Tag Archives: Philadelphia

This week in history: November 19-November 27

Decem­ber 20, 1843 let­ter from Mary Camp­bell to her cousin and sis­ter in law Vir­ginia Camp­bell.  This let­ter was cho­sen for the week of Thanks­giv­ing because Mary talks about hav­ing Thanks­giv­ing just a few days before Christ­mas!  Appar­ent­ly, Mary thought the Philadel­phi­ans were rather stuffy on Thanks­giv­ing — “We have Thanks­giv­ing  tomor­row — every­body must go to Church.  They are try­ing to make  it a strict­ly reli­gious fes­ti­val, not a nice mer­ry-mak­ing time as in good New England.”

How times have changed!  Thanks­giv­ing has not only been moved from Decem­ber to Novem­ber, but it’s gone from a reli­gious hol­i­day to one of fam­i­ly cel­e­bra­tion, big help­ings of turkey, the Macy’s Thanks­giv­ing Day Parade, foot­ball.  But through­out his­to­ry, Thanks­giv­ing has been about count­ing your bless­ings.  Hap­py Thanks­giv­ing from Camp­bell House Museum!

[Front Cov­er]
Mrs. Robert Campbell -
Saint Louis -
Missouri -

Philadel­phia Dec. 20th / 43
My dear Virginia
I have been par­tic­u­lar­ly anx­ious to write you since the  receipt of you very kind + inter­est­ing let­ter.  There is a  sub­ject there­in men­tioned upon which I wish to give my advice.   You seem to think it absolute­ly nec­es­sary for you to be at  house­keep­ing before we go to St. Louis.  Now I think this  entire­ly wrong + I hope you will not attempt it.  In the first  place the sea­son would be the very worst in the whole year.  The  most stormy + inclement requir­ing all the win­ter com­forts &  before you can at all enjoy them, sum­mer comes on + then it is so bad a time for pro­vid­ing for your table, you could not at all do jus­tice to your culi­nary tal­ents.  Seri­ous­ly Vir­ginia I think  the ear­ly spring a most unprof­i­tous time for begin­ning so  seri­ous a task as house­keep­ing must at all times prove.  And you  know your moth­er thinks the Planters Hous­es would suit me a great deal bet­ter.  We would you know be just as much at home with you + Robert + the chil­dren + then we could see all the world then  besides + then lat­er in the spring when I return from vis­it­ing  all my peo­ple, let us then have the plea­sure of assist­ing you in  get­ting all things ready.  If you do not take my advice in this  mat­ter I will be quite offend­ed _ not stop at your fine house at  all in St. Louis, but go straight on to Jef­fer­son City — after  tak­ing a peek at James + Hugh.

[Pg. Break] We were all deeply deeply griev­ed for the  sit­u­a­tion of our kind friend Mr. John Kerr.  Robert’s let­ter to  our house yes­ter­day announced the hope­less­ness of his dis­ease —  how unex­pect­ed to his fam­i­ly this must be — what a change a few  months has pro­duced.  the hus­band has tak­en the dying wife’s  place + she is restored to health, at least your write as if she  were again in good health.  He is hap­py + resigned, that is the  only com­fort left his friends — his death you + Robert will  sin­cere­ly lament I know + all that knew him well will mourn for  him, for he was a good man.  How much I will miss him when I go  to St. Louis, for I knew him longer & liked him bet­ter than any  one else there except our own.

Christ­mas is almost upon us, + I have done noth­ing for it  except make some mince meat.  I will give very few presents for  my mon­ey always runs short a the close of the year + I do not  expect any for myself — all our gift-givers are mar­ried + away.   Your hus­band was more famous in this like than any one else +  most of our presents went with him.   We have Thanks­giv­ing  tomor­row — every­body must go to Church.  They are try­ing to make  it a strict­ly reli­gious fes­ti­val, not a nice mer­ry-mak­ing time as in good New England.

We were all at Tom Smith’s wed­ding last week — he mar­ried  Miss Leiper — we took Archie + John Miller in the car­riage with  us, their wives were not able to go.  Mrs. Archie’s infant too  young + Matil­da suf­fer­ing from severe cold.  We went to John  Leiper’s, then dressed + drove over a mile to the brides father’s where 150 friends were assem­bled.  We had a very pleas­ant time,  plen­ty of eat­ing & drink­ing — no danc­ing.  The bride is a very  sweet love­ly girl — Tom is most for­tu­nate in

[Pg. Break] get­ting such a wife.  Eliz­a­beth Laps­by was also  mar­ried to a Mr. Will­son — she had a very gay wed­ding I am told + has had a great many par­ties giv­en to her.  It is like tak­ing  Meg’s head off to get her to go any of them — I’ll give her up as a bad job.

As to news, I fear I have not a word.  Mr. & Mrs. McConley  are com­ing on to spend Christ­mas — she is fol­low­ing your exam­ple  for lit­tle Sophy Mouyes [?] is now very sick with inter­mit­ting  fever.  I trust the dear lit­tle crea­ture will be well soon.  Mrs.  Zuck­er has been very sick for a week past with severe cold —  every body has the influen­za.  Matil­da Miller looks very bad­ly +  always com­plains,  I think if she had a child she would be well  enough, but there is no prospect yet.  Mrs. Bak­er is bet­ter + is  able to come round + spend evenings with us again.  Har­ri­et  Oak­man is as strong + well as any one.

I have not writ­ten your moth­er for a long time, but will  soon.  i have heard from all my own fam­i­ly recent­ly.  Mr. Clark  says the kind­est things of you & your chil­dren.  Tell Robert we  have all been quite amused at the Irish gen­tle­man that has been  flour­ish­ing in all our papers.  Mr. Tagert thinks he will hard­ly  speak to us ow he has become so dis­tin­guished a per­son­age + so  Sir William Stew­art has become Earl of Losh [?] will he receive  an acces­sion of for­tune with the title.

Lit­tle Robert Camp­bell is com­ing to spend the day with us,  he has been very del­i­cate + I almost fear will soon fol­low  Cal­len­der.  I have to take him to a fair to buy some things + I  must make one as two vis­its.  The Millers, Oak­mans & all drink  tea with me to night.  I wish you + yours could be with us at  Christ­mas.  You have at least our best wish­es for hap­pi­ness +  many returns.

[Pg. Break — 3rd page margins]
Give my kind­est love to that Irish gen­tle­man.  A thou­sand  kiss­es to Jem + the baby  + regards to all friends, par­tic­u­lar­ly  the Kerrs.  Meg of course sends oceans of love to all — she will  write you soon.  Your cousin as ever
Mary Campbell.

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.

This week in history, June 15–22

Let­ter of Vir­ginia Camp­bell to hus­band Robert


Philadel­phia June 16th 1855

My Dear Husband

I feel extreme­ly oppressed with heat to day altho’ it not a very hot day and I shall be very glad when we are once set­tled at Long Branch, in fact I would be glad to take a Rip Van Win­kle sleep untill the hot weath­er is over, if I could I was very glad to receive your let­ter on Thurs­day. Cousin Mary received one from Jane say­ing Cousin Lydia had arrived and that Mr Fos­ter was very polite and atten­tive to her on her jour­ney, and that she was look­ing remark­ably well and in good spir­its & had enjoyed her vis­it to St Louis extremely.

Yes­ter­day morn­ing on my return from the rid­ing school I called to see Mary Flem­ming — her cousin Matil­da Lee had been invit­ed here to tea, Mrs Dab­ny’s daugh­ter, and told me she was in town. I met her next day in a store and she seemed

[Page 2] very glad to see me. she is look­ing very bad­ly and is just recov­er­ing from a spell of ill­ness, in which she near­ly lost her life Matil­da Lee said that Mary told her the Doc­tor had spent so much that

his por­tion would not amount to more than $100,000, which is a respectable amount I think, but not worth the sac­ri­fice of her life for what plea­sure can she enjoy? I am glad to hear Mrs Mack­inzee is real­ly com­ing on. I hope she will run down to Long Branch to see

us, it is only three hours from New York.

Mr & Mrs Joseph Woods ^ were [^] invit­ed here to tea a few evenings since, Mrs Woods was sick but Mr Woods came. I did not attempt to per­suade Mr Woods to go to Long Branch for I know very well that Cape May is pre­ferred by them and I am told Long Branch is a stu­pid place and you must descend a very steep decliv­i­ty to get to the beach

and the bathing much more dan­ger­ous that at Cape May, but Cousin Mary and Mar­garet can­not bear Cape May and I think per­haps it will suit me bet­ter how­ev­er it is all the same to me whether I am with an hun­dred or five hun­dred peo­ple Mr & Mrs McCauley went up to Long Branch and came home quite dis­ap­point­ed I expect per­haps they found the board so dear, for two rooms for me one ser­vant & chil­dren, $36 per week — the same for Cousin Mary Meg & broth­er Hugh — and I sup­pose I shall take cousin Mary’s Irish girl Let­ty, to wash and dress Hugh which Eliza would hard­ly have time to do, and it will not suit me to trav­el about after him, so that is six dol­lars a week more — how­ev­er I am sure the expense is a mat­ter is no moment to you so that we are com­fort­able & healthy.  The chil­dren are in per­fect health no one would sup­pose the baby had been sick a moment — he is so fat and live­ly Hugh is going out on the road to ride with the groom at 5 o’clock

this after­noon — he has had one more tum­ble, the

[Page 4] pony stum­bled and with his usu­al inat­ten­tion he fell off but got on again direct­ly, if he would only remem­ber all that Wm tells him and pay atten­tion he would require noth­ing more to make him a good rid­er, but it is the nature of child­hood to require to be told 50 times over the same thing I think Wm under­stands his busi­ness remark­ably well, and takes infi­nite pains with Hugh I am

very glad to hear the Wood­ses[?] have returned for I know you enjoy thir pleas­ant soci­ety ‑I see Miss Whar­ton very often Hugh was there at a chil­dren’s par­ty a few nights ago and enjoyed him­self very much. Old Col Dav­en­port called here when I first came — his wife

has not been — I fear she thinks a tea drink­ing would be inevitable I was invit­ed to a par­ty at Evans Rogers’ and declined, I was sor­ry I did not feel able to go, as I think broth­er Hugh would have liked to have gone if I had felt dis­posed Mary Flem­ming said she

heard “that Edward

[Page 5, on Page 1] Atkin­son had forged some body’s name but that it was not gen­er­al­ly known in St. Louis”  I [?]______ it and said he had spent & gam­bled a great deal of mon­ey away.  We went to Mrs. Luck­er’s yes­ter­day to see Louisa who was thrown from the don­key cart and injured slight­ly.  They are liv­ing as lux­u­ri­ous­ly as ever.  Give my best love to Moth­er and all friends & the servants.

I hope you will be oblig­ed to come on soon and say a week or so when you first come in at Long Branch with us.

Your affec wife

VJ Camp­bell

The baby is the plea­sure & delight of the house, and nev­er was as much admired before

Page 4 of Virginia's letter

Page 4 of Vir­gini­a’s letter