JAMES CAMPBELL. A hale and hearty man, with unimpaired physical and mental vigor, James Campbell, of Lakin, a successful agriculturist, is a splendid type of the rugged, courageous pioneers that came to Kearny County at an early period of its settlement and were among the foremost in developing this section of Southwestern Kansas and in the advancement of its material welfare. A son of Wiley Campbell, he was born in Greene County, Tennessee, on March 11, 1842.
Wiley Campbell was born and reared in Greene County, Tennessee, and was engaged in general farming throughout his life. He spent his last days in Jewell County, Kansas, passing away at the age of seventy-three years, in 1895. He married Jane McColm, whose death also occurred in Jewell County. Nine children were born to their union, as follows: Arch, a soldier in the Confederate Army, died in Vicksburg, Mississippi; James, with whom this sketch is chiefly concerned; Lucinda, wife of Jack Dodd, of Jewell County; Rachel, wife of James White, of Greenville, Tennessee; William, of Jewell County; Addie, wife of Dr. Tucker, of Los Angeles, California; Julia, wife of John Justice, also of Jewell County; Ella, wife of Thomas Webb, of Jewell County; and Alice, wife of John Crawford, resides in Texas.
Brought up on the home farm in Greene County, Tennessee, James Campbell had but limited opportunities for acquiring an education, but he was well trained in the agricultural arts. In August, 1861, he joined the Fourteenth Tennessee Cavalry, commanded by Colonel Brownlow, son of the fighting parson, with which regiment he started across the mountains, and was captured and taken to Richmond, Virginia, where he remained in Libby Prison until 1863. Being charged with being a bridge burner, he was unable to get an exchange, and during the many months of his confinement he was wardmaster of the hospital. While thus employed he was one day approached by a Confederate officer with a proposition to join the Confederate Army. Consulting with his companions, he decided to accept the offer, realizing that there was no other chance for him to escape. Mr. Campbell was placed in charge of the little squad which was bound for Vicksburg, and as he was passing through his native county, and nearing Greenville, he said to his comrades: "We are nearing home, and ought to know more than we did when captured, and every fellow take care of himself." All of the men fled, escaping Confederate authority. Subsequently experiencing many hardships in his old home town, being not only sought by the Confederate troops, but being tormented by disloyal neighbors, Mr. Campbell joined a band of ninety men and crossed the mountains toward Kentucky, footing it all the way and sometimes encountering the enemy and being forced to fight to kill in order to save themselves. Reaching Louisville, this little band was organized into Company C, Fourth East Tennessee Volunteer Infantry. As the result of an accident that occurred through the recklessness of his captain, Mr. Campbell was made wagon master of his regiment at Nicholasville, Kentucky, and when the Army of the Cumberland, with which he was connected, reached Knoxville he was made division wagon master. He there passed through the siege by Longstreet, and when the city was relieved he left the army, believing that the only way in which he could escape capture and certain death.
Leaving the service, Mr. Campbell hired out by the month as a farm hand in Atchison County, Missouri, and later spent a year in St. Joseph, Missouri. Going back to Tennessee and there taking unto himself a wife, he remained two years before returning to Missouri. After living in Atchison County, that state, a short time, he came to Kansas, locating in 1873 in Jewell County. Taking up a homestead claim near White Mound, he improved the land and carried on general farming for fourteen years. He made many improvements of value on his homestead, but after losing thousands of dollars worth of hogs from cholera he disposed of his property in that region and in January, 1887, moved with his family to Kearny County.
Locating in Lakin, Mr. Campbell was successfully engaged in the livery business for a year, and the ensuing year ran a transfer bus. In 1890 he was elected sheriff of Kearny County on the democratic ticket, and held the office two terms. After a lapse of two years, he was again elected sheriff, and served another term, his election on the democratic ticket in a republican stronghold proving his popularity as a man and a citizen. He first succeeded Sheriff McConnon, and during that term the county seat was transferred from Hartland to Lakin, the change being made without friction, although an outbreak, owing to the high tension of feeling throughout the county seat campaign, was greatly feared. Chosen county commissioner in 1908, and again in 1912, Mr. Campbell served faithfully and acceptably two terms of four years each, the other members of the board having been George Hill, Alfred White and Commissioner Tebo. While these gentlemen were in office the outstanding indebtedness of the county was taken up, and it was placed upon a cash basis, the bonds being sold to the state at 5 per cent. Also bonds for building a bridge over the Arkansas at Lakin were voted, and the bridge was erected in 1916 at a cost of $26,000.
Since his retirement from public office Mr. Campbell has occupied his present home place, adjoining Lakin on the west side, and has devoted himself to farming, making a specialty of raising alfalfa, his record in that line being one of the best in the county, his yield having been as high as 3 1/2 tons to the acre.
He assisted in the organization of the Lakin State Bank as a stockholder, but has since disposed of his holdings in that institution. He has never joined any fraternal order, and with the exception of the time he spent in Libby Prison, was never ill.
In January, 1867, Mr. Campbell married Rebecca Davis, daughter of John Davis, who married a Miss McNeese. Mrs. Campbell was an active member of the Presbyterian Church, and her death, January 17, 1917, was a loss not only to her family but to the community in which she had lived so happily. Seven children blessed the union of Mr. and Mrs. Campbell, namely: Belle, who died in childhood; Sallie, wife of John Peters, of Lebanon, Kansas, has a daughter; Alice, wife of Frank Kern, of Pueblo, Colorado; Tennie, wife of Frank Wisdom of La Junta, Colorado; James, of Pueblo, Colorado; Mollie, wife of Charles Smith, of Lakin, Kansas; and Clara, wife of Ed Shook, of Dodge City, Kansas.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
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