The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Elizabeth's Journal - Part 13 of 18

The Cooley Family © 1985

Issue: October, 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.

June 19th. [1846] Sailing up Mo.. very warm. Good dinner.

June 21st. I am in the cabin of steamboat dressed in muslin delano, pretty and fine. Was looking in my black reticule, found my pencil, have it on now. Spent the forenoon lying on the bed talking with Mc. about all our friends and how they looked, how we loved them…whether we will ever be content where they are or not. Passed Brunswick the mouth of Osage River…get to Independence tomorrow. We have ladies cabin full of wild roses and elder. Mc. is on the bed sick and asleep. I fear he will always be weakly. I, sitting here in my room fine as it can be, writing and crying and I can't tell why, but tis a lonesome Sunday feeling.

June 22nd. Almost to Independence…Mc. sick. The boat was grounded till 12 today. Passed Lexington and Camden yesterday evening. Saw a fair wide prairie for the first one. Very cool and windy today.

June 24th, Monday Evening. Lexington. We got to Independence Landing, went to tavern, 11:00 went to bed. Tuesday morning William [her brother who settled in Missouri] came down there. I was very glad to see him. It rained. We rode up here in a hack; been here two days, raining all the time. Suffer very much of pride. I can't be fine, everything out of pocket.

June 25th. Today been over to William's shop, saw all his things. He owns a heap.

June 28th. Mc is getting better and I have hope of real enjoyment. I have on black silk…the people dress very fine and tasty.

June 29th. Been here all day. Isaac Smith came up here, is gone home to send Davis with the buggy. I hate staying here so long. I hate to put them to the trouble of coming after us but I can't help myself.. it is the best I can do in present dependent situation but I do hope and long to be more independent. It is very warm today.

July 10th. Been over to Gorshen's school. Mc is sick and I feel low spirited indeed. It is such a pity persons should be raised in one climate, then removed to another.

Sunday July 12th. At Hezekiah's. They are very good to me here and kind to us. I hope we can pass an examination and make some money and live ourselves. Mc. yesterday took some of Cook's pills and is better. I think he will get well now.

July 29th. Sometimes feel bad - it is so sickly here now - and warm. I don't feel satisfied and fear I never will. It is too bad a country to think of permanently settling. The extreme heat, cold, ague, fevers and such bad weather. Mc. is started to get his certificate and me one too. I fear, but hope to do well.

August 2nd. Mr. McClure has been sitting by me reading and singing. We love each other well and have near and good friends here, but I do not at present like this country. It is sickly and disagreeably hot. I sweat all the time. I wish we were settled, we could have so much peace. I have been in company so much I am willing to retire and enjoy domestic felicity.