In 1846, after the loss of his young wife in childbirth and himself suffering from ill-health on the arduous Mormon trek from persecution in Nauvoo, Robert Lang Campbell (1825-74), a young Mormon priest from Kilbarchan, arrived at winter quarters. Within weeks he recovered his health.
In Scotland, Robert had trained a clerk and, because of this experience, he was appointed as clerk to Brigham Young, John Smith and Willard Richard. This was a prestigious post for a young man. Later he was appointed in charge of the Post Office and was a volunteer in the Pioneers led by Brigham Young. The Pioneers surveyed the area searching for a suitable site for a permanent settlement. In 1848 they found the ideal site and Salt Lake City was founded on the 24th of July.
In 1848 Robert received the sad news from Kilbarchan that his father and maternal grandmother had died. In 1850 he was pleased to be given a mission to return to Scotland. During his time in Scotland he married Mary Stewart. In 1854, as leader of a group of Mormon converts from Scotland, Robert with his new wife again set off for Salt Lake City. The group included an older lady, widow Elizabeth Jordan (née Beveridge). In his diary Robert had recorded visiting Sister Jordan in Stevenson in 1844.
The group sailed from Liverpool and arrived at New Orleans in May. From there they sailed up the Mississippi to St. Louis, and then to Kansas. The last part of their journey was by wagon train alongside the River Platte to Salt Lake City, where Robert and his group of converts settled. As was the Mormon custom, he took a second wife Jeanie Miller. Robert with his two wives, Mary and Jean, had 21 children. In 1857 he married a third polygamous wife. This wife was his older friend, Sister Jordan from Stevenson. Robert was well respected in the community as good husband and father.
Public domain: Courtesy J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah
Furthermore, Robert Campbell, the young clerk from Kilbarchan, also became a prestigious figure in the Mormon Community. He was appointed as Superintendent of Schools for the Territory of Utah and as Mormon Chancellor from 1857 until his death from cholera in 1874. His obituary in the Deseret News stated that he was “an industrious, useful, upright, trustworthy man”.
© 2017, Helen Calcluth, Renfrewshire Local History Forum
Robert Lang Campbell’s Diary and further information at :