The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Elizabeth's Journal - Part 11 of 18

The Cooley Family © 1985

Issue: August, 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.

Friday 29th May [1846] We got to Shreveport 25th. Had a sight of trouble and made out to get to the 4 mile spring awhile after night…went to bed in the little towing wagon. Our covering was the broad canopy of heaven. Next day traveled about 10 miles, camped on a hill. Yesterday it rained, wet our things. Mc. is very sick. Traveled 8 miles. Rained, we went in the house and slept. The wind blew tremendous - prostrated timber, ruined corn. I am tired out, wet and dirty. I want to stop, our poor things are wet and I fear spoiling. My little camphor bottle Jesse gave to me is broken. The men are greasing the wagon. We are in low spirits.

Last day May, 1846. On 29th we came to a little old cabin belonging to Mrs. Bots. Mc. so sick can scarcely walk to the spring - sleeps most all the time. In Harrison City, Texas. A stern, heartless people, no sympathy. I want to go away. I think we had better go to Missouri though I dread those sickly rivers with which we have to contend. I do not know what to do or how we can live, but if we were in Carroll, Va. I think we would never leave that loved and lovely place, for of all the miserable and hopeless mortals, I ever fear death…I fear to die here and my grave tramped over by strangers. Mc. is sick and prostrate on the bed, a scaffold with boards, then our bed on that. The gnats about to eat me up alive.

I feel tolerably healthy, have a heap to do and in the worst heart I ever was. I rue the day we ever thought of Texas for I fear it will end our happiness if not our lives. It is out of the world, out of the market, out of home!! Oh! Ambition how hast thou led me astray…How I have followed you through the dangers of this life and what is thy reward? An aching head and heart…

June 1, 1846. In the evening. I still am here in this little old cabin but thank God Mc. is some better. We talk of going to Missouri…I dread that too but think tis best now. I can have some sympathizing friends there I think. If I am not satisfied there, I want to go back to Virginia.

June 4th, Thursday. Yesterday morning left old cabin, stopped last night at 4 mile spring, got to Shreveport 9 o'clock…waiting for a boat. Mc. is a little better…troubled bad…dread the sickness but cannot stay here. Will try for Missouri, but I fear will not suit us. I fear we never will be contented in this life, but hope we will. The love of gold. Oh! How cursed…how much happier we might have been had we stayed. How gloomy is our prospects now. A sick husband here in this old nasty warehouse and nasty sickly alligator river, before us a sickly clime to contend with…a long and sickly dangerous road before us and no home nor friends, spending our little estate for broken hearts and ruined constitutions.