This week in history: April 25-May 1

On Feb­ru­ary 5, we told you about the Risvold Col­lec­tion.  Floyd E. Risvold col­lect­ed pieces of Amer­i­can his­to­ry through­out his life, includ­ing a large assort­ment of let­ters on the fur trade.  Robert Camp­bell was a promi­nent fig­ure in this col­lec­tion.  Risvold’s col­lec­tion was auc­tioned off in Jan­u­ary 2010, but Shel­ley Satke was able to tran­scribe close to 50 let­ters to and from Robert Campbell.

Today we post a April 30, 1836 let­ter from lot 160, a pair of let­ters from William Drum­mond Stew­art.  Here is the descrip­tion of Stew­art from the auc­tion house:

Stew­art, William Drum­mond, Choice pair of auto­graph let­ters signed by the Scot­tish sports­man (1795–1871) whose for­ays into the wild Amer­i­can West in the 1830s became the basis for dra­mat­ic paint­ings by Alfred Jacob Miller and also for his own fron­tier nov­els. The first, to Robert Camp­bell in Lex­ing­ton, Mis­souri, in care of John Aull, is appar­ent­ly sent from a boat on the Mis­souri Riv­er.… The death of Stew­art’s broth­er [men­tioned in 2nd let­ter] turned him from a for­mer sol­dier and gen­tle­man of leisure into Sir William Stew­art, 19th Lord of Grandyul­ly. Hav­ing gone to every ren­dezvous from 1833–38, he was now an old hand and had formed warm friend­ships with Camp­bell, William Sub­lette, and the oth­er great fur traders and trap­pers. In 1837, he had hired Alfred J. Miller to come along and cre­ate sketch­es and water­col­ors of life on the west­ern trails, which he lat­er had Miller turn into full-size paint­ings. Let­ters from Stew­art are quite scarce, though he is often men­tioned by oth­ers. His charm in these let­ters gives a good sense of why he was so read­i­ly accept­ed by the traders, but his abil­i­ty in the wilder­ness and with a gun are what allowed him to fit into the rough and tum­ble world of the moun­tain men”

In his April 30, 1836 let­ter to Robert Camp­bell, Stew­art sug­gests that Robert take mor­phine and qui­nine when he resumes his “Shak­ing habits”.  We hope you enjoy this cor­re­spon­dence between 2 fas­ci­nat­ing moun­tain men!


Sat­ur­day April 30th 1836

Dear Camp­bell
I was very sor­ry to hear
you had resumed your shaking
habits & would strong­ly recommend
some oth­er reli­gion.  Take a dose
of mor­phine when you first feel the
chill & one of qui­nine every two hours
& I think with bit­ters you will get
thru bet­ter.  This eased me.  I found
at Booneville that my horse had been
foundered I think he should be contd [?]
as a work horse & thank you
find a fast run­ning horse
[next page]
Pay buy him for me in his
Stead as he will do for one
of the peo­ple you will oblige me
by get­ting me a pair of holsters
as Nel­son has lost by old ones.
I fear we shall not meet so
I have only to wish your health
& pros­per­i­ty.  The boat shakes like
An apere [?] & I find I am hardly
Yours faithfully,
WD. Stewart

Robert Camp­bell Esq
Care of Mr Aull
W Stewart

Capt W Stewart
April 30th 1836

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