A rare and important journal belonging to Robert Campbell was recently discovered and donated to the Museum.
The journal was donated by Edwina Smith. It is believed that the journal passed to Mrs. Smith in the 1930s through the law firm of Shepley, Kroeger, Fisse and Shepleyone of the many law offices involved in the resolution of the Campbell estate. Mrs. Smith's nephew Karl Deibel donated a collection of more than 200 Campbell family letters to the Museum in 1999.
Into the Mountains
The small paper-covered journal records Robert's first trip into the Rocky Mountains and notes the progress of his journey with short entries and maps. The journal would have been a valuable resource to future expeditions for finding the best route. The first dated entry is from March 28, 1826.
In November 1825, Robert left St. Louis as a clerk in the employ of General William Ashley and Jedediah Smith. Robert, Smith, 70 men and more than 150 pack animals travelled to a point about 150 miles west of the junction of the Kansas and Missouri rivers (site of present-day Kansas City) before winter weather forced them to take refuge at a Pawnee village.
After the weather broke the expedition met General Ashley near Grand Island in present-day Nebraska. Ashley had brought more men, mules and provisions from St. Louis. Robert noted, "April 2nd (1826), arrived at 3:00 at Kansas village, General came to this place from the mouth of the Kansas, WSW about 150 miles distant. On the 4th April after supplying myself with corn and dry meat from the Indians we proceeded up Blue River, the north fork and camped after traveling about 10 miles." By about July 1, Campbell, Ashley and the other men rendezvoused with trappers and Indians at a place called Cache Valley (about 75 miles north of present-day Salt Lake City). At Cache Valley money and goods were traded for beaver pelts. Robert also met William Sublette at Cache Valley. Sublette would soon become Robertıs closest friend and business partner. This was the second of the renowned annual Rocky Mountain rendevouses.
The journal also records wage payments to members of the expedition including Albert Boone, grandson of Daniel Boone. Inventories of provisions and trade items such as beaver traps, sugar, tobacco, coffee, powder, lead, beads, knives and vermillion are also noted in the journal.
Robert's journal offers an exciting and unique glimpse at one of the most dynamic episodes in American history. Read More The notebook has been completely digitized and is in the process of being transcribed for use by researchers and students of history. When the transcription is completed, it will be posted on this site.
To read more about Robert's involvement in the fur trade read Robert's own fascinating Narrative of his experience in the Rocky Mountains as a young man.
Please contact the museum for more information.