Tag Archives: medicine

Country Folk and City Slickers

We tend to focus on history within the boundaries of St. Louis City here on the blog, but St. Louis County residents rejoice! This one’s for you. Last year the Campbell House started a collaborative lecture series with the Historic Hanley House in Clayton, Missouri and we’re continuing the series next Wednesday.


Top: Lucas Place neighborhood at the western edge of St. Louis City in mid-19th century. Bottom: Hanley House in St. Louis County around the same time period.

What makes a CHM/HH collaboration so neat is that, even though both houses are located in the midst of bustling urban centers today, back in the mid-19th century St. Louis City and County could not have been more different. The Campbells’ 1851 townhouse sat in the Lucas Place neighborhood at the very western edge of mid-19th century St. Louis City (today, it’s smack dab in the middle of town). The Hanley’s country farmhouse was considerably farther out, a full day’s journey from the city center (if that’s not living in the boonies, we don’t know what is). But despite this major difference, there are actually some interesting parallels between the Campbell and Hanley families and their homes. Here are just a few:

  • Our main man Robert Campbell was born in 1804 and died in 1879. Martin Hanley, namesake of the Hanley House, was born ten years after Robert in 1814 and also died in 1879.
  • Hanley House was built in 1855 in the Greek Revival style, imitating the grand plantation houses of the South. Campbell House was built four years earlier in 1851. It’s also considered a Greek Revival (as well as Early Victorian) style house because of the columns framing its front door and its roof-line ornamentation.
  • Martin Hanley and his wife Cyrene had 11 children, 10 of whom survived to adulthood. Robert and Virginia Campbell had 13 children, 10 of whom died in childhood.
  • The Hanley family sided with the Confederacy during the American Civil War. Robert Campbell sided with the North as a Conditional Unionist, believing that the Union should be preserved with slavery intact. Both men were slave owners, and the Hanley family could be somewhat vocal about their secessionist views since  they lived far away from the city center. Robert had to tread more lightly, in some ways straddling the fence between Northern and Southern sympathies, in order to stay in good graces with his neighbors and political friends in the city.
  • Martin Hanley helped establish Clayton as the St. Louis County seat after the city/county split in 1876, donating four acres of his own land. Robert Campbell, in addition to owning large tracts of land in St. Louis City and County, was one of the founding landowners of Kansas City, MO and El Paso, TX.
  • The Hanley House was continuously occupied by members of the Hanley family from the time of its construction through 1968, when it was purchased by the City of Clayton and turned into a museum. The Campbell House was continuously occupied by members of the Campbell family from the time they moved in in 1854 through 1938 when the last Campbell son passed away, opening as museum shortly thereafter.

Click the images to enlarge

Pretty interesting, right? Well now that we’ve got you hooked, here’s our shameless plug. Join us a week from today, Wednesday January 28 at 7:00 p.m. at the Church of St. Michael & St. George in Clayton for a more in-depth discussion of the parallels between the city slicker Campbells and country folk Hanleys. Campbell House Executive Director Andy Hahn will be joining Hanley House Curator to discuss medical practices in urban vs. rural 19th century St. Louis (and perhaps offering clues as to why the Hanley children survived and so many of the Campbell kids did not). For more information, see below or call the Clayton Century Foundation at (314) 290-8553. We hope to see you there!

Treating the Sick in St. Louis City & County
Wednesday, January 28 at 7:00 p.m.
Church of St. Michael & St. George
(Great Hall)
6345 Wydown Blvd in Clayton, MO

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This Week in History: November 5-November 11

November 6, 1835 letter from Hugh Campbell to William Sublette.  The original is at the Missouri Historical Society – it was transcribed and published in Glimpses of the Past: Correspondence of Robert Campbell 1834-1845. The footnotes were added by them and give interesting contextual information.

Robert has come to Philadelphia to visit his older brother Hugh but arrived sick.  Hugh writes Robert’s friend and business partner William Sublette to tell him all about Robert’s health and trip.  Find out how he’s feeling today.  Also read all about William Sublette’s brother, Milton, who had his leg amputated – Hugh ordered a new cork one for his friend!

Philada. November 6th 1835
Friday Night
My Dear Sublette

On Tuesday evening my brother Robert arrived here, in rather a low state of health.(footnote 4) I did not know he was in the city until next morning, when he surprised us by stepping into the store. We soon got him up to my house & called in my friend Doctor McClellan under whose care he has been ever since. He had a severe chill on Wednesday-but I am happy to tell you that it did not return to day. He has been, however quite sick and weak ever since his arrival-unable to move out-and likely to be confined to his room for some days longer. The plan we have adopted is to avoid giving any medicine, unless what is absolutely necessary-and that of the most simple kind. He has had too much physic-and our Doctors here think that nature is the best physician (with a little assistance) in his present situation. Mary is a pretty good nurse-but after all I fear he will never believe he can have any nurse to be compared to you.

Perhaps you will be a little astonished to be told that it is my intention to embark for Liverpool by the packet of 16th
inst; on a short visit to Ireland. It is my intention to return here early in February next-so that my absence will not if
possible exceed 90 days. Robert promises to make my house his home while I am gone-and if you will only contrive to
come on & take lodgings with him, I think you can contrive to make the time pass agreeably untill my return. Mary is
a pretty good housekeeper and has improved prodigiously in, the size of her slices of bread. She has got some 8 year old bacon too & is resolved to hold on to a ham or two until you arrive. I promise you comfortable quarters-a night key, so that you can come and go without ringing-and in short that you shall in all respects command your time as fully as if at your own house. I have not yet talked to Robert about your plans or intentions-but from your late letters I take it for granted you design coming on-and I trust on receipt of this you will hasten your journey to Join Robt & Mary as soon as possible.
The left cork leg is not yet finished. I wrote you some time ago that I had ordered it with the view of making it a present
to my friend Milton.(footnote 5) So soon as I receive it, I will look out a safe conveyance & send it forthwith.

Robert met many kind friends on his way from St. Louis to our city. All of them rendered the very best attention-&
his health having become very bad he required all the civilities of an invalid. I have written thus far without asking him if he has any message for you-& he now directs me to say that the moment he is able to move out & attend to business he will write you fully. I hope this will be about five or six days hence for he is this evening decidedly better & in better spirits.  He is constantly talking of you and of your noble & disinterested conduct during his late dreadful illness. I know not when I was more amused than to hear of the partnership he wished to establish while suffering under the attack. He firmly believed you should have divided the pain and thought it quere that you should be moving about while he was laying prostrate. Perhaps there are few whims more rational-for your feelings, wishes, tastes and dangers have been so much in common of late years, that a community in suffering might readily be considered as a natural consequence.
Mary Joins me in warmest wishes for your health & happiness. May God bless you my Dear fellow is the prayer of your
Hugh Campbell(footnote 6)

William Sublette
Near St. Louis, Mo.

4 Robert Campbell was ill at the farm of William Sublette for some time before going to his brother’s home in Philadelphia. Dr. Bernard Farrar treated him for intermittent fever, caused by exposure.

5 Milton G. Sublette, one of the most courageous men of the mountains, was born in Kentucky about 1801. With his elder brother, William, he joined Ashley’s expedition of 1822. Later he was with Smith, Jackson, and Sublette, and upon the dissolution of that firm was associated, as a partner, with Fitzpatrick, Bridger, Henry Fraeb, and Jean Baptiste Gervais. It is said that in a fight with the Blackfeet Indians he was struck in the ankle by a solid ounce of lead from an Indian’s rifle. It
tore its way through flesh, bone, tendon, and artery, and made a terrible wound. The foot had to be amputated, and Sublette, as impromptu surgeon, cut oif his own foot. When he reached St. Louis he submitted to another amputation, in order to secure a better stump. Nathaniel Wyeth, in his diary under date of May 8, 1834, Little Vermilion River, says: “Milton Sublette’s leg has grown so troublesome that he is obliged to turn back – his leg is very bad.” The account books of Dr. Farrar of St. Louis, show several entries about Milton’s leg. One, May 27, 1834: “Commenced dressing M. G. Soblet’s leg;” and finally under date of February 4, 1835, an entry says he amputated the leg. Milton Sublette was back in the mountains in the spring of 1835. He died at Fort William, on the Platte River, April 5, 1837, “of consumption, the foe of his family,” according to one commentator.

6Hugh Campbell was born January 1, 1797, in County Tyrone, Ireland, and died in St. Louis, December 4, 1879. On March 4, 1829 he married Miss Mary Kyle, in Milton, North Carolina. She was a cousin
of Virginia Kyle, who married Robert Campbell. In 1859 Hugh Campbell came to St. Louis and became associated in business with his brother, Robert. This partnership continued until a few years before the death of Robert Campbell. He had no children.

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