Tag Archives: Virginia Campbell

Christmas at the Campbell House


Part of what makes Camp­bell House so unique is that the vast major­i­ty of every­thing you see when you go through the House is com­plete­ly orig­i­nal.  No fakes, MSGs or fillers.  What you’re see­ing belonged to the Camp­bells, was used by them on a dai­ly basis, and is still call­ing CHM home more than 160 years lat­er.  But when it comes to Christ­mas­time at the Camp­bell House, we’ve had to be a lit­tle bit creative.

2929787835_xmas_tree_question_mark_M_answer_103_xlargeYou see, though we would like to say that all of the beau­ti­ful orna­men­ta­tion, lus­cious green­ery, and Vic­to­ri­an frills found through­out the build­ing is spot-on orig­i­nal as well… it’s not.  In fact, we only have TWO orig­i­nal Camp­bell Christ­mas pieces in our col­lec­tion.  That’s not two sets of dec­o­ra­tions or two box­es… it’s two.  And there’s a pret­ty easy expla­na­tion for why this is.

The Camp­bells, as we’re well aware, knew how to throw a par­ty.  Folks like Pres­i­dent U.S. Grant, Gen­er­al William Tecum­seh Sher­man, James Eads, and Hen­ry Shaw reg­u­lar­ly supped here at the House, and Vir­ginia even had the for­mal par­lor dou­bled in size to accom­mo­date the elab­o­rate get-togeth­ers.  As you can imag­ine, their Christ­mas par­ties (and lat­er, their son Hugh’s Christ­mas par­ties) would have been a grand affair, and the Camp­bells made sure their guests went home with gifts to remind them of the evening.  But these weren’t spe­cial­ty gift bags or neon t‑shirts with “Camp­bell Xmas Par­ty 1854” embla­zoned across the front.  When you came to a Camp­bell Christ­mas par­ty, you were allowed to take with you an orna­ment from their tree.  And, as many guests came and went through the halls of this grand home, so too did the Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions.  Kind of a neat tra­di­tion, right?  Great for the guests, not so great for us here at CHM who would love to get our mitts on some of those orna­ments in the present day.

iPhone5 December2013 435

Par­lor tree, mid-construction.

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Com­plet­ed par­lor tree.

So, when you come through Camp­bell House this hol­i­day sea­son (and we HIGHLY encour­age you to do so), know that you’re look­ing at our best guess of what a Camp­bell Christ­mas might have looked like.  Is it spot-on orig­i­nal?  No.  But it is quite the sight to behold.  Hol­i­day dec­o­rat­ing takes the bet­ter part of a month to com­plete.  It’s worth the effort.

Check out pic­tures below of the two remain­ing Camp­bell Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions in our col­lec­tion.  Also some pic­tures of how we deck our halls dur­ing the hol­i­day season!

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The only Camp­bell orna­ment remain­ing in the CHM col­lec­tion. A small, cel­lu­loid (thin plas­tic-like mate­r­i­al) piece depict­ing a young girl with a bas­ket of apples. The orna­ment was tak­en off the Camp­bell Christ­mas tree and giv­en to a young vis­i­tor in 1922. 

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The only oth­er Camp­bell Christ­mas piece still in our col­lec­tion today, is this rein­deer. Orig­i­nal­ly part of a full set of San­ta’s eight rein­deer that sat on the Camp­bells’ din­ing room table (see below), Vix­en end­ed up with a dif­fer­ent St. Louis fam­i­ly for more than 90 years before he was returned to Camp­bell House.

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Ster­ling sil­ver harp name­plate on the crit­ter’s back iden­ti­fy­ing him as Vix­en. Please dis­re­gard the neon green iPhone case.


The orig­i­nal full set of rein­deer on the Camp­bell fam­i­ly din­ing table,  cir­ca 1895.













The Kyle Family in St. Louis

Vir­ginia Kyle Camp­bell, cir­ca 1882.

Put your think­ing caps on for this one. Short ver­sion: The Camp­bells and Kyles knew each oth­er back in Coun­ty Tyrone, Ire­land, and Vir­ginia is relat­ed to many of the names we see on a dai­ly basis in St. Louis: James McCaus­land, Ralph Clay­ton and James Col­lier Mar­shall. Here’s the long (and fas­ci­nat­ing) version:

Vis­i­tors to Camp­bell House all know Vir­ginia Camp­bell was born Vir­ginia Kyle, the daugh­ter of Hazlett and Lucy Ann Kyle. What you may not know is the scope of the inter­re­la­tion­ships between the Camp­bell and Kyle fam­i­lies, their ori­gins in Coun­ty Tyrone, Ire­land, the extent of the fam­i­ly tree in Amer­i­ca, and the sur­pris­ing links to oth­er St. Louis his­toric sites. Don’t get lost as we trace some of the Camp­bell and Kyle links in St. Louis.

There are so many Kyle descen­dents that it is vir­tu­al­ly impos­si­ble to accu­rate­ly deter­mine spe­cif­ic fam­i­lies back past the end of the 18th Cen­tu­ry. The orig­i­nal Kyle fam­i­ly belongs to the Clan Camp­bell of Argyle, the sur­name orig­i­nat­ing from the Kyle dis­trict in Ayr­shire, Scot­land. As with the Camp­bells, the Kyles left Scot­land for Norther Ire­land and the two fam­i­lies undoubt­ed­ly knew each oth­er. Even­tu­al­ly some immi­grat­ed to the Unit­ed States.

In Sep­tem­ber 1818, Hugh Camp­bell came to the U.S. and was hired as a clerk in Mil­ton, NC by David Kyle of Coun­ty Tyrone. Hugh’s friend, James Reed, was already in the employ of David Kyle’s Cousins, Robert and Hazlett Kyle, the father of the yet-to-be-born Vir­ginia Camp­bell. Robert and Hazlett Kyle were also broth­ers to William and David Kyle, Jr. who, in 1824, would offer Hugh a part­ner­ship in their Rich­mond, VA busi­ness. Hugh wrote to Robert about this offer and, curi­ous­ly, men­tioned the unlike­li­hood of mar­ry­ing any­time soon. He did wait five years, and in March 1829 mar­ried David Kyle’s daugh­ter, Mary.

In Octo­ber 1831, David Kyle moved to St. Louis with his fam­i­ly (except Mary Camp­bell) and start­ed a busi­ness with Edward Edgar. Robert Camp­bell (in St. Louis) wrote to Hugh (in Rich­mond) reveal­ing he was watch­ing, if not active­ly involved, with the move: Mr. Kyle’s dwelling House is fin­ished — the rent [is about] $400…the Store House will not be com­plet­ed until 1st Novem­ber the work­man told me but I pre­sume Mr. Kyle will have lit­tle dif­fi­cul­ty in rent­ing a House.

Stephen­son House

In April 1832 Hugh Camp­bell end­ed his part­ner­ship with David Kyle Jr. and moved to Philadel­phia to start his own busi­ness. In June 1832 William Kyle died; Robert Kyle died three weeks lat­er. Per Hugh: Hazlett Kyle died at his house in Raleigh N.C. of a few days ill­ness, brought on by intem­per­ance & bad con­duct. His broth­er Robert of Fin­cas­tle went to pay a vis­it to con­do­lence to his wid­ow and to assist in reg­u­lat­ing the estate…[He] became sick on 30th & died on 31st in the same room where his broth­er breathed his last breath about 3 weeks pre­vi­ous­ly. I need scarce tell you that the cause was near­ly sim­i­lar. Thus have three broth­ers been called to their account in the course of about one year…Hazlett’s wife & chil­dren will have about the sum of $40,000 amongst them. Thus we see that Robert had some knowl­edge of the Hazlett Kyle fam­i­ly long before his first meet­ing with Vir­ginia in 1835.

In Feb­ru­ary 1835, David Kyle, father-in-law to Hugh Camp­bell, died in St. Louis, leav­ing a wid­ow and nine chil­dren (David Kyle, wife Lydia, and two daugh­ters — Mar­garet and Har­ri­et — are buried in Hugh’s fam­i­ly plot in Belle­fontaine Ceme­tery). After David’s death, Hugh spent sev­er­al months reset­tling the fam­i­ly in Fayette, MO. Besides Mary, the only child who had mar­ried by this time was Eleanor Kyle. In Decem­ber 1834 she mar­ried James Stephen­son at Christ Church in St. Louis. James was the son of Ben­jamin Stephen­son, the first sher­iff of Ran­dolph Coun­ty, Illi­nois and a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Illi­nois Ter­ri­to­ry in Con­gress. His home is now a state his­toric site in Edwardsville, Illinois.

So, David Kyle came to St. Louis in 1831, his niece Vir­ginia arrived in 1841, new­ly mar­ried to Robert Camp­bell. His daugh­ter Mary came in 1859 with hus­band Hugh Camp­bell. These Kyles, how­ev­er, were not the first ones in the area. In 1825, anoth­er branch of the Kyles lived here and estab­lished their own mer­can­tile trade. Eliz­a­beth Kyle (a dis­tant cousin to Vir­ginia and Mary) mar­ried her first cousin, Alexan­der McCausland.

Fair­fax House

Of their eleven chil­dren, John opened the mer­can­tile firm Kyle & McCaus­land. Anoth­er son, James, opened a tract of land on the west­ern edge of St. Louis. McCaus­land Avenue is named after him. John and James’ sis­ter Rosan­nah mar­ried Ralph Clay­ton, the man for whom the city of Clay­ton is named. Anoth­er sib­ling, Eliz­a­beth, mar­ried James Col­lier Mar­shall in 1840 in Rock Hill. The Mar­shall fam­i­ly home — the Fair­fax House — is an his­toric site.

The con­nec­tions go on and on. We encour­age you to vis­it all these loca­tions and reflect on “small town” St. Louis the next time you take a dri­ve down McCaus­land or Mar­shall Avenues.

This Week in History: December 4

This week, Vir­ginia receives a let­ter from her broth­er-in-law, Wal­ter Otey.  Wal­ter is mar­ried to Vir­gini­a’s sis­ter Eleanor (referred to as “Ellen” in this let­ter), and he not a very pop­u­lar mem­ber of the Camp­bell or Kyle fam­i­lies.  Vir­ginia and Eleanor’s moth­er, Lucy, has referred to him in a let­ter as a “Demon clothed in human flesh,” as much for his per­son­al­i­ty as his occu­pa­tion as a slave trad­er. Take a look at this let­ter — what do you think of Walter?


Raleigh N.C. Dec 7

Mrs. Robert Campbell

Saint Louis, Missouri

Raleigh N.C.

Sun­day Dec. 4 1841

My dear Mrs. Campbell

My dear Sis­ter Virginia,

Your let­ter dat­ed the 18th Novr is to hand and find us all in the enjoy­ment of good health after offer­ing you our con­grat­u­la­tions on your report­ed health and pros­per­i­ty and future prospects of con­so­la­tions — I will pass on and endeav­or to detail to you some of the pass­ing events of your native region — How­ev­er I must first inform you that I wrote to your good man Mr. C. some days ago and informed him the whys and where­for­es I had not writ­ten soon­er and thus he has read that let­ter; — In con­se­quence of a press of busi­ness — I have cur­tailed the list of my cor­re­spon­dents and only write occa­sion­al­ly to a few of my most par­tic­u­lar friends. There­fore when you receive an occa­sion­al scrawl from me it may be regard­ed as a com­pli­ment; — I am like your hus­band.  I have an expen­sive wife and must make some­thing to sup­port her on — and in a few more months shall have an expen­sive daugh­ter if she should pat­tern after her moth­er; But I hope she will be half Otey — half Kyle — and the “bal­ance Win­ston” — and I think she will pass inspec­tion among the most fastidious.

Raleigh Capi­tol, built in 1840. Pho­to cir­ca 1861.

I must give you a short sketch of her Biog­ra­phy — It is a fact she is a most remark­able Child — and this is quite observ­able to all who vis­it us or have seen her — she cries but sel­dom — nev­er I think — unless hun­gry or in pain — she is very hearty and healthy — she will be 4 mo. old the 15th of this month — and she now takes so much notice; plays and laughs so loud as to be heard all over our house.  She can stand alone by the back of a chair — she has fair skin — my deep blue eyes — very reg­u­lar and hand­some fea­tures; and in gen­er­al sym­me­try unsur­passed.  Thus you see it will be com­pli­ment­ing you very high­ly to say we think she will be more like you than her Moth­er — I wish very much you could see her — I am going to have her minia­ture tak­en by an artist now in our city — who is said to be admirable on such exe­cu­tions — Well I sup­pose you have heard enough of Fran­cis Eliz­a­beth or so Ellen calls her — and I must let you know some­thing of our move­ments and arrange­ments — I expect­ed to have been on my way West before this some weeks — but have been detained by busi­ness — I want to break up house­keep­ing — and leave Ellen in Va with my rel­a­tives — until I return in the Spring — then she could spend the sum­mer in Va and we would go west in the fall if I should be pleased and make a loca­tion — I should be in the West Jan­ry Feby and March — back Va in April spend the sum­mer part­ly — been set­tling up small mat­ters and we could take our time in trav­el­ing out in the fall — I should not be sat­is­fied to leave Ellen here dur­ing my absence.

There is not a pleas­ant Board­ing House in the place for Ladies as you are aware — and to remain and keep house alone, she could not.  This is a most dis­tress­ing sit­u­a­tion I am placed in at all times about leav­ing home — and this is one par­tic­u­lar rea­son I have in being so desirous to change my place of res­i­dence and if I am not pleased with the West I shall pur­chase a place in Va.  I wish you could pre­vail on Mr. C to quit the Town life and let us pur­chase two farms near each oth­er — so that you and Ellen could be togeth­er — We have a plen­ty for this life — and had we all we want­ed — we can’t car­ry away any with us — when we pay the last debt here; — There is noth­ing that would con­duce so much to my peace and hap­pi­ness I believe — and that of us all I think.

Ellen says she intends writ­ing to you soon — you know she does not write often to any­one — and I am unwill­ing to believe it occurs from the want of affec­tion — because when we have been sep­a­rat­ed for some weeks — she did not write to me — who has the greater claim on her affec­tions and atten­tions “entre vous”? — Indeed she talks so much about “Sis­ter” that I have almost to scold her some­times — and tell her Va does not think so much of her — But her reply is — Sis­ter loves me bet­ter than any one in the world — But you must act sat­is­fied that we both appre­ci­ate your pecu­liar kind­ness and alacrity as a cor­re­spon­dent — I should write to you often­er but for your well known punc­tilio in orthog­ra­phy ‑ety­mol­o­gy — syn­tax and prosody — But I have well neigh filled this sheet of Foolscap with­out writ­ing you any “fool­ery” — The rea­son it is called Foolscap I s’pose it suits best for fools to write on;

Well have you heard that Doc­tor McK­ee and Susan Bat­tle are about to make a match of it such is the report?

The Doc­tor is doing well and is des­tined to stand at the head of the pro­fes­sion here — I believe I wrote same in Mr. C. let­ter that Mr. Col­lier and Miss Ann Hugh­es were to be mar­ried on next Wednes­day night — His broth­er George was mar­ried last Wednes­day night to a Miss Oliv­er in New­bern — they are to be here — and the Hugh­es are mak­ing grand prepa­ra­tions for the wed­ding — I under­stand Miss Mary Smith has dis­card­ed Doct. Smith — Miss Emma has no cap­tive at this time — Miss Man­ly with­out a beau — Miss McWilliams is doing her pret­ti­est to cap­ti­vate all — she flies high and sights low.  I heard a Bil­liard Room talk about her the oth­er day (entre vous) not so respect­ful — among the Young Men: — Allen Jones has been hang­ing around Susan Polk all to no pur­pose.  The oth­er girls are on their own rest­ing.  Beaus are as scarce as mon­ey in this place.  Mrs. Hay­lan­der is stay­ing with us now and desires me to send her best love to you, and says she wish­es she could be with you in your trou­bles; that Mr. Camp­bell must bring you and leave you in Raleigh; and I think so too!

I am sor­ry Mr. C. will be from home at the time I shall be in St. Louis — I will write you or him on my route.  Ellen joins me in love to you and Mr. C. and believe me your tru­ly attached broth­er W. L. Otey

I would write more but you see my paper is exhausted.

Give our respects to Doct. McPheeters — I saw his Father in the streets 3 days ago — walk­ing about.


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Virginia Campbell’s Washington Cake

In hon­or of the hol­i­day week­end, we’re post­ing one of Vir­ginia Camp­bel­l’s patri­ot­ic recipes from her own hand-writ­ten cook­book.  This appears to be an adap­ta­tion of Martha Wash­ing­ton’s recipe, and it’s no sur­prise Vir­ginia has a ver­sion of this in her own cook­book; Vir­ginia was the Mis­souri Vice-Regent for the Mount Ver­non Ladies Asso­ci­a­tion, and she was instru­men­tal in rais­ing mon­ey to restore Mount Ver­non.  (We even have a pic­ture of Martha hang­ing in Camp­bell House right out­side Vir­gini­a’s bed­room as homage to her.)

Notice, Vir­ginia does not give direc­tions out­side the list of ingre­di­ents, assum­ing the cook will know how to add the ingre­di­ents at prop­er inter­vals.  If you’re an adven­tur­ous cook, give this one a try to hon­or the Wash­ing­tons this Fourth of July weekend:

Wash­ing­ton Cake
1–3/4 pounds flour
1–1/2 pounds sugar
3/4 pound butter
8 eggs
1 pint warm milk
1 tea­spoon of pearl ash dis­solved in French brandy
2 pounds cur­rants or raisins or 1 pound of each
2 nutmegs
6 cloves
1 tea cup brandy

Tried and good.

Vir­ginia Camp­bel­l’s Wash­ing­ton Cake

Hap­py Fourth of July from all of us here at Camp­bell House Museum!

This week in history: May 15–21

On May 20, 1842, Robert Camp­bell wrote his busi­ness part­ner William Sub­lette, who was in Inde­pen­dence, MO.  He focus­es on busi­ness, stat­ing that the debts Sub­lette col­lects are incred­i­bly impor­tant to Sub­lette & Camp­bell — “I have been doing very lit­tle busi­ness since you left — still I have sold a few goods and gen­er­al­ly get paid for them.… I will only repeat what I have already said that we can­not expect to get any mon­ey from any oth­er quar­ter than where you now are and I hope you will not lose the oppor­tu­ni­ty of secur­ing every dol­lar due us — mon­ey is now more impor­tant than it has even been on any for­mer occa­sion to us and I hope you will use pro­por­tion­ate exer­tions — scarce as mon­ey is it will be eas­i­er col­lect­ing it now than in the fall.”  Like today, the econ­o­my must have not been doing so well in 1842!

This let­ter was pub­lished by the Mis­souri His­tor­i­cal Soci­ety in “Glimpses of the Past: Cor­re­spon­dence of Robert Camp­bell 1834–1845”

Saint Louis May 20th 1842
Dear Sublette
I reed your let­ter writ­ten by mail from Inde­pen­dence post
marked 12th inst. giv­ing me an account of your proceedings
in attach­ment of the prop­er­ty of Gid­dings & Gen­try which I
think was remark­ably well done — I hope it will enable us
to get our pay — I think you might have the Beaver ap-
praised and by con­sent of S. C. Owens & Co. have it sold -
if sent down we could real­ize a cer­tain por­tion of our pay
soon­er in that way.
I reed. yes­ter­day $100 from Lewis Franklin through Crow,
Tevis & McCreery — N. E. Har­rel­son also paid his account
in full — this is all the mon­ey we have received.
I learn from Vasques that you had sent by Mr. McCarty
some specie but he has not arrived yet. I am most anxious
to pay the Mer­chants & Mechan­ic ‘s Bank.
I think Mr. Heylin will levy an attach­ment to secure what-
ever may be left after pay­ing us out of the mules. — J. J.
Ander­son trans­ferred to him a note of Gid­dings & Gen­try for
some $950.00 he will I think place the papers in the hands
of [Addi­son] Reese to take out the attachment.
I have been doing very lit­tle busi­ness since you left — still
I have sold a few goods and gen­er­al­ly get paid for them.…
I will only repeat what I have already said that we can­not expect to get any mon­ey from any oth­er quar­ter than where
you now are and I hope you will not lose the oppor­tu­ni­ty of
secur­ing every dol­lar due us — mon­ey is now more important
than it has even been on any for­mer occa­sion to us and I hope
you will use pro­por­tion­ate exer­tions — scarce as mon­ey is it
will be eas­i­er col­lect­ing it now than in the fall.
At the farm every thing goes on well. Mrs. Cook was in
two days ago. We have had a fine rain and crops look prom-
ising — the army worm has done some mis­chief but I under-
stand your farm has not suf­fered much.
Vir­ginia and the Boy(footnote 21) are get­ting along fine­ly — nothing
Kings­land & Light­ner made an assign­ment and it is ex-
pect­ed that H. N. Davis will go with them — such is my own
impres­sion — Swearinger [A. S. & Co.] is also broke up and
some oth­ers it is thought will follow.
Robert Campbell
Col. W. L. Sublette
Inde­pen­dence, Mo.

21 This was the James Alexan­der Camp­bell, born May 14, 1842, and
died June 18, 1849