Monday, January 25, 2016

Robert Campbell, Staunton Barber

Doing some digging led me to a bit more information on Staunton, Virginia, barber Robert Campbell, who I mentioned in yesterday's post. Campbell, as previously noted, acquired a significant amount of real estate and personal property wealth.

A Google search led me to a reference about Campbell in Edward Ayers's book, In the Presence of Mine Enemies: War in the Heart of America, 1859-1863. This work looks comparatively at two counties, Augusta County, Virginia (Staunton), and Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Ayers noted that an obituary appeared in the Staunton Vindicator newspaper when Campbell passed away in late September 1860. Not having access to editions of the Vindicator, but having access to the Staunton Spectator via the Library of Congress's Chronicling America online platform, I located Campbell's brief obituary from that sheet's October 2, 1860 edition (pictured above). The Vindicator obituary apparently included the appellation of "Uncle Bob" for Campbell, but it also added that he was "much respected and beliked by all of our citizens." Ayers also points out that Campbell owned five buildings in Staunton, one of which was his barbershop near the corner of Beverly and New Streets.

A little more searching found additional information. Printed in a 1908 book from the Virginia State Library, which showed petitions from Augusta County, an entry was made from 1847 for James Campbell, who was one of Robert's sons. James petitioned the Virginia legislature to remain in Staunton to care for his aging parents, as he had previously moved to Philadelphia to gain "a common English education." The petition note continued that James schooled for two years and then went into the barber trade but was requested by his father to come back to Staunton to help him at his shop.

This source also gave some background information on Robert. It stated that Robert was a native of Falmouth, Virginia (just across the Rappahannock River from Fredericksburg in Stafford County). It also said Robert served as a body servant in the War of 1812 to British officer John Stannard, but was discharged in 1814, and then moved to Staunton. It closed that the "Certificate of citizens of Staunton that Robert and James Campbell are respectable parties and requesting the grant of their petition."

Interestingly, I could not find James in the 1850 census. However, another son, William, who was 16 and a barber, is shown in Robert's household.  Another son, Lewis, who was 12, and later appeared on the 1860 census as a barber, is also listed. Thomas Campbell, a black barber who is listed in a separate household from Robert in 1860, is also missing from the 1850 census. Thomas was 32 years old in 1860, so perhaps he was somewhere in the North getting an education in 1850 like his brother James had before. But, I'm curious to find out what happened to James. Did he go back to Philadelphia? Did he become a barber in a different Virginia community?

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