Imagine yourself trapped between two hostile forces during the Civil War in Missouri. Caught in this huge conflict the enslaved Archer Alexander would earn his freedom, because of his brave act at the Peruque Creek bridge in St. Charles County. When he learned of his enslaver’s plot to destroy the vital railroad bridge, he rushed to inform the Union Troops stationed at the guardhouse. This critical knowledge would save hundreds of lives, and precious military supplies. With the local area’s men in hot pursuit, Archer fled for his life, via the network to freedom, otherwise known as the Underground Railroad. He would find safety in the home of a Unitarian minister, and founder of Washington University in St. Louis, William Greenleaf Eliot. It would be dangerous to harbor a fugitive slave and though given protection by the military, Archer would be hidden in Alton, Illinois until his emancipation was announced in the newspapers on September 24, 1863. Eliot and Archer would develop a friendship that would transform both of their lives and span generations. Eliot is the grandfather of poet T.S. Eliot. For more of this story see https://archeralexander.wordpress.com/2022/04/09/what-makes-a-hero/
Now over 150 years later we will honor the life of this truly American hero with two important events, on Saturday, September 24, 2022. Saint Charles City and County will recognize Archer Alexander at 10 am in the morning in front of the OPO Startups at 119 South Main, where the courthouse stood in 1863. Our Mistress of Ceremonies Angela da Silva, will be joined by St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann and the City of St. Charles Mayor Dan Borgmeyer honoring the Archer Alexander family, who will join us. The site is where St. Charles’ County Courthouse was when he gained his freedom, which was announced on September 24, 1863.
At 1 pm, that afternoon, his family invites the public to join them for a Memorial Service for this heroic man’s life, in the St. Peters UCC Cemetery at 2101 Lucas and Hunt Cemetery in St. Louis County (Normandy). There our Mistress of Ceremonies will be Jade Harrell from St. Louis Public Radio, and Lynne Jackson, Director of the Dred Scott Foundation will present a Proclamation from the City of St. Louis. We will be joined by Rev. Kim Mason from the First Unitarian Church of St. Louis and Rev. Dr. Anthony Witherspoon from Washington Metropolitan AME Zion in St. Louis, where Archer Alexander was a member. The day will include music and song by Peggy Neely Harris and the Washington University Treble Acapella Group the Evergreens.
Archer Alexander is known as the face of freedom on the Emancipation Monument in Washington, D.C., a monument erected and dedicated by the formerly enslaved people and the U.S. Colored Troops in 1876. His descendants will gather to celebrate their brave ancestor, who is also the great-great-great grandfather of Muhammad Ali. The public is invited to share in both special events. For more information about Archer Alexander or these events, see https://archeralexander.blog/ online.