Friday, January 26, 2007

A Brief Blush with History; or London in 1880

While the subject of London (and also here) is fresh in my mind, I'd like to delve into a London tale from the past.

On August 17th, 1880, Laura Augusta Kreis marries Graham Cox Campbell in Monticello, Minnesota. They are my great-grandparents. She is 24 years old. He is a Presbyterian minister, called to mission work in Gaboon, West Africa. After the wedding they travel to Minneapolis, Chicago, Milwaukee, New York City, Boston, and finally to Halifax, Nova Scotia where Graham’s family farm is situated in the small community of Middle Stewiacke. She keeps a journal from October 1880 until May 1882:
Probably no other year of my life will be as beautiful as the present . . . First there was the decision to go to Africa, which was a great struggle, but one in which by God’s grace I was able to overcome. Then the leaving school. Oh! That was very hard. I did not know before how I loved my studies and classmates. For weeks I carried such a burden that it seemed almost impossible to bear. But no one guessed my secret.
How does Laura feel leaving her family for perhaps at least a few years and traveling so far? She writes:
The leaving home I have no heart to recall or record. It is too deeply impressed upon my mind to need a record. I will only tell you, journal, that it was harder than I had expected. It seemed cruel. But Graham soothed my sorrow and pledged anew his love and care and in a measure eased the pain. I find myself now breaking down as that scene comes up in memory, and I hasten on.
After a long, arduous, and sea-sick journey across the Atlantic, the newly weds land in Liverpool, where they gather supplies they will need in Africa. A lucky excursion for them, they are able to make a quick visit to London just before their departure by ship to Africa. Here are excerpts from her journal:

Liverpool, England Sunday afternoon Dec. 5th 1880

I wonder what they [my family members] are all doing at home today. They are six hours behind us so it is only half past eight with them and they are only eating breakfast. I wish I could make one of their number. It seems so long [since sometime in September, 1880] since I left home, and I have so much to tell them. I wrote them a letter of six sheets yesterday, telling them all about our visit to Chester.

We expect to go to London tomorrow morning and stay until Friday. It will be a great treat for us. I anticipate a good deal of pleasure.

Wed. Dec. 8th No. 16 Torrington Square, London
You see, my journal, my dreams are at last realized. We are in London, arrived Monday evening. Found good quarters on recommendations of Mr. Christie. It is a private boarding house, only about a dozen regular boarders. They are all pleasant and we are enjoying it very much.

Madame Tussaud's Today

In order to lose no time we went to see Madame Tussaud’s wax works. They were magnificent. All of the leading men of England and some of America, China, India, Africa, etc.

Yesterday morning we started out early. Took an omnibus to Hyde Park, from there we passed into Kensington Gardens. Saw Albert’s Memorial and got a view [postcard] of it. Saw also Albert Hall and purchased a view. Then into Kensington Museum—then drove from Hyde Park through Grosvenor Place, Buckingham Palace Road, past Prince of Wales’ residence and Queen’s Residence, into Pall Mall thence to Trafalgar Square. Saw Nelson Monument thence down Whitehall and Parliament Streets, past House Guards to Westminster Bridge near which we took lunch. Next we went through Westminster Abbey and Palace and Parliament House. Then we went across Westminster Bridge, took a boat down the river to London Bridge, and saw Cleopatra’s Needle [the Egyptian obelisk on the banks of the River Thames].

Thursday Dec. 9th 1880

One more bright day in London. It is quite wonderful how the fogs keep away. Yesterday we went out to
Crystal Palace and spent the day. The Palace is an immense building. We could have spent a week there easily. My expectations were fully realized. We bought some little things to send home.

This morning we went to the Regent’s Zoological gardens. There we saw almost every kind of animal in the world and some that we may meet again in Africa and probably not under such pleasant circumstances. This afternoon I have decided to stay indoors while Graham finishes the British Museum which we commenced this morning.

Next Entry: Alles mit Gott


Bob said...

My name is Robert Henry Campbell. I did a search on Graham Cox Campbell just for the heck of it. I was stunned to see your data. I am a descendent of Graham Cox Campbell and Laura Kries Campbell. Indeed, I have a copy of "Trader Horne" that was sent to Laura Kries Campbell for authentication of details. Comments are in her handwriting in the margins. I have some artifacts from their time in Africa, as does a cousin of mine who lives in Roanoke, Va. As I understand it Graham died of malaria after returning to the United States. They are both buried in Huntington, W.Va. I was there many times as a child at the gravesite. I set up a blog account just to talk to you so I don't know how this works. If you have access to my e-mail account please do not hesitate to contact me.

chantal said...

Hi -

My name is Jeremy Rich, and I am a historian of colonial Gabon who teaches at Middle Tennessee State. I have been given a typed copy of Graham Campbell's diary by a missionary named Mary Cloutier, and I have a lot of info on the PCUSA mission in Libreville, Gabon. is my email.

Roger Knutson said...

I have a plaque with the following persons listed from 1877.

Matilda Jane Campbell Machias, Me
Graham Cox Campbell Mid. Stewiacke, N. S.
Joel Nathaniel Childs Prescott, Wis
Ebenezer Abraham Currie St Charles
Frank Eustis Saint Anthony
Fred Eustis Saint Anthony
Viola Fuller Austin
Albert Preston Hendrickson Saint Paul
John Charles Kassube Minneapolis
Stephen Mahoney Belle Plaine
Walter Stone Pardee Minneapolis
John Waldo Perkins Monticello
Edwin Burnham Pribble Osseo
Charlotte Adelaide Rollit Minneapolis
Charles Wilbur Savidge Cleveland
Albert McClure Welles White Bear Lake

Email me at if you are interested.
roger knutson

EdieJ said...

I just found this so I don't know if you are still around or not. I guess we are cousins of some sort or other... I am also a great-granddaughter of Laura and Graham. My Grandmother is Edith Kreis (Campbell) Estler. If you'd like to fill in some of my blanks on the family tree, please e-mail me at

Edie (Estler) James