Elisha Boucher was born in Clay County (now Laurel County and home of the Colonel Sanders Cafe), Kentucky (A) on 18 December 1821. His parents were William and Mary Anna Gray Boucher. William was from Virginia. In 1830, he was listed on the census for London Post Office, Kentucky. Since the Wilderness Road passed directly through London, it was a gathering place for homes, stores, churches, the post office, and a local blacksmith shop.
1830 was the year Congress passed the Indian Removal Act authorizing the federal government to relocate the Indian tribes, moving them west of the Mississippi into the designated Indian Territory in Oklahoma and parts of Kansas and Nebraska. In the fall and winter of 1838-39, Cherokees of the Tennessee River area were marched to their new location along a 1200-mile route appropriately called the Trail of Tears, or in their language, "nunna-da-ul-tsun-yi," translated, "the place where they cried." In Meigs County, Tennessee, some traveled by riverboat or steamboat, and avoided the dreaded Trail of Tears.
When the Cherokee lands became available for settlement, William took advantage of the opportunity. On the 1840 census, he and his family were living in Meigs County, Tennessee (B). They may have traveled down the Wilderness Road and through the Cumberland Gap, their wagons loaded with their possessions. William's sister, Elizabeth, and her husband, Joseph McSpadden, were also living along the Tennessee. At the time, Elisha was nineteen, Gadi was sixteen, Nancy was thirteen, Kiziah was eleven, Robert was eight, John was six, and Temperance was just four.
Elisha married Hester McClanahan on 6 Nov 1845, probably in Meigs County or a nearby county in Tennessee. They had four children- Anna Jane, born 23 August 1846; William Robert, born 21 February 1848; Amanda Malvina born August 1852; and Samuel White, born 22 April 1854. Samuel is our ancestor.
In 1850, Elisha and Hester were living next door to his parents, William and Anna. It is interesting that he named his first two children Anna Jane and William. On the 1860 Limestone, Meigs County census, Elisha was still living next door to William. Elisha's personal property was valued at $375, while William had property worth $2000 and personal property of $942. It appears that William owned the land and they worked together to farm it. Since elementary education began in Meigs County in the 1830's the children had the advantage of a basic education. Religion was either Methodist or Baptist, and the Bouchers favored the Methodists.
Elisha served in the Union Army during the Civil War. He was a corporal of Captain James L. Duncan's Company, Fifth Regiment of the Tennessee Infantry Volunteers. He enrolled on 1 April 1862 and was discharged on 11 May 1865 at Nashville, Tennessee. His papers list his birthplace as Laurel County, Kentucky. He was five feet nine inches tall and had a fair complexion, blue eyes, and dark hair. He was a farmer when he enrolled in the military. Elisha's brothers also enlisted. Elisha was not a young man, but a family man in his middle years, who had to leave his home and family to serve.
When the war ended, Meigs County was like a desert wasteland. Being on the Tennessee River, both armies had marched back and forth regularly, using up all the resources available. Farms were vacant, lands uncultivated, and large numbers of families left to find a better place to live. Even the fences were gone, having provided firewood for camping troops.What the Bouchers had, were their men back, all of them.
On 24 February 1867, Elisha's daughter Anna Jane, married Joseph Romine in Bradley County, next door to Meigs County. He was also a native of Meigs County.
On 26 April 1870, Elisha deeded 135 acres of land in Meigs County to Robert Boucher. Then he took his family who were still living at home and joined a wagon train to Missouri. They started their trip on May 2nd. Along the way, he wrote letters to his children in Tennessee, telling them of the trip and encouraging them to also move to Missouri so that the family could remain together. He had a good team and wagon, and the resources, probably from the sale of his land, to pay the necessary fees and costs along the way. Their destination was Howell County, Missouri, where Joseph and Hannah McClanahan Bracket lived. Hannah was a sister of his wife, Hester. One such letter was written on 15 May from Sumner County, Tennessee and is included here. Punctuation and capitalization have been added for easier reading, but the spelling is as he wrote it.
Dear son and daughter, with pleasur I take the present opportunity of writing you a few lines to let you know that we are well at present, hoping these few lines may reach you and find you all well and doing well. We started the 2nd day of May. We have been hindered some on the way. There is 7 waggons in our train. Miller has 4 and George Russel one, Martin Turner one and me one. We are 9 miles past Galiton on the Red River road. My expences has been more than I expected. Turnpikage cost me 25 cts evry 5 mile. I paid 435 turnpikes, feed for my team cost about 125 cts per day, beside the family. We travel from 14 to 18 miles a day. The fore part of las week was very wet. We got our thing wet. We are resting to day and suning our things that is wet.
Well I want you to write us and direct your letter to Joseph Brackett, West Plains PO, Howel Co, Misouri so we can hear from you as soon as we get there. We expect to stop in Howel Co and look at the country. If we like and can get land to suit us we will stop there. If not we will go further.
Well Jo, I want you and Jane to not go to any expence to fix for housekeeing untell you find out how things is in Misouri. If I like in MO I want you to come. Billy will come. Harry and Manda says they will come next fall. I want all my children together where I can see them once more. That is one cause of my sellout and move. It is ahard toil on me and Hetty.
We have 2 good yoke of young steers and a good waggon. We are getting along tollerable well. Will rest evry Sunday if we can get feed for our stock so we can stay. I wrote to Mandy last Sunday.
Well Jane, your mother is taking a great toil on herself to try to get to her children. Says she don't know how she can stand it tell fall and not see you and the children and Billy, but I don't see any chance for her to see you before fall. I will not have money enough to bear my expence further than Misouri. I will write to you when I get to MO and I will tell you what I think that country.
If I have no bad luck and you want to come to us I will come after you with my waggon. I have a good cover and tent cloth so we can sleep dry of a wet night. Write soon as you get this. I want to hear from you as soon as we get to Jo Bracket's. So I must close for this time. I have to write a letter to Billy to day.
Elisha & Hester Boucher to Jo & A. J. Romines-
Show this to Fate and Frank."
Elisha died on 14 March 1871 in Missouri. On the 1876 state census, his wife, Hester, was living with her son, Samuel. All of their children did come to Missouri. Joseph and Anna Jane Romine had six children and eventually settled in Willow Springs, Howell, Missouri. Amanda and Harrison Hickman, who were neighbors in Tennessee, married on 20 March 1870 in Missouri. They were living near Hester on the 1876 census in Texas County, Missouri (C). They had a large family of nine children and settled in Crawford County, Missouri.
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William married Alberta Moore on 17 March 1878 in Texas County and they had three children. And Samuel married Rossea Whitlock on 27 May 1877, also in Texas County. She was a divorced woman with a daughter named Pearl. They had three sons, one of them our ancestor, Arthur; and also ended up in Willow Springs. So Elisha had his wish to have all of his children around him. As did Hester, who died on 23 May 1879. Of his four children, three named a son Elisha.