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Significant Scots
Robert Campbell


"Most Noble Duke Argyle" read the inset stone just up from the left side of the doorway of the Campbell home in Omagh, Northern Ireland.   Young Robert Campbell stood at the front of the doorway looking from one stone to the other one on the right of the door.  It read, "Hugh Campbell built this house in the year of our Lord 1786."  In this year of 1812, the young boy wondered about his life and the values for which his family stood.  The Argyle Clan had spread out across the low mountainous area just south of Londonderry in the mid-seventeenth century.  The terrain of this area was very similar to the Scottish Highlands with its gently rounded hillsides, wide valleys, plateaus, and well drained pastures.  They prospered.  His mother, a Buchannan, traced her linage through Robert Stewart to Robert II, King of Scotland.  With the death of his father four years before, Robert's older brother Hugh led the family while their mother instilled the principles of the Clan.  "Vix ea nostra voco," she told the children time after time-- "I scarcely call these things our own--" the principle of stewardship.  Robert knew he had much to live up to.  A gift from his father was to remind him of this all his own life -- the Argyle signet ring which had the buckle and boar's head as its image.... 

By the early 1820s, with life hard in Ireland and his brother's settling in the new world, Robert knew that his destiny could be found in America.  He knew that he had much to learn and much to live up to.  Robert believed he could do so -- afterall, the blood of nobility coursed though his veins....

Robert worked his way west landing first in St. Louis, Missouri an outpost on the great Mississippi River where it joined with the Missouri -- "the Gateway to the West."

Over the next decade, Robert entered into and reveled in the life of the mountain man.  He learned to trap the beaver, mink, otter, shoot the buffalo, and keep his scalp when confronted by the Blackfeet or other Indians.  He also remembered his family and their legacy of honor.  Robert believed in dealing with others honestly and fairly -- Indian or white man.  During the rest of his life, Robert's adventures did credit to his family and he never forgot them.  He:

  • married and had thirteen children (ten of which died in childhood);
  • became a millionaire in the fur trade, railroad business, and real-estate;
  • served as a confident for six Missouri governors and three United States Presidents;
  • became a colonel in the Missouri Militia;
  • advocated for and was one of the few white men ever trusted by the Plains Indians (he became blood brother with a Flathead Indian)
  • supported the Union during the Civil war, but also helped captured Southern soldiers who were friends of the family;
  • led the Missouri relief efforts during the Irish Potato famine;
  • became a leader in St. Louis society;
  • was trusted by all who met him.
       
Robert Campbell's life still speaks to the people of today.   He stayed true to the Argyle heritage.  Significantly, one of the paintings in his home which today is a museum in St. Louis, is of a young Scottish soldier, far from home who is dreaming of his wife and children. 

This novel is the result of over six years of research by Stephen Huss who wrote his Ph.D. dissertation on Robert Campbell.  The material was converted to a novel to make it more readable for the general public.  Whenever possible, the words are actually from one of the over 1,000 letters which are still in existence from Robert to Virginia, his wife or others.  It coveys the life of a remarkable man.

We regret to say that the web site address for this book is invalid and we are trying to find contact details to trace this book.

Robert Campbell (Feb 12, 1804 - Oct 16, 1879)

Born in Ireland and of Scottish ancestry, Robert Campbell came to St. Louis, Missouri in 1822. Afflicted with tuberculosis, the doctor advised clear mountain air.

Campbell did exactly that:

  • In 1825 and 1826 trapped with Jedediah Smith in the Rocky Mountains
  • In 1827 led an expedition which resulted in a skirmish with the Blackfeet
  • In 1828 trapped in Crow territory
  • In 1832 with William Sublette trapped the Rockies and participated in the Pierre's Hole fight.
  • In 1833 took supplies to the Green River and began trading rather than trapping

Campbell attended the Fort Laramie Treaty, formed a regiment during the Mexican War and became a successful merchant in St Louis, Missouri owning a large amount of real estate.

Robert Campbell is buried in the Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis, MO.

Robert Campbell is buried in the Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis, MO.

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