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This week in history: May 17-May 23

May 20, 1843

Letter from Virginia Campbell in Mount Pleasant, Ohio to her husband Robert Campbell in St. Louis, Missouri.

Campbell House Museum has deduced that this letter is from 1843, as Virginia writes that their son James is teething.  The Campbell’s first child James Alexander Campbell was born May 14, 1842, making 1843 the only logical year that this letter could be written.

[Front Cover]

Mr. Robert Campbell
Sublette + Campbell
St. Louis

Near Mt Pleasant May 20th Sunday [1843]
My Beloved Husband
I have a great deal to tell you and I have no doubt I will  omit that which I most intended telling.

First of all dear I know you would like to hear how our dear  little James is for I call him all the time so and every one else does.  He has not been very well ell since we came here but is not very sick so don’t be at all uneasy about him.  I could not write you a letter without giving a true account of him.  He was  slightly disordered on board of the boat and is cutting stomach  teeth.  I could not procure any milk the last two days we were on the boat which was not very good for him.  Since we came here he has drank the hard limestone water and also ate an apple the  first evening we came all of which together with teething has  given him the bowel complaint this morning we all came to the  conclusion that it would be best to give him a good dose of oil  to him, we gave him about a couple of teaspoons full.  Tonight  Dr. Bates was here.  Cousin Missouri’s husbands brother-in-law –  he is a physician in Wheeling and has a very good practice.  I  asked him what I had better do he said give him a spoonful of  rhubarb and one of cacumemagnesium once in a half hour he gave  him it over and mother and aunt Betsy are now administering the  other does, he resists very much my heart is wound up my dear child I hope he will be much better tomorrow.  Poor little fellow he is devoted to me and won’t go to anyone if he can help it.  I have engaged a colored girl to nurse him that he may have  someone to wash his clothes and walk him all about in the he brisk  air which I do not feel able to do.

Our little son has gone to sleep and I will now tell  you how I got here and all about the fiasco when we arrived in  Wheeling.  I had everything ready to lave the boat after a while  the Captain and Mr. Boone came up and the Capt introduce Mr.  Baker the partner + Mr. Forsyth’s son in law.  He said that Mr.  Forsyth had gone with Mr. Brady and others on a fishing  excursion, but that he would be happy to get me a conveyance to  Mt. Pleasant, he was exceedingly kind to me.  I took his arm and  walked up to the hotel with him which is on the wharf Mr. Boone  being so kind to carry – child for me.  When we got there I bade  Mr. Boone goodbye and the tears came up as I said for I wished I  was back with you.  Mr. Baker brought his wife down to see me and she invited me to go up to their house to spend the day and stay the night.  I declined and said that I would go and visit them  with pleasure on my return but that I had not seen my mother for  a long time and was desirous to get a conveyance (the stage  having left early in the morning) to go out to Mt. Pleasant.  Mr. Baker said that the road was a bad one that the owners would not let a nice carriage go but he got as good a one as he could – I  expressed some fears of coming alone he said he was going to send Mr. Forsyth’s son Henry a lad of about eighteen with me.  I felt thankful at the time but every step that I advanced I felt more  grateful for the kindness to me.  I shall never forget it and if  either of us ever have an opportunity I hope we will remember  their kindness.  The road is the most awful one I ever was on in  my life.  Potomac Creek + Rock Spring are turnpikes in comparison it would have been utterly impossibly for me to have brought the child along for to save my life I could no sit still it was so  rough.  He carried my child for me and once when the hill was as so steep we could not ride up and  we had to get out and walk about a mile.  He carried my boy all  the way for me so kindly – I was scarcely able to drag myself  along panting to nearly choked to get my breath, we had to sit  down and rest several times – James became very restless toward  the latter part of the ride.  We enquired [inquired] when we got to Mt.  Pleasant we asked at Samuel Jones store where Thomas Gerrill  lived and Mother and Aunt Betsy were there on horseback come to  meet me.  I had to pay $5.50 cts for the wagon which brought us  out here the agreement was $4.50 but as cousin Missouri lived  about 2 mines farther than he expected he added another dollar.   For the baby’s washing, milk and a present to the chamber maid of the boat I had to give about $4.00 more.  I would have [?]____  ____ [illegible] on stage but it did not leave till tomorrow.

Cousin Missouri has a very pretty 2 story double frame house  plainly but comfortably furnished they keep only one little girl  [?]_____ [illegible] years old to do what work they do not do themselves.   They do all their housework cooking & washing themselves but not  withstanding they thought it quite marvelous how I brought my  child on alone without a nurse and I never heard so much fuss about  anything.  I told them all that the child was not a great deal of trouble to me and that I had done it for economy and would do it again.  Mother blamed me very much for not bringing a nurse with me – however I think it was right.  Mother thinks James the express  image of you + they all think he resembles your miniature.

Goodbye dearest Mother sends her best love, the baby frets so I  must go to him.

Your devoted wife ever,

Virginia Campbell.
[This section is written across the front cover] They are all extremely kind to  me.  Mothers to willing to go on to Phila [Philadelphia] with me but wants me to  wait until you come here – which I do not wish to do – pray write and tell me when you will be on – Mother’s going to Raleigh from Philadelphia and says she does not expect to return with us to  St. Louis but to go shortly after us.  Dearest love I left you  and my home for the best and because you thought it was  for the best, but I cannot feel as happy without you.  May god  grant that it may prove best for James Alexander.  I should be  miserable if I thought you were not perfectly well – Mr. Campbell + Cousin Mary wrote Mother the kindest of letters inviting her  to come up spend a few months with them.

Has Dr. McPheeters heard that James’ wife died in confinement.

The mail did not leave till  Tuesday or I would have written before.  I have written this  letter in a great hurry tonight, because Dr. Bates goes to  Wheeling tomorrow and offered to put this on the Monhongahela by  which you will receive this sooner.  Very well [?]_____ [illegible] everyone  is attentive to me Mother looks [?]_____ [illegible].  Please write letters  [?]____ _____ ___ [illegible]?

[Written on the side of the first page] I wrote to Cousin [?]_____  [illegible] by Mr.  Boone [?]_____ _____ ______ ____ [illegible phrase] night.
Readers should note that while Virginia Campbell’s handwritingw as normally neat and certainly better than her sister-in-law Mary Campbell’s, there were still several illegible words or phrases.

1st page of letter from May 20, 1843
Front Cover of letter from May 20, 18431st page of letter from May 20, 18432nd page of letter from May 20, 1843
3rd page of letter from May 20, 1843
3rd page of letter from May 20, 1843

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