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Letter of the week, June 21, 2010

Here’s a short letter Robert wrote to his niece Margaret MacCulloch in Ballyarton, Ireland.  He sent Margaret 5 pounds Sterling, which is just over $500.00 today.  Robert’s youngest child that he refers to is Robert (the third child who had that name, incidentally) who would have been five years old during their summer travels.  He died the following summer of diphtheria.  And particularly timely is Robert’s paragraph about his financial woes during the Civil War — depreciating property values, people in debt — sound familiar?  Times really haven’t changed much.


St Louis
June 21 1861
My Dear Niece,

Having net with the enclosed bill of exchange of the National Bank at Roscommon in the National Bank of London for Five pounds sterling I purchased it and concluded to send it to you as a present, and at some time to drop you a line to show that I have not forgotten you.  I have had frequent talks with my brother’s family about you and all our family in Ireland and was grateful to hear such good account of them.

I had a letter yesterday from your sister Mary Clark in which she mentions all her children who seam to be very promising and affectionate to her. She has named her youngest child Hugh Campbell I think it is some fourteen months old and she says is a very large, fine boy- her daughter are of great assistance to her.

Charlotte is very comfortably situated at Kansas city and when I was last there had got into a very excellent house which John had just built and she felt quite comfortable- She had two fine boys and since then has added a daughter to her family of which of course you have been advised. Your brother Robert B is in the gold region of the Rocky Mnts and through other parties I hear that he is well, but I have not had any letters from him.

Your uncle Hugh lives but a short distance from my residences and my children feel as much at home there as at their own home. They call it “ the other house”. I was about to have left with my family for New Port, Rhode Island where we have passed the last two summers but my youngest child has been unwell and we will not leave before tomorrow or day after as the child in improving and we like to have it well before we start, my brother will follow with his family ten days or so later.

The "Other House," Hugh & Mary Campbell's home on Washington Avenue. The Ely Walker Loft building is now on the property.

You have seen by the newspapers that our country is in a very deplorable condition, and no immediate prospect of a change business is almost suspended and rents greatly reduced and such …. ……. To be the case until peace is returned. We are unfortunately in a condition to feel these changes less than most people as we are entirely out of debt.  But we will be losers by the general depreciation of property in value and many who are indebted to us will not be able to pay for some time and other debts we will lose.

We have not had a letter from sister Ann for some months and she was then just recovering from a severe attack of illness. I trust that she is now quite well again as we all love her very much. I was glad to learn that your father and mother were in good health at last account. You will remember me kindly to you husband and children and to your Father, mother Aunt and sisters- in short to all our relatives

I know you as a good child of some three years, and I like still to recollect you, as such

Affectionately Your Uncle

Robert Campbell

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