The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Elizabeth's Journal – Part 4 of 18

The Cooley Family © 1985

Issue: January, 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.

Jan, 1st, 1845. Today we worked on Jesse's over coat and Mother made James a shirt. He is gone to Reed Island to J.W. McClure's school and I am glad. Pleasant Taylor hauled wood here today. Jinsey [slave] helped him. One of Julian's eyes is very sore so she had to go to bed at an early hour No person was here today but Jerry Ward. It is past nine.. All gone to bed but Amanda and myself and Jinsey is sewing around her bed quilt. Last night after we went to bed, Amanda & Ika in the boy's bed, Julian and myself in our bed, indulged our wild and unruly imaginations flying off through the impenetrable future as it were to gather items of prophecy to whisper in the soft accents of presentment what would we be about next New Years eve. We said perhaps I would be in a little house a "sweet companion in arms". Amanda here with Ika or come to see me. Painter barked and howled all night. What! Oh what will we be a doing.

Jan. 19th. We have made Jesse's over coat and Churchwell's w.c. We have ripped to pieces our brown dresses to alter them. I knit edging for Louisa a collar and made it. Amanda knit edging for Louisa a skirt and took it to Silases yesterday. Last Sunday week Amanda went to Jesse's; Mother and myself went to Silas Wards to see Louisa. James and Churchwell left here and we hunted sheep. Monday me and Amanda went to Haginses and got the sheep and Tuesday I went to James Wilkenson's to take a watch. We have been ciphering last week..we have got as far as Compound Reduction. It has been a warm and open winter so far. We debated with ourselves whether to go to town to meeting or not, but Providence ever merciful showed us better, for today Amanda is sick, it is cold and beginning to sleet. Ika is reading.. He reads most looks like a perpetual school here now.