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This week in History: May 10-May 16

May 13, 1842

Letter from Mary Campbell to her sister-in-law Virginia Campbell.  This letter is written one day before Virginia’s first son, James Alexander Campbell (1842-1849), was born.

Mrs. Robert Campbell
Saint Louis


Philadelphia May 13th / 42

My dear Virginia,
You may certainly charge me with extreme neglect & so may my  dear mother & sisters for I have not written to any of them since I wrote you, except a letter to Ellen Stephenson a few days ago.  I have had a bad cold & very troublesome cough for several  weeks, not making me sick at all – only lazy & disjointed.  I  have also hoped to hear important news from you for a week or so  past.  My calculations it seems were not correct, still I think I am not very far astray & that a few days will announce your  safety & well doing.  I was delighted to learn of the probability of your mothers visiting you, I hope she will soon be with you,  but I have heard nothing of her except through Robert’s letters  to Mr Campbell.  Your dear old grandmother has also been called  to her eternal rest – it must have been, as in our case, not as  unexpected event.  I sent to Richmond, not having an opportunity  to Raleigh, a dress for your Mother, as a present from Robert –  it must have reached just in time – it was not very expensive 13  yards at 87 1/2 cents per yard: it was appropriate in colour &  design & of a fashionable material.  I could find nothing  suitable in bonnets & indeed she has written for only one article to be sent her.

Mr. Campbell left here on Monday last for N. York &  Boston, to look for a school at which to place Ponsonby- he was  to have accompanied him but a boil broke out on his neck that has since confined him to the house.  Mr C. will return in a few  days.  I received a letter for him, from Robert on Tuesday  morning & sent it on immediately to him.

Our city continues as dull as possible -failures are occurring  daily again which occasions a little excitement & talk.  There is no business [?]_______ [Illegible] still the ladies dress well & look as  bright & gay as larks.  But you would be surprised at the number  of large houses that are for rent & the sales of furniture that  are advertised everyday.  Mrs Ralston, Lizzy Mitchell’s mother’s  furniture was sold yesterday – they have lost all their fortune I believe.  The Oakman’s continue in their house, but I am told  the failure is a very bad one, that they will not pay their  borrowed money.  John Campbell has gone again to the West Indies, merely to keep him out of mischief I presume, unless he went as  a sailor – he was doing nothing here & never will do anything  good I fear.  Mrs Baker I see every day or so, she appears bright & happy.  I never see her husband, I am told he is growing  enormously fat & living as usual.  Maltilda & John Miller are  certainly engaged, from his [?]_____ [illegible] there – I have never heard  any of them say anything on the subject.  Harriet’s baby is the  largest child I ever saw for its age – not at all pretty, but  strong & healthy looking – she looks wretchedly.  Mrs Archie &  her children are very well, her baby a lovely creature.

Dr Rollins & daughter arrived here a few days ago, bringing me a letter of introduction from Judge Morrow.  Miss  Rollins became acquainted with you last fall & says many kind  things of you, she is a very sweet, intelligent girl, has gone to Madame [?]_______ [illegible] school.  Her father has returned home, I  admired him greatly.  They are particular friends of Mrs  Ashley’s, she had determined on going immediately home & taking  Mary with her, but now she says she will leave Mary at school &  return alone, not to St. Louis, but Kentucky, Ohio, & several  other places.  She has a dozen new plans every day.  Mrs Farrar  has been quite sick, was much better yesterday.  I like her  extremely.  I was glad to hear the Dr arrived safely in St.  Louis.  I really considered him unfit to travel alone.

Mr & Mrs M. Carly have gone to Brooklyn to live and are very  nicely [?]_____ [illegible] than at housekeeping.  We all miss them, she is  so lovely & so good.  The Tagerts go out of town the 1st of June, we will be very lonely during the summer, so many of our friends go going to the country.  Judge Morrow has removed to Jefferson  City & will be pleasantly situated these I hear, Betty is not as  you are but have been I hope on this 13th day of May.  My mother  & all were well – from my sisters in Illinois I have not heard  for several weeks.

I hear Mr M Keazin has been caught by a Miss Marshall & also  by Miss Walker.  How does Mrs Kerr come on I long to hear of her  at housekeeping.  Mrs McKay’s friends have been asking anxiously  for news from St Louis – They have not heard from her for a long  time.

All send much love & many  messages to you, but I have an engagement – this morning which  compels me to conclude hurriedly.  Give my kindest love to Robert – in the hope of hearing good news from you soon I am as ever  your affectionate cousin
Mary Campbell

Readers should note that certain words in this letter were illegible, due to Mary Campbell’s handwriting.

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