Call number: Mss5:1 M1328:1
[Note: Elizabeth Ann Cooley was born July 21, 1825, in Grayson County (now Carroll County), Virginia, and died March 29, 1848, at Independence, Missouri. Cooley started the journal when she was 17 years old. She was only 22 when the last page was written. Cooley married James McClure on March 15, 1846. She was one of eleven children born to Jane Dickey and Benjamin Cooley. In addition to holding elected offices, Elizabeth's father was an expert clock maker and an inventor of an engine that made brass wheels for clocks.]
Sunday 11 o'clock Feb the 20th, 1842: I shall endeavor to tell where and what all of the family is and what they are doing, or as near as I can. Martin I suppose to be roaming over the world to and fro I know not whither. William is living in the Missourie Independence, Jackson City, & Nancy about 10 miles from there and Rebecca is living at the cross roads and Jesse is a candidate for the clerkship and A J C and J D C and Julian is living here. James went to Worrels this morning to take some linsy and all the rests at home. I have been reading some today I have been going to school 2 weeks to E. D.
Sunday March the 13th, 5 o'clock. I have went to school all the last week. I feel tolerably smart but weary of doing nothing. Saturday the 26th of March which is the last day of E. Davis'es school. I have been spelling for three days. I have learnt a little grammar, but I fear it will do no good with out more.
Sunday the 24th of April. It is a beautiful day. The Lilacks is in full bloom. I feel tolerable well and I expect never complete happiness in this troublesome world. Some two or three weeks I have been almost to busy to write. Week fore last we sheared sheep. I have been weaving table cloths and a little cotton and a heep such things.
Sunday the 24th of July: Last Thursday I was 17 years old. I have received a letter from Parthena for the first one that was ever directed to me. I have been spinning wool. Amanda has been weaving some jeans for Rebecca and has got the counter panes began to weave.
Sept the 4th: For sometime I have not wrote any. During that time I have seen but little for I have not went anywhere much--though I went to meeting last Sunday--and nobody has been here. I feel like a isolated being living alone and neglected by all but those I live with I have been busy spinning and weaving.
Jan. 22nd, 1843: I came home last Saturday from J.P.W.'s where I had spent six of the last weeks. The time passed rapidly on. I worked and nursed and talked or was gone somewhere. While I was gone I seen several young men I never had seen before but loved none of them, but highly respected them for their honest and industrious qualities.
Jan. 29th. Last Monday we received a letter from Brother Martin. He is in Charleston South Carolina and expects to go to Missouri in the spring, and also received one from William stating that they were all enjoying good health. I wish I was there, or had the chance togo to see some of the wide and broad world more than I ever have seen for I live in seclusion and I reckon a moderate portion of happiness.
May the 14th 1843. For the last week we sheared sheep and Monday washed wool.We trimmed out 44 sheep and two more to shear. We was all weighed, I weighed 121.
Tuesday, June 12th. I have been needle working a handkerchief. Alford Crawford killed some hogs here and Nathan Davis shod the horses and robbed two stands of bees. James is gone to Wytheville to get some watch glasses and clean Mrs. Chaffin's clock.
October 22nd. Another week is passed, another Sunday passing and I am still here longing and constantly desiring something to enlighten my contracted and perplexed mind, for what can I do? My only and best chance is to hoard up learning sufficient to allow me to teach a school, and I lack so much it perplexes me to think of it, to get Grammar and Arithmetic and how to govern a school etc. Last week we put away apples for winter and I wove some and made my cotton dress, quilted, . I began my flax stockings. We dipped Candles, 30 dozen.
July 21st. 1844. This day I am 19 years of age and weigh 117. The garden is full of flowers, the field full of blackberries, the house full of work, my head full of romance.
March 19th. 1845. We went with James and James McClure to the love feast. We have cleaned and burned the weeds off the garden. James Mc. commenced a 6 months school. We are all sick today.
March 31st, 1845. We have cyphered some. James went yesterday to help N. Davis raise a house. Today we went a fishing again and caught 13 trout, and killed 2 snakes.
November 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 inevitably be linked as one.
November 30th. I went to school all last week. To try to study Grammar all day and marrying all night. J.W.McClure came. 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.
March 15th, 1846 Wedding is over and I am Married. I cannot give utterance to my feelings. There is no language to describe the overflowing of my heart. The wedding day arrived, it was a cold, chilly day but not as cold as it had been before, misted rain a little in the evening. I was busy all day fixing the house and clothes, all was busy and active. In the evening the bridegroom and his company --about 12 in number--came. It was all bustle and hurry then, I was not quite dressed. We got ready, and to my notion too, and marched down stairs and stood before the priest and a house full of my best and dearest friends and in the presence of a great and awful God. Then we went in to supper, and I must say that I enjoyed the evening well. Mc. and I talked and said we never had felt as we then did, to know that all our childish glee was almost past, that we were married and had now to be our agents in all things and probably would move away to Texas and leave all those gay young friends we loved so dear. but in the morning we concluded to buy land and stay and enjoy ourselves in this country a few years at least...Sunday 8th we all went up to Jerry Edwards. a serious time we had, for by this time Mc. had looked at all the land that were for sale, and tired and weary of the pursuit concluded that we would go to Texas...
April 8th, 1846. Preparing my things to get ready to go. Next day took the wagon from Jesse's. Grandmother and Mc. went to Hillsville. We arose early the next morning and busily prepared for leaving. Many of our friends came there to see us start, and oh, how solemn was the scene. We travelled slowly away from this land and come on, on, in the dark.
April 11th, 1846. Smyth County, Rivalley, waters of Holston, 55 miles from home. The 9th of April we started towards Texas. Went to Grayson Court House purchased feathers. From John Dickenson's we travelled to the face of the Iron Mountain. About 16 miles, there took up camp for the first time in life, go supper, sung and prayed long, then went to bed in the wagon, slept some, felt awful strange and contented with our lots. In the morning arranged matters and started at 7. Climbed the mountain and then down it. Crossing the waters of Holston and have come 20 miles today and camped by a shelter, and now are in the wagon and it raining fast. But take it all in all, I am as well contented as ever I was, for we are on Uncle Sam's land and pay for what we eat and have showers of love.
April 13th 1846. Yesterday it rained all day. The road was torn up to a smash. We came about 20 miles. In the evening we stopped and Mc. gone to the spring, and a large wagon passed our wagon and shivered the axle tree; got in company with some slaves and their masters. Went up the hill and camped with them. In the morning the blacksmith came up there and banded the axle tree so it runs. came through Abingdon, got in company with Mr. Cook and 8 black persons. Mr. McClure bought me a checked shawl $1.12. Came about 22 miles, camped altogether--four wagons, and a fine lively time of it we have. I love to travel.
15th, 8 o'clock P.M. Hawkins County, Tennessee--6 miles this side of Rogersville. Have come about 23 miles, camped on the waters of Holston.
19th April. 21 miles yesterday, pretty country here, the fattest hogs I ever saw--fine cattle. I think a heap about home. We are now about 210 miles from home. Mc. greasing the wagon.
21st. Yesterday we traveled 21 miles, crossed Clinch River crossing Cumberland Mountains. We have come clear through Knoxville and Anderson Counties. All in the burning sun.
28th. Passed through middle Tennesse, Smyth County--White, Overton, Jackson. Then to Nashville. Mc. Very Sick crossed Harper's river in a ferry boat--40 centes. Got news of war in Texas.
May 13th. Memphis. Sold the wagon and horses for a hundred dollars. Went on the wharf boat, seen steam boats. They loaded and unloaded til 2 o'clock. Come on board, and dirty place, but in company with Texas folks.
Sunday 17th. Arkansas on the right, Mississippi on the left. Passed Vicksburg. Very warm indeed. The old boat going rushing, sputtering, blowing, belching along. It is 629 miles from Memphis to Orleans.
May 19th. Now in Orleans, thousands of vessels here, grand and noble scenes here on deck. While I do sincerely wish I had not started to Texas but gone to Missouri, but Alas!--the dye is cast for it is miserable whichever way we go. I have a very bad cold. Mc. is sick too.
May 22nd, Saturday. We left Orleans Thursday. We proceeded slowly, and that night the water bursted the door to the wheel house open and came rushing in on deck, and of all the screaming and hollowing I never seen, each woman gathering their own children and running every way in wild confusion. They fastened up the hole allright. I was dry. But it was an awful scene for a beholder. I can't hear my own voice for the nose of the engine and perpetual crying of children!
Friday 29th May. We got to Shrevesport 25th. Went to bed in the little towing wagon. Next day traveled 10 miles. Mc. is very sick. The finest grass and largest oxen I ever saw; the sternest men, the scarest time. I am tired out, wet and dirty. 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, though I fear to stay here I dread the consequences. There are the most young pretty widows here I have ever seen in one place and the fewest girls and most young men. Yesterday I washed down at the spring. The sweat just dropped off my face. I fear to die here and my grave tramped over by strangers. I rue the day we ever thought of Texas.
June 4th, Thursday. Yesterday morning left old cabin. Got to Shrevesport 9 o'clock. Waiting for a boat. Will try for Missouri. The love of gold Oh! How much happier we might have been had we stayed. A sick husband here in this old nasty ware house and nastly sickly alligator river.
June 8th. We cme on board the Yalabusky on the 5th. Again going down Red River, about 40 miles from the mouth. My face is all over mosquito bites.
June 10th. Day before yesterday we came aboard the Maria, a large boat, 300 feet long, met some English people. Had a splendid fight on board, fought about 5 minutes--whipped one and sent him ashore.
(Husband's handwriting) 12, Friday June 18th, 1846. Sailing out Orleans, going to Missouri. My poor little wife. I am so sorry for her.
June 18th. Dressed in black silk. Been in St. Louis viewing its lofty houses, narrow streets.
June 22nd. Almost to Independence. Mc. sick. Passed Lexington and Camden yesterday evening. Seen a fair wide beautiful prarie for the first one; very cool and windy today.
June 24th, Monday evening, Lexington. We got to Independence Landing, went to tavern--11o'clock, went to bed. Tuesday morning William come down there. I was very glad to see him.
August 19th. today Mc.'s school commenced. I have been cyphering and spinning etc.
Sunday, Sept 7th, 1846. Have been teaching school two weeks. Small school, sickly children, sometimes feel very bad, again feel well. I like teaching tolerably well indeed.
Wednesday night 9 o'clock, 23rd. In our room. Mc. gone to bed, has toothache; I have bad cold. Been studying grammar very hard. How hard I wish I understood it better. Mc. went to my school this evening. He dismissed his school until Monday on account of sickness. I really fear to stay here, I fear death. I want once more to visit my native land before I die if the Lord will. I really crave to see Father!! and Mother!! again. I fear Mr. McClure never will enjoy good health in Missouri.
Thursday 25th October, 1846. In our room by the fire writing on the box. I have the headache and feel aguish. It is windy and smoky. Friday the fire burned the prairie all up most. it was a sight indeed.
Dec. 27, 1846. My school is out. I have been here 5 weeks. The children have all been sick and are still sick. 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 to Keeton's to keep school for 3 months.
April 9, 1847. Just one year since I left my Father's house--now in Mo. teaching school. It is Friday. I am glad I don't have to teach any more this week. I like to teach better than I have thought I ever would. It is fine practice, it improves my mind much. I long to see my old friends.
April 25, 1847. this day got a letter saying my Dear Father is dead. Shocking word. He died 24 March, buried 26. I am sorry for poor!! Mother and sisters. Could I relieve them.
Tuesday 21 Sept. Last week I cut out and made Mc. a coat, a shirt. Saturday we went to the blue bottom camp meeting. Sunday was baptized and was happy. Am happy yet, feel pure and clear from sin. Mc. is happy too.
Wed. 1st Dec. 1847. Just came from school, had 22 scholars, a heap trouble to keep school.
Dec. 24, 1847. I scarcely know how to describe my feeling. Another death to record. William is dead.
(Husband's handwriting) January 9, 1848. Sunday. Now at Lowe's by the fire dreading the time of leaving my wife for school. Snow about 6 inches deep. Very cold. I want to teach school awhile.then myself and wife teach and academy and live together in some country where we will not have to take pills all the time and the health of the country depend on the skill of physicians. Now teaching school, making some $25 per month. Mc.
Feb. 27. Last week I went to Mr. McClure's school and Friday I taught school while Mc. went to make me a school. Got it to commence Monday week. Living at St. Clair's.
March 17, at Mr. Henderson's. got the fever bad.
March 18, 1848 (husband's handwriting) Elizabeth sick of slow typhoid fever. Took ten small doses of calomel; operated 4 times; gave her 40 drops laudanum. Employed Dr. Gordon. I think she is some better. God of heaven have mercy on her. Mc.
March 29, 1848. This Journal is done! The author being Elizabeth A. McClure died March 28, 1848. She happy in Christ Jesus being the only consolation left me. She was 22 years 7 months and 12 days old.