Tag Archives: medicine

This Week in History: November 5‑November 11

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
Fri­day Night
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)

William Sub­lette
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.