Tag Archives: Milton Sublette

This Week In History: September 1

Bill Sub­let­te’s broth­er Mil­ton needs a cork leg (for the right or left?), busi­ness is phe­nom­e­nal, a trou­ble­mak­ing child, and Robert needs to thank his lucky stars for all of his good for­tune — this and more in today’s let­ter from Hugh Camp­bell to his lit­tle broth­er Robert in St. Louis.


Phi­la Sept 1835
My dear Robert
To any oth­er an apol­o­gy would be nec­es­sary for my long silence — to you I need only say that it was out of my pow­er to write you soon­er. I have nev­er been so much wea­ried in busi­ness as dur­ing the last six weeks — but our hur­ry is now over for the season.
Your favor of 6 and 13 inst. are duly to hand the lat­ter by this evening’s mail. I am pleased to find that the inter­mit­tent which was caused my impru­dent expo­sure is sub­sid­ing and that you are like­ly to be “your­self again” but it seems strange that you don’t name a time for com­ing on here. The sea­son at which I have been accus­tomed to see you and our friend Sub­lette approach­es — and you will aid us in spend­ing agree­ably some long win­ter nights if you appear in Philadel­phia about 1st Nov. or should you defer until lat­er about 8 Dec. for I must spend a week in Rich­mond in the lat­ter part of Nov. on busi­ness of the estate.

The atten­tion — the down­right broth­er­ly friends of Wm. L. Sub­lette is almost with­out a prece­dent. In this cold heart­less world, my dear Robert, it is like an oasis in the desert to meet with such a man — and I think his con­duct and that of his house­hold, to you, dur­ing your late dread­ful attack, is enough to cure the most obsti­nate mis­an­thrope. Per­haps it may one day or oth­er be in my pow­er to show him how grate­ful­ly remem­bered is such well timed friendship.

The cork leg for friend Mil­ton is not fin­ished but the work­man says it will be ready for deliv­ery in all this week. Mr. S. for­got to say whether it was for the right or left — and find­ing that to wait for an answer would require a month at least, I ordered a right leg to be made, at the same time, hav­ing occa­sion to write Mr. Dormell, I request­ed him to call on Mr. S. & cause him to write me on the sub­ject by return mail. I expect his let­ter before the cork leg is fin­ished, and can make an alter­ation in two days if it be want­ed for the left leg.

Not a sin­gle sen­tence from home for many months, except the brief let­ter men­tioned in my last from Andrew, mere­ly stat­ing that Sarah Dunn was mar­ried to Hugh Mac­Far­lane & request­ing atten­tion to her. In a P.S. to Mary’s last let­ter I told you what a strange “ket­tle of fish” this same mar­riage had like­ly to turn out — & the for­tu­nate result of my inter­fer­ence in the mat­ter. Before this reach­es you, I pre­sume you will have seen the hap­py pair, on their way to Gale­na. I real­ly feel inter­est­ed in their welfare.

You have been informed of the death — the very sud­den death of our cousin James B. Bor­land on his way from Jack­son to this city. The sur­viv­ing part­ner, James Lee, will of course wind up the busi­ness. I am sor­ry to learn from a let­ter received from our cousin in May last, while in Nashville, that J. Lee is a com­plete and irreclaimable drunk­ard. Of course my expec­ta­tions from the close of the busi­ness are extreme­ly mod­er­ate. I expect to hear from his father short­ly, and will take such mea­sures as may be in my pow­er to pro­tect the inter­est of the fam­i­ly should they send me a prop­er pow­er of atty. All the leisure moments I have late­ly had to spare were engrossed in pur­chas­ing for Mrs. Kyle a small assort­ment of dry goods, suit­ed for a coun­try town in the inte­ri­or of Mis­souri or Illi­nois. They have been for­ward­ed about ten days ago and the invoic­es amount­ing to $2850 have been enclosed to Mr. G. Sproule. When in St. Louis, I found that the fam­i­ly pre­ferred a small store to any oth­er kind of oper­a­tions and promised to send betwixt $1000 and $1500 of goods which I told them must be repaid in 1 2 and 3 years but it was impos­si­ble to get up any­thing like a vari­ety for that sum & I increased the amount accord­ing­ly; stip­u­lat­ing that the sur­plus over $1500 should be repaid from the first sales. If this start in busi­ness prove ser­vice­able all will be well & I shall be amply repaid, in the feel­ing of plea­sure which their suc­cess will afford. If not, I shall have done my duty & they must try some oth­er avo­ca­tion. I am anx­ious that they should make some arrange­ment with Mr. Edgar, the Messrs Ker­r’s or some oth­er house, for occa­sion­al sup­plies, — as it will be impos­si­ble for me to con­tin­ue to send goods from Philadel­phia. The fam­i­ly speak most kind­ly of you. I am pleased to find you so gen­er­al a favorite and that they seem to place so much reliance on your advice.

You are aware that I brought on lit­tle David W. Kyle with me on my return from St. Louis, intend­ing to place him one year at school in this city. He is a kind heart­ed, thought­less boy and a city is bad­ly fit­ted for improv­ing either his mind or morals. I have there­fore sent him this evening, in charge of a friend, to a school at Had­ly, near Northamp­ton Mass­a­chu­setts, where he will have no temp­ta­tions to mis­spend time & where he will be oblig­ed to study hard. Should he not prove a steady boy, I will not con­sent to his return to Mis­souri but I enter­tain great hopes of him.
Our busi­ness this fall has been very heavy. The sales of last month were more than $10,000 greater than those of any pre­ced­ing month since we com­menced. I believe it has been pros­per­ous too. Thank God every thing has gone on well with me and I have been blessed in all respects beyond my deserts. I have a good wife — a tol­er­a­ble broth­er — many kind friends — and a prospect of mod­er­ate inde­pen­dence. For all these, I admit I am not suf­fi­cient­ly grate­ful. You, dear Robert, should reflect on this pass­ing remark. I sel­dom speak on reli­gious sub­jects when writ­ing but for your late mer­ci­ful recov­ery from the very brink of the grave, your grat­i­tude should not be con­fined to the kind friends around you. Do not think me super­sti­tious when I tell you that I attribute much of our suc­cess in life to the prayers of our good moth­er and sis­ter! God bless them.

I have had a let­ter from Hugh Reed by this morn­ing’s mail dat­ed at New­burg N.Y. He is suf­fer­ing under an attack of inter­mit­tent fever & wish­es my advice (in oth­er words mon­ey) to go home by next pack­et. I will write him — but real­ly he has cost me so much already, that unless he wants mon­ey (for he had near­ly $100 on leav­ing home and has been mak­ing ever since) I will not send him one cent. I beg you will write me ful­ly on receipt of this. I am anx­ious to know your views and future prospects. In any case, Dear Robert, come on here as soon as you can trav­el with safe­ty. I wish to see you, apart from busi­ness. The approach­ing long win­ter night would pass pleas­ant­ly. We can talk over a thou­sand things. Mary can give you and Mr. S. a com­fort­able bed & I pledge myself you shall have more sol­id slices of bread than the trans­par­ent cuts you saw with us last sea­son. God bless you & make us both thank­ful for many kind dispensations!

Hugh Camp­bell

This week in history: April 18–24

Today you tech­ni­cal­ly get mul­ti­ple let­ters, all wrapped into one!  On April 22, 1835, William Sub­lette start­ed a let­ter to Robert Camp­bell, who was at Fort William.  Sub­lette added to it on May 1.  He made one more addi­tion on May 2, before final­ly send­ing it to Robert.  The let­ter cov­ers every­thing, from busi­ness to fam­i­ly to gos­sip from home. One inter­est­ing and impor­tant ref­er­ence Sub­lette makes is to “Fontinell”.  “Fontinell” was Lucien Fontenelle, a well-known French-Amer­i­can fur trad­er who worked for the Amer­i­can Fur Com­pa­ny, run by John Jacob Astor and the Rocky Moun­tain Fur Co. and Sub­lette and Camp­bel­l’s biggest com­pe­ti­tion.  Sub­lette also tells Robert that “Vir­ginia”, mean­ing 13 year old Vir­ginia Jane Kyle, who Robert would mar­ry in 1841, is doing well and “Mrs Fox also lent Vir­ginia com­pli­ments to you”.  Enjoy this fas­ci­nat­ing look into Sub­lette & Camp­bel­l’s busi­ness and per­son­al lives!

[Front Cover]
Mr. R. Campbell
Fort William

St. Louis MO April 22nd 1835

Dear Robert,
I received your let­ter from Colum­bia and also one from Lex­ing­ton dat­ed april 18th. I wrote you by the first mail after you left at Lex­ing­ton and also to Inde­pen­dence.  Enclos­ing those notes you wished [spelled wisht] Fontinell to Set­tle, as he refused doing so here but stat­ed [spelled stait­ed] he thought he would Set­tle them when you deliv­ered over the fort to him.  I have writ­ten all that passed between us to you in my let­ter to Inde­pen­dence which I pre­sume you will get before you leave the Unit­ed States although you did not state in your let­ter from Lex­ing­ton whether you had received mine or not.  Galio [?] sent a let­ter to you from your broth­er to Inde­pen­dence and I now also send one let­ter to Fontinell.  Fontinell has only vis­it­ed my room but twice since you left he appears too [spelled two] busi­ly engaged in court­ing or some­thing else that I can scarce­ly get to see him.  On yes­ter­day Mr Fontinell & Beret both came to my room.  I showed them both the part of the let­ter you sent me or so much as relat­ed to their [spelled there] mat­ters and they made [spelled maid] no objec­tions.  Fontinell told me he expect­ed to leave tomor­row but you know him, the peo­ple is all well here gen­er­al­ly, and not much change in affairs.  Since you left Capt. Fleise­he­man is dead and buried, mar­riages Marpy & Shan­ice is both mar­ried, Miss Bil­low also & Miss Cale­na is expect­ed to be in the same sit­u­a­ti­a­tion in a few days etc. etc.

[Pg. Break] There appears to be but lit­tle alter­ation in Mil­ton since you left Sis­ter Sophron­ice Cook is now in St. Louis and expects to leave shortly.

I have received a let­ter from Mr J.J. Car­pen­ter of N.Y. stat­ing our furst is still unsold and that sev­er­al per­sons has been lookng at them but will think them too [spelled two] dear.  The Saulaper­ans are all here as yes but expect to leave in a few days.  Bean Gar­den & Lane all let out short­ly up the Mis­sis­sip­pi sur­vey­ing.  I had word from Edmond Christy a few days since he is well and they say is doing well keeps him­self steady and atten­tive to business.

May the first I have this morn­ing received your let­ters with Andrew from Inde­pen­dence April 21 1835.

I have you will per­cieve by this com­menced [spelled comenced] this let­ter sev­er­al days since.  I have just called on Fontinell and he informs me he will start this evening or tomor­row morn­ing for a cer­tain­ty, Cabanne, came down last night Fontinell has been so busi­ly engaged court­ing gala­vant­i­ng etc. that he has hard­ly been to see Mil­ton but one time since you left (it appears to be fine times with him) Mil­ton has much mend­ed since I com­mence this let­ter I have had him rid­ing out and he is now bout on his crutch­es lest his leg is about the same the lig­a­tures still remain.  Mrs. Ash­ley has been quite unwell but is now bet­ter I have paid but one or two vis­its since you left and I can assure you I feel quite lone­some.  I expect to take Mil­ton to the farm in a few days where I shall stay principly.

[Pg. Break] I have received but one let­ter from your Broth­er but what I have sent you and I enclose it with this I expect anoth­er in a few days, Ran­dolph has vis­it­ed Mil­tons room sev­er­al times I expect there is some­thing on foot as he has been try­ing to get employ­ment and Mil­ton appears dis­sat­is­fied [spelled dis­at­is­fied] with Fontinells deten­tion here and have I believe expressed [spelled expresst] him self.  So I will fin­ish this let­ter by piece meals [?] whilst Fontinell remains.  Robt. this evening I received a let­ter from Hugh stat­ting he will deter­mine in a day or two whether he will vis­it St Louis or no if so he will leave about the first of June his stay will be short and he will return through Ten­nesee, Alaba­ma, and Ken­tucky.  He states he received a let­ter from Broth­er Andrew dat­ed 26th Jany last all friends was well at that date and noth­ing new.

I would send you the let­ter which is dat­ed the 17th of april only it con­tained a list of my fruit trees and a descrip­tion of them etc prinic­i­paly on that subject.

I was at Miss Kyle’s this evening all was well and wished I would remem­ber them in my let­ter to you.  Mrs Fox also lent Vir­ginia com­pli­ments to you there has noth­ing tran­spired since you left worth notice I am get­ting on with my build­ing and farm as well as could be expect­ed Mr Jack­son is now in St Louis I have had a set­tle­ment with him Smith & Ashley.

[Pg. Break, top of front cov­er] May 2 1835 Robert I have just been to see Fontinell he says he will leave pos­i­tive­ly today.  W & Mrs Stephan­son leaves to day for Gale­na.  Mgr Bean also Gor­don is gone.  Miss Cale­na is mar­ried and off to Illi­nois.  Miss Tharp is also mar­ried and so forth,  Beut and Sare­na is still here but will leave short­ly         Your friend W Sublette

[Sec­tion Break, upside down] I intend for­ward­ing our bill on for the goods spo­ken of imme­di­ate­ly I have been wait­ing to hear from you at Inde­pen­dence or I would have done so before now Mil­ton wish­es to be remem­bered & Sis­ter Cook has left and I feel entire­ly at a loss what to do or how to employ myself as you know I have been a bird of pas­sage the last twelve years yours farewell, W.L.S.

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.