Tag Archives: Campbell

Christmas at the Campbell House


Part of what makes Camp­bell House so unique is that the vast major­i­ty of every­thing you see when you go through the House is com­plete­ly orig­i­nal.  No fakes, MSGs or fillers.  What you’re see­ing belonged to the Camp­bells, was used by them on a dai­ly basis, and is still call­ing CHM home more than 160 years lat­er.  But when it comes to Christ­mas­time at the Camp­bell House, we’ve had to be a lit­tle bit creative.

2929787835_xmas_tree_question_mark_M_answer_103_xlargeYou see, though we would like to say that all of the beau­ti­ful orna­men­ta­tion, lus­cious green­ery, and Vic­to­ri­an frills found through­out the build­ing is spot-on orig­i­nal as well… it’s not.  In fact, we only have TWO orig­i­nal Camp­bell Christ­mas pieces in our col­lec­tion.  That’s not two sets of dec­o­ra­tions or two box­es… it’s two.  And there’s a pret­ty easy expla­na­tion for why this is.

The Camp­bells, as we’re well aware, knew how to throw a par­ty.  Folks like Pres­i­dent U.S. Grant, Gen­er­al William Tecum­seh Sher­man, James Eads, and Hen­ry Shaw reg­u­lar­ly supped here at the House, and Vir­ginia even had the for­mal par­lor dou­bled in size to accom­mo­date the elab­o­rate get-togeth­ers.  As you can imag­ine, their Christ­mas par­ties (and lat­er, their son Hugh’s Christ­mas par­ties) would have been a grand affair, and the Camp­bells made sure their guests went home with gifts to remind them of the evening.  But these weren’t spe­cial­ty gift bags or neon t‑shirts with “Camp­bell Xmas Par­ty 1854” embla­zoned across the front.  When you came to a Camp­bell Christ­mas par­ty, you were allowed to take with you an orna­ment from their tree.  And, as many guests came and went through the halls of this grand home, so too did the Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions.  Kind of a neat tra­di­tion, right?  Great for the guests, not so great for us here at CHM who would love to get our mitts on some of those orna­ments in the present day.

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Par­lor tree, mid-construction.

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Com­plet­ed par­lor tree.

So, when you come through Camp­bell House this hol­i­day sea­son (and we HIGHLY encour­age you to do so), know that you’re look­ing at our best guess of what a Camp­bell Christ­mas might have looked like.  Is it spot-on orig­i­nal?  No.  But it is quite the sight to behold.  Hol­i­day dec­o­rat­ing takes the bet­ter part of a month to com­plete.  It’s worth the effort.

Check out pic­tures below of the two remain­ing Camp­bell Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions in our col­lec­tion.  Also some pic­tures of how we deck our halls dur­ing the hol­i­day season!

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The only Camp­bell orna­ment remain­ing in the CHM col­lec­tion. A small, cel­lu­loid (thin plas­tic-like mate­r­i­al) piece depict­ing a young girl with a bas­ket of apples. The orna­ment was tak­en off the Camp­bell Christ­mas tree and giv­en to a young vis­i­tor in 1922. 

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The only oth­er Camp­bell Christ­mas piece still in our col­lec­tion today, is this rein­deer. Orig­i­nal­ly part of a full set of San­ta’s eight rein­deer that sat on the Camp­bells’ din­ing room table (see below), Vix­en end­ed up with a dif­fer­ent St. Louis fam­i­ly for more than 90 years before he was returned to Camp­bell House.

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Ster­ling sil­ver harp name­plate on the crit­ter’s back iden­ti­fy­ing him as Vix­en. Please dis­re­gard the neon green iPhone case.


The orig­i­nal full set of rein­deer on the Camp­bell fam­i­ly din­ing table,  cir­ca 1895.













Reflections of the Past


Camp­bell House­’s Scot­tron mir­ror, August 2013

Part of what makes a vis­it to the Camp­bell House Muse­um such an expe­ri­ence is the enor­mous num­ber of orig­i­nal pieces of fur­ni­ture and knick-knack­ery that fill the halls of the 160-year-old home.  From tables and chairs to armoires and a piano, the house has quite the col­lec­tion of Vic­to­ri­ana.  But occa­sion­al­ly, much like the house itself, these items need a lit­tle elbow grease and T.L.C. to keep them in tip-top shape.  A per­fect exam­ple of this is the adjustable dou­ble mir­ror that can be found in a cor­ner of the Camp­bell House library (see the bot­tom of the page for some up close and per­son­al snap­shots of some of the mir­ror’s detail).

The mir­ror’s design was patent­ed in 1868 by Samuel Scot­tron. Scot­tron was a promi­nent African Amer­i­can inven­tor from Brook­lyn, New York who began his career as a bar­ber and would even­tu­al­ly be grant­ed four U.S. patents.  This par­tic­u­lar piece is unique because Scot­tron designed it so that users could “see them­selves as oth­ers see them.”  In oth­er words, the mir­ror could be adjust­ed so your reflec­tion was reflect­ed, revers­ing the mir­rored image. (Try and say that three times fast.)


Scot­tron’s dou­ble mir­ror patent, ca. 1868


Samuel Scot­tron

In the mod­el the Camp­bel­l’s owned, a pair of fan­cy cast iron arms and a high stand sup­port a pair of wal­nut oval-shaped mir­ror frames that swiv­el in all direc­tions.  (As a side note, if you can believe it, the mir­ror was pur­chased for the muse­um at the 1941 Camp­bell estate auc­tion for $5.50!)

How­ev­er, a few years ago, as the muse­um’s restora­tion drew to a close, the mir­ror was in pret­ty rough shape.  In the 1960s, one of the wood frames and mir­rors had gone miss­ing, mak­ing the impres­sive dou­ble mir­ror pret­ty well use­less in terms of its orig­i­nal­ly intend­ed method of use.


The Camp­bells’ Scot­tron dou­ble mir­ror in the library, ca. 1885

Luck­i­ly, muse­um mem­ber and mas­ter car­pen­ter Don Dill worked long and hard to com­plete restora­tion work on the mir­ror, replac­ing the miss­ing piece and restor­ing it to its orig­i­nal con­di­tion. The mir­ror is still in the same room in which it has sat since the last half of the 19th cen­tu­ry.  (see some detail pho­tos of the mir­ror at the bot­tom of this post)

Don’s work goes hand in hand with the Muse­um’s efforts to con­serve and restore its col­lec­tion of orig­i­nal objects and arti­facts, seen most recent­ly in the hang­ing of lav­ish new draperies in the par­lor sev­er­al weeks ago.


CHM par­lor & new­ly installed draperies, May 2013.

Click here to read more about the par­lor draperies project,recently fea­tured in Ladue News’ Ele­gant Liv­ing publication.


Scot­tron’s” detail on back of mirror


Detail — left side of mirror


Pat’d March 31 1868” detail on back of mirror

Robert’s royal pedigree

Robert’s child­hood home, Augh­a­lane House in Coun­ty Tyrone, Ire­land. The blue plaque to the left of the door reads, “Most Noble Duke of Argyle” with a draw­ing of the Camp­bell coat of arms. The plaque on the right reads, “Hugh Camp­bell built this house in the year of our LORD 1786.” The “Hugh” referred to in the plaque is Robert’s father.

We knew that Robert’s father was descend­ed from Archibald, the 9th Earl of Argyll.  Now vol­un­teer Tom has just uncov­ered a com­pelling roy­al con­nec­tion on Robert’s moth­er’s side, too: Robert’s moth­er, Sarah Buchanan, is a descen­dant of Robert II, King of Scot­land.  Here is a tran­scrip­tion of the fam­i­ly line, from Amer­i­cans of Roy­al Descent: A Col­lec­tion of Genealo­gies of Amer­i­can Fam­i­lies Whose Lin­eage is Traced to the Legit­i­mate Issue of Kings (1891). We have bold­ed the sec­tions that per­tain to Robert and his dis­tant grand­fa­ther, King Robert II.  What a great find!  Thanks, Tom!


1. — ROBERT II., King of Scot­land, m. Lady Eliz­a­beth, daugh­ter of Sir Adam Mure, Knt., of Rowal­ton, and had:
2. — ROBERT STEWARD, Duke of Albany; Earl of Mon­tei­th and Fife; Regent of Scot­land, b. 1339, d. 1419.  He m., first, Lady Mar­garet, grand­daugh­er of Alan, Earl of Mon­teigh, and had:
3. — MURDACH STEWART, sec­ond Duke of Albany; Gov­er­nor of Scot­land, who m. Lady Isabel, daugh­ter of Dun­can, Earl of Lenox, and had:
4. — LADY ISABEL STEWART, who m. Sir Wal­ter Buchanan, twelfth Laird of Buchanan, for whose Roy­al Descent see Pedi­gree XIII., and had:
5. — THOMAS BUCHANAN, third son, first Laird of Car­beth, who had:
6. — JOHN BUCHANAN, of East­er-Bal­lat, sec­ond son, who had:
7. — THOMAS BUCHANAN, third Laird of Car­beth, who had:
8. — JOHN BUCHANAN, of Gart­in­caber, who had:
9. — GEORGE BUCHANAN, of Blair­lusk, who had:
10. — WILLIAM BUCHANAN, of Coun­ty Tyrone, Ire­land, who had:
11. — PATRICK BUCHANAN, of Coun­ty Tyrone, Ire­land.  He had a broth­er, Robert Buchanan who was one of the first set­tlers in Cum­ber­land Coun­ty, Pa.  in 1743 he took up a part of an eight-hun­dred acre tract of land on teh Conon­dogu­inet, near the mouth of Sil­ver’s Run.  Robert Buchanan had sev­er­al broth­ers in Penn­syl­va­nia then: one, Wal­ter, who lived at East Penns­bor­ough, Cum­ber­land Co., where Robert removed, and William, who kept an Inn in Cal­isle in 1753, and anoth­er broth­er who resided in Hopewell Town­ship in 1748; PATRICK BUCHANAN’S eldest son:
12. — ROBERT BUCHANAN, of Coun­ty Tyrone, Ire­land, had:
1. — GENERAL THOMAS BUCHANAN, b. Coun­ty Tyrone, 1747–48, d. at Newville, Pa., 13 Octo­ber 1823.  Pre­vi­ous to the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion he removed from Ire­land to Penn­syl­va­nia, and at the out­break of the war enlist­ed, in Cum­ber­land Coun­ty, Pa., in Colonel William Thomp­son’s Bat­tal­ion of Rifle­men, in the com­pa­ny of Cap­tain James Cham­bers.  He was com­mis­sioned third lieu­tenant in this bat­tal­ion, 25 June 1775, and cap­tain, 10 Octo­ber 1777, in the First Reg­i­ment of the Penn­syl­va­nia Line.  Cap­tain Buchanan resigned from the army 26 Sep­tem­ber 1779, and in 1789 became Sher­iff of Cum­ber­land (now Franklin) Coun­ty, Pa.  He m. Miss McFar­lane, and had:
I. — ROBERT BUCHANAN, d 31 May 1833.
II. — ELIZABETH BUCHANAN, d 25 August 1863.
III. — MRS. NANCY SNODGRASS, d 23 April 1859.
IV. — WILLIAM BUCHANAN, d. 7 July 1843.
V. — EZEKIEL BUCHANAN, d. 31 August 1831.
VI. — SARAH, d. 17 August, 1872, wife of Clement McFarland.
VII. — MARY BUCHANAN, of Ship­pens­burg, Pa., d. aged 104 years
VIII. — JANE BUCHANAN, of Ship­pens­burg, Pa., d. aged 100 years.
2. — MARY BUCHANAN, d. 16 Octo­ber 1823
3. — SARAH BUCHANAN, d. who m. Mr. Camp­bell, of Coun­ty Tyrone, Ire­land, and had:
I. — HUGH CAMPBELL, of St. Louis, Mo., d.s.p.; m. Mary Kyle
II. — ROBERT CAMPBELL, of St. Louis, Mo., m. Vir­ginia Kyle and had:
i. — HUGH; ii. — HAZLITT; iii. — JAMES