This week in history: November 19-November 27

Decem­ber 20, 1843 let­ter from Mary Camp­bell to her cousin and sis­ter in law Vir­ginia Camp­bell.  This let­ter was cho­sen for the week of Thanks­giv­ing because Mary talks about hav­ing Thanks­giv­ing just a few days before Christ­mas!  Appar­ent­ly, Mary thought the Philadel­phi­ans were rather stuffy on Thanks­giv­ing — “We have Thanks­giv­ing  tomor­row — every­body must go to Church.  They are try­ing to make  it a strict­ly reli­gious fes­ti­val, not a nice mer­ry-mak­ing time as in good New England.”

How times have changed!  Thanks­giv­ing has not only been moved from Decem­ber to Novem­ber, but it’s gone from a reli­gious hol­i­day to one of fam­i­ly cel­e­bra­tion, big help­ings of turkey, the Macy’s Thanks­giv­ing Day Parade, foot­ball.  But through­out his­to­ry, Thanks­giv­ing has been about count­ing your bless­ings.  Hap­py Thanks­giv­ing from Camp­bell House Museum!

[Front Cov­er]
Mrs. Robert Campbell -
Saint Louis -
Missouri -

Philadel­phia Dec. 20th / 43
My dear Virginia
I have been par­tic­u­lar­ly anx­ious to write you since the  receipt of you very kind + inter­est­ing let­ter.  There is a  sub­ject there­in men­tioned upon which I wish to give my advice.   You seem to think it absolute­ly nec­es­sary for you to be at  house­keep­ing before we go to St. Louis.  Now I think this  entire­ly wrong + I hope you will not attempt it.  In the first  place the sea­son would be the very worst in the whole year.  The  most stormy + inclement requir­ing all the win­ter com­forts &  before you can at all enjoy them, sum­mer comes on + then it is so bad a time for pro­vid­ing for your table, you could not at all do jus­tice to your culi­nary tal­ents.  Seri­ous­ly Vir­ginia I think  the ear­ly spring a most unprof­i­tous time for begin­ning so  seri­ous a task as house­keep­ing must at all times prove.  And you  know your moth­er thinks the Planters Hous­es would suit me a great deal bet­ter.  We would you know be just as much at home with you + Robert + the chil­dren + then we could see all the world then  besides + then lat­er in the spring when I return from vis­it­ing  all my peo­ple, let us then have the plea­sure of assist­ing you in  get­ting all things ready.  If you do not take my advice in this  mat­ter I will be quite offend­ed _ not stop at your fine house at  all in St. Louis, but go straight on to Jef­fer­son City — after  tak­ing a peek at James + Hugh.

[Pg. Break] We were all deeply deeply griev­ed for the  sit­u­a­tion of our kind friend Mr. John Kerr.  Robert’s let­ter to  our house yes­ter­day announced the hope­less­ness of his dis­ease —  how unex­pect­ed to his fam­i­ly this must be — what a change a few  months has pro­duced.  the hus­band has tak­en the dying wife’s  place + she is restored to health, at least your write as if she  were again in good health.  He is hap­py + resigned, that is the  only com­fort left his friends — his death you + Robert will  sin­cere­ly lament I know + all that knew him well will mourn for  him, for he was a good man.  How much I will miss him when I go  to St. Louis, for I knew him longer & liked him bet­ter than any  one else there except our own.

Christ­mas is almost upon us, + I have done noth­ing for it  except make some mince meat.  I will give very few presents for  my mon­ey always runs short a the close of the year + I do not  expect any for myself — all our gift-givers are mar­ried + away.   Your hus­band was more famous in this like than any one else +  most of our presents went with him.   We have Thanks­giv­ing  tomor­row — every­body must go to Church.  They are try­ing to make  it a strict­ly reli­gious fes­ti­val, not a nice mer­ry-mak­ing time as in good New England.

We were all at Tom Smith’s wed­ding last week — he mar­ried  Miss Leiper — we took Archie + John Miller in the car­riage with  us, their wives were not able to go.  Mrs. Archie’s infant too  young + Matil­da suf­fer­ing from severe cold.  We went to John  Leiper’s, then dressed + drove over a mile to the brides father’s where 150 friends were assem­bled.  We had a very pleas­ant time,  plen­ty of eat­ing & drink­ing — no danc­ing.  The bride is a very  sweet love­ly girl — Tom is most for­tu­nate in

[Pg. Break] get­ting such a wife.  Eliz­a­beth Laps­by was also  mar­ried to a Mr. Will­son — she had a very gay wed­ding I am told + has had a great many par­ties giv­en to her.  It is like tak­ing  Meg’s head off to get her to go any of them — I’ll give her up as a bad job.

As to news, I fear I have not a word.  Mr. & Mrs. McConley  are com­ing on to spend Christ­mas — she is fol­low­ing your exam­ple  for lit­tle Sophy Mouyes [?] is now very sick with inter­mit­ting  fever.  I trust the dear lit­tle crea­ture will be well soon.  Mrs.  Zuck­er has been very sick for a week past with severe cold —  every body has the influen­za.  Matil­da Miller looks very bad­ly +  always com­plains,  I think if she had a child she would be well  enough, but there is no prospect yet.  Mrs. Bak­er is bet­ter + is  able to come round + spend evenings with us again.  Har­ri­et  Oak­man is as strong + well as any one.

I have not writ­ten your moth­er for a long time, but will  soon.  i have heard from all my own fam­i­ly recent­ly.  Mr. Clark  says the kind­est things of you & your chil­dren.  Tell Robert we  have all been quite amused at the Irish gen­tle­man that has been  flour­ish­ing in all our papers.  Mr. Tagert thinks he will hard­ly  speak to us ow he has become so dis­tin­guished a per­son­age + so  Sir William Stew­art has become Earl of Losh [?] will he receive  an acces­sion of for­tune with the title.

Lit­tle Robert Camp­bell is com­ing to spend the day with us,  he has been very del­i­cate + I almost fear will soon fol­low  Cal­len­der.  I have to take him to a fair to buy some things + I  must make one as two vis­its.  The Millers, Oak­mans & all drink  tea with me to night.  I wish you + yours could be with us at  Christ­mas.  You have at least our best wish­es for hap­pi­ness +  many returns.

[Pg. Break — 3rd page margins]
Give my kind­est love to that Irish gen­tle­man.  A thou­sand  kiss­es to Jem + the baby  + regards to all friends, par­tic­u­lar­ly  the Kerrs.  Meg of course sends oceans of love to all — she will  write you soon.  Your cousin as ever
Mary Campbell.

2 thoughts on “This week in history: November 19-November 27

  1. Megan

    I had quite for­got­ten how bossy Mary could be, and I high­ly enjoyed this let­ter, which I did not remem­ber at all. I espe­cial­ly loved her men­tion of Vir­gini­a’s culi­nary tal­ents! How could I have missed that? 

    I still wish I could edit these let­ters.….. that is a long-dis­tance project I would real­ly enjoy if I could get started. 🙂


  2. campbellhousemuseum

    Thanks Megan! Yeah Mary’s def­i­nite­ly a char­ac­ter — there must be some­thing with the Kyle women that they don’t have a prob­lem telling it like it is :-). We’re so glad to have avid read­ers, espe­cial­ly those that know the fam­i­ly like you — enjoy!

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