President Lincoln”. When Archey saw a picture of the final monument his words were “Now I’se free.”*

*All quotes are from The Story of Archer Alexander from Slavery to Freedom published in Boston, by Cupples, Upham and Company, in 1885 and sold at the Old Corner Bookstore. Written by William G. Eliot, a Unitarian minister and founder of Washington University in St. Louis, Mo.

To join those wanting to see this monument and the history of the time it represents please sign the petition: Keep the Emancipation Memorial go to https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/keep-the-the-emancipation-memorialfreedman-statue?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=&quote_id=quote3&title_id=title3&recruiter=15890036&loc=thank-you-page

Freedom’s Memorial – In Grateful Memory of Abraham Lincoln This Monument was erected by the Western Sanitary Commission of St. Louis, MO: with funds contributed solely by Emancipated Citizens of the United States declared free by his Proclamation January 1st, 1863. The first contribution of five dollars was Charlotte Scott A Freed Woman of Virginia being her first earnings in freedom and consecrated by her suggestion and request on the day she heard of President Lincoln’s death to build a monument to his memory.

Dorris Keeven-Franke and Keith Winstead in front of the Freedom (Emancipation) Memorial in Lincoln Park in Washington, D.C. Keith Winstead is a descendant of Archer Alexander the slave rising. Archer Alexander is also the ancestor of Keith Winstead’s cousin, Muhammad Ali.

Eyes of the Time

What is history? Can it be a monument? Our mothers collect lockets of hair, baby teeth, report cards and hand drawn valentines. A family historian collects old photos and obituaries of as many generations they can.  A company compiles an Annual Report of its greatest achievements for its stockholders. A city will name its’ streets after its’ most famous residents and create museums that share its history. Even our Presidents give us their annual Report to the Nation. We do these things in order to have tangible evidence and records of an event or a person in history, at a certain moment in time. And they help us to listen, recall, and think. They  help us to know, understand and share the story of how far we have come.

In 1865, our nation was ending a most horrible period in its great history. The horrible but “peculiar” institution we know as slavery had ended. Hundreds of thousands of families had lost their husband, father, brother or son, in order for this to happen. They had been led through the crisis by a simple man who lived by creed “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Then he was brutally assassinated. Our country’s former enslaved people wanted to erect a monument to this great man. A woman named Charlotte Rucker took the first money she ever made as a free person, to her former owner, and asked for his help. She wanted to see a monument of that man President Abraham Lincoln.

Emancipation Memorial

The same people who had helped the slaves before, would help them once again. It would take years, but in 1876, with the help of the Western Sanitary Commission, that monument would become a reality. That simple bronze monument, with two figures, a tall white man, and a black man rising on one knee, alongside him. The first ever to include a black person in our Nation’s Capital. It would share that man, with the Emancipation Proclamation at his elbow, leaning benevolently over a slave who had broken his own shackles, suggesting that the slave rise! The time had come for the former slave Archer Alexander to stand and take his place alongside him. That is the story of the Emancipation Memorial with Lincoln and Archer, in Lincoln Park, in Washington, D.C. Another was placed as a tribute and a thank you to the people of Boston, who had been so generous during the Civil War by the sculptor, a former resident named Thomas Ball.  

Originally published on DorrisKeevenFranke.com

Black Lives Matter

In January, of 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation “there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except in punishment of crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted; and all persons held to service or labor as slaves are hereby declared free.” Under Lincoln’s direction, hundreds of thousands of Union soldiers gave their lives to make that statement permanent. How can we forget that? Today we say the same thing when we say Black Lives Matter yet we seek to destroy those statues and images that portray those very first steps taken. How can we know how far we have come, or judge how far we have to go, if we don’t have reminders of these facts, staring us in the face as we pass by them every day? If we destroy these monuments, how can we help our children understand our enslaved ancestors lives, or what our ancestors who fought for their emancipation sacrifices were for? The Union won, and our Country was preserved. Let our Country not be torn apart once again. Emancipation means free, not equal. That is our battle that continues today. Please don’t let us confuse the two issues in our haste. We should not eradicate those battle scars that occurred in 1865, but treasure them, as they are there to serve to remind all of us, how far we have come since then, and how far we have yet to go. Let us stop and listen to their story.

President Lincoln was assassinated because he put an end to slavery. When the formerly enslaved Charlotte Scott heard the news of President Lincoln’s death, she took the first five dollars in money she had earned as a free woman, and gave them to her former master Mr. William P. Rucker a Union refugee from Virginia, who lived in Marietta Ohio then.  She asked him “to make a monument to Massa Lincoln, the best friend the colored people ever had”. Rucker would take those funds to Gen. T.H.C. Smith, and he would make sure that they were given to Mr. James Yeatman, of who he asked “Would it not be well to.take up this suggestion and make it known to the freedmen?” And with that it would soon come under the help of the Western Sanitary Commission, with William G. Eliot at the helm. He would share it with many of the benefactors of the Freedmens Bureau, active during the Civil War.

By 1866, former U.S. Colored Troops, members of the Freedmans Bureau and others formerly enslaved, had helped raise $12,150, and then to $16,242.  (Today that would be equal to over $130,000). But times were changing and their movement was being checked, this was Reconstruction. A photograph had been provided to Thomas Ball a sculptor from Boston Massachusetts who had studied abroad and moved his studio to Italy. He and Eliot were friends and in 1870, they would meet in Ball’s studio. Eliot would explain how things were proceeding for the monument in the U.S., and about the funds raised by the Western Sanitary Commission and that the funds were coming from the formerly enslaved for this, and it was to be their monument. Ball agreed that the amount of funds already collected were sufficient to cast it at the Royal Foundry in Munich. The Western Sanitary Commission also asked Ball to make changes as well. The original plan had called for a passive black man kneeling in a soldier’s cap, before Lincoln. The cap was removed and the slave was to be seen rising, breaking his own chains and taking an active part in gaining his freedom. The slave that is immortalized and represents all of slavery, is none other than that of Archer Alexander, an American hero in his own right.

Today that monument, known as the Emancipation Memorial sits in Washington, D.C. in Lincoln Park. An exact replica also sits in Boston, Massachusetts as a tribute to the people of Boston. See Emancipation Memorial for its history, and the attempts to remove it from the City’s collective memory because there are those who find it offensive as a reminder of a time when a slave was submissive. Take a closer look please, as Archer’s shackles have been broken and he is rising to stand next to Lincoln.

Editorial written by Dorris Keeven-Franke

Boston’s Emancipation Memorial

By Dorris Keeven-Franke

It is said “The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.” Just as our country is torn today with images that will hopefully be considered unbearable in 150 years, the statue of President Abraham Lincoln in Boston’s Park Square is a history lesson that shouldn’t be forgotten either. Unfortunately, its’ true story is not what some people, who feel that the statue represents submissiveness, is all about. The statue, identical to one in Lincoln Park in Washington, D.C., shares the story of America’s emancipator President Abraham Lincoln, and an American hero, Archer Alexander.

On February 28, 1863, a fifty-seven-year-old enslaved man born in Virginia and taken to Missouri when he was 23, overheard his owner Richard Pitman plotting to destroy the nearby railroad bridge. A vital link for the Union Army, Archer risked his life to run 5 miles in the dark of night to warn the troops stationed at the bridge. With a slave patrol in hot pursuit wanting to lynch him, he fled to St. Louis and was taken in by William Greenleaf Eliot. Eliot was a Unitarian minister who was born near Boston, and founder of Washington University, who was also head of the Western Sanitary Commission, and a friend of Lincoln’s. In 1865, when Lincoln was assassinated, a slave named Charlotte Rucker, wanted to see a memorial to “the best friend the colored people ever had.” And Eliot wanted to see Archer Alexander portray the slave breaking his own chains and rising before Lincoln.

William Greenleaf Eliot. Photograph by unknown, no date Missouri History Museum Photograph and Print Collection. Portraits n38667

In 1876, on the anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination, President U.S. Grant and Frederick Douglass dedicated Washington, D.C.’s Emancipation Memorial, which was totally funded by the former enslaved of America, with its’ fundraising coordinated through the Western Sanitary Commission. Boston’s copy was placed there as a tribute as well to Eliot, as the people of Boston were the nation’s largest contributors to the Western Sanitary Commission. That is what people of America saw when they visited your statue in the 1870s.

Left: Archer Alexander 1806-1880. Right: His descendant Muhammad Ali 1942-2016. Archer Alexander is the Great-great-great grandfather of Muhammed Ali.

March 30, 1863

From the blog of Dorris Keeven-Franke https://wordpress.com/view/dorriskeevenfranke.wordpress.com

March 30, 1863

I thought I was familiar with the story of Archer Alexander, the slave that portrays the gratitude the African Americans felt for President Abraham Lincoln. On the Emancipation Memorial in Lincoln Park in Washington, D.C. erected in 1876, Alexander is the image of the enslaved.  After writing about the history of St. Charles County in Missouri for well over thirty years, I had encountered him several times, and had included his story in museum exhibits, shared his story on O’Fallon Missouri’s public media channel in a documentary on him, and written several blogs about him.  I thought I knew his story.

In 1885, William Greenleaf Eliot, the grandfather of poet T.S. Eliot had published THE STORY OF ARCHER ALEXANDER FROM SLAVERY TO FREEDOM March 30, 1863, which is what Dr. Henry Louis Gates would call a “slave narrative”.  Eliot, the founder of Washington University in St. Louis Missouri, and a young minister who had brought the Unitarian Church to St. Louis in 1834, simply refers to himself as “A member of the Western Sanitary Commission in St. Louis, MO”. The small narrative of the life of Archer was published in Boston by Cupples, Upham and Company with the help of his closest friends, James Yeatman and Jesse Benton Fremont. Fremont, who was the daughter of Thomas Hart Benton, a Senator  for the State of Missouri for its’ first 30 years. I wondered why the date of March 30, 1863.

Frontspiece of The Story of Archer Alexander from Slavery to Freedom March 30, 1863

It would not be until a year long journey of discovery that I would understand.  In October of 2018, fellow Bellefontaine Cemetery researcher Jim Guenzel, shared Charlotte Carroll’s article in Sports Illustrated that revealed the recent DNA discovery that Muhammed Ali was the great-great-great grandson of Alexander. After I shared that exciting news on several social media platforms, I received a cryptic text asking me “do you know where Archer Alexander is buried?” by Ali’s third cousin Keith Winstead. I thought I did.  After all, Eliot’s book told us – or so we thought.

Eliot states “His funeral, at which I officiated, took place from the African Methodist Church on Lucas Avenue, and was largely attended. He was decently buried in the Centenary Burial Ground near Clayton Court House, followed to his last resting-place by many friends. A part of the expenses of his long sickness, and all the funeral charges, were defrayed from the funds of the Western Sanitary Commission.” However, Archer, is actually buried with his second wife Julia, in St. Peters Cemetery in Normandy, on Lucas and Hunt Road, listed as Archey Allexander, Age 74 on 12/8/1880 in the Public lot #1. This new evidence would lead us to question why. Why had changes to the story been made?

New discoveries

Archey, was born in 1806, in Lexington, Virginia, and brought to Missouri by James H. Alexander in a caravan led by William Massilon Campbell in 1829. By 1843, he had become the property of a Union man Richard H. Pitman, in Dardenne Township of St. Charles County. Eliot writes “In the month of February 1863, he learned that a party of men had sawed the timbers of a bridge in that neighborhood, over which some companies of Union troops were to pass, with view to their destruction. At night he walked five miles to the house of a well-known Union man, through whom the intelligence and warning were conveyed to the Union troops, who repaired the bridge before crossing it.

Pitman was apparently aware that it was his slave that had pointed the finger. Archey would flee for his life, to avoid a lynching, leaving his wife Louisa and their youngest children behind. Using the ‘underground railroad’ he made his way to a ‘station’ a German butcher, near Beaumont Street ran. There he would be rescued by the wife of Eliot, Abigail Adams Cranch, a niece of the former President John Adams and namesake of his wife, who Archey deemed an “angel”.

Eliot would immediately seek an order of protection for the slave, and contact Pitman asking him to name a price so that he could purchase Archey. Eliot would use his close family friend Barton Bates, the oldest son of Edward Bates who was Lincoln’s attorney general, also a friend and related by marriage to Pitman as intermediary for the transaction. After Pitman returned an answer to Eliot at his home, by sending slave catchers to attack and kidnap Archey, who nearly succeeded in selling him “south”, Eliot took matters into his own hands. On the date of March 30, 1863 William Greenleaf Eliot would pen his own letter to Pitman, informing him that his efforts were unsuccessful and that he would do everything he could to see Archer Alexander free!

For more of this story…. https://wordpress.com/home/archeralexander.wordpress.com

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Dorris Keeven Franke

I thought I was familiar with the story of Archer Alexander, the slave that portrays the gratitude the African Americans felt for President Abraham Lincoln. On the Emancipation Memorial in Lincoln Park in Washington, D.C. erected in 1876, Alexander is the image of the enslaved. After writing about the history of St. Charles County in Missouri for well over thirty years, I had encountered him several times, and had included his story in museum exhibits, shared his story on O’Fallon Missouri’s public media channel in a documentary on him, and written several blogs about him. I thought I knew his story.

In 1885, William Greenleaf Eliot, the grandfather of poet T.S. Eliot had published THE STORY OF ARCHER ALEXANDER FROM SLAVERY TO FREEDOM March 30, 1863, which is what Dr. Henry Louis Gates would call a “slave narrative”. Eliot, the founder of Washington University in St. Louis Missouri, and…

View original post 663 more words

Looking for descendants

In 1829, a small group of four families, Campbell, McCluer, Wilson and Alexander, all wealthy and well educated . planters from Virginia, came with their enslaved, about two dozen of them. They settled in “Dardenne” along the Booneslick Road, south of the Zumwalt place, (O’Fallon) in St. Charles County, Missouri. They were all members of the Dardenne Presbyterian Church. Alexander and his wife died during the cholera epidemic and by 1835 the enslaved were all under the management of the estate’s executor William Campbell. The enslaved would build the Campbell house on the Booneslick (Today Hwy N – just west of Hwy K) completing it in 1836 (This historic home still stands today).

At the Peruque Creek Railroad Bridge

One of the enslaved was named Archer Alexander. He was born in Rockbridge County, Virginia in 1806. He was smart man and given a lot of responsibility. He and his wife Louisa would have 10 children. By 1843, she was owned by James Naylor, who owned the mercantile, was the postmaster and was a stop on the Booneslick Road. Her husband Archer, was owned by Richard Hickman Pitman, who was a Methodist, and a member of Mt. Zion Methodist in O’Fallon. Archer was considered an uppity slave because he often talked about freedom. In February 1863, he got his chance. Knowing that his owner and several others in his neighborhood had undermined the nearby railroad, he took a brave step and informed the Union Army stationed there, that the next train to cross would most likely collapse and kill hundreds. Immediately, he was the prime suspect as the informant, and the local Slave Patrol was out to lynch Archer. Using what we call the “underground railroad” he escaped to St. Louis. There he was befriended by William Greenleaf Eliot founder of St. Louis’ Washington University who is buried at Bellefontaine Cemetery and Arboretum.

Today, Archer is the enslaved man rising and breaking his chains with President Abraham Lincoln on the Emancipation Memorial in Washington DC, in Lincoln Park. He is also the ancestor of Muhammed Ali. Seven children of Archer and Louise were born in St. Charles County, and today we are looking for descendants of them. They were all born before 1843 when their names and their values were listed as:

Archer Alexander
  • Eliza $325 married a Campbell
  • Mary Ann $300
  • Archer $225
  • James $200 married 1)Hattie Yates 2)Caroline Callaway
  • Alexander $175
  • Lucinda $150
  • John $125

Archer died Dec. 8, 1880, and is buried in St. Louis in St. Peters Cemetery. Louisa died in 1865 and is buried in St. Charles County. We know many of their children remained here, and married and have descendants living here. We are hoping that someone reads this and has heard their family story and knows they are connected. We have DNA kits for anyone who would like to test.

St. Louis

With the Missouri Compromise, Missouri entered the United States as a “slave state” in 1821. Settlement began with the French and Spanish but with the Louisiana Purchase, slave owners from Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennesee would soon fill the Missouri River valleys. With the German migration that began in the 1830s those same valley’s demographics and attitude would change tremendously, and hold Missouri for the Union. St. Louis, was a very vital, pivotal and important location and a hotbed for abolitionists.

Many of the Boone family and their friends brought their enslaved with them to Missouri.

In 1829, a small group of four families, wealthy Virginia planters would join family members who had already established themselves, with their two dozen enslaved, [For more about that trip from Virginia to Missouri see https://archeralexander.wordpress.com/2019/07/22/from-virginia-to-missouri/ ] One of which was named Archer Alexander. They settled along Dardenne Creek, in the middle of St. Charles County, but Archer would be put to work in the St. Louis brickyards. He was an uppity slave and really desired his freedom.

In February 1863, he got his chance. Knowing that his owner and several others in his neighborhood had undermined the nearby railroad, he took a brave step and informed the Union Army stationed there, that the next train to cross would most likely collapse and kill hundreds. He was the prime suspect, and the slave patrol was out to lynch him.

Using the same method as any fugitive slave, he fled to St. Louis and just happened to land in the home of William Greenleaf Eliot, a Unitarian minister. Eliot also happened to be the founder of Washington University, the Western Sanitary Commission, and a highly respected member of the St. Louis community. He was also an abolitionist. Eliot saved Archer’s life and would see that he received his freedom.

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”. This man provides St. Louis and all African-Americans a reason to be proud of the monument in Lincoln Park, in Washington, D.C., today.

Archer Alexander is also the ancestor of the great Muhammad Ali. For more about Archer’s life in St. Louis see https://archeralexander.wordpress.com/st-louis/

Family Reunion of A Alexander February 2019
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