This Week in History: October 4

This week’s let­ter was writ­ten by Mary Camp­bell (Robert’s broth­er Hugh’s wife) to Vir­ginia. Mary had an endear­ing sense of humor and she was well-loved by Robert, Vir­ginia and their chil­dren. Her style was chat­ty and self-depre­ci­at­ing, and all of her let­ters con­tain a good bit of gos­sip. We’re par­tic­u­lar­ly fond of the final para­graph, which is exem­plary of her per­son­al­i­ty.  The adorable James (some­times Jamie) Mary refers to is Robert and Vir­gini­a’s first child who was born in May of 1842. See the notes at the end of the post for lots of inter­est­ing infor­ma­tion. Thank you to vol­un­teer and lead reseach­er Tom for his hard work tran­scrib­ing this let­ter and cre­at­ing the notes.
Oct 2

Mrs. Robert Campbell
Saint Louis Missouri

[Page 1]
Philadel­phia Oct. 2nd / [18]43
My dear Virginia,
This morn­ing our vis­i­tors have all depart­ed, even Pon­son­by leaves at 10 o’clock – we break­fast­ed at 6 – & the first act of my lib­er­ty is to write you, who must feel a wee bit neglect­ed by us all – Mag you know nev­er can write in a hur­ry, & indeed she has had full occu­pa­tion; for my whole time has been passed in the streets, & all the house­keep­ing has devot­ed on her as well as enter­tain­ing the friends that remained at home –
Miss McKim­mon was with us near­ly 3 weeks, a Miss Oak­ley was here before her, & a Miss Atkin­son came the very day Miss O left – & of course many oth­ers have been spend­ing days & evenings with us – I have had in addi­tion numer­ous orders; all which are now closed except yours & I shall wait for fur­ther orders from you in regard to your bon­net as I know you can­not wear ours for some weeks.
About the last of this month the win­ter fash­ions will be opened, & then I can get you what you like – the mousse linen you marked, were not new in style & they were in 12 yd lengths – so I did not take them – I have since cho­sen a cash­mere for you, but that has only 13 yds – it is impos­si­ble to get of any thing very new or styl­ish, a larg­er quan­ti­ty – but if I can I will exchange yours or keep it myself – Mrs. McKim­mon had 18 yds put in a dress – but it was too much of a good thing – Miss Rodgers won’t use 20 yds if you gain it here.  [End page 1]

[Page 2]
I have been look­ing for a hat & coat for dear lit­tle Jamie, the weath­er has how­ev­er con­tin­ued so warm, that noth­ing has yet been made up – I hope the few cold days of last week will bring out some­thing – this morn­ing how­ev­er gives promise of a “summer’s day” & I nev­er suf­fered with the heat as much as dur­ing the last month – this very day work was almost insuf­fer­able – how have you born it –
I can­not tell you how relieved I was at the receipt of your let­ter from home – I had seen Mrs. Phillips the day before & had heard from her sis­ter at Cincin­nati, & you were all suf­fer­ing from the heat & uncom­fort­able bouts & you worn out with nurs­ing James – I feared you would not get safe­ly to St. Louis but you can bear a great deal, not one of the del­i­cate kind at all – I wish I knew how you were at this moment – I was dream­ing about you all Sat­ur­day night – I thought the lit­tle boy had made his  appear­ance & all were doing well – I awoke call­ing to Mr. C. that Jamie had a lit­tle broth­er – you will be pleased if it is so but I would pre­fer a girl –
In accor­dance with Robert’s desire, I select­ed a present for Mrs. McKim­mon – I tried to find out if they want­ed any thing about the house or table, such as a cake bas­ket, etc. but they have every­thing – Mrs. McK had no jew­el­ry but a sim­ple mosa­ic breast­pin – so I ordered a very pret­ty amethyst bracelet & pin put in a very nice case – all cost­ing $22.25 – which I gave Mr. McK for his wife a few days before they left – they all seemed delight­ed, but Mr. McK thought the oblig­a­tions were all on his side & that he should be mak­ing you the present – he said he would with Robert very soon – he is a most estimable man – his wife a mer­ry heart­ed thought­less crea­ture – she kept us all alive while here.  Mag & she car­ried on in great style – you would have been amused. [End page 2]

[Page 3]
I heard with great regret of Mr. John Kerr’s ill health – I thought he had attained an age when dis­eases of the lungs were not to be at all dread­ed – his wife’s care engaged all our sym­pa­thies; how lit­tle could we fore­see, that our fears would be so soon called forth for him – I trust he will yet be well again – present my kind­est regards to both – how is your friend Mrs. Lee – get­ting well I hope – [torn] McCaus­land an [torn] died – the poor lit­tle orphans what will become of them.
I received a let­ter from Mrs Ash­ley a few was ago – full of affec­tion & sen­ti­ment, the mean­ing of which was to hang on a box of arti­cles from Miss Brinton’s (the nan­ti­na­mak­er [?]) for Mary’s wed­ding – which event she announces to us in great con­fi­dence.  I was amused at such excel­lence of dis­tin­guished con­sid­er­a­tion – it was a [ ] the news was so stale – the match is all she could desire except on account of Mary’s extreme youth – The box was sent a week ago & will be there before you receive this –
Mrs. Bak­er con­tin­ues con­fined to bed – & has become extreme­ly ner­vous; imag­ines she has all sorts of dis­eases – but I think the ner­vous­ness is by far the worst – as more as she goes out & is amused she will be well enough – Matil­da com­plains too great­ly  – Mrs. Archie quite nears you in size now – she expects another
Camp­bell in 6 weeks or even so – so all com­plaints last sum­mer will end as I expect­ed – Mag & me have our new bon­nets, we got them at Mary Wharton’s open­ing – Mag’s is even firm enough to please you – it is yel­low how­ev­er, that is not your taste but very becom­ing to me with a beau­ti­ful feath­er – mine is blue again – not dark – a  French bon­net every thing match­ing beau­ti­ful­ly – very gen­teel – I intend­ed to get white, could not find one ready made, & all thought this so becom­ing.  I advised Mag to exchange the silk you gave her for one of longer length & less like the silk she has – she did so with great reluctance

[Enve­lope – top of page]
but as you want­ed her to be so fine when she comes to St. Louis it was the only chance she had of get­ting a trimmed silk dress – I have got­ten noth­ing for myself yet – I send out a box to my sis­ter Bet­sy today con­tain­ing some things for her, my moth­er & Mrs. Reynolds – I hope they will go expe­di­tious­ly.  There is noth­ing new among our friends – I have been too busy to vis­it any­one.  I have not called at Mrs. Jen­nings since you left but I must go there some time today to ask when Mrs. Phillips goes to St. Louis – Give my best love to Mrs. Kerr – I hope her teeth are all now right & comfortable

[Enve­lope – bot­tom of page]
I have not received a let­ter from your moth­er yet – Mrs. McK saw her the night before she left Raleigh – she was very well as all your friends were – she hears Ellen is very hap­py – Mr. Otey very kind – West­on Gales has been on here & sev­er­al Raleigh peo­ple – Mr. G. has court­ed Mrs. Nel­son twice – she objects to the chil­dren but I think she will yet mar­ry him – Bob John­ston is engaged to Miss Nor­ris of our city  – pret­ty but poor – how comes on Mar­cel­lous & Miss G.F.?  Miss Tevis is to be mar­ried next month – I expect your uncle David & wife soon to make us a vis­it – I hope they will not come until I get the car­pets all down & the house a lit­tle in order & some­thing to put on my back –

[Page 1 – side of page]
Dear lit­tle Jamie we talk of him every day – Mr. C quite longs to see him, does he begin to talk yet – kiss him a thou­sand times for us – he is remem­bered by all & your friends make the kind­est inquiries for you – Pon­son­by goes to school to Hartwick near Coop­er­stown in the state of New York  – a school rec­om­mend­ed by Miss Craft – he dis­likes going again among strangers – & I pre­sume this will be the last trial –

[Page 2 – side of page]
Robert I sup­pose is as busy as a bee – the busi­ness is all over here – Mar­ket it looks qui­et & order­ly again too much so to please the mer­chants – Mr. Moore has sent for me to look at a sec­re­tary he has fin­ished that he thinks will suit Robert – I will call in a day or so – I am pleased you have not tak­en that house of Larkins – I would rather have a worse habi­ta­tion & a bet­ter house – get a new one if possible.

[Page 3 – side of page]
Farewell dear Vir­ginia – we await with anx­i­ety news from you – I trust we will soon hear that all is true & well with you – Mag sends a thou­sand loves & kiss­es to James – she is writ­ing her sis­ter Ellen to whom she has not any of writ­ten for a long time  – we had a delight­ful let­ter from her recent­ly – she is very hap­py – James & all well – James cau­tioned trav­el­ing with ague & fever – Do you hear from Har­ri­et – I expect­ed vis­it­ing her soon after you left but have not done so – My best love to your [ ] of a hus­band – May God bless you all – I am still grow­ing fat­ter – don’t you pity me – I threat­en to sleep only 3 or 4 hours & to eat very lit­tle & walk all the time – but I dare say I will pur­sue the even ten­der of my way – although it will shock you to see your fat cousin next spring – Good­bye again
Mary Campbell
Moth­er & friends send love – I can­not read this over now will you be able to make it out I fear

[End let­ter]

Note:  Pon­son­by Kyle was the son of William Kyle, broth­er to Hazlett Kyle (the father of Vir­ginia Campbell).

Note:  The Campbell’s first child, James Alexan­der Camp­bell, was born 14 May 1842 and there­fore would have been 1 year and 5 months of age at the time of this letter.

Note:  The Campbell’s sec­ond child, and the first to be named Hugh, was born on 9 Octo­ber 1843, one week after this let­ter was writ­ten.  Sad­ly he died of pneu­mo­nia four months lat­er, on 15 Feb­ru­ary 1844.

Note:  Miss E. Brin­ton ran a dress­mak­ing estab­lish­ment at No. 122 Chest­nut Street in Philadel­phia.  Curi­ous­ly enough, “Nan­ti­na” is a con­tem­po­rary mak­er of wed­ding dress­es in Athens, Greece.  I have not been able to deter­mine if this was a term used in Vic­to­ri­an times.

Note: Hartwick Sem­i­nary was found­ed in 1797 through the will of John Christo­pher Hartwick, a Luther­an min­is­ter from Ger­many, who led sev­er­al mis­sion con­gre­ga­tions of ear­ly set­tlers along the Hud­son Riv­er and the Mohawk Riv­er in what is now upstate New York.  Short­ly after his death, his dream of estab­lish­ing an insti­tu­tion of high­er learn­ing became a real­i­ty with the found­ing of Hartwick Sem­i­nary in 1797. The New York State Leg­is­la­ture in 1816 incor­po­rat­ed the new school – the first Luther­an sem­i­nary in Amer­i­ca – as a clas­si­cal acad­e­my and the­o­log­i­cal sem­i­nary, in the Town of Hartwick, just south­west of the vil­lage of Coop­er­stown.  The school moved to its present loca­tion in 1928 with land donat­ed by the City of Oneon­ta, when it was incor­po­rat­ed as a four-year col­lege.  Assum­ing that this let­ter has been cor­rect­ly tran­scribed, it is unclear why Pon­son­by Kyle would attend a Luther­an sem­i­nary, when pre­sum­ably his fam­i­ly was either Pres­by­ter­ian or Epis­co­palian.  How­ev­er, the will of William Kyle, Ponsonby’s father, stip­u­lat­ed: “I bequeath to Pon­son­by Kyle the son of Sophia C Lon­gins and now resid­ing in the City of New York the like sum of thir­teen thou­sand dol­lars to be paid him by my Execu­tors when he arrives at the age of twen­ty one years on the fol­low­ing con­di­tions and reser­va­tions: He shall be placed by my Execu­tors at some respectable sem­i­nary of learn­ing where he shall have the means of acquir­ing a good edu­ca­tion until of age if he man­i­fests a dis­po­si­tion and capac­i­ty for study.  But if my Execu­tors think oth­er­wise then it is my will and inten­tion that they bind him as an appren­tice to some respectable mechan­ic or trades­man until he arrives at age, and that they with­hold the above sum of thir­teen thou­sand dol­lars fur­nish­ing him only with the year­ly pro­ceeds there­of until they are of opin­ion that his con­duct and dis­po­si­tion is such as becomes the char­ac­ter of a peace­ful & wor­thy cit­i­zen to be then paid him by my Execu­tors & not sooner.”

Note:  For what it is worth, Har­ri­et Kyle McCaus­land was the daugh­ter of William Kyle, a Vir­gin­ian of Irish birth, who mar­ried Sarah A. Stephens, by whom he had a large fam­i­ly of chil­dren.  This William Kyle could pos­si­bly be the broth­er of Hazlett Kyle, though only two chil­dren are men­tioned in his will, William Sheri­dan Kyle and Pon­son­by Kyle.  Anoth­er William Kyle was list­ed as a broth­er of David Kyle, the father of Mary Camp­bell, in his brother’s Robert’s pro­bate records.  But that record con­tains no spousal infor­ma­tion and indi­cates no issue from William Kyle.  In any event, William Kyle was a farmer by occu­pa­tion and paid par­tic­u­lar atten­tion to the breed­ing of fine hors­es.  His res­i­dence was near Fair­cas­tle, VA.  Har­ri­et Kyle was born on Cataw­ba creek, in Bote­tourt coun­ty VA.  Her hus­band, John McCaus­land was a native of Coun­ty Tyrone, Ire­land.  He left Ire­land around the age of 21, land­ed at Bal­ti­more, and even­tu­al­ly set­tled in Lynch­burg VA, where he found tem­po­rary employ­ment with David Kyle.  From there he went to Huntsville AL, where he estab­lished a branch mer­can­tile house, mak­ing a spe­cial­ty of Irish linen.  Branch hous­es were also start­ed in Nashville and St. Louis, where John McCaus­land estab­lished his per­ma­nent res­i­dence.  In St. Louis, Gov. Polk appoint­ed him com­mis­sion­er to arrange the basis for tax­a­tion for St. Louis.  John McCaus­land mar­ried Har­ri­et Kyle while she was vis­it­ing friends in St. Louis.  They had three chil­dren: the eldest, Lau­ra, died in infan­cy; Robert K. became a physi­cian, and John A. (b. 13 Sept 1837) entered the mil­i­tary and was a famous Con­fed­er­ate Civ­il War general.

Note:  West­on Raleigh Gales (20 April 1802 – 23 July1848) was the son of Joseph Gales (1761–1841), a print­er in Sheffield, Eng­land, who found­ed the Sheffield Reg­is­ter and got in trou­ble with the author­i­ties for sup­port­ing the French Rev­o­lu­tion.  In 1794, he fled to the free city of Ham­burg, and immi­grat­ed with his fam­i­ly to Philadel­phia in 1795, where he was employed by the Amer­i­can Dai­ly Adver­tis­er, where he cov­ered speech­es in the U.S. Sen­ate.  He found­ed the Inde­pen­dent Gazetteer and did print­ing work for a num­ber of con­gress­men.  In 1798, mem­bers of the North Car­oli­na del­e­ga­tion offered him the state-print­ing con­tract, and he sold the paper to Samuel Har­ri­son Smith in 1799, moved to Raleigh and estab­lished the Raleigh Reg­is­ter.  “It was the lead­ing polit­i­cal voice in North Car­oli­na, first for the Repub­li­cans and, after 1824, for the Nation­al Repub­li­cans of Adams and Clay.”  He took William Win­ston Seaton as a part­ner in 1806, who mar­ried one of his daugh­ters.  An appren­tice, Fran­cis Lums­den, was the cofounder of the New Orleans Picayune.  Joseph Gales was edi­tor until his retire­ment in 1833, at which time his son West­on Gales took over.  Joseph Gales’ wife was Winifred Mar­shall, a writer and also cousin to Lord Mel­bourne.  The office and the Gales’ home were in the 300 block of Fayet­teville Street, direct­ly south of the Wake Coun­ty Cour­t­house.  Their first son was Joseph Gales Jr. (1786–1860), who had been expelled from the Uni­ver­si­ty of North Car­oli­na, became a part­ner of his father’s old asso­ciate from Philadel­phia, Samuel Har­ri­son Smith, in the Nation­al Intel­li­gencer in Wash­ing­ton, D.C.  His sec­ond son, West­on Gales (1802–1848)(who was expelled from Yale) joined the Raleigh Reg­is­ter in 1821.  He mar­ried Love Swain Free­man (23 July 1806 – 24 Jan 1842) at Sand­wich, Barn­sta­ble, MA on 22 April 1825.  They had four chil­dren: Annie Free­man (b.1826‑d.1894); Seaton (b.1828‑d.1891); Altona Forster (b.1831‑d.1860); and West­on Jr. (b.1833‑d.1835).  Fol­low­ing the sud­den death of the first Mrs. Gales (at age 35) in 1842, West­on nev­er mar­ried “Mrs. Nel­son.”  Instead, on 8 Jan­u­ary 1844 he mar­ried Mary Spies, the eldest daugh­ter of John J. Spies, in New York City.  West­on had become edi­tor of the Raleigh Reg­is­ter fol­low­ing his father’s retire­ment in 1833 and con­tin­ued until his own death in 1848.  Weston’s son Seaton (1828–1878) then became edi­tor until the paper was sold in 1856 to John Symes of Vir­ginia.  The Gales had been Uni­tar­i­ans since their days in Sheffield, where they knew Joseph Priest­ley, who also became a refugee in Philadel­phia.   Joseph Gales Sr. and West­on Gales are buried in Old City Ceme­tery in Raleigh NC (same as Hazlett Kyle).

Note: “Mrs. Nel­son” is Mar­garet Poumairat Nel­son, the old­er sis­ter of Amelia Poumairat McKim­mon, the wife of James McKim­mon.  Margaret’s first hus­band was Dr. Arthur Nel­son (b. c1791 – d. 5 Oct 1841).  Mar­garet Poumairat (old­est daugh­ter of John Poumairat) m. Arthur Nel­son 28 March 1835 in Bal­ti­more MD (accord­ing to Bal­ti­more mar­riage records.  How­ev­er, the Nation­al Genealog­i­cal Soci­ety Quar­ter­ly states they were mar­ried 30 March 1835).  Dr. Arthur Nel­son had pre­vi­ous­ly been a doc­tor in St. Louis.  A pro­fes­sion­al card was first pub­lished in Mis­souri on April 24, 1818 — “Dr. Arthur Nel­son ten­ders his pro­fes­sion­al ser­vices to the cit­i­zens of St. Louis and its vicin­i­ty.”  On 25 May 1819 Arthur Nel­son mar­ried Miss Eleano­ra Gantt, the daugh­ter of Dr. Edward S. Gantt.  Until 1820 he oper­at­ed a drug­store with his med­ical prac­tice, how­ev­er he appears to have left St. Louis by 1821 and died 5 Oct 1841 in Raleigh NC.  He is buried in the City Ceme­tery (close to the McKim­mon graves).  Note too that Dr. Nel­son was the bonds­man at the McKim­mon wed­ding, he pos­si­bly hav­ing intro­duced James McKim­mon to his wife’s sis­ter when the sis­ter was vis­it­ing Raleigh from Bal­ti­more.  After Arthur’s death, Mar­garet Nel­son lived with the McKim­mon fam­i­ly until she mar­ried Judge Robert Strange (b. 20 Sept 1796 in Vir­ginia – d. 19 Feb 1854 in Fayet­teville NC) on 11 Oct 1853 at Christ Church in Raleigh NC.  Strange was a for­mer U.S. Sen­a­tor from North Car­oli­na and then a lawyer in Fayet­teville NC.  Fol­low­ing his death in 1854, Mar­garet moved back into the McKim­mon home.  With­in the course of five years, numer­ous tragedies impact­ed the McKim­mon fam­i­ly:  the fam­i­ly busi­ness­es slid into bank­rupt­cy as there was noth­ing to sell and no one to buy; Amelia McKim­mon died in 1861; Mar­garet Nel­son Strange died in 1863 of scar­let fever; James McKim­mon had to sell his inter­est in his hotel busi­ness and lat­er sell his house; James died in 1866.  As a result the five chil­dren, three of whom had fought in the Civ­il War, had noth­ing but debts when the war end­ed.  One teenage daugh­ter received a let­ter from her broth­er who had returned from the war that there was no place for her to live and that she would have to stay at school.  A younger daugh­ter evi­dent­ly had to be put up for adoption.

Note: Eleanor (Ellen) Kyle (b. c1815 in Coun­ty Tyrone, Ire­land – d.  March 1844) – mar­ried James W. Stephen­son on 12 Decem­ber 1834 in St. Louis, MO.  James W. Stephen­son was born in1806 in Brooke Coun­ty VA (now West Vir­ginia).  His fam­i­ly moved to the Illi­nois Ter­ri­to­ry (in present day Edwardsville, IL) in 1808, where Gov­er­nor Edwards appoint­ed his father, Ben­jamin Stephen­son, the first sher­iff of Ran­dolph Coun­ty under the ter­ri­to­r­i­al gov­ern­ment.  Ben­jamin Stephen­son also served as rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Illi­nois Ter­ri­to­ry in Con­gress and reg­is­ter of Lands at Edwardsville.  James Stephen­son went to Gale­na in Jo Daviess Coun­ty in 1828 at age 22.  In 1832 at age 26 he orga­nized a band of mount­ed rangers in the Black Hawk War and was named cap­tain.  In July 1832 he was named lieu­tenant colonel of Dodge’s forces.  Fol­low­ing the Black Hawk War he became clerk of the coun­ty court, clerk of the cir­cuit court, coun­ty recorder, and looked for polit­i­cal oppor­tu­ni­ties.  He also sought appoint­ment as a gov­ern­ment sur­vey­or.  He was elect­ed to the Illi­nois Sen­ate in August 1834.  Col. James Stephen­son mar­ried Ellen Kyle on 11 Dec1834 at Christ Church in St. Louis, MO.  In Feb­ru­ary 1835, he was appoint­ed Reg­is­ter of Lands at Gale­na and Chica­go.  In that same month, David Kyle, father of Ellen, died in St. Louis.  Hugh Camp­bell, in a few let­ters to his broth­er, report­ed how he solicit­ed “Major Stephenson’s” assis­tance to set­tle the David Kyle estate.  There­fore, it was not until 22 April 1835, in a let­ter from William Sub­lette to Robert Camp­bell was it report­ed “Mr. & Mrs. Stephen­son leaves to day for Gale­na.”  By 1838, James Stephen­son was a can­di­date for IL gov­er­nor, but with­drew because of health and per­son­al cir­cum­stances.  They had two chil­dren: a son DeKyle (aka Kyle) (b. c1836- d. c1864) and a daugh­ter Lucy (1837–1838).  James Stephen­son died in Gale­na on 12 August 1838 of tuber­cu­lo­sis.  The daugh­ter Lucy died with­in the same year.  Ellen Stephen­son moved to Freeport IL with her son Kyle, to live with her sis­ter Jane, the wife of John A. Clark.  On 4 May 1843, Ellen mar­ried Col. James Mitchell (b. 14 June 1810 – d. 12 August 1874), one of the most promi­nent bankers in Freeport.  [This let­ter, dat­ed 2 Oct 1843, thus refers to Ellen’s sec­ond hus­band James Mitchell.]  Ellen died of tuber­cu­lo­sis in March 1844 at age 29, nine months after she remar­ried. A few months after Ellen’s death, James Mitchell mar­ried John A. Clark’s sis­ter, Cather­ine.  John A. and Jane Clark (Ellen’s sis­ter) raised her son Kyle.  Lat­er, Kyle had his father’s remains moved from Gale­na and interred in Freeport City Ceme­tery along with his moth­er and lit­tle sis­ter.  Kyle Stephen­son died of tuber­cu­lo­sis in Arkansas in 1864.