November 6, 1835 letter from Hugh Campbell to William Sublette. The original is at the Missouri Historical Society — it was transcribed and published in Glimpses of the Past: Correspondence of Robert Campbell 1834–1845. The footnotes were added by them and give interesting contextual information.
Robert has come to Philadelphia to visit his older brother Hugh but arrived sick. Hugh writes Robert’s friend and business partner William Sublette to tell him all about Robert’s health and trip. Find out how he’s feeling today. Also read all about William Sublette’s brother, Milton, who had his leg amputated — Hugh ordered a new cork one for his friend!
Philada. November 6th 1835
My Dear Sublette
On Tuesday evening my brother Robert arrived here, in rather a low state of health.(footnote 4) I did not know he was in the city until next morning, when he surprised us by stepping into the store. We soon got him up to my house & called in my friend Doctor McClellan under whose care he has been ever since. He had a severe chill on Wednesday-but I am happy to tell you that it did not return to day. He has been, however quite sick and weak ever since his arrival-unable to move out-and likely to be confined to his room for some days longer. The plan we have adopted is to avoid giving any medicine, unless what is absolutely necessary-and that of the most simple kind. He has had too much physic-and our Doctors here think that nature is the best physician (with a little assistance) in his present situation. Mary is a pretty good nurse-but after all I fear he will never believe he can have any nurse to be compared to you.
Perhaps you will be a little astonished to be told that it is my intention to embark for Liverpool by the packet of 16th
inst; on a short visit to Ireland. It is my intention to return here early in February next-so that my absence will not if
possible exceed 90 days. Robert promises to make my house his home while I am gone-and if you will only contrive to
come on & take lodgings with him, I think you can contrive to make the time pass agreeably untill my return. Mary is
a pretty good housekeeper and has improved prodigiously in, the size of her slices of bread. She has got some 8 year old bacon too & is resolved to hold on to a ham or two until you arrive. I promise you comfortable quarters‑a night key, so that you can come and go without ringing-and in short that you shall in all respects command your time as fully as if at your own house. I have not yet talked to Robert about your plans or intentions-but from your late letters I take it for granted you design coming on-and I trust on receipt of this you will hasten your journey to Join Robt & Mary as soon as possible.
The left cork leg is not yet finished. I wrote you some time ago that I had ordered it with the view of making it a present
to my friend Milton.(footnote 5) So soon as I receive it, I will look out a safe conveyance & send it forthwith.
Robert met many kind friends on his way from St. Louis to our city. All of them rendered the very best attention-&
his health having become very bad he required all the civilities of an invalid. I have written thus far without asking him if he has any message for you-& he now directs me to say that the moment he is able to move out & attend to business he will write you fully. I hope this will be about five or six days hence for he is this evening decidedly better & in better spirits. He is constantly talking of you and of your noble & disinterested conduct during his late dreadful illness. I know not when I was more amused than to hear of the partnership he wished to establish while suffering under the attack. He firmly believed you should have divided the pain and thought it quere that you should be moving about while he was laying prostrate. Perhaps there are few whims more rational-for your feelings, wishes, tastes and dangers have been so much in common of late years, that a community in suffering might readily be considered as a natural consequence.
Mary Joins me in warmest wishes for your health & happiness. May God bless you my Dear fellow is the prayer of your
Hugh Campbell(footnote 6)
Near St. Louis, Mo.
4 Robert Campbell was ill at the farm of William Sublette for some time before going to his brother’s home in Philadelphia. Dr. Bernard Farrar treated him for intermittent fever, caused by exposure.
5 Milton G. Sublette, one of the most courageous men of the mountains, was born in Kentucky about 1801. With his elder brother, William, he joined Ashley’s expedition of 1822. Later he was with Smith, Jackson, and Sublette, and upon the dissolution of that firm was associated, as a partner, with Fitzpatrick, Bridger, Henry Fraeb, and Jean Baptiste Gervais. It is said that in a fight with the Blackfeet Indians he was struck in the ankle by a solid ounce of lead from an Indian’s rifle. It
tore its way through flesh, bone, tendon, and artery, and made a terrible wound. The foot had to be amputated, and Sublette, as impromptu surgeon, cut oif his own foot. When he reached St. Louis he submitted to another amputation, in order to secure a better stump. Nathaniel Wyeth, in his diary under date of May 8, 1834, Little Vermilion River, says: “Milton Sublette’s leg has grown so troublesome that he is obliged to turn back — his leg is very bad.” The account books of Dr. Farrar of St. Louis, show several entries about Milton’s leg. One, May 27, 1834: “Commenced dressing M. G. Soblet’s leg;” and finally under date of February 4, 1835, an entry says he amputated the leg. Milton Sublette was back in the mountains in the spring of 1835. He died at Fort William, on the Platte River, April 5, 1837, “of consumption, the foe of his family,” according to one commentator.
6Hugh Campbell was born January 1, 1797, in County Tyrone, Ireland, and died in St. Louis, December 4, 1879. On March 4, 1829 he married Miss Mary Kyle, in Milton, North Carolina. She was a cousin
of Virginia Kyle, who married Robert Campbell. In 1859 Hugh Campbell came to St. Louis and became associated in business with his brother, Robert. This partnership continued until a few years before the death of Robert Campbell. He had no children.