Alexander Melvin Campbell.A publication of this nature exercises its most important functions when it takes cognizance of the life and labors of those citizens who have risen to prominence and prosperity through their own well directed efforts and who have been of material value in furthering the advancement and development of the commonwealth. The late Mr. Campbell was best known to the citizens of Northwestern Kansas as one of the founders of the city of Salina, her first merchant, her first postmaster, and her first settler. Alexander Melvin Campbell was born in Lonend, Paisley, Scotland, Aug. 12, 1834, a son of Patrick and Margaret (Melvin) Campbell, natives of Paisley. He acquired his education in the schools of his native town and, in 1847, came to America, locating near Sparta, Randolph county, Illinois. There he engaged in farming until 1855, when he removed to Westport, Kan., and later to Lawrence, where he was employed in clerical work, taking the census of Lawrence being one of his experiences. In 1857 he was one of the organizers of the Salina Town Company, and was elected treasurer, his brother-in-law, the late Col. William A. Phillips, being president. With James Muir, later a resident of McPherson county, also a member of the town company, he erected a temporary building for office purposes on the David Phillips claim, now a part of the city of Salina. This was the first building erected there. They later erected a permanent building, at what is now Fifth and Iron streets. A stock of merchandise was bought by Colonel Phillips and Mr. Campbell was placed in charge. A hotel business was also conducted and the postoffice was located in the building, Mr. Campbell being appointed postmaster. An extensive trade was built up with the Indians, and pelts were plentiful. Mr. Campbell's time was mostly occupied in carrying the mails between Salina and Junction City and in freighting merchandise and conveying skins bought from Indians and trappers. In a great measure the actual conduct of the store and postoffice was placed in the hands of his wife, who proved an admirable business woman and a true helpmeet to her husband. Mrs. Campbell was the first white woman to reside in Salina and has been continuously a resident since the city consisted of one building. The mercantile business, established in 1857, was of rapid and continuous growth, and Mr. Campbell became the sole owner in the middle '60s. The pioneer merchant of this section of the state, he became widely and favorably known, and his business enterprise was the most important of its kind in this section. He remained in active business until 1900 and was postmaster nearly forty years. He died in Salina, Feb. 15, 1907. During the Indian troubles he was commissioned a sergeant by Governor Robinson, June 4, 1861, and afterward saw service in the Indian Territory with the command of Col. W. A. Phillips, his brother-in-law. He was a stanch Republican and an active and influential factor in the affairs of his party and was twice elected to the office of register of deeds of Saline county.
He married, Nov. 6, 1858, at Riley City, Kan., Miss Christina Addison Phillips, a daughter of John and Christina (Addison) Phillips, natives of Scotland. Mr. Campbell is survived by his widow and the following children: Christina Addison, the wife of Nelson H. Loomis of Omaha, Neb.; Margaret, the wife of George M. Hull, postmaster of Salina; and Alexander Melvin; a daughter, Mary McQualter, was the wife of Nelson H. Loomis. She died, June 12, 1888; and a son, William Phillips Campbell, died Jan. 15, 1906.
To do justice to the many phases of the career of Mr. Campbell within the limits of an article of this nature would be impossible. As a man among men, bearing his due share in connection with the development and settlement of a new country, enduring the hardships and privation incident to that time, he was successful; but over all and above all he gained a deep knowledge of the well-springs from which emerge the streams of human motive and action. He gained a clear apprehension of what life meant, its possibilities and dominating influences and was ever ready to impart to his fellow men the fruits of his investigation, contemplation and wisdom. The tributes of respect, and in many cases of affection, called forth by the death of Mr. Campbell have seldom been equalled in the passing away of a citizen. What may be termed his lifework was finished; it met to a great extent the fullness of his ambition. But infinitely more precious and of personal consequence to him was the fact that he died rich in the possession of a well earned popularity, in the esteem which comes from honorable living, and in the affection that slowly develops only from unselfish works. He was a leader and a teacher in whatever he undertook. His predominant characteristic was his fatherliness and his great foresight in caring for his own; and his tender sympathy with them was conspicuous in his life. He was a home builder and believer in the family and the fireside, in his business life he was the embodiment of honor, as he was in his social and domestic life the perfection of love and gentleness.Pages 521-523 from volume III, part 1 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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