This week in History: May 10-May 16

May 13, 1842

Let­ter from Mary Camp­bell to her sis­ter-in-law Vir­ginia Camp­bell.  This let­ter is writ­ten one day before Vir­gini­a’s first son, James Alexan­der Camp­bell (1842–1849), was born.

Mrs. Robert Campbell
Saint Louis


Philadel­phia May 13th / 42

My dear Virginia,
You may cer­tain­ly charge me with extreme neglect & so may my  dear moth­er & sis­ters for I have not writ­ten to any of them since I wrote you, except a let­ter to Ellen Stephen­son a few days ago.  I have had a bad cold & very trou­ble­some cough for sev­er­al  weeks, not mak­ing me sick at all — only lazy & dis­joint­ed.  I  have also hoped to hear impor­tant news from you for a week or so  past.  My cal­cu­la­tions it seems were not cor­rect, still I think I am not very far astray & that a few days will announce your  safe­ty & well doing.  I was delight­ed to learn of the prob­a­bil­i­ty of your moth­ers vis­it­ing you, I hope she will soon be with you,  but I have heard noth­ing of her except through Robert’s let­ters  to Mr Camp­bell.  Your dear old grand­moth­er has also been called  to her eter­nal rest — it must have been, as in our case, not as  unex­pect­ed event.  I sent to Rich­mond, not hav­ing an oppor­tu­ni­ty  to Raleigh, a dress for your Moth­er, as a present from Robert —  it must have reached just in time — it was not very expen­sive 13  yards at 87 1/2 cents per yard: it was appro­pri­ate in colour &  design & of a fash­ion­able mate­r­i­al.  I could find noth­ing  suit­able in bon­nets & indeed she has writ­ten for only one arti­cle to be sent her.

Mr. Camp­bell left here on Mon­day last for N. York &  Boston, to look for a school at which to place Pon­son­by- he was  to have accom­pa­nied him but a boil broke out on his neck that has since con­fined him to the house.  Mr C. will return in a few  days.  I received a let­ter for him, from Robert on Tues­day  morn­ing & sent it on imme­di­ate­ly to him.

Our city con­tin­ues as dull as pos­si­ble ‑fail­ures are occur­ring  dai­ly again which occa­sions a lit­tle excite­ment & talk.  There is no busi­ness [?]_______ [Illeg­i­ble] still the ladies dress well & look as  bright & gay as larks.  But you would be sur­prised at the num­ber  of large hous­es that are for rent & the sales of fur­ni­ture that  are adver­tised every­day.  Mrs Ral­ston, Lizzy Mitchel­l’s moth­er’s  fur­ni­ture was sold yes­ter­day — they have lost all their for­tune I believe.  The Oak­man’s con­tin­ue in their house, but I am told  the fail­ure is a very bad one, that they will not pay their  bor­rowed mon­ey.  John Camp­bell has gone again to the West Indies, mere­ly to keep him out of mis­chief I pre­sume, unless he went as  a sailor — he was doing noth­ing here & nev­er will do any­thing  good I fear.  Mrs Bak­er I see every day or so, she appears bright & hap­py.  I nev­er see her hus­band, I am told he is grow­ing  enor­mous­ly fat & liv­ing as usu­al.  Maltil­da & John Miller are  cer­tain­ly engaged, from his [?]_____ [illeg­i­ble] there — I have nev­er heard  any of them say any­thing on the sub­ject.  Har­ri­et’s baby is the  largest child I ever saw for its age — not at all pret­ty, but  strong & healthy look­ing — she looks wretched­ly.  Mrs Archie &  her chil­dren are very well, her baby a love­ly creature.

Dr Rollins & daugh­ter arrived here a few days ago, bring­ing me a let­ter of intro­duc­tion from Judge Mor­row.  Miss  Rollins became acquaint­ed with you last fall & says many kind  things of you, she is a very sweet, intel­li­gent girl, has gone to Madame [?]_______ [illeg­i­ble] school.  Her father has returned home, I  admired him great­ly.  They are par­tic­u­lar friends of Mrs  Ash­ley’s, she had deter­mined on going imme­di­ate­ly home & tak­ing  Mary with her, but now she says she will leave Mary at school &  return alone, not to St. Louis, but Ken­tucky, Ohio, & sev­er­al  oth­er places.  She has a dozen new plans every day.  Mrs Far­rar  has been quite sick, was much bet­ter yes­ter­day.  I like her  extreme­ly.  I was glad to hear the Dr arrived safe­ly in St.  Louis.  I real­ly con­sid­ered him unfit to trav­el alone.

Mr & Mrs M. Car­ly have gone to Brook­lyn to live and are very  nice­ly [?]_____ [illeg­i­ble] than at house­keep­ing.  We all miss them, she is  so love­ly & so good.  The Tagerts go out of town the 1st of June, we will be very lone­ly dur­ing the sum­mer, so many of our friends go going to the coun­try.  Judge Mor­row has removed to Jef­fer­son  City & will be pleas­ant­ly sit­u­at­ed these I hear, Bet­ty is not as  you are but have been I hope on this 13th day of May.  My moth­er  & all were well — from my sis­ters in Illi­nois I have not heard  for sev­er­al weeks.

I hear Mr M Keazin has been caught by a Miss Mar­shall & also  by Miss Walk­er.  How does Mrs Kerr come on I long to hear of her  at house­keep­ing.  Mrs McK­ay’s friends have been ask­ing anx­ious­ly  for news from St Louis — They have not heard from her for a long time.

All send much love & many  mes­sages to you, but I have an engage­ment — this morn­ing which  com­pels me to con­clude hur­ried­ly.  Give my kind­est love to Robert — in the hope of hear­ing good news from you soon I am as ever  your affec­tion­ate cousin
Mary Campbell

Read­ers should note that cer­tain words in this let­ter were illeg­i­ble, due to Mary Camp­bel­l’s handwriting.