The Campbell House, or Aghalane House to give it its formal title, was built by Hugh Campbell in 1786, on a farm near Plumbridge in County Tyrone.
Hugh placed two stone plaques above the front door, one bearing his name and the date of construction, and the other inscribed with an armorial of the Dukes of Argyle. In this way he was indicating that the Campbells of Aghalane, who had arrived from Scotland some generations earlier, claimed kinship with the Campbells of Argyle.
In 1818, one of Hugh’s sons, also named Hugh, emigrated to New York aboard the Phoenix. The journal he kept of his voyage sheds much light not only on his character, but also on the nature and organisation of the early nineteenth-century emigrant trade. Hugh went on to become one of Philadelphia's most prominent merchants. He eventually settled in St Louis and went into partnership with his brother Robert.
A man for all seasons
Robert Campbell, who went on to become a fur-trapper and builder of Fort Laramie, was born in this house in 1804. He emigrated to America in the early 1820s to join his older brother Hugh, who had emigrated two years before. Robert moved west for health reasons and became involved in the fur trade. By 1836 Robert had left his active life in the mountains and settled in St Louis, where he continued to supply expeditions of trappers and pioneer settlers as they set out on the Oregon Trail.
In the course of his long career, Robert was a trapper, storekeeper, bank president, honorary colonel in the United States Army and a Native American Commissioner. In the latter capacity, he helped to draw up the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie with all the Native American tribes east of the Rocky Mountains, south of the Missouri River and north of Texas and New Mexico.
In 1876, on the death of Hugh and Robert’s unmarried sister Ann, Aghalane House passed from the Campbell family to the Dunn family. Some alterations were made to it over the years, including an extension to the rear and a slated roof which replaced the original thatch. In 1976 the property was inherited by the Reaney family, who lived in an adjacent house, leaving Aghalane House unoccupied.
In 1985 the house, which had been derelict for a number of years and was scheduled for demolition, was acquired by the Ulster American Folk Park, both because of its related stories of emigration and for its architectural importance. It has been re-erected in its original 1786 thatched form.
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