Tag Archives: Robert Campbell


We just stum­bled across this arti­cle that ran in the Feb­ru­ary 13, 2000 edi­tion of the St. Louis Post-Dis­patch. The quote is so good, we had to share it. From a let­ter Robert wrote to his fiancée Vir­ginia short­ly before the were mar­ried in 1841:

Pre­pare one of your sweet­est kiss­es and have it on the bor­der of your sweet lips to wel­come me on my arrival to con­trive our meet­ings so that I can, with your sense of pro­pri­ety, fold you in my embrace and rev­el in your charms with­out being inter­rupt­ed. I must not indulge in this strain for it pro­duces such excite­ment that my writ­ing would scarce be legible.


An image of the Post-Dis­patch arti­cle that announces the dona­tion of the Diebel Col­lec­tion of Camp­bell let­ters and the inti­mate nature of their con­tents. Appro­pri­ate­ly, it ran right before Valen­tine’s Day 2000.


When you’re in a car for hours and hours and hours on a long road trip, con­ver­sa­tion is bound to pro­duce a few ideas, some bet­ter than oth­ers. Some­times, you actu­al­ly remem­ber some of these crazy ideas after the road trip is over. The 2,500-mile dri­ve Exec­u­tive Direc­tor Andy and Intre­pid Researcher Tom™ took over the sum­mer to Robert’s old stomp­ing grounds in and around the Rocky Moun­tains was no exception.

Since Andy and Tom were head­ing west to vis­it some of the ren­dezvous grounds Robert vis­it­ed when he was in his ear­ly twen­ties, the ques­tion arose: What did Robert look like when he was a twen­tysome­thing? The only images we have of Robert are when he was a mature man, in his 50s and 60s. When Tom returned to St. Louis, he start­ed research­ing what he could do to get a pic­ture of a young Robert.

After sift­ing through many web­sites, Tom found Pho­Joe, a com­pa­ny that spe­cial­izes in pho­to restora­tion, col­oriza­tion, age pro­gres­sion (mak­ing the sub­ject look old­er) and age regres­sion (mak­ing the sub­ject look younger). Obvi­ous­ly Tom was inter­est­ed in age regres­sion, so he sent their artists the pic­tures we had of Robert. After some minor tweak­ing, this is what they came up with:

Robert, age 25.

To give you a com­par­i­son, here are some of the pic­tures Tom sent to Phojoe:

Detail of a paint­ing that was done by A.J. Conant between 1879 and 1888, after Robert died. Robert died at the age of 75 in 1879.

A pas­tel of Robert that hangs in Vir­ginia Camp­bel­l’s bedroom.

Sure, when Robert was spend­ing months at a time in the wilds of (what is now) Wyoming, he prob­a­bly was­n’t that clean shaven or wear­ing a suit, but it’s an inter­est­ing image to con­sid­er. This youth­ful man was the Robert who fought in the Bat­tle of Pier­re’s Hole. This was the Robert whose exploits were immor­tal­ized in Wash­ing­ton Irv­ing’s The Adven­tures of Cap­tain Bon­neville. What do you think of the com­pos­ite? Any ideas for what we should do with our new pic­ture of Robert? Send your strokes of bril­liance here by leav­ing a com­ment, or send an email to shelley@campbellhousemuseum.org.

Mystery Mail

Some of the mys­te­ri­ous mail bear­ing the return address “Some­where in Time.”

Between the mys­te­ri­ous half-dol­lars and elu­sive foot­steps through­out the house, we’re used to the unex­plained around here. One of our favorite — and longest-run­ning — mys­ter­ies arrives via the U.S. Post Office.

For years, Camp­bell House has received mail addressed to Camp­bell fam­i­ly mem­bers. The hand­writ­ing’s always the same, it’s always post­marked from St. Louis, and the return address says noth­ing more than “Some­where in Time.”

We received three in close suc­ces­sion this year: Hugh’s birth­day, Robert’s birth­day (from Vir­ginia) then James’ birth­day. Before that, Vir­ginia received a “think­ing of you” card from Robert, and Vir­ginia sent Robert an anniver­sary card. Sad­ly, poor Hazlett has been over­looked by the mailman.

Who­dunit? Do you know?

Received in March of 2012 in time for his 152nd birth­day on March 16th, here we have a cus­tomized birth­day card to James. The sender wrote “The Beloved Pup­py, to James –” James, inci­den­tal­ly, was rather fond of his dogs. Take a look at this ear­li­er post.

The inside is signed: “Time is fleet­ing! Yor [Your] Lov­ing and devot­ed Parents.”

Robert was the “some­one spe­cial” ref­er­enced in this let­ter that came to the muse­um in Feb­ru­ary, right before his 208th birth­day in Feb­ru­ary 2012.

…and it’s from Vir­ginia! Per­son­al­ized, “To my dear­est Robert.…from your lov­ing wife, Virginia.”

Vir­gini­a’s been busy. Here’s an anniver­sary card she sent to Robert that arrived in 2008 on their 167th anniversary.

It’s a clas­sic Hall­mark tear-jerk­er, too: “Dear Robert: What we share togeth­er is a beau­ti­ful part­ner­ship. From the joy and pas­sion to the gen­tle car­ing of our fam­i­ly and home — It means every­thing to me to have you as my friend and my part­ner in life.…And on your birth­day I hope you can feel all the love I have for you in my heart. — Vir­ginia.” *sniff*

This is prob­a­bly the best one in the bunch. Baby Owl arrived for Hugh’s birth­day last Novem­ber and he says, “Whoo’s hav­ing a Birthday?’

.…and on the inside, the author Robert and Vir­ginia changed “You are!” to “Hugh are!” Also writ­ten: “Your 164th! From Your Par­ents.” This is quite pos­si­bly the best Camp­bell House pun ever.

Just a lit­tle note for Virginia.….

…from her Robert! “My Dear Vir­ginia: I’m think­ing of you/And warm wish­es I send, For days filled with joy/From begin­ning to end. Your devot­ed Hus­band, Robert.” Awwww.

Rocky Mountain Fur Trade Tour

By Andy Hahn

A few weeks ago Camp­bell House docent Tom Gron­s­ki and I returned from a 2,500 mile trip West, vis­it­ing the impor­tant sites of Robert Camp­bell and Rocky Moun­tain fur trade.

Red Rocks Canyon on the road up to the South Pass through the Wind Riv­er Range of the Rockies.

We fol­lowed the route of the Ore­gon Trail, which had been blazed by Camp­bell and oth­er moun­tain men and fur traders dur­ing the 1820s and 30s. Our first stop was at the Joslyn Art Muse­um in Oma­ha, Nebras­ka. The Joslyn holds one of the most impor­tant col­lec­tions of art of the Amer­i­can West, includ­ing works by Karl Bod­merAlfred Jacob Miller and George Catlin.

Fol­low­ing a 500-mile dri­ve along the Plat­te Riv­er through Nebras­ka we arrived at Fort Laramie, where we met Alan McFar­land, Robert Camp­bel­l’s g‑g-g-grand nephew, fresh off the plane from his home in North­ern Ire­land. Alan has a spe­cial inter­est in his uncle’s career in the fur trade and has made numer­ous research trips to Amer­i­ca. Fort Laramie was the per­fect place for our meet­ing because Camp­bell and his part­ner Bill Sub­lette found­ed Fort Laramie (orig­i­nal­ly called Fort William) in 1834. At this Nation­al His­toric Site we were able to view an authen­tic fur trade encamp­ment recre­at­ed by mem­bers of the Amer­i­can Moun­tain Men. The group lat­er cre­at­ed tableau vivant from one of Alfred Jacob Miller’s art­works depict­ing a fur trade camp.

A lit­tle fur­ther west we fol­lowed the Sweet­wa­ter Riv­er across Wyoming towards the Wind Riv­er Moun­tain Range and the South Pass. Bill Sub­lette was the first per­son to take a wag­on this far into the Rocky Moun­tains in 1830, set­ting a course for thou­sands that would fol­low the Ore­gon and Mor­mon Trails. The next few days were spent in the vicin­i­ty of Jack­son, Wyoming where we vis­it­ed most all of the sites of the Rocky Moun­tain Ren­dezvous. The high­lights includ­ed vis­its to the Muse­um of the Moun­tain Man where we were able to see some orig­i­nal Camp­bell let­ters and Pier­re’s Hole, site of the 1832 Ren­dezvous and sub­se­quent bat­tle.  Camp­bell hero­ical­ly saved his friend Bill Sub­let­te’s life dur­ing the bat­tle as recount­ed by Wash­ing­ton Irv­ing in the Adven­tures of Cap­tain Bon­neville. Our trip end­ed with vis­its to oth­er Ren­dezvous sites at Bear Lake, Cache Val­ley and final­ly Fort Bridger.

Enjoy the pic­tures and fol­low us West!

The Emancipation Proclamation and Missouri

Ear­li­er we tweet­ed this:

We felt this could use a lit­tle con­text. This is an admit­ted­ly abbre­vi­at­ed ver­sion of things just to give you a bet­ter idea of why Mis­souri slaves weren’t freed in Lin­col­n’s 1863 Eman­ci­pa­tion Procla­ma­tion. Through­out Civ­il War his­to­ry, Mis­souri had been the ulti­mate cross­roads with­in the coun­try, both cul­tur­al­ly and phys­i­cal­ly. As evi­denced by the bat­tles (1,200, only two oth­er states had more) and  gen­er­al dis­con­tent through­out the state, Mis­souri was a micro­cosm of the events hap­pen­ing in the Unit­ed States.

Let’s go back about 40 years before the Civ­il War even start­ed to see some of the roots of Mis­souri’s unique place in the Union. Per the Mis­souri Com­pro­mise of 1820,  no state north of our south­ern bor­der (36º 30′) could have slaves except for Mis­souri itself. Ter­ri­to­ries west of Mis­souri were to be free. Con­fus­ing? Yes.  So even then, Mis­souri was an unusu­al geo­graph­ic area in the Union. (The Kansas-Nebras­ka Act of 1854 repealed most of the pro­vi­sions, which would allow each ter­ri­to­ry to decide the issue of slav­ery through Pop­u­lar Sov­er­eign­ty. Sad­ly, one of the results was Bleed­ing Kansas.)

Dur­ing the Civ­il War, Mis­souri was Union, but just bare­ly. The leg­is­la­ture did­n’t want to nec­es­sar­i­ly join the south, but they did­n’t want the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment impos­ing on the state, either. In June of 1861, Union troops oust­ed south­ern-sym­pa­thiz­ing Gov­er­nor Clai­borne Jack­son. His deposed gov­ern­ment reassem­bled in Neosho, MO, and they vot­ed to secede from the Union that Octo­ber. How­ev­er, this “rump” leg­is­la­ture had no offi­cial pow­er, but they did have votes in the Con­fed­er­ate Con­gress. Mean­while, for­mer Mis­souri Supreme Court judge (and the Camp­bells’ Lucas Place neigh­bor), Hamil­ton Gam­ble, was appoint­ed the pro­vi­sion­al gov­er­nor of the state. As request­ed by Pres­i­dent Lin­coln, he pro­vid­ed troops for the Union.

Decem­ber 17, 1861 loy­al­ty oath signed by Robert Camp­bell. (Click on it for a larg­er view.)

Abra­ham Lin­col­n’s 1863 Eman­ci­pa­tion Procla­ma­tion only freed the slaves in the ten rebelling states, and Mis­souri was not one of them. The Eman­ci­pa­tion Procla­ma­tion did not out­law the prac­tice of slav­ery; it was a neces­si­ty of war. As Union troops began to occu­py the South, they did­n’t know what to do with the enslaved peo­ple. Were they con­tra­band? Were they free? As you can imag­ine, the procla­ma­tion was con­tro­ver­sial. Accord­ing to the 1857 Supreme Court deci­sion of the Dred Scott case, the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment did not have the author­i­ty to reg­u­late slav­ery in the ter­ri­to­ries, so that was prob­lem­at­ic. Abo­li­tion­ists want­ed a dec­la­ra­tion free­ing all the slaves instead of just the slaves in the rebelling states. Slave own­ers were less-than-pleased because they did­n’t receive any com­pen­sa­tion. In short, pret­ty much nobody was happy.

As a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the greater coun­try, Mis­souri was full of infight­ing and fac­tions, as evi­denced by the pro­vi­sion­al leg­is­la­ture and the com­pet­ing rump leg­is­la­ture. The peo­ple were just as split with the St. Louis area har­bor­ing more pro-Union sen­ti­ment than else­where in the state. (Case in point: Through a gov­er­nor-appoint­ed police board, Jef­fer­son City “man­aged” St. Louis’ police force so they could remote­ly exert their influ­ence on the city. Today, 150 years after the Civ­il War, this is still the case.)

As an exam­ple of the divi­sive sen­ti­ment that per­vad­ed the Mis­souri, Robert had to sign many loy­al­ty oaths, like the one pic­tured above. Robert’s busi­ness suf­fered because he had a hard time col­lect­ing mon­ey from his cus­tomers, and dai­ly oper­a­tions were often inter­rupt­ed because of troop occu­pa­tion in the city and along trade routes, among oth­er things.  Mean­while at home, the route of the infa­mous march of troops to the arse­nal dur­ing the Camp Jack­son Affair went right behind Camp­bell House on Olive Street.

But back to the slav­ery issue. The Thir­teenth Amend­ment ulti­mate­ly out­lawed the prac­tice of slav­ery on a nation­al lev­el when it was rat­i­fied by Geor­gia in Decem­ber of 1865.