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 from Rockbridge County, Virginia to Saint Charles County Missouri. If we listen closely to this journal of William Campbell, we might hear the voices of the enslaved… after all this is their story too. Archer Alexander is the face of freedom on the Emancipation Monument in Washington DC.
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. Campbell’s journal is being shared so that we may hear all the voices, including those whose voices were not shared originally.
In July 2019, Archer Alexander’s great-great-great grandson Keith Winstead and author Dorris Keeven-Franke visited Lexington and the Rockbridge Historical Society in Virginia.
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.”*
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,… Continue Reading “Looking for descendants”
In an effort to trace Alexander’s early roots Keith Winstead and I will begin in Virginia. Join us as we take a journey along the same route, footstep by footstep, laid out in Campbell’s diary that brought these people to Missouri. Winstead, who shares the DNA of his cousin Muhammad Ali, has been researching his family for thirty years. We invite you to share in this journey of Discovery.
The search for that special slave known as Archer Alexander has begun and needs to be found. Only then can that “true” story, as Keith Alexander calls it, be really known. Not easy when you are trying to find the genealogy of a slave. This is what is known as thorough and exhaustive research, for those of you who like the leaf, click and save method. And while it is not easy, the rewards are truly “Amazing”!
Using DNA the family is looking for other descendants of Archer Alexander. They are planning a reunion in St. Charles County in August 2019.
Modern science is giving family historians everywhere a big boost. Keith Winstead has been working on his ancestor Wesley Alexander for nearly 30 years, and tried the new technology. The amazing results revealed all kinds of surprises. He knew his family’s connections to Cassius Clay. But it was not until he did further DNA tests, that he learned that they were all related to the slave immortalized in the Emancipation Memorial, Archer Alexander.
The final resting place of Archer Alexander, who was famously immortalized in the Emancipation Memorial, in Washington, D.C. in 1876 has been found. The location was unknown, and searched for by his descendant Keith Winstead for years.