Tag Archives: St. Louis

Urban Exploring » St. Louis Transit Company Electrical Substation

4,000 horse­pow­er. Yep, that was a 4 with three zeros after it.

Get your atten­tion? The build­ing just west of us at 1711 Locust was the St. Louis Tran­sit Com­pa­ny’s Elec­tri­cal Sub­sta­tion, and for the unini­ti­at­ed, “elec­tri­cal sub­sta­tion” trans­lates to “big giant bat­tery” for the trol­ley sys­tem. It was sup­pos­ed­ly the largest in the world at the time, and 4,000 hors­es was how much two floors worth of bat­ter­ies held. The St. Louis Tran­sit com­pa­ny bought the prop­er­ty in 1903 and built this struc­ture to house an intri­cate sys­tem of bat­ter­ies and sev­en trans­form­ers to cre­ate and store the elec­tric­i­ty need­ed to sup­port the trol­ley sys­tem in time for the increased traf­fic dur­ing the World’s Fair in 1904.

On two sep­a­rate vis­its, Pat McK­ay of Hil­lik­er Cor­po­ra­tion was nice enough to meet us over there to babysit super­vise us while we glee­ful­ly inspect­ed the years-vacant build­ing whose sole pur­pose was that of the sub­sta­tion. It’s old and dilap­i­dat­ed, but it was beau­ti­ful. Take a look for yourself:

The space is beau­ti­ful with mag­nif­i­cent nat­ur­al light, but clear­ly it’s in need of a lot of TLC. The two base­ments that housed the bat­tery units were down­right chilly on the 80º morn­ing we vis­it­ed, and the group’s con­sen­sus was that it would make a per­fect brew­ery or wine cel­lar. If you want to give Camp­bell House a dan­ger­ous­ly-close water­ing hole, the his­toric build­ing — com­plete with 35′ ceil­ings and almost 35,000 square feet of space — can be yours for a pid­dly $245,000.

To learn more about the his­to­ry of the build­ing (includ­ing the peo­ple who lived in the Lucas Place home that occu­pied this spot before the sub­sta­tion was built), you can read Tom’s research notes here:
(Note: In the body of the notes, it men­tions the build­ing was used as a night­club in the 1990s. We could see no evi­dence of this.)


Charles Fred­er­ick Bates (b. 24 Nov 1853 – d. 05 Jul 1936) (1889 – 1895)

– St. Louis city direc­to­ries list Charles F. Bates at 1711 Lucas Place begin­ning 1889 until 1895. Pri­or to this, in 1888, he was list­ed at 1012 Dol­man. In 1896, he is list­ed at 4325 West­min­ster Place. Clas­si­fied ads start­ed in 1896 ref­er­enc­ing 1711 Locust St., indi­cat­ing it was now being rent­ed to boarders.

– Charles F. Bates was born 24 Nov 1853 at Erie PA. He came to St. Louis in the lat­ter part of the 1860s and was engaged in the tobac­co man­u­fac­tur­ing busi­ness. The St. Louis city direc­to­ries list him as book­keep­er with the Catlin Tobac­co Co. He mar­ried Ann “Nan­cy” Beale Maf­fitt (b. 03 Sep 1857 – d. 03 Jul 1928) on 15 Jan 1889. They were the par­ents of William Maf­fitt Bates, who mar­ried Frances Gar­neau; Julia, wife of Arthur C. Hiemenz; and Nan­cy Maf­fitt Bates (b. 15 Dec 1895 – d. 22 Jan 1969), the wife of William Geof­frey Kim­ball (b. 08 Sep 1888 – d. 05 Nov 1958).[1]

– Jan­u­ary 1889: Charles Bates was mar­ried yes­ter­day to Miss Nan­cy Maf­fitt, youngest daugh­ter of Mrs. Julia Chouteau Maf­fitt, the cer­e­mo­ny tak­ing place last evening at the ele­gant Maf­fitt man­sion, on Lucas Place. The Maf­fitts are promi­nent Roman Catholics, but Mr. Bates being a Protes­tant this could not be a church cer­e­mo­ny, though the parish priest, Father Brady of St. John’s Church, Six­teenth Street, offi­ci­at­ed, the mar­riage tak­ing place at 6 o’clock, with only the fam­i­ly and rel­a­tives in atten­dance, fol­lowed by a recep­tion from 6:30 to 10 o’clock, to which about 300 guests were invit­ed. The house was ele­gant­ly dec­o­rat­ed with plants, the splen­did spa­cious­ness of the halls and depart­ments per­mit­ting the free use of lux­u­ri­ant trop­i­cal plants with grace­ful results. In the music hall, which is of the noblest pro­por­tions, palms and dwarf orange trees with the gold­en fruit hang­ing on the glossy boughs, were effec­tive­ly dis­posed in the spaces between the buf­fets and cab­i­nets, the hall rack and set­tees that are part of the fur­nish­ing of this baro­nial-like hall whose glo­ries are par­tial­ly reflect­ed in a great mir­ror under the stair­way. Rare bric-a-brac and beau­ti­ful pic­tures bright­en the walls, and the four rich­ly draped door­ways open into the spa­cious apart­ments on either side. The mar­riage cer­e­mo­ny took place in the long draw­ing room on the west side, the bridal par­ty stand­ing with­in the leafy recess formed by palms and rub­ber plants at the north end, with the lace cur­tained win­dows and the mir­ror between as a back­ground. The bride had but one atten­dant, her niece, Miss Jane Maf­fitt, and Mr. Bates was attend­ed by Mr. Dun­can Mel­li­er. The bride’s gown brought from Paris, was of white satin, as rich as the loom ever pro­duced, with a lus­ter as of sil­ver in the gleam­ing folds of its plain falling skirt and sweep­ing train, flecked with the light shad­ows of price­less point lace, its designs as del­i­cate as frost work on cob­webs. The bodice made in the high French fash­ion for wed­ding gowns, was also trimmed with the beau­ti­ful lace, and the bridal veil of tulle was deeply bor­dered with point lace, won­drous­ly fine and pro­por­tion­ate­ly cost­ly. The bridal bou­quet was of white orchids and ros­es. Miss Jane Maf­fitt, the brides­maid, a daugh­ter of Mr. Chouteau Maf­fitt and not yet a debu­tante, wore a very sim­ple dress of white tulle over a slip of white silk and car­ried white ros­es in her hand. Mrs. Maf­fitt, in plain ele­gant black toi­let. Miss Emi­ly, gray bro­cad­ed satin with long train, round cut bodice with white silk pleat­ed full cor­sage, with beau­ti­ful point d’Augleterre lace… Mrs. Hen­ry Hitch­cock chap­er­oned her daugh­ter, Miss Hitch­cock, the debu­tante, in white and laven­der gauze… The sup­per, served by Spilk­er, was ele­gant, and the pro­fu­sion of finest ros­es in every nook and cor­ner and in all apart­ments was remark­ably notice­able. The man­tels were banked with ros­es and fringed with grass­es and ferns. Mr. and Mrs. Bates will not go away but take pos­ses­sion at once of a charm­ing res­i­dence con­tigu­ous to the Maf­fitt place, which has been late­ly remod­eled and ele­gant­ly fur­nished for them.[2]

– 10 Feb 1889: Mrs. Charles F. Bates gave an infor­mal recep­tion yes­ter­day after­noon, the first enter­tain­ment in her new home on Lucas place.[3]

– July 1936: Charles F. Bates, retired busi­ness­man, died of the infir­mi­ties of age yes­ter­day at the sum­mer cot­tage of a daugh­ter, Mrs. Arthur C. Hiemenz, at Atlantic City NJ. He was 82 years old and had gone there Tues­day, intend­ing to spend the sum­mer. Born at Erie PA, where he was edu­cat­ed at a pri­vate acad­e­my, he came here as a young man to work for a cousin, John J. Roe, pres­i­dent of the old Nation­al Bank of Mis­souri. Lat­er he was con­nect­ed with the mer­chan­dise firms of Hen­ry Bell & Son and Sam C. Davis & Co. In 1879, at the age of 25, he came trea­sur­er of the Catlin Tobac­co Co., a posi­tion he held until the com­pa­ny was merged with the Amer­i­can Tobac­co Co. in 1900. For the next two years he was an offi­cer of the Amer­i­can Tobac­co Co. and there­after retired from active busi­ness. How­ev­er, for some time he held direc­torates and oth­er inter­ests in var­i­ous con­cerns. He was mar­ried to Miss Nan­cy Chouteau Maf­fitt in 1889. She died [03 July 1928]. Late­ly he had resided at 4399 McPher­son Avenue. Sur­viv­ing are a son, William Maf­fitt Bates, 5915 Lin­dell Dri­ve, a for­mer State Sen­a­tor, and two daugh­ters, Mrs. W. Geof­frey Kim­ball, 11 Lenox Place, and Mrs. Hiemenz, who resides on Ladue Lane, Ladue. The funer­al will be at 9 a. m. tomor­row at the son’s res­i­dence, with the Rev. John W. MacIvor of Sec­ond Pres­by­ter­ian Church offi­ci­at­ing. Bur­ial, which will be pri­vate, will be in Cal­vary Ceme­tery.[4]


– May 1901: The pupils of Miss Louisa L. Dieter gave a recital at No. 1711 Locust Street, Tues­day, May 7.[5]

– 08 Feb­ru­ary 1903: For Quick Sale – We can sell the prop­er­ty 1711 Locust St., 100 feet west of Sev­en­teenth St., lot 50X155, at a bar­gain if sold at once – Call and see us – Mis­sis­sip­pi Val­ley Trust Co., Fourth and Pine Sts[6]

– 15 Feb­ru­ary 1903: The Mis­sis­sip­pi Val­ley Trust Co. also reports the sale of the prop­er­ty known as 1711 Locust Street, fronting 55 feet on the north side of Locust Street, by a depth of 155 feet, the prop­er­ty being sold to William M. Hor­ton, con­sid­er­a­tion being $20,000.[7]

St. Louis Tran­sit Co. Elec­tri­cal Sub-Sta­tion 
(1903 – ?) (build­ing still extant)

– This build­ing was con­struct­ed in 1903 as a pow­er sub­sta­tion for the St. Louis Tran­sit Com­pa­ny, one of the major oper­a­tors of the street­car sys­tem. The archi­tect is unknown, but Mar­tin Arhel­ger was the con­trac­tor. The build­ing was recent­ly auc­tioned and bought by 1711 Locust LLC. The build­ing has sub­stan­tial dam­age to its roof; it is not known what, if any plans the cur­rent own­ers have for the prop­er­ty. Con­tain­ing a sin­gle soar­ing sto­ry, this build­ing pos­sess­es an immense and dra­mat­ic inte­ri­or space that could be suit­able for many dif­fer­ent uses. Parad­ows­ki Design’s superla­tive reha­bil­i­ta­tion of a sim­i­lar build­ing serves as an exam­ple of how a for­mer gen­er­a­tor build­ing can be repur­posed in such a way that takes advan­tage of the open space.[8]

– A for­mer elec­tri­cal sub­sta­tion, gen­er­at­ing pow­er for street­cars, with fan­tas­tic brick­work and what must be an impres­sive sin­gle space with­in. Last used as a night­club in the 1990s, today it’s falling apart, with severe dete­ri­o­ra­tion of the roof. It was sold in 2007 with the inten­tion of ren­o­va­tion, but noth­ing mate­ri­al­ized; a sale at auc­tion in 2010 has left its future up in the air.[9]

– June 1903: Great Stor­age Bat­tery for St. Louis – Tran­sit Com­pa­ny to Install Immense Elec­tri­cal Reser­voir to Hold Sur­plus Cur­rent for the World’s Fair Traf­fic – As part of the prepa­ra­tion for the extra­or­di­nary traf­fic expect­ed dur­ing the World’s Fair, the St. Louis Tran­sit Co. is arrang­ing to install a mon­ster stor­age bat­tery. This bat­tery bears the same rela­tion to the gen­er­a­tors sup­ply­ing pow­er for dri­ving the trol­ley cars that a reser­voir does to the large pumps at the water­works. By this it is meant that the bat­tery can receive the sur­plus elec­tric­i­ty gen­er­at­ed by the machines when it is not need­ed by the cars, and then when the cur­rent required by the cars is more than the capac­i­ty of the machines, the bat­tery can make up the dif­fer­ence until it is emp­tied. This method of using stor­age bat­ter­ies in con­nec­tion with trol­ley roads is not new, but it has remained for the St. Louis Tran­sit Co. to install the largest one of these bat­ter­ies now in ser­vice any­where in the world. This bat­tery is known as the “Chlo­ride Accu­mu­la­tor” and will be installed by the Elec­tric Stor­age Bat­tery Co. of Philadel­phia in a sub-sta­tion to be erect­ed by the tran­sit com­pa­ny on Locust Street, near Sev­en­teenth Street. In this posi­tion it will be close to the great­est num­ber of cars, which of course are con­gre­gat­ed on the down­town streets, and thus being near the load which it has to car­ry it can relieve the gen­er­at­ing sta­tion to the best advan­tage. It will be in ser­vice this fall, so that the effect of it will be noticed on the cars next win­ter. Mr. DuPont of the com­pa­ny believes that with the help of this bat­tery there will be no short­age of pow­er on the sys­tem dur­ing the com­ing heavy win­ter loads, nor for the heavy loads of the World’s Fair. The capac­i­ty of this bat­tery in elec­tri­cal terms is 5000 amperes at 600 volts. This means, as the elec­tri­cal engi­neers say, 3000 kilo­watts. A horse­pow­er is equal to just about three-quar­ters of a kilo­watt, so that 3000 kilo­watts is equal to 4000 horse­pow­er. This is about the pow­er tak­en by 100 cars. Of course if the bat­tery is called upon to deliv­er this pow­er con­tin­u­ous­ly it will become exhaust­ed, but in rail­way work it for­tu­nate­ly hap­pens that the load fluc­tu­ates so that the bat­tery can give, and take, and thus add this capac­i­ty to the sys­tem, prac­ti­cal­ly con­tin­u­ous­ly. In every city a great many more peo­ple ride at cer­tain hours that at oth­ers, and this pro­duces an extra­or­di­nary demand for pow­er at those times. Thus in St. Louis the trav­el to the cen­ter of the city in the morn­ing pro­duces an increase in the load between the hours of 7 and 9. In com­ing down­town the trav­el is much more dis­trib­uted than in the evening, when the peo­ple are going home. They do not all come down­town at the same time, but pret­ty near­ly every­body goes home between 5:30 and 6:30 o’clock. In order to meet this demand the tran­sit com­pa­ny is oblig­ed to run dur­ing these hours very many extra cars, a num­ber of which make only one trip. It is this short demand for extra pow­er which the bat­tery is so well adapt­ed to sup­ply. If the bat­tery is not installed, enough gen­er­at­ing machin­ery, includ­ing engines and boil­ers, would have to be put in the pow­er sta­tion to car­ry this max­i­mum load with­out the help of the bat­tery. These machines, of course, would be able to give this pow­er through­out the entire day, and, there being a demand for it only dur­ing one hour, the machines nec­es­sar­i­ly would be idle the rest of the day. Again, this may be com­pared to the water­works. If there was no reser­voir it would be nec­es­sary for the pumps to pump just as fast as the peo­ple used the water. It has been found by exper­i­ment that this varies great­ly through the dif­fer­ent hours of the day, and on the dif­fer­ent days of the week. It will be clear at once that on Mon­day more water is used than on almost any oth­er day, and also it is found that on every day much more water is used dur­ing those hours imme­di­ate­ly fol­low­ing the meals than at oth­er times. By the use of the reser­voir the pumps are enabled to work along at a steady rate, pump­ing the water into the reser­voir from which it is drawn at a vary­ing rate, accord­ing to the demands of the peo­ple for water.[10]

– Decem­ber 1903: Unique Orga­ni­za­tion is the St. Louis Tran­sit Com­pa­ny – Remark­able Growth of a St. Louis Street Rail­way Com­pa­ny from a Bob-Tail Con­cern to One of the Great­est Sur­face Sys­tems in the Unit­ed States – In a num­ber of respects the St. Louis Tran­sit Co. is the most unique orga­ni­za­tion in the Unit­ed States. It new repair shops are, in many ways, the most com­plete and prac­ti­cal ever put in oper­a­tion by a street rail­way com­pa­ny. Its trans­fer sys­tem is more elab­o­rate and exten­sive than any sur­face road west of New York City. It stor­age bat­tery in the new pow­er house on Locust near Eigh­teenth Street is the largest in the world, hav­ing 588 cells of 77 plates each, with 13,000 horse­pow­er. The capac­i­ty of the old pow­er­house at Broad­way and Sal­is­bury Street is 10,000 horse­pow­er… Fifty-four years ago the first street rail­way tracks were com­plet­ed on Olive Street from Fourth to Twelfth streets. From that time, 1859 to 1886, the bob­tailed car, with its old Mis­souri mules and hors­es, held sway. Then came the first cable road, which was built by the St. Louis & West­ern Co., now the St. Louis & Sub­ur­ban Co. In 1887 the Cit­i­zens’ Rail­way Co. began the cable ser­vice. The Mis­souri Rail­way Co. next made the change, in April 1888, and the People’s and St. Louis com­pa­nies changed short­ly after­ward. In 1888 there were eigh­teen dis­tinct rail­roads in St. Louis… It was not until 1890 that the first cars were oper­at­ed by elec­tric­i­ty, when the Union Depot Rail­road Com­pa­ny installed that sys­tem… While in 1903 there were [ ] inde­pen­dent com­pa­nies oper­at­ing lines in St. Louis, today there are but two, the St. Louis Tran­sit Co. and the St. Louis & Sub­ur­ban Street Rail­road Co… The Tran­sit Com­pa­ny is just com­plet­ing the erec­tion of a build­ing for a sub-sta­tion and stor­age bat­tery on Locust Street near Eigh­teenth. The build­ing is two sto­ries below the street lev­el and tow sto­ries above the same. The two sto­ries below the street lev­el will con­tain the largest stor­age bat­tery in the world, hav­ing 588 cells of 77 plates each. The object of the stor­age bat­tery is to store elec­tric­i­ty at the time of day and night that there is no great load on the pow­er hous­es and using the same dur­ing the morn­ing and evening rush hours of the day. The stor­age bat­tery will be in use before Christ­mas. The sto­ry of the build­ing on the street lev­el is to be used for wires, air ducts and repair shop. In the sec­ond sto­ry above ground will be locat­ed sev­en trans­form­ers and rotary machines to con­vert the alter­nat­ing cur­rent elec­tric­i­ty pur­chased from the Union Elec­tric Light and Pow­er Co. to cur­rent suit­able to street rail­way use. There will also be locat­ed two boost­ers, the object of which is to charge the stor­age bat­tery at street rail­way volt­age. The capac­i­ty of the machines and stor­age bat­tery in this build­ing will be 13,000 horse­pow­er, being 3000 horse­pow­er larg­er than the pow­er sta­tion at Broad­way and Sal­is­bury Street.[11]

– Decem­ber 1903: The sub­sta­tion at No. 1711 Locust, known as the “boost­er” sta­tion, is not yet in work­ing con­di­tion. It is in emer­gen­cies of this kind that the “boost­er” sta­tion is expect­ed to be of most val­ue. Its ordi­nary pur­pose will be to help out what­ev­er line is in need of cur­rent.[12]

– March 1904: Dur­ing the year the expen­di­tures for these pur­pos­es have aggre­gat­ed $1,868,931, of which the most impor­tant items are the Locust Street sub-sta­tion, cost­ing $273,522…All of the new pow­er plants have been com­plet­ed with the excep­tion of the aux­il­iary sta­tion at Sev­en­teenth and Locust Streets, which will be fin­ished and in oper­a­tion about April 15.[13]

[1] Infor­ma­tion from the Cal­vary Ceme­tery website

[2] St. Louis Repub­lic, 16 Jan 1889

[3] St. Louis Repub­lic, 10 Feb 1889, part III, pg 18

[4] St. Louis Post-Dis­patch, “Charles F. Bates Dies at Atlantic City NJ,” 06 July 1936, p6A

[5] St. Louis Repub­lic, “Musi­cals,” 12 May 1901, part II, pg 2

[6] St. Louis Repub­lic, real estate ad, 08 Feb 1903, part IV, pg 6

[7] St. Louis Post-Dis­patch, “Mis­sis­sip­pi Val­ley Trust Co.,” 15 Feb 1903, pA9

[8] Land­marks Asso­ci­a­tion of St. Louis, Inc., list of Most Endan­gered Build­ings, 2010

[9] BuiltStLouis.net website

[10] St. Louis Post-Dis­patch, “Great Stor­age Bat­tery for St. Louis,” 14 June 1903, pg 4B

[11] St. Louis Post-Dis­patch, “Unique Orga­ni­za­tion is the St. Louis Tran­sit Com­pa­ny,” 13 Dec 1903, pg 6

[12] St. Louis Repub­lic, “Neglect May Have Caused Explo­sion,” 23 Dec 1903, pg 2

[13] St. Louis Post-Dis­patch, “M’Culloch to be Man­ag­er of Tran­sit Lines,” 08 Mar 1904, pg 1

Mr. Graham’s Aeronaut

Mr. Edgar and Thomas Walsh were the archi­tects of Camp­bell House Muse­um. Looks like one of Mr. Edgar’s drafts­men has been design­ing more than just buildings.…..

Local Mat­tersAir Ship – Mr. Gra­ham, a Draughts­man in Mr. Edgar’s office, cor­ner of Fourth and Green streets, has invent­ed a ship for nav­i­gat­ing the air, called an “Aero­naut.” It is to con­sist of a slight wood­en frame­work, cov­ered with var­nished linen, con­tain­ing fifty thou­sand cubic feet of gas, and cal­cu­lat­ed to car­ry ten or twen­ty peo­ple accord­ing as car­bon­at­ed or sim­ple hydro­gen is used.  The only machin­ery con­nect­ed with it, are two wheels with vanes like the ordi­nary ven­ti­la­tors of win­dows.  These vanes when act­ed upon by the wind, exert a reac­tionary pow­er, which dimin­ish­es the resis­tance, while the wind acts upon the sides in the same man­ner as on those of a ship; and this is only pow­er used, except in a calm, when a sin­gle man can dri­ve by the wheel, at the rate of about five and a half miles per hour.  The cost of the whole con­trivance will be only about two hun­dred dol­lars; but as the inventor’s pecu­niary cir­cum­stances will not admit of his under­tak­ing the con­struct on him­self, he would feel very grate­ful to the pub­lic if they would aid him in bring­ing into action an inven­tion so impor­tant as regards phil­an­thropy and util­i­ty.  The extreme­ly cheap and easy means which it will sup­ply to the poor of every nation for going all over the world and bet­ter­ing their con­di­tion – the oppor­tu­ni­ty it affords for plac­ing all inland cities on par with sea­port towns as regards com­merce – the many facil­i­ties it offers for con­firm­ing the over­land route to the Pacif­ic, and pop­u­lat­ing the route thith­er of the intend­ed Rail­road, have sug­gest­ed to the inven­tor the hope that the pub­lic of St. Louis and its neigh­bor­hood will be like­ly to take strong inter­est in car­ry­ing the inven­tion into prac­ti­cal effect.  Any per­sons will­ing to take a patent out for it are quite free to do so in con­nec­tion with J. C. Edgar, Esq., and the inven­tor, who has him­self no per­son­al inter­est in its pecu­niary suc­cess, hav­ing trans­ferred his share already to the church for char­i­ta­ble pur­pos­es.  The sub­scrip­tion of any­­­­ per­son who wish to take part in this benev­o­lent enter­prise, will be thank­ful­ly received by Mr. Gra­ham, at the office of J. C. Edgar, Archi­tect.  The inven­tor pro­pos­es to have the Aero­naut fin­ished in ten days after the nec­es­sary sum has been sub­scribed – then to exhib­it it for [ascent?] at first as a mod­i­fi­ca­tion of the ordi­nary bal­loon, and com­mit the receipts, which are expect­ed to exceed con­sid­er­ably the orig­i­nal cost, to the sub­scribers to be devot­ed by them to any pub­lic or char­i­ta­ble pur­pose they may decide upon. [1]

[1] Dai­ly Mis­souri Repub­li­can, 19 March 1853, page 2

This week in history: May 9‑May 15

With tomor­row’s 1 year anniver­sary of the blog, we had to post a let­ter from that date!

On May 15, 1841, Thomas B. Win­ston wrote a quick note to their niece Vir­ginia Kyle Camp­bell.  Vir­ginia had mar­ried Robert Camp­bell 3 months ear­li­er on Feb­ru­ary 25, 1841.  It seems that she likes St. Louis very much, and Thomas admits his own love of the city, say­ing “it is my next choice to N.O. [New Orleans] and if I ever leave this it shall be my next res­i­dence.”  They also talk about the activ­i­ties com­mem­o­rat­ing the late Pres­i­dent — William Hen­ry Har­ri­son had died on April 4, 1841, suc­ceed­ed by John Tyler.  Enjoy this quick note from Vir­gini­a’s uncle!

[Front Cov­er]
Mrs Robert Campbell
St. Louis
“Mis­souri”                 Mo.

Pr Mis­souri                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    New Orleans May 15 1841
Dr Virginia
Your wel­comed note by this con­veyance received with plea­sure and I hope to have one by each return of this SBoat  [Steam­boat] until you make your own appearance.

I am glad you are so well pleased with St. Louis, it is my next choice to N.O. and if I ever leave this it shall be my next residence.

My respects to Mr. Camp­bell & I now invite you both in the name of Mrs Win­ston & myself to vis­it us & we will give you good cheer & wel­come.  Today has been a great day in N.O. in com­mem­o­ra­tion of our late President.

I think you would be pleased with a vis­it to N. Orleans, as you can come & go so quick.

Yours ______[?]
Thomas B. Winston

Happy New Year from Campbell House Museum!

Wel­come to 2010 every­one!  To cel­e­brate the new year, we’re post­ing a let­ter William Sub­lette wrote to Hugh Camp­bell on New Years Day 1837, 173 years ago.  He talks about his health prob­lems and what he thinks of Dr. Beau­mont — appar­ent­ly Beau­mont treats Sub­lette the way Sub­lette treats the Indi­ans he trades with.  But the 2nd let­ter talks a lot about Sub­let­te’s feel­ings toward a cer­tain “coquette” who Robert fell in love with.  Sub­lette is cer­tain that Robert will get over her in just a short time.  The girl is Vir­ginia Jane Kyle, and con­sid­er­ing the let­ters they wrote to each oth­er in their 38 years of mar­riage, Sub­let­te’s pre­dic­tions cer­tain­ly nev­er came true.  Enjoy and Hap­py New Year!


St. Louis Jan­u­ary the first 1837
Dear Hugh
Your wel­come and inter­est­ing let­ter of Decem­ber 5th came
to hand on last evening which I have long wisht for and this
is the lat­est news we have from Philadel­phia as the roads has
been in such sit­u­a­tion it was impos­si­ble to reach here sooner.
Now just imag­ine you see your friend Sub­lette sit­u­at­ed in
an rock­ing armed chair with a writ­ing desk atacht thereto.
Cross leg­ed for that sit­u­a­tion at the present answers me best
for rea­sons you may guess- My health and strength has im-
proved con­sid­er­able since Robert left here, but I cant brag
much on my fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ples for Dr. Beau­mont and
me has a round or so every fieu days. On yes­ter­day he per-
formed a small oper­a­tion and on the extreme it was as severe
as it was small and difi­cult to get at was as severe as any
herto­fore. I have giv­en him his orders to let me rest until
tues­day next when I expect to have a small row with him.
He puts me in mind of my self whilst engaged in the Indian
trade how I fre­quent­ly laid open the mules backs and cut open
the dis­eased parts (poor ani­mals how they suf­fered). But
speak­ing of Beau­mont I am much pleased with him and think
him an exce­lent ser­gent [sur­geon] at present there is not
much prospects of my get­ting out before spring to attend to
busi­ness and I have deter­mined to take it fair and easy for
my can­did belief is all things are for the best as God made us
for his pur­pose and knows best how to dis­pose of us if it
should be for the ben­e­fit of oth­ers, as I am smart­ly enclined
to believe in foreordination.
Times is dull in St. Louis and mon­ey scarce but there is
some hopes of a bank here from our legislature.(footnote 10) Our city
is not as gay this win­ter as has usu­al­ly been and from what
cause I cant say for it has been uncom­mon­ly healthy. Produce
of all kinds is high corn has sold here in mar­ket for $1.25 per
bushel and coal aver­ages about 28 cents pr bushel, those two
arti­cles I am most inter­est­ed in but the roads has been des-

Dear Hugh
Rel­a­tive to your part of the let­ter respect­ing Robert I am
sor­ry I was not in pos­e­sion of before he left for my advice to
him would have been dif­fer­ent from what it was from the
acount and descrip­tion that Robert gave me I felt much inter-
est­ed in his behalf and can­did­ly it ren­dered [me] more or
less unhap­py on his account as I dis­cov­ered it praid on his
feel­ings-pressed him to go in com­pa­ny, I went so far as to ad-
vise him to press his address­es that no doubt but that a good
wife was the great­est bless­ing a man ever enjoyed and that
she was young and fool­ish and would soon yield, that a wife
two easy court­ed was scarce worth hav­ing, not think­ing that
Robert could be over come by and blind­ed by love at his age
as I have no doubt but he was. For we in our remarks re-
spect­ing the qual­i­ties of young ladies gen­er­al­ly agreed, and
that of a coquette or of show­ing fad­ing colours I nev­er ad-
mired. I am well aware Roberts sit­u­a­tion at that time was
one that was rather inclined to lead him a stray. Just recov-
ering from a long spell of sick­ness when a man’s mind is
rather week and not oth­er wise engaged in busi­ness the least
kind­ness or atten­tion shown him at that time and especially
by a female was enclined to make the more last­ing impression
of it. But as I think this is not more than the sec­ond or third
time he has been in love and prob­a­bly a long absence may over
come it, not a short one. But I am not capa­ble of judging
for I must can­did­ly con­fess which you may think strange for
a man of my age to say I was nev­er seri­ous­ly in love in my
life nor would I per­mit myself to be so for I nev­er was in a
sit­u­a­tion to get mar­ried as that which I could wish. How easy
this may wear off with Robert I cant say for my belief is that
when a man’s afec­tion is once placed it nev­er can be removed
to that of anoth­er with the same ardor but I think Robert
ought to bless his stairs [stars] he can get out of this scrape
and I will advise him to take a wife in Mis­souri and leave him
to trust to Prov­i­dence as all is for the best.
I admire the char­ac­ter of your coun­try­man Tom Moore in
many respects but in the instance you speak of in your letter
it puts me two much in mind of one of the par­ty now in ques-
tion (V K). I have giv­en you my views as far as I am
capa­ble. Its a pit­ty we both could not get mar­ried to wives
of fifty thou­sand each as I have more need of her mon­ey than
love, at present and in faith I think Robert would have no
objec­tion to the cash, if so, he could keep the wife & give me
the cash. We are get­ting on as well as could be expect­ed but
I think a wife would be of no incum­brance to one or both with
a fieu shillings, if there is one of that kind please send her
to me by Robert. I dont want her too smart for she might out
gen­er­al me and perceve my weak­ness and not be so afec-
tion­ate in case I should spend the mon­ey. Please excuse my
scrib­ling by writ­ing me, and my respects to Mary &c. I will
write to Robert soon.
God bless and pro­tect you are the wish­es of a friend
Wm. L. Sublette
This is the only Newyear’s Gift I have to present you, as small
and unin­ter­est­ing as it may be. My fruit trees have not yet
come to hand.
Mr. Hugh Campbell
Care of Gill, Camp­bell & Co.,

10 The Bank of the State of Mis­souri was char­tered by act of the
leg­is­la­ture, Feb­ru­ary 2, 1837. The leg­is­la­tors elect­ed John Brady Smith,
pres­i­dent, and Hugh O’Neil, Edward Walsh, S. S. Ray­burn, Edward
Dobyns, William L. Sub­lette, and John O’Fal­lon, directors.

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.