The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Elizabeth's Journal - Part 16 of 18

The Cooley Family © 1986

Issue: January, 1986

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.

April 25, 1847. This day got a letter saying my Dear Father is dead...shocking word...awful truth he is no more. My own, my dear father is dead. He died 24 March, buried 26. How dear and how much lamented. I was at meeting today when I heard it, large congregation. Stayed last night at Hightowe, at Mallory's now. Mr. McClure here. Been talking over matters and things. He is sick...pain in his side...affliction of the lungs, spleen or something, blister on his side. Last Monday he went to Independence and got him and me watches...his silver, mine pretty gold, both skeleton, leaves me a breast pin and pen holder from Wm. Cooley. It is pretty weather, grass getting green. I am sorry for poor Mother and sisters. Could I relieve them!

May 17. Mr. McClure has a school at Barker's. He has taught one week. He is just now started again. We cried about leaving now and leaving last spring, our dear native home...We are getting along very well now I think. I have a very large school, 28 scholars. I have some trouble with them of course, and may the Lord have mercy on us, give me strength both of body and mind, show me how to govern myself, my school.

May 27, Saturday. Been to meeting, Powell exhorted. Mr. McClure came home last night. His horse has gone and left him. I am uneasy about it. I have a good school, get along very well, have some scrimages.

May 31, 1847. I have been to the quarterly meeting at a little meeting house in the brush. I took sacrament for the first time in life, put our letters in the church again. I rode behind Mrs. Wood. It rained a good deal, raised the creek to swimming so McClure will stay tonight with me. I have been ciphering a little. There is a talk of P. Hawkins and several large boys coming to school. I had rather they would not.

Thursday 18, been to school, Mallory's wife gone to Wood's. I by myself going to the Burris'. Small school this week. P. Hawkins like to drive.. I feel bad a little about something. I want to see Mc. bad. There is a letter at Pleasant Hill I want so bad, I need it, but take all things together I do unusually well I think. I am trying for [unreadable] religion.

Sunday 21, 1847. I have been to Sloane's meeting, good many persons. I feel that I need religion. I study about it a great deal. This day we received a letter from Jesse Worrell, one from James [her brother], Julian and Amanda [her sisters], and a journal from Amanda. Mr. McClure is gone again - he came last night at dark. I feel tolerable well this evening. I am so sorry for poor Mother - I suffer a heap about it lately.

June 26, 1847. Small school last week. Mr. McClure lost his horse again and he went down to H. Smith's and got him a [unreadable]. We are staying by ourselves tonight. Talked about going to Va. and how we will fix. In about 2 years from now I calculate on being near Carroll, Va. My heart yearns towards there. Oh could I see Mother I would be as happy as mortals most ever are.