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Collection 325 - Campbell Family Papers, 1836-1899

Creator: Campbell family

Provenance Note: Original letters and legal documents created or collected by the James B. Campbell family were loaned to Montana State University for copying by Mrs. Thelma Dunbar Multz, Three Forks, Montana, on April 23, 1965. The originals were returned to the donor, and their present location is unknown. These photocopies were reported to the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections in 1979 and assigned control number 79-638.

Historical Note: "Major" James B. Campbell was born on October 15, 1799 in Tennessee. He moved to Illinois in 1825 and worked as a clerk prior to launching a business career in the new settlement of Chicago. Campbell invested in real estate and became wealthy, although some financial setbacks eventually influenced him to move to Missouri in 1852. In 1863 he traveled to Bannack, Montana Territory, and afterwards claimed land near the three forks of the Missouri River at Gallatin City. He engaged in ranching and operated a mercantile business there until his death on January 3, 1873. Campbell married Sarah A. Kain in 1831 and the couple had seven children, including a son, Gurdon Campbell and daughters Fannie and Anna. The two girls, the youngest of the Campbell children, arrived in Montana after their parents via a Missouri River steamboat in 1865. Fannie eventually took over the operation of her father's ranch and Gurdon was concerned with operating the mercantile business at Gallatin City.

Content Description Note: The Campbell family papers are positive photocopies of original documents. The collection includes four business related letters written to James B. Campbell from New York, Michigan, Washington D. C. and Virginia City, Montana Territory from 1836 to 1868; one letter from James B. Campbell to A. J. Jackson of Galena, Illinois, written from St. Charles, Missouri in 1862 which discusses Campbell's plans to move west; an 1873 letter from Gurdon Campbell to his mother describing a flood at Gallatin City; an unsigned 1877 letter, possibly from Gurdon Campbell to his sister Fannie, with a remarkably sympathetic account of the Nez Perce pursuit and the writer's friend, Looking Glass; two letters from Rebecca Jackson of Galena, Illinois to Fannie Campbell describing the death of her mother, Sarah Campbell. A single folder of legal documents and promissory notes pertaining to the Campbell family dated from 1867 to 1899 complete the collection.

Updated: 6/25/10