The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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Heart of the Blue Ridge

Elizabeth's Journal - Part 15 of 18

The Cooley Family © 1985

Issue: December, 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.

December 27, 1846. My school is out. I have been here 5 weeks and no where else. The children have all been sick and are still sick. Martin, poor child is dead. We sat up a long time with him and he suffered much. Christmas is come and gone.. I sat up Christmas eve with little James. He is better now. I have had the scarlet fever. Mc. has made up a writing school at the Lone Jack. I expect to go to the geography school next week and then the next, to go to Keeton's to keep school for three months. I feel a little better than I did though not healthy nor fat.

NEW YEAR'S DAY. I am at H. Smith's. Children are getting better but very cross. It snowed last night 7 or 8 inches deep and snowing and blowing yet. Mc. is teaching a writing school at the Lone Jack. I have been to singing this week but it is too cold today to go. I study here today and work a little. I have often wondered what would be at the next New Years - now I find myself a married woman living in Missouri being a lady, not working but still studying...enjoy myself tolerably well but a long ways from home.

9 Jan. Very cold...has been all the week. Mc. is very unwell, had a blister drawn on his breast, caught cold but is better, but a pain in his breast yet. I fear it will not get well soon, but hope it will. We went to meeting last Sunday and attached ourselves to the Methodist Church. Glad we did, and Thursday morning agreed to drink no more dram for fun...I was glad again. I am very well and if Mc. was could enjoy myself very well. I learned a good deal of geography.

January 24, 1847. Living at Hezehiah's yet - went all last week to the writing school, today been to circuit meeting. I do really enjoy myself very well. I am in good health. Mc. is writing an article for another school, Hezekiah reading, Nancy reading too, Isaac, Davis singing in the other room - children asleep. We have a heap of enjoyment at school, some anyway.

Feb. 9, 1847. Last week I made Mc. 2 shirts, he bought me a pair of side combs, a pocket comb. He has a writing school made at Pleasant Hill to be taught this week. Perhaps I will teach it. If I do, may the Lord help me, keep me from error. It will be a new business to me. I dread it a little, but I must do something to live by.

Feb. 26, 1847. This is a fast day. The snow fell last night about an inch deep. Mc. is gone to "Blue" - went last Monday. I don't know exactly what he is doing, but I hope it is what is right. I have been married 12 months and one day.

J.W. McClure [The following is in a different handwriting.] Old Mr. Harris is sick...I think he is going happy. It is awful sickly now. I felt curious. I thought of my old home. I fear sickness.

April 4, 1847. Yesterday I went to singing school and today I went. Mr. McClure came here last night and is sick...has been sick all week. I have taught school 4 weeks. This is Easter day. It rained pretty shower of rain last night and today. There is no sign of grass until last night. I felt uneasy and restless all last week.