Tag Archives: Hazlett Kyle Campbell

Thanksgiving… on Christmas?

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“Who said anything about Thanksgiving Dinner?” Harper’s Weekly: November 26, 1881 (click to enlarge).

Last week we posted about the bizarre timing of early American Thanksgiving celebrations (i.e. sitting down to a turkey feast in June or July) and how, even into the 19th and early 20th centuries, there was no standard date to celebrate the holiday in the United States.

Until Lincoln issued his national proclamation in 1863, it was the responsibility of governors to determine the date of Thanksgiving in their respective states. We did some combing back through Missouri’s history and matched up MO’s Thanksgiving dates with significant dates in the lives of the Campbells. Here’s what we came up with – the date of that year’s Thanksgiving day is listed, followed by a note about what the Campbells had going on that week.

November 29, 1844 (Last Thursday in November): Robert Campbell Jr. died two days earlier on November 27 of the measles. He was two years and eight months old.

December 25, 1845 (yep. They had Thanksgiving on Christmas): The Campbells were living in their first St. Louis home by this point, an attached row house downtown. Today Ballpark Village sits in its place.

December 3, 1846 (First Thursday in December): Well, at least it wasn’t on Christmas day this year.

November 25, 1847 (Last Thursday in November): Virginia gave birth to Hugh Campbell, the third child to be given the name after the deaths of his two older brothers, ten days earlier on November 15. Hugh would be one of just three of the family’s children to see adulthood, managing the family estate after his parents’ deaths and dying at age 84 in 1931.

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“The Great Fire of 1849”

1849 (Missouri records show no Thanksgiving proclamation issued this year, so either the Governor or the state archivists dropped the ball. Our best guess is that it was observed on the last Thursday of the month): The Campbells weren’t even in St. Louis that November. 1849 was a bad year to be in the city, there was a enormous fire that wiped out most of downtown (Robert and Virginia’s home escaped, but his office near the riverfront did not) as well as a terrible cholera epidemic (caused by unsanitary drinking water) that killed their eldest son James. The Campbells packed up and headed to Philadelphia for several months to escape, and Virginia gave birth to their daughter Mary in September of that year.

November 20, 1853 (Last Thursday in November): Hazlett Campbell was born three days later on November 23.

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Hazlett Campbell (1853-1856). Another son named Hazlett would be born in 1858 and lived until 1938.

November 20, 1856 (Third Thursday in November): The same Hazlett Campbell dies on  his third birthday, three days after Thanksgiving on November 23.

December 31, 1857 (New Year’s Eve, Last Thursday in December): Grab your party hats and noisemakers, smooch that special someone, and shovel in a couple forkfulls of turkey and dressing to ring in the New Year.

November 26, 1863 (Last Thursday in November): Abraham Lincoln’s national Thanksgiving proclamation. Following his lead, Presidents would annually proclaim Thanksgiving dates until Congress passed a law in 1941. (read more about that in last week’s post)

As you can see, Thanksgivings were a mix of happy and sad times at the Campbell House (and often at wildly different times of the year). The family was rejoicing over births and concurrently celebrating other holidays like Christmas and the New Year. But they were also dealing with the deaths of their children, disease, and the dangerous conditions of city living in the 19th century. Count clean water, safe conditions and healthy children among your list of “things I’m thankful for” when you sit down to Thanksgiving dinner this year!

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“Thanksgiving Dinner” Harper’s Weekly: December 5, 1857 (click to enlarge). Thanksgiving was on New Year’s Eve in Missouri this year.

 

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Magical Mystery Tour, CHM style

Campbell House has its fair share of mysteries, ranging from odd architectural quirks of the building to questions about the intricacies of the Campbell family’s history.  But there are a couple recurring modern mysteries that rear their puzzling heads every few months here at the Museum.  Not that we’re complaining, in fact we look forward to them!  But that hasn’t stopped us from trying to get to the bottom of who’s behind them!

The Half-Dollar Donor

Every couple of months, we’ll go to open our big beautiful double front doors and find a silver surprise hanging out on the front steps.  Sometimes there’s just one, sometimes as many as three or four, but the gift is always the same: a Kennedy 50 cent piece.  The years on the coins range from 1971 all the way up to 1995 and, to date, this mystery person has left more than thirty of them!  A couple of weeks ago, two of the coins mysteriously appeared in the middle of the afternoon, between 2:00 and 3:00 p.m.  Thanks to some nifty features of our security system, we could look back at video of our front steps during the time period and we found… absolutely nothing.  So the mystery continues…

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Part of our mysterious collection of Kennedy half-dollars… they’re too cool to deposit!

Birthday Card Bewilderment

We’re always a little extra excited to get the mail when a Campbell birthday is coming up and we watch our calendar pretty closely as a result.  We obviously aren’t alone in our birthday vigilance, because on the birthdays of Robert and Virginia Campbell and their sons Hugh, Hazlett, and James (there were TEN MORE children, but unfortunately none survived past their 8th birthdays) a mysterious birthday card arrives without fail, marked with a return address of  “Somewhere in Time”.  Just a couple of weeks ago we celebrated James’ (the baby of the family) 154th birthday and, like clockwork, we got a charming card in the mail.  What’s extra neat is that this mystery birthday card-sender takes care to get the cards in the mail so that they arrive right on the birthday itself- that’s dedication, folks.  Here are just a few of the cards and some of our particular favorites.

So there you have it.  Campbell House has oodles of mysteries, old and new.  Swing by and see us sometime, we’d be happy to give you the Magical Mystery Tour: CHM style.

Sorry, we couldn’t resist.

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This week in history: April 5-10 part 2

We have already posted Robert Campbell’s 1832 will.  Nearly 60 years later – 59 years minus 1 day to be exact, Robert’s son Hugh did the same thing.  Like his father’s 1832 will, this was not Hugh’s final will – he would write a later one to include bequests to faithful servants Gus Meyer and Mary Boerste.  The museum does not have a complete copy of this will, so only the first page has been transcribed; it is posted here.  However, this 1891 will did include a very large bequest to Yale University on the condition that they build the “James Alexander Campbell Memorial Building” and hang the portrait of James, Hugh’s youngest surviving brother, in the building.  Although Yale did use and recognize Hugh’s eventual bequest after his death in 1931, the James Alexander Campbell building as Hugh had envisioned it was never built.

After Hugh’s death in 1931, several parties tried to break his last will.  The lawyer who had prepared this will in Paris in 1891 testified in the case and described Hugh: “Physically he was sturdy, hearty, apparently well built, young and vigorous.  Intellectually he appeared well poised, entirely conversant with what he wanted in the way of testamentary disposition, was specific . . . as to what he desired to do for each.  he also manifested entire familiarity with the nature and extent of his property, real and personal.  In temperament, he seemed to me cheerful, hearty, and genial.”  We hope you enjoy learning about the thoughts of Robert’s hearty, cheerful, and poised son Hugh.

[Envelope]
Hugh Campbell
Last Will and Testament
On French Stamped Paper
Executed this April 9th, 1891

In the name of God, Amen. I Hugh Campbell of the City of St. Louis, State of Missouri, and United States of America, temporarily sojourning in Paris, France, being of sound and disposing mind and memory do hereby make, publish anddeclare this and for my last Will and Testament, here, by revoking and annulling all wills and codicils by me at any time heretofore made.

Clause First-    I direct my executors herein after appointed as soon as may be after my decease to pay all my just debts and my funeral expenses.

Clause Second-    I give and bequeath to my friend Miss Lillie B. Randell should she survive me or if not to her sister  Mrs. Laetitia W. Garrison, both now or lately residing at Number Four (4) Great Stanhope Street, Mayfair, London all and several the shawls, laces, plate and other articles of whatever nature which may at the time of my death be contained in those certain cedar chests deposited by me and now on deposit in the Safe Deposit Company located in the building on the North West corner of Sixth and Locust Streets and between Sixth and Seventh Streets in the City of St. Louis, Missouri, also all precious stones, jewels and jewelry deposited by me and now on deposit in a box on the Safe Deposit Company located on the north side of…..[End page 1, for complete document, see originals]

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