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.
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/
*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.
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