The Cooley Family © 1985
Issue: October, 1985
Read Intro About Elizabeth's Journal
The following is an excerpt from a journal kept by Elizabeth Cooley McClure of Carroll County, Virginia from 1842 (she was 17 then) until her death in 1848. Her journal not only reflects the day to day world she and her family lived in, but a young girl's hopes and expectations for the future.
The Journal follows Elizabeth and her new husband, James McClure, as they leave the Blue Ridge and head to Texas by wagon only to be turned back by the Mexican War. She and James then head upriver to Missouri. The details of their travels portray the sheer grit of mountain people.
A special thanks to the Cooley family for sharing it with us.
August 19th  Today Mc's school commenced. I have been cyphering and spinning. Children crying, Nancy sick.. I feel solid and firm bent on learning...low spirits. [Elizabeth and James McClure are staying with her brother and family who previously settled in Missouri.]
Sunday, Sept. 7th. At Hezekiah's but have been teaching school two weeks. Small school, sickly children, sometimes feel very bad, again feel well. I like teaching tolerably well indeed.
Sunday, 13th Sept. At Keeton's Was here every night last week. Mr. McClure took the ague and fever Monday and has been very bad...quit his school. I don't feel quite well, headache. I don't know what to do. I wish I was back in Virginia. I am not happy here. Everything going to destruction, drinking the worst kind of water, breaking our constitutions.
(The following paragraph is in a different handwriting.)
14th Sept. Very windy though warm. I am sitting by myself in my room writing; and thinking whose land in Virginia I will get when & if I go back. Mrs. McClure gone to school. McClure, 14th. at 8:00.
Sunday 20th. Another school week gone which is 4 and I do little besides study. I sit up nights and cipher, of days study geography and grammer and get along very well. Mc. has regained his health so as to attend to his school. I have been ciphering in vulgar fractions, squared the enbe root. I pray that the Lord will brighten my ideas. I enjoy myself tolerably well at school. If I get leisure time I am restless beyond description. I don't know how to content myself.
Sunday 27th Sept. Cold last night, warm today. Been reading John Westley. My mind is busy and active in many things. Today it is smoky like Indian summer which always has a charm for me.
I washed yesterday out of Big Creek. In pretty good health... have uncontrollable desire to return to Virginia. Mr. McClure taught Friday for me. I was there too.
Oct. 4, 1846. Frost this morning for the first this year. We are still at Keaton's. They have brought in complaint against Mr. McClure as unable or unwilling to teach arithmetic. He has adjourned his school, so have I, on account of sickness. We wanted to go to H. Smith's today but can't find the filly. Next Saturday to be examined again at J. Moor's. We are now and intend studying this coming week entirely. It is our trade but it is hard. Mc. will be tried Saturday whether he is smart. Certainly I do sincerely pray he may come out victorious; for he is unjustly accused I think.
Thursday 25th October. In our room by the fire writing on the box. Friday the fire burned the prairie all up most, and all the Wilmotts and Kenny's fence and wheat. It was a sight indeed.
Nov. 4, 1846. Mr. McClure has been examined one time more and come out in flying colors, thank Providence. I have been writing a letter to Amanda [Elizabeth's sister] today. Mr McClure is writing in it now. We are writing on the box by the fire. Three weeks more and I'll be done [her school] on Big Creek. I am tired of going to school and no scholars and I am tired of this open room and geography Atlas.