The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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Heart of the Blue Ridge

Elizabeth's Journal - Part 2 of 18

The Cooley Family © 1984

Issue: November, 1984

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.

November 20th, 1842: My time is not spent to my satisfaction along of late. I am busy as can be but it is still work in the house, such as sewing or something of the kind. I would prefer a more busy life. I would sacrifice most anything to gain my own livelihood by my own work and to know that I lived altogether on my own exertions. It would be a satisfaction beyond description. Last Monday which was the 14th of November was the first time they fed the cows this year. It is very cold today. We have had two snows this year, and according to "prophecy we will have eight more.

November, Sunday 5th, 1843: Last Monday I went to Mill and to John *** [unreadable] and to Mrs. Stoneman's. There I found a book entitled Biglands History of Animals and Birds. They lent it to me and I have been reading it. Tuesday Amanda and myself went to Aunt Mary's to a sewing. I there was truly disgusted at the crafty meanness of the worldly people, and Wednesday I wove on Polly Ward's counterpane and I went to put in a piece of table cloth for Jestin. Thursday Julian and me went to Delia Hankses to a quilting. There were a gang of ignorant fools and Saturday our corn was husked. They got done by 3 o'clock and then foot racing, wrestling and dancing and debating and blowing the fire coal had to be done. N.I. King had a book here, The Parlor Letter writer. John Fulks stayed all night here. James [brother] is gone to Carroll Court, Father reading geography, Mother Biglands History, Julian [sister] dictionary, Amanda [sister] journalizing! Ika [nephew] gadding about the house. Jinsey [slave] spelling. The trees of the forest are changed to a hard grim red; to aid in painting the chilly gloom of Autumn, but oh, the Fall Flowers are too beautiful, too; sweet and delicate to be mingled with the balance of this contaminated world where guilt often, meets applause and virtues by diffidence are lost in the dark shades of oblivion. Like me the Flowers are kept close from the resplendent beauty of light, likewise from the icy frosts and also from the beaming love, streaming from the eyes of the fond Florist whose very soul could melt in tears for their sake.