139 Division Street,
Newark, New Jersey,
April 15, 1925.
It is said of some people if they do a thing once it is for them an experience, and if they do it twice it becomes a habit. My initial contribution to the C. C. C. was written on a train between Boston and New York. The last letter was written somewhere on a train. Here I am today back again in place Number One, on the train an hour out of Boston and headed for New York; and so it is not only the doing that seems to have become a habit with me, but the "how" and "where" as well.
In Boston I called on Cousin Roswell Young. We lived in the same town for about a year and never knew it, so with its many attractions the C. C. C. can also claim something for its identification system.
Mr. Lord succeeded the late Henry Cabot Lodge as president of the Massachusetts Historical Society. He was also president of the Pilgrims Society of Plymouth, and he was regarded as the greatest living authority on early New England and Pilgrim history.
A beautiful memorial window in the chancel of the First Pilgrims Church of Plymouth is a representation of the signing of the Pilgrim compact on the Mayflower. As the sun filtered through the stained glass the picture was clear and impressive. And then, almost within a stone's throw down at the water's edge, lies Plymouth Rock. Between the two spots, and not more than two hundred feet from the Rock, is the home in which lived the man for whom rites were being said in the little church I have mentioned. The home, a frame structure, roomy and hospitable, has seen nearly three centuries. It has been occupied by five successive generations of the same family. Over the mantle in the den is a cane from India, the possession of eight successive generations. One room contains what is said to be the most complete library on Pilgrim history. Looking out from the den one sees the beautiful garden with its sun dial and other relics, as well as many rare shrubs that have been brought from Plymouth, England.
I refer at length to a "setting" because never have I seen that which represents so much in space of time in historical significance and influence upon national traits brought together in such simplicity and yet so much grandeur. True, the particular occasion was to pay respect to the memory of a man. But the man, his life, his contribution to society and what he, by his example, bequeathed to sturdy New England character, were all symbolizing at the moment the finest traditions of the Pilgrims, and it was right at the spot where they landed and in the very atmosphere in which their first trials in a new land were lived. It was a sad occasion, but an inspiring reminder of what a man may do and be, and how he can shape his career by attuning it to the traditions of the past and at the same time vitalize it and make it meaningful to others.
Joe Buck has given us a most interesting picture of the Campbell landing on our shores1. A farm still owned in his family has been in continuous possession of Campbells since approximately the time of their landing2. All this is becoming background for a fine tradition, The Pilgrims had a couple of centuries start of us, but in two hundred years from now what will be said of us? What will our traditions be? Will they have become commonplace or will they have attained individuality and distinction? Who will be the successive "guardian angels" of these traditions? Joe's suggestion of gathering up the loose ends and building upon the present foundation is worthy of most serious consideration. Will Selph's contribution thus far3 is most significant, and he has the spirit to do more, We must not regard ourselves, like the American Indians, as a fast vanishing race, but starting from where we are, why not make use of combined talent in assembling, nurturing and building up traditions that will not be showy, but glorious. They will not be the Pilgrim traditions, but they would be Campbell traditions4.
Mabel Shaw has written a very interesting account of their trip last summer. She refers to stopping over-night at Buhl, Idaho. A number of years ago I had an interest in some land at Clear Lake, a few miles from Buhl, and Buhl was our principal trading point. If Mabel and Llewellyn had taken the trip back in the earlier years of their married life, we might have chanced to meet in Buhl, and wouldn't we have said, "What a small world this is!"
1. The 1810 landing of the elder Joseph Campbell and his younger children was the last of at least three landings. His older children had come at least 7 years earlier. His brother John may have come as early as 1776.
2. Presumably this was the farm of Joe's grandfather, the 1839 Joseph Campbell, which in turn was part of the original land purchased by his grandfather, the 1748 Joseph Campbell.
3. Among Will's contributions as of that date were starting the Campbell Cousins Correspondence Club and having the family "genealogy chart" prepared and distributed to all his 1st cousins.
4. It may be too late. "Campbell traditions" may have become inextricably mixed up with Tubbs traditions, Owlett traditions, Van Dusen traditions, etc. etc. Who that's still alive can reliably separate which traditions belong to which ancestral line?
Once when I was taking a rather late train at Gooding, Idaho, and possessed of a feeling that I was mighty far away from most anybody I knew, I met Perry Creager, a nephew of Aunt Anna Congdon. We traveled together to Portland, remarking frequently, "This world is indeed small"!
I see I am using up space without saying much about my family. The reasons for this are, Anna has promised to write a letter, and since she runs the family she is the logical one to write about it; and some of the cousins in their letters have been kind enough to make such references as will help identify us--at least tell where we live and, I hope, convey the impression that we try to have a cordial welcome waiting for any cousin that happens our way. If, by chance, any brave one right out of the clear and without any other provocation would just pack his grip to come visit us, we'd think him a darned good sport, and would treat him "right" as well as "ruf".
Since the job of "official bookmaker" has been temporarily wished on me, I shall take the liberty of making any "professional" explanation or business comments under a separate heading and at a time when I may have a better idea as to what I "look like" when I am nearer the end of the job than on this Day of Grace "yet".
Very cordially yours,
Copyright © 2000, 2013 William B. Thompson. Commercial use prohibited.