ARKANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY, Volume
10 (Autumn 1951), p. 285
JOURNAL OF TRIP
FROM CAMDEN TO TEXAS, 1849
ORVILLE W. TAYLOR *
(The editor wishes to thank Mr. Charles Gee of Camden, grandson of the
writer of this journal, for permission to publish it. He is also indebted
to Mr. Claude Rankin, State Land Commissioner of Arkansas, for assistance
in tracing the route of travel. All maps used are in the Land Office and
the Archives of the Arkansas History Commission, Little Rock)
* * *
- On a warm June day in 1849 two young clerks employed in the mercantile
houses of the thriving young river town of Camden, Arkansas, mounted their
horses and began an arduous journey to Rusk County, Texas, to visit their
parents. One of them was Mandeville Wallace, of whom little is known. The
other was Robert F. Kellam, writer of the journal published below. Kellam
was born in Georgia in 1825 (1), and migrated to Texas with his parents
sometime in the 1840's. In 1848 he returned East to Camden and became a
clerk in the general merchandise store of John Matlock. From that modest
beginning (2), he steadily increased in prosperity until by 1858 he was
a partner in the firm of Hodnett, Green, and Kellam, one of the leading
Camden firms, with a stock inventory of $50,000. The company sold general
merchandise, and bought and sold cotton (3). During the Civil War, Kellam
served in the Camden Home Guard. After the war, in spite of somewhat reduced
financial circumstances (4), he continued as a prominent citizen of Camden.
- * The author is a native of the state. He holds the A. B. degree from
Ouachita College; the M. A. from the
- University of Kentucky; and he is a candidate for the Ph.D. at Duke
University. He is a history instructor at Little Rock Junior College.
- 1. United States Census, 1860, Schedule of Free Inhabitants in Camden
City in the County of Ouachita,
- State Of Arkansas. (Microfilm copy of original, in archives of Arkansas
History Commission, Little Rock).
- 2. The tax assessment list for Ouachita County for 1849 shows that
Kellam owned no personal or real
- property, and that he paid only a poll tax.
- 3. Diary of R. F. Kellam, 1859. (Unpublished MS in possession of Charles
Gee, Camden, Arkansas).
- 4. In 1870 Kellam assessed real estate at $15000.00 and personal estate
at $3,000.00, as compared to real
- estate of $7,000.00 and personal estate of $8,000.00 in 1860. (Ouachita
County Tax Lists, 1860 and 1870, in Archives of Arkansas History Commission).
Even the latter figures do not represent the peak of Kellam's business
prosperity; in 1859 his firm suffered a disastrous fire, and by 1860, he
had only partially recovered his losses. (Diary of R. F. Kellam, 1859).