Tag Archives: Walter Otey

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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This Week in History: August 10

In hon­or of the dwin­dling days of the lazy sum­mer, this week we’ve post­ed a let­ter from Lucy to her son-in-law Robert where she chas­tens him to get out of the office and take a vaca­tion with the fam­i­ly.  Lucy also express­es her hopes that Robert and Vir­ginia will take in Vir­gini­a’s sis­ter Eleanor over the win­ter because she’s had a rough go of it late­ly.  Poor thing is mar­ried to Wal­ter Otey, a slave trad­er, and Lucy dis­likes him so much she has in oth­er let­ters called him a “Demon clothed in human flesh.”  Yikes.


Cov­ing­ton Aug 10th
My ever atten­tive & thought­ful son,
Was it not for you I should not yet know whether Via & the  chil­dren ever arrived in Pha or any­thing about their move­ments since, I am glad to hear they are so pleas­ant­ly  sit­u­at­ed & tru­ly sor­ry to hear you were com­pelled to leave them & return to St. Louis to be still con­fined to busi­ness, as soon as you get the Graders & boats off, can’t you return to them for  sev­er­al weeks & take a lit­tle recre­ation to your­self, I am sure  you have not had much, to have got­ten through your fall pur­chas­es so ear­ly, I judge one year by anoth­er, last year if I remem­ber  right you went on some­where about the first week in August, now  you return about this time hav­ing com­plet­ed your busi­ness there  so by this way of rea­son­ing, I think

[Pg. Break] after you get the Boats off, you might take a lit­tle  time for your­self & all to return togeth­er the 1st of Sept.  I  know you will say Mrs. Kyle is a poor judge about my busi­ness, &  like oth­er ladies think they know a good deal when they know  noth­ing about it.  Well I con­clud­ed before I left Brighton that  you would not return until you brought all back with you, at  least I thought it very doubt­ful, so I con­clud­ed to come right  off to Cov­ing­ton, as I am much hap­pi­er here every way, I am with  those who are very near & dear to me & who take plea­sure in any  way in their pow­er to pro­mote my com­fort & plea­sure, if I could  have board­ed in the same fam­i­ly with broth­er George & where  sis­ter E. board­ed  in the win­ter, I might have remained in  Brighton, but as I knew they did not wish to take board­ers I did  not apply to them.  The house I was at had no blinds too.

[Pg. Break] They had only shades to any part of it, it was so  light is was very severe on my eyes & the room I had was so very  warm at night & a feath­er bed too, the straw bed was too hard, so I thought there was no use in my stay­ing there any longer I  liked the fam­i­ly  very well & they kept a good table & I was as  polite & atten­tive to me as pos­si­ble, if I had been cer­tain of  your return I would have remained & met you in St. Louis & it  would have giv­en me great plea­sure to have it in my pow­er to be  in the degree ser­vice­able to you, I sup­pose now we  shall all meet some­time next month I am tru­ly delight­ed poor Eleanor is with Via & all our oth­er friends, she has had more  tri­als to bear since her mar­riage than any­one I ever knew.  I am  glad she is where she can enjoy some good soci­ety & see some­thing of the world, besides that of see­ing her sis­ter & cousins,

[Pg. Break] I hope you & Vial will invite her to accom­pa­ny you  home & do what you can to make her enjoy her­self this win­ter, I  have thought per­haps she would place Bet­tie at Board­ing school in Pha I think she and Via might write to me. The dear chil­dren how often I think of them par­tic­u­lar­ly sweet lit­tle Hazlett I know  Eleanor is devot­ed to them all she is so fond of chil­dren in fact I sup­pose both he & the baby are so much [?]_______ I don’t see  how they stand it every­body must have a play with them.  I sup­pose Hazlett is the great­est favorite of all the chil­dren with your  Broth­er and all, Please give my love to cousin David I sup­pose  you find him good com­pa­ny in the evening say to him that broth­er  Thomas received the Box of things & says they were all  sat­is­fac­to­ry which I was glad to hear he wrote to me from Nia­gara sis­ter Amelia sends her love to you & cousin David with a great  deal of love I remain now
and ever your affectionate
Moth­er in law
LA Kyle

[Pg. Break, side of 1st page] Remem­ber me kind­ly to the  Mack­en­sies’ Woods’ Allens’ and Mr. Yeat­man if enquired after by them.

This Week in History: September 1- 7

[Just after the birth of the Camp­bel­l’s sec­ond child, Hugh, on  Octo­ber 9, 1843]

Raleigh Octo­ber 16th 1843
My very dear Virginia
You have been very much on my mind dur­ing the last week,  per­haps by this time you are the moth­er of a lit­tle Robert or  Eleanor Kyle if so I sin­cere­ly trust that all may be well with  you, you had some lit­tle expe­ri­ence by being with Mis­souri, that  with your own per­son­al expe­ri­ence enabled you to have more  con­fi­dence and patience than you had at the birth of our lit­tle  James.  I hope you did not for­get to put on a [?]______ this time although I was not there to “dress you up fine” as you called  it, my dear Via if I would have been with you at this time for a  few weeks only I should most cer­tain­ly have done so, but fate or  some­thing else has placed us too far dis­tant when I do go to see  you I shall have to stay a long time as I intend to make your  house one of my numer­ous homes.  Dear lit­tle James how I wish I  had him to sleep with me to take care of him at night, lit­tle  Julia is my bed fel­low now and she is as inter­est­ing as Via ever  was some­times two of them sleep with me you know my bed is very  large and you would be amused to hear us talk­ing in the morn­ing  about lit­tle James and about you and Robert.
[Pg. Break] I enjoy myself in this way think­ing and talk­ing about you though we can not be togeth­er in per­son, I take all the  com­fort and plea­sure I can in imag­i­na­tion.  Eleanor I see  fre­quent­ly but not half as often as I would like to see and when  she is with me there is such a mix­ture of joy and sor­row  per­vad­ing my whole feel­ing I can hard­ly tell which pre­dom­i­nates,  one thing I know I nev­er part with her with­out feel­ing melan­choly and a pang of the most bit­ter dis­ap­point­ment and dis­tress to  think of so love­ly a being as she is (though her faults are many) unit­ed for­ev­er to a man of so lit­tle prin­ci­ple as Otey, I think  she now sees how blind­ed she was, and still tries to be blind  which is cer­tain­ly the wis­est plan for her to take, you know she  is very art­less ad gen­er­al­ly tells all she knows, she does not  wait to be ques­tioned but tells all that pass­es, by this means I  get a pret­ty cor­rect idea of her feel­ings and sen­ti­ments, she  says Otey nev­er spends an evening at home that the door is left  open and he comes in at any hour of the night it suits him that  she is will­ing to go any where with him if he will only stay at  home, she seems to desire above all things to be set­tled, but I  fear will not be short­ly, she lives in the plainest and most  com­mon style at Miss Pul­liams though they are very clever peo­ple I had rather
[Pg. Break]she would board there than any oth­er board­ing house in town, she says they were very kind to her the 7 months Otey was  at the south, Otey tells her if she brings Bet­ty to see me she  will be sor­ry for it, final­ly she says she got mar­ried to have  her own way but she finds she can’t have it.  I lis­ten to all she  says but of course I have more sense than to cast any reflec­tions or to say any­thing cal­cu­lat­ed to make her unhap­py but if I had  $1,000,000 of dol­lars I would cheer­ful­ly give it to have her  Eleanor Kyle again, he has con­clud­ed for her to remain in Raleigh this win­ter, I sup­pose he does not wish to be incum­bered with  her, we talk a great deal about you every time she comes, she  says she has giv­en out writ­ing alto­geth­er that it is too much  trou­ble to write and that you have nev­er answered Otey’s let­ter,  she desires me to give her love t you both and says she intends  to see you, she has con­clud­ed to wean Bet­ty at last.  I have  noth­ing par­tic­u­lar to say about sis­ter Amelia and the chil­dren  they are all well, sis­ter Amelia is busi­ly engaged in domes­tic  duties John goes to school to Mr. Gray and improves very much,  broth­er Simp­son’s health is no bet­ter suf­fers a great deal of  pain.  Mrs. McK­in­non was delight­ed with her trip to Pha with our  friends there, and with every­thing she saw.  I expect she bought  a great deal of finery.
[Pg. Break] I for­got whether I told you that Mr. McK­in­non is  build­ing a fine house on the lot next to the Gov­er­nors house four rooms down­stairs and four rooms up it will be a very hand­some  place, they expect to get in it by New Years day.  I sup­pose you  will hard­ly get to house­keep­ing before the first of Jan­u­ary, I  hope you will live in a good neigh­bor­hood and a pleas­ant part of  the city when­ev­er you do go but of course Robert knows the  advan­tages of thee set­tling yourselves
[Sec­tion Break] bet­ter than I can tell him you know I have near­ly as great an opin­ion of his good judg­ment as you have but I must have a judg­ment for myself too and this is what I want you to  have or rather what I want you to exer­cise you have the judg­ment already my dear Via your sis­ter has just come up in my room and  Broth­er Simp­son has just hand­ed me your let­ter of the 7 inst.  which I have read with much plea­sure.  I am sur­prised you have  not received my let­ter, I wrote you a long let­ter some weeks  since but have
[Pg. Break] but have noth­ing par­tic­u­lar to write about my time is passed pret­ty much as it has been for the last few years not to  much prof­it to myself or to any body else.  I seem to have  noth­ing to invite me to action.  Tell Car­o­line she must take good care of my grandson.
[Sec­tion Break, side of first page] I can­not tell you with any  cer­tain­ty about James McPheeters affairs but the report is this,  that his wifes estate all belongs to his child but that he is to  have a sup­port out of it and to be guardian to his child  con­se­quent­ly is to be the man­ag­er of the estate none of it can be tak­en to pay his debts he says he is going to move to St. Louis  in Feb take his black peo­ple as he calls them and hire them out  there he says Mar­cel­lous does not ow a dol­lar in St. Louis when  he left.  I sup­pose he [?]_____ him, he looks very bad­ly and is  very dejected.
[Sec­tion Break, side of sec­ond page] Mr. McK­in­non and Miss  Gar­gose are to be mar­ried day after tomor­row in the church after  ser­vice.  Your friends all send love remem­ber me to your bet­ter  half and kiss dear lit­tle James on hun­dred times, best love to  our­self from our affec­tion­ate moth­er, LA Kyle.