The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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Heart of the Blue Ridge

Elizabeth's Journal - Part 6 of 18

The Cooley Family © 1985

Issue: March, 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.

This month we print excerpts from several different monthly entries showing her acquaintance with James McClure ripening into romance The year is 1845 and Elizabeth is now 20 years old.

March 19th, 1845. Last Friday evening Caroline D. came here and Saturday Amanda and me and her went to Hillsville to meeting. I expect James [her brother] and James McClure will come home with them [Amanda and Julian, her sisters]

March 19th, 1845. Today Amanda and Julian [her sisters] has gone to Burcham's to meeting...I expect James [her brother] and James McClure will come home with them, James to stay, Mc to take James' nag back...

August 10th [1845] I went to meeting to T. Thorps. McClure came here last evening and went with me to meeting. I came off and left him...a slight rather but claimed forgiveness...I love some but I do not know how much.

October 19th 1845...James Mc. I suppose is talking of going to Floyd to College. James says that Mc. talks of coming here today or tomorrow after his watch before he goes to college, thinking to stay 3 years...but is it possible? Can it be that he too will neglect me like so many others do; but if he does go to stay three years, his love for me will not amount to the weight of three feathers; but if he thinks best for himself, go and forget and bury the childish past in the gay speculations of calculating manhood and the future...These! these! thoughts, more than these fill and make up the week. But I want to see him and hear from his own lips his plans, and my hopes let them be great or small.

Nov. 9th, 1845...Last Sunday J.W. McClure came here and it was cold and misty, but nevertheless we went in the garden and stayed about two hours, and during that time made a bargain between us that is to last forever or during life, a confession...a bargain that is to seal our happiness or ruin for life. Our fates hereafter will inevitable be linked as one, and I hope, and pray, that nothing but harmony and love will accompany us way farers through this life. May no discordant word jar our united hopes and enjoyments in this life and life to come...

Nov. 30th. [1845]...Yesterday evening J.W. McClure came here and left today. We talked all our affairs over...the contemplation is for me to go to school till I understand Grammar, then fix and get married about the 25th of February, then prepare and go off from this country clear away, probably to Texas, leaving all that is near and dear to try our luck in a far off and unknown region; to carve our way through thick and thin but naught to love or care for save our line selves; and may Great and Good and Merciful God point out the way and guard and guide our unpracticed arts and schemes, to prosper our health, not to decay and languish away.

Dec. 28th, 1845...Matilda and Martin came home with us and J.W. McClure was here when we came back...J.W.Mc. remained all night again. We sat up and chit chatted until 2 o'clock; we are to be married 25th of February if nothing happens more than common. Father and Mother have been told of it and laid in no veto. I am through my Grammar one time and love my school and love my study better than I did at first. In short I am better contented with myself than before. The case is this: my mind is the most busy, most active at present. I have long sought for one on whose confidence to rely...To whom I can without restraint, pour out my inmost secrets "from their thousand secret cells," one who can love and confide and bear with me through all the various vicissitudes of life; for such a one I long have sought and now I (think) have found. May such be the case...

Next month, Elizabeth's wedding and the start of a marriage and a long trip west.