This week in history: February 21–28

Feb­ru­ary is the anniver­sary of 2 occa­sions in the his­to­ry of the Camp­bell fam­i­ly — one hap­py and one sad.  After a VERY long and some­what bumpy courtship, com­plete with parental refusals, dec­la­ra­tions of love, a bro­ken engage­ment, and final­ly approval from the fam­i­ly, Robert Camp­bell mar­ried Vir­ginia Jane Kyle.  The two were mar­ried at her moth­er’s house in Raleigh on Feb­ru­ary 25, 1841 — 139 years ago TODAY!  Hap­py anniver­sary Robert and Virginia!!

The sec­ond occa­sion is much more somber.  On Feb­ru­ary 15, 1844, just 10 days short of their 3rd anniver­sary, Robert and Vir­gini­a’s 4 month old son Hugh died of pneu­mo­nia.  His death would be the first of many, as the Camp­bells would lose 10 chil­dren before the age of 8.  Very few let­ters exist recall­ing the par­ents grief, and almost all are from Robert.   The muse­um cur­rent­ly has no let­ters from Vir­ginia talk­ing about the chil­dren’s death.  But this week we get some insight into how oth­ers tried to con­sole her.  Today, on the anniver­sary of one of the hap­pi­est days in the Camp­bel­l’s lives, we post a let­ter from Mary Camp­bell, Vir­gini­a’s cousin and sis­ter-in-law, offer­ing her con­do­lences on the loss of Vir­gini­a’s “angel babe” Hugh.  The two occa­sions tru­ly rep­re­sent the Camp­bel­l’s lives — Robert and Vir­ginia faced tragedy with an immense amount of strength and con­tin­u­al­ly found joy and love in their friends, fam­i­ly, and one another.

We hope that both this let­ter and the occa­sion of Robert and Vir­gini­a’s 139th anniver­sary encour­ages you to keep the ones you love close.


[Front Cov­er]
Mrs. Robert Campbell
Saint Louis

Mr. Wm. Campbell

Philadel­phia  Feb­ru­ary 26th / 44
My dear Virginia
Roberts let­ter telling us of the loss the Almighty — has  so unex­pect­ed­ly called on you both to bear, reached us last night — I need not saw how sur­prised + griev­ed we were — but I must  say dear Vir­ginia, that although this is a tri­al + a severe one  to a par­ents heart yet it is the bright­est form in which such an  afflic­tion could come with you — your angel babe could sure­ly be  giv­en back again with less reluc­tance than if dear lit­tle Jamie  had been called in his place — + then if the first had gone forth to take away your hus­band instead, what grief what sor­row  would have been yours + ours — It is not that I wish to make  light of your bereave­ment [?] that I thus write but that I wish  you to view this your first sor­row in its prop­er light — although bowed down with anguish yet strive to rain your [?]_____ in  thank­ful­ness to God that your sor­row is not greater than you can  bear — you have a child in Heav­en already an angel in the  pres­ence of its God this is a blessed thought + one that I trust  you soon will be able to dwell on with sat­is­fac­tion — Think of all the suf­fer­ings & sor­rows your child has been spared, even if his had been the hap­pi­est life + sure­ly you will not mourn that he  has been tak­en from the trou­bles to come — I trust the Lord will  bless this afflic­tion to you both + enable you to say “not my  will but thine O Lord be done -

[Pg. Break] The scar­let fever has been rag­ing with great vio­lence in our city this win­ter — many par­ents here are not like you  mourn­ing the loss of one but of all their chil­dren — again +  again [?]_____ my knowl­edge but not [?]______ our friends — have  whole fam­i­lies been swept away with­in a few days — + the dis­ease  is so ter­ri­ble, so much suf­fer­ing + not the com­fort of  sym­pa­thiz­ing friends near them — all fear­ing the dis­ease as the  plague

How much do we wish that we were only with you now to  endeav­or to cheer & com­fort you — I hope we will soon be able to  leave I have appoint­ed the 1st of April but noth­ing is decid­ed on yet — Mr. Camp­bell will not talk about it — I think he intends  going out with us — busi­ness need not pre­vent him so Archie & Mr.  Mar­tin say — Vir­ginia dear I hope you will not think of going to  house­keep­ing before we get there — I think it would be much  bet­ter if you now delayed it for some time — if you have no house to tie you down you could go around with me to vis­it my moth­er + sis­ters, the trav­el­ing would do you a great deal of good, for I  have been often told that you have not been at all well since the birth of your dear child — + then Vir­ginia you could return with us in sum­mer + make us a nice lit­tle vis­it while Robert is  stay­ing guard — think of all these things + do not [?]________  your­selves with a house unless cousin Lucy should go out with us  — I have writ­ten her urg­ing her to do so, but have not yet  received a reply — I know she will now feel very anx­ious to be  with you + we will be delight­ed to have her company.

I received a let­ter from Har­ri­et a week or so ago the first  for years — she writes cheer­ful­ly — tells me a great deal about  her chil­dren + hus­band — all per­fect in her eyes

[Pg. Break] I was quite dis­tressed to learn from her let­ter +  since from a let­ter of my broth­er Roberts to Mar­garet; that our  sis­ter Ellen’s health is very bad — nei­ther she or James have  writ­ten me for a long time — I try to hope she is not seri­ous­ly  ill but still I am very anx­ious about her & will be until I hear  some­thing more — Her dis­ease is a [?]_____ affec­tion of the  bow­els + they say she is reduced to a mere skele­ton — I sure­ly  think if her dis­ease was at all of a dan­ger­ous char­ac­ter that  James would have writ­ten — the poor thing has also been ill again + poor James is still shak­ing with [?]____ (anger? agua?)

William Camp­bell leaves in a few days for St. Louis — he  is thought very high­ly of by our friends here — We have seen but  lit­tle of him at the house — he was sick when we first came + has since ben buys — + per­haps he did not feel very easy vis­it­ing us on Moth­er’s account — he has vis­it­ed all his rela­tions + they  are quite charmed with him -

I am glad to hear Mr. John Ker­r’s health is improv­ing — + as for Mrs. Augus­tus, her prompt con­duct has excit­ed the admi­ra­tion + respect of all — Give her my best love — Is Judge East­er still liv­ing?  I am told he can­not live long — I am tru­ly sor­ry for his poor wife.

Give my love to dear Robert — I know he is griev­ing his loss  like a man & a Chris­t­ian, for a true Chris­t­ian he is at heart —  & let me hope dear Vir­ginia that you are also striv­ing for a  spir­it of hum­ble sub­mis­sion — yours is the more severe tri­al I  well know — the child you suf­fered for can­not eas­i­ly be giv­en up — but the hand that mite will sus­tain + com­fort if you only trust  in Him — May He bless + com­fort + be your ever present help in  time of need — is the earnest prayer of your sin­cere­ly  [?]__________ cousin
Mary Campbell

[Pg. Break — top of front cov­er] I intend­ed send­ing this by mail  but Mr. James Camp­bell has called to tell me William leaves in  the morn­ing, so I’ll send it by him as I have now noth­ing else to send — I had a beau­ti­ful cap + frock all ready for dear lit­tle  Hugh but he is now clothed in more shin­ing gar­ments than the  world affords _ his uncle’s gift is need­less — I will return them to Levy’s — for I can­not bear to see any oth­er child wear them -

William will be up to see me this after­noon or evening — he  returned from a short vis­it to New York yes­ter­day — I trust he  will reach home with­out any oth­er acci­dent — accord­ing to him — I am sure he is sin­cere­ly griev­ed at your loss for he feels deeply all your kind­ness to him — _ is warm­ly attached to every thing

[Sec­tion break — bot­tom front cov­er] relat­ed to Robert — Mrs.  Tuck­er was here this morn­ing — she wish her love [?]_______  express her regret at your sor­row — Mrs. McCauley left this  morn­ing for Brook­lyn she came on to spend our week & here she has been since — both Jos. + her­self have had the most ter­ri­ble  attacks of [?]_______ — they are now per­fect­ly restored but Mr.  McCauley is quite unwell — suf­fer­ing from an affec­tion of the  heart — that I fear will prove seri­ous — he looks very bad­ly —  Mrs. M expects to be com­fort­ed in April — I trust the lit­tle  crea­ture will be spared to her for she has been severe­ly tried —  three tak­en away — the oth­er Tagerts are all well + I am sure  would send kind mes­sages had I seen them — May God help you +  your dear hus­band — as ever Mary Campbell.

[Pg. Break — side 1st page] The Mrs. Jen­nings have just called to see me — they had not heard from St. Louis recent­ly _ of course  knew not of your loss until I told them — they both expressed  great regret — their fam­i­lies were all well — the fam­i­ly speaks  of Mr. Kerr with qui­et [?]____ _+ plea­sure + she has real­ly cause to be pro­vid­ed of such a child — I sin­cere­ly hope she will  pros­per in all her undertakings

[Pg. Break — side 2nd page] Mrs. Tevis returned to St. Louis some time ago — I saw but lit­tle of her while here for nei­ther of us  fared each oth­er at home when we called — + the weath­er was bad + are always too much engaged to make many vis­its — I do not  sup­pose to be giv­ing any par­ties while she was here — + I did not feel called on the make a [?]______ own for her — she [?]______  to be a very nice woman -