Tag Archives: Hugh Campbell (brother)

We Need Your Help to Solve a Mystery 170 Years in the Making

Who is this man?

Who is this man?

Who is this man?

In truth, we don’t know. Neither does the Missouri History Museum, which has this image labeled as “Unidentified Man.” It was apparently taken by Thomas M. Easterly, a Vermont native who took up daguerreotyping. Easterly was an itinerant photographer until he settled in St. Louis in 1848, opening a studio that operated until the late 1870s. At some point, probably about 1850, this gentleman walked into the studio, sat down in front of Easterly’s camera, and had his portrait taken. Unfortunately, his name was not attached to the picture, a not-uncommon occurrence in the Easterly collection at the Missouri Historical Society, which includes 284 other photos of unidentified persons. With Easterly and the unidentified man both long dead, it seems unlikely he will ever regain his identity.

Then again, maybe he will. Does he maybe…look like someone familiar? Maybe like…Robert Campbell? Let’s make it so the images are facing the same direction, put them side-by-side, and see what that looks like.

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Is this Robert Campbell circa 1850?



Robert Campbell, circa 1865

Is this the photo of a 40-year old Robert Campbell? Our staff and volunteers are pretty divided on the issue. For some, the eyes and eyebrows are the clincher, as they seem pretty Robert-like. Or maybe the distinctive spacing and shape of the philtrum. Others of us are less sure. Does the nose seem right? Is the unidentified man’s face too lean? If only Easterly had provided a name!


The two images overlaid. (courtesy of Joe Kolk)

In this overlaid image all that was done was to flip the mystery image as noted above and then some simple proportional sizing on the Robert image once it was placed over the mystery image to better line them up. Other than those two things there was no manipulation.

This is why we need your help. Who do you think this man is? Is it possible to identify an unknown man’s photo 170 years after it was taken? One thing we want to avoid is wishful thinking. We want your honest opinion. Please use the poll below, the comments section, or take to Facebook and let us know your thoughts.

Leave a comment here

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The Journal of Hugh Campbell, Part XIII: Almost There!

The passengers and crew get some more food and a dose of good news.


29th August
W. Lon. 68 Degrees, N. Lat. Degrees

At sea everything attracts attention that varies the monotony of the surrounding expanse. A shoal of porpoises, Grampuses, flying fish or a shark was sure to excite lively sensations for the moment. But if a solitary sail was seen gliding along the edge of the horizon our deck would be crowded with the passengers. How interesting to them, this fragment of a world hastening to rejoin the great mass of existence! And what a variety of curious suppositions on the subject!! Almost every day we came in sight of 2 or 3 vessels but spoke not more than 4.

The discontentment on board increased so much that the Capt. had resolved for 2 or 3 days past to go aboard the first vessel that approached near enough and purchase a supply of tobacco and other necessaries for the passengers. This morning a small vessel appeared in view bearing towards us under a light breeze. Our jolly boat was got out and the Capt. went on board of her. She proved to be a small schooner called the Mary bound from Baltimore to Annapolis, Nova Scotia. The owner and Capt. were both on board. After
remaining about 2 hours with them, our Capt. returned with a supply of rum, lime juice, oranges, sugar, pork and biscuit.

Sandy Hook

Part of these he paid for and part were bestowed us. He brought also the joyful tidings that we were in Lon. 68 degrees and that the schooner was in sight of Sandy Hook* three days ago. This supply, together with the cheering news with which it was accompanied, produced an excellent effect on the drooping spirits of the passengers and put a complete end to their grievances. The discontent of a tedious voyage was forgotten in the joyful expectancy of shortly landing on the shores of the great “land of promise.”


September 1st
W. Lon. 70 Degrees, N. Lat. 41 Degrees

As we approached the land the Capt. began to put things in a train for entering port. He engaged me to settle his accounts with the sailors and make out manifests and other papers to be handed in to the Custom House on his arrival. I was thus employed every day until we came in sight of land and everything was in the best train I was capable of putting it when we came to anchor. The Capt. was highly pleased with everything and the crew were very well contented with the state of their accounts.


* Sandy Hook is a large land spit in New Jersey at the mouth of Lower New York Bay.

Next week: Land!

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The Journal of Hugh Campbell, Part XII: Where’s the Beef?

Things are starting to look dire.  The Perseverance has been sailing for two months and they still haven’t seen land.  The crew is starting to encounter lousy weather, and worse, the ship is running short on food.


August 18th, 1818
W. Lon. 53, N. Lat. 40 Degrees 50’

We were now in the Gulf Stream and this current retarded our progress very much. This stream rises at the mouth of the river La Plata, South America, increases in rapidity passing through the Gulf of Mexico until it reaches the Gulf of Florida from which it takes its name. Here it runs at the rate of 8 miles an hour. From this it runs along the American coast below the Bank of Newfoundland and loses itself in the North Atlantic Ocean. We crossed it in Lat. 40 degrees where it runs 2-1/2 miles an hour, consequently our progress was slow.

Emigrant ship during a storm.

Great quantities of gulls were seen floating hereabouts. Here we experienced the greatest thunderstorms I ever witnessed. The rain fell in astonishing quantities and we took advantage of this to add to our supply of fresh water by collecting all that fell on deck. I suppose that the great evaporation from this stream warmed by a southern sun causes these uncommon and frequent rains.

24th Aug.
W. Lon. 60, N. Lat. 40 Degrees 50’

We had now been upwards of 60 days from land and no sign of approaching our destined harbour. Provisions began to get scarce. Water was nearly done and coal very scarce. The old proverb of “Empty mangers make biting horses,” was verified to a certainty. Some said that the Capt. was going to the Devil for all they knew as they were sure he had lost his reckoning and others swore that we would be obliged to eat our shoes before we seen land again. Our murmuring increased daily especially while the wind was contrary. But when it turned fair all was well as long as it continued so. Thus did our ignorant, ungrateful passengers annoy the Capt. by their idle and useless murmurs. To quiet them, I have often known him to divide his own cabin stores with them.


Next week: Almost there!

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