The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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Heart of the Blue Ridge

Elizabeth's Journal – Part 5 of 18

The Cooley Family © 1985

Issue: February, 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.

Feb.5th, 1844: We have quilted Ma's quilt, picked some dead sheep wool and spun it and spun to make James shoe socks and knit them. Last Sunday was a week and me and Julian went to Coxes. I saw several persons there. Edy and Ruth Davis, Ben and Soloman came home with me and Soloman stayed all night. We sung a heap and I enjoyed myself uncommon well, and last Sunday Jeffery and Jestin come here. Last week I knit and piddled about. The weather was very bad. Today is a very bad day - hailing. James and Frank started to Carroll court. I have had a dreamy, time for awhile...I know not what to do. I am as it is doing nothing and no one complaining of me, but I perhaps will have to determine something in the matrimonial line before long and I am as wavering as the wind about it. One moment I am ready to give my hopes into the hands of one with character unformed and no particular way of making a living, but young. More than all I love him, but I know not how lasting circumstance has drawn me in without my knowing it, and has not went far enough to show me the depth of my affection for him. At another moment I think I will marry a man of good living principles, settled, but of a bad family, about 31 years old, but I have no particular love for him at this time, but far from hatred. Some doubt his goodness..."so do I". At another moment I forsake all and fly off to Missouri in a flash of pride and worldly ambition. Therefore I know not myself and will lie silent until I find out. I will go to reading the Spectator or temperance tales by [unreadable].

Feb 11th, 1844. We have got our cloth from Salem, James and Frank brought it Tuesday from Carico's. We made James and Frank and Papa pantaloons out of it. Yesterday Amanda come home and is just now gone. James started to go a piece with her. We have been expecting P. Cox here today. It is a clear sunshiny day but cloudy. It has been very cold last week; At this time I am as me and Amanda used to say, having a good time without anyone knowing it. We learn nothing, make nothing, so we are all most completely dormant in every sense of the word.

Feb. 16th. Yesterday me and James went to town. I got dinner at Papa's over coat. I fear we cannot make it, but with the help of providence we will come through. Today Nancy and Polly Cox was here...James and Frank went to Aunt Mary's. Ben and Jeffery is here now. Last week we made Ika's pants, me and Manda night caps and knit edging.

Sunday, 25th of Feb. Mother and myself worked all last week on Papa's over coat and got it finished to satisfaction and pleasure. Old Clayton came here Thursday and got drunk yesterday evening. Phillip Edwards and Ben came here today. James, Julian and Ika is gone to meeting. Jeffery and Ben came by and went with them. Father and Mother is gone to look at the new fields and fencings and such likes. I have been writing a letter to Parthena.