A journey to Missouri

In August 1885, when a highly respected Unitarian minister William Greenleaf Eliot wrote The Story of Archer Alexander from Slavery to Freedom there was only so much of the story he could share. Only so much America would be willing to hear. Originally written for his grandchildren, it wasn’t until his friends suggested that he publish it that he approached a publisher. It was immediately rejected. American wasn’t ready yet. He turned to his close friend Mrs. Jessie Benton Fremont who took it upon herself to help Eliot’s cause along. This was a difficult time for our country and the wounds were still fresh. Reconstruction had begun. Today we now know that the untold story is even more amazing! Its’ time we hear the true story of Archer Alexander an American hero!

Our story begins in August of 1829 in the beautiful valleys of Virginia. Where several prestigious families and their enslaved had lived for several generations. These were families that had fought in our War for Independence. While several families began the journey with 28 enslaved individuals, along the way babies would be born and children would die. More would join them in Kentucky. They were headed to the land of opportunity, leaving their mothers behind forever.

Beginning on July 15, 2019, we will begin in Virginia and once again make a journey to Missouri and share the story through Louisville, Kentucky, and visit all of the places in their journal. Join us in our journey as we share the past and the present, and the untold story of Archer Alexander. You can also follow us on Facebook

Started from Lexington, on a journey to the state of Missouri.. My own object in going to that remote section of the Union was to seek a place where I might obtain an honest livelihood by the practice of law. I travel in company with four families containing about 50 individuals, white and black. 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 servents [sic], 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 several negro slaves. (1) 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…

One of those nine slaves being brought to Missouri by James Alexander was 23 year-old Archer Alexander (2), sometimes referred to as Archey, born in 1806. James was one of the thousands of Virginians moving to Missouri, where land was plentiful and cheap. HIs brother-in-law Dr. Robert McCluer has already purchased land in St. Charles County, near Dardenne Creek. They were leaving Rockbridge County Virginia, where their families, and the families of their slaves had lived for several generations. The author of this journal is William M. Campbell (3) who would want to share with the families back in Virginia, the best places to stop, where the inns and the food was accommodating. He wants others to know which roads are best, the tolls, and ferries.


(1) The 1830 Census for James Alexander shows the following: Slaves – Males – Under 10 1; Slaves – Males – 24 thru 35 1; Slaves – Females – Under 10 2; Slaves – Females – 10 thru 23 5. There were a total 28 slaves in the party of 50 people in the caravan.

(2) The death record for Archer Alexander (1) states that at the time of his death on December 8, 1880 that he was 74 years old. At the St. Peters UCC Cemetery where he is buried in an unmarked grave, he is stated to be 74 years old.

(3) William Massilon Campbell was born in 1805 the son of Dr. Samuel LeGrand Campbell (1765-1840) and his wife Sarah “Sally” Reid (1774-1846).

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