The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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Heart of the Blue Ridge

Elizabeth's Journal - Part 3 of 18

The Cooley Family © 1984

Issue: December, 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.

Dec. 10th [1843]. We have finished Amanda's dress, put in and quilted my quilt and made James a waistcoat. Lowell Shoat was here Saturday, and James came home that evening and next day went to Carroll Court, him and Frank. Amanda and myself went to Joshua Hankses a visiting. We made Steven Sink a blue coat and James a pair of coarse pantaloons. I have finished my flax hose, and knitting one pair gloves. Frank and James has been chopping; last Thursday Mr. Banner was here and sold Papa some leather. Yesterday I went and got Abner to come here and cut out our shoes. Today Calvin Jones is to be buried. I had liked to have went but Fate, Alas forbade the trip, it bade me do as usual, stay at home, read, fret, study, grieve and journalize. But even now me thinks amidst the gloominess of thought perhaps it is for the best; perhaps it is for some design of the All wise Creator that I was born in this lone and solitary spot to accomplish some ends...I otherwise would be unfit' but for all I have no real proof, No! it is the silent whisperings of prophetic hope, blest consoling word, my staff of life my all is hope.

Nobody has been here today but Tom Thorp and Ben. None of us has been anywhere today, but James and Ika went to the schoolhouse to debate but no one attended, so James and Frank went off with Ben. I have tried to make poetry but all in vain. Oh God of Mercy be with me, guide me through the mazes of this ever varying world, let me not fall in the gulf of annihilation without one dubious hope of Heaven, and if my happiness is all to be measured out on this earth, oh could have some fond heart to beat in unison with my own...not live in a world of my own...nobody knowing, nobody caring for me. But oh me, why do I repine, why is it not the will of God. Yes, oh God, have I offended thee? I ask, I pray for forgiveness, for my heart and mind is carnal...not my will but thine be done.

Dec. 17th 1843. Last week Amanda and myself pieced Mother a quilt, made a bolster tick and case, finished our money purses, made Father and James & Ika shirts, etc. All of us has been at home but Frank and James went to Nathans a hunting. Nobody has been here but Jerry Ward...I ciphered some and nothing some; I have given up the idea of Campbell's coming. I expect Amanda will teach and I do nothing much.

Dec. 24th, 1843. Last week we quilted my quilt over again...began me some edging, and yesterday scoured and washed. We sat up all night Friday night with Polly Cox. She sent Friday for me. She's very bad with the cramp colic...she is some better. I expect to go there to sit up tonight. Mother and Julian is gone to Nathans to see Jane. She is sick too...I went to Abners to get shoes made...they are done. Nathans property is all executed to be sold. Frank is gone home to take Christmas. James is gone to Churchville at Moore's to get some brandy. We are looking for Rebecca and Jesse. Papa went to town yesterday to clean Mathises clock. Mrs. Mathis says she will come to see us sometime. Campbell told Josh Hanks he would be sure to come this week. Hope is still surviving.