What's New

The Death of Robert Campbell, Jr.

This week, a tear-jerker.

Throughout Robert and Virginia’s marriage, they had the tragic misfortune of burying ten of their thirteen children.  When a child would die, they would often reuse the name to honor the one who died; therefore, the Campbells had two Hughs, two Hazletts, two Jameses and three Roberts.  Recently, volunteer researcher extraordinaire Tom found the excerpts from the diary of John A. Clark, who was Robert and Virginia’s brother-in-law.  (Well, sort of.  John was married to Anna Jane Kyle, Robert’s brother’s wife’s sister.  Got it?)

In 1861, John A. Clark was selected to be Surveyor General of the New Mexico Territory by President Abraham Lincoln, and John kept a diary of his daily activities during his tenure in this position, from 1861-1868.  Whenever he passed through St. Louis on his way to or back from Santa Fe,  John would stay with Robert or his brother, Hugh.  In this passage, John outlines Robert Jr.’s illness and ultimate death.  (Incidentally, this is the third and final Campbell child to bear his father’s name.  Also, the Hugh Campbell referred to in the passage is Robert’s brother.  Likewise, the Mary mentioned is Hugh’s wife.)

A special note of thanks to Anna Jane Stone, great-granddaughter of John A. Clark, for identifying this passage for us.  The orignal diary is housed at the Fray Angélico Chávez History Library at the Palace of Governors in Santa Fe, NM.

Get your tissue ready.

The Death of Robert Campbell
Son of Robert Campbell
From the diary of John A. Clark, Brother-in-Law

June 1st 1862

Mr. Robert Campbell’s little son Robert, was out riding this evening on his pony – he rides remarkably well – cantered his horse up & down past Mr. Campbells.  He is not quite as old or as large as Charles [son of John A. Clark].  Mr. Campbell’s children are all affectionate & smart little children.  Hazlett is a perpetual motion.

Wednesday June 4, 1862

Little Robert Campbell was taken last night with a chill & had fever all night & a sore throat – is quite ill this morning, so that the Doctor was sent for who pronounces the disease nothing of importance – a cold, swelling of the tonsils & no uneasiness felt by any of the friends.

Thursday June 5, 1862

Little Robert is no better today.  The Doctor says he is no worse, but I think him a very sick child – all the symptoms seem to me to be those of diphtheria.  Mary & I visited him at about 9 o’clock & we were so much concerned that although the Doctor had just left we went to his office to lay his whole case before the Doctor & get his opinion.  The Doctor was not in – we waited for him a considerable time & finally Mr. Robert Campbell came after the Doctor – when we returned & Mary remained all night with Robert.

Friday June 6, 1862

The friends are all exceedingly anxious today concerning little Robert.  He is no better & of consequence is worse.  The Doctor says that his disease is slightly diphtheria, but apprehends no danger.  I fear the worst.

Saturday June 7, 1862

Dear little Robert is evidently worse today & the Doctor now says his case is decided diphtheria but thinks it external to the windpipe & so not very dangerous.  I much fear the dear child will never be any better.

Sunday June 8, 1862

The Doctors today have given up little Robert & say there is no hope of his recovery.  Of course this is the deepest grief with all the friends.  Mr. Hugh Campbell cannot speak of him without shedding tears

Monday June 9, 1862

Dear little Robert Campbell died today at about 1/2 after 2 o’clock P. M.  The dear child is at rest & no doubt happy. The two families are in the deepest affliction.  Mr. Hugh Campbell & I visited at the home & saw the body.  Mr. Robert Campbell bears the affliction with much more equanimity than his brother.

Search Our Website