This page is provided as a starting point for the history of our Campbells with links to historical documents and other related sites. Other histories may be found linked to other descendants, for example George Campbell 1851 - 1934, another son of Robert and Margaret Purdy Campbell, which includes some different slants to facts.

A Short Sketch of the History of the Campbell Family

by J. P. Campbell

The following history was written by James Purdy Campbell who lived from 1831 to 1930. There are a total of seven pages - four more to copy. The text is kept as near to the original for spelling, punctuation and grammar as possible. This history was contributed by George H. H. Campbell.

My great grand father James Campbell was a Scotch Irish Presbyterian and came to America about the beginning of the revolutionary war, and became a pack saddle merchant carrying merchandise from Philadelphia, Pa., on horse back, crossing the Allegheny mountains and selling his goods in the back woods settlements of Pennsylvania and West Virginia and through this lucrative trade became wealthy owning a large body of valuable land. One of his granddaughters told me, that his treasure chest was so heavy that she could not lift one end of it. I formerly had his gold scales for weighing gold but lost them in rambling from place to place. The Scotch Irish were not thought to be the most peaceable people in the world, but observations teach us that under like conditions and environment more kind are of about the same character and kind all over the world. All get so bad at various intervals as to need killing. When my greatgrandfather settled on King's Creek in Hancock County, W.Va. about the close of the revolutionary war, he built his log fort near where the first Iron Furnace west of the Allegheny Mountains was afterwards built. The Indians were then making frequent murderous raids into West Virginia. Great Grandfather soon had use for this fort for his own security and that of others as his son-in-law, Ephraim Langfitt who resided on a farm at the head of spring of the north fork of Kings Creek had fled with his family to the fort and he having gone back to his farm on horseback with another man to get some grain, were waylaid in the spruce thickets bordering the creek by the Indians and Langfit's companion killed and he so badly wounded that he barely escaped with his life by clinging to his horse until he carried him to a place of safety.

Another man by the name of Campbell and his children were killed and scalped about the same time on Kings Creek, two miles east of Campbell's Fort. His wife escaped by being in the woods gathering sap of the sugar maple. None of those old pioneers knew at what moment an Indian attack might bring death to them and their family and destruction to their home, so that it was necessary to carry their guns with them, even to church. No one now can realize what dread and anxiety this was to our forefathers. Great grandfather first located on Chartiers Creek in Pennsylvania, perhaps as a squatter as no one ever knew of him selling the land he left. He owned the old red mill built in a narrow gorge on Kings Creek where the mountains shows signs of an ancient land slide carrying large rocks with it. I was in this old mill when fishing and when not more, than five or six years old not a vestige of it now remains. Its site was about one mile from the Ohio River near this. A later built mill formerly owned by James Campbell in 1890 for 600 acres of land bordering the Hollidays Cove Valley and joining the other Campbell lands. The old Three Spring Presbyterian Church was on this land and the unmarked grave of Great Grandfather is near the site of this church of which he was a member.



And all other graves of the cemetery once in the woods have been plowed over and the land cultivated. This church was the scene of what was called the "Great Falling Down". After a large protracted meeting people became so excited as to fall down in a kind of hysterical fit and had the jerks so that their hair was said to crack like whips, but it died out and it never had a reoccurrence and church moved to a new location and two churches new originated in this old pioneer church, one Holliday's Cove, and the other in Paris, Penn. This old church building in ruins when I first passed it, when not more than four or five years old. Which I did with quick steps lest some of the ghosts that some of my superstitious ancestors told me lurked about old deserted churches should attack me. When last I visited the graves of my grand parents and saw the desolation, it seemed to me as if all the solemn voices of nature were singing a sad requiem over the fallen dead. Often the plaintive note of the whippoorwills have been heard over their graves in the wild woods as if lamenting over the dead. The men that cannot he impressed by such scenes bring up memories of the past must have flinty sensibilities. The first church I attended when a little child was at or near the brick road with the Pennsylvania line. So far as I know, not one of that congregation now lives in this old world except myself, but many of the names of my kindred and friends me are on the monuments in the nearby cemetery. My greatgrandfather had five sons and one daughter. One son drowned near Steubenville, in trying to swim across the Ohio River near the Grading of the Pan Handle Railroad. Another son, it was reported deserted from the army and changed his name to Anderson, and located in Tennessee. At the old mans death his land so far as I know was divided between his three sons, James, Alexander, and Robert and the son James Campbell carried his brothers share in the estate in specie in saddle bags on horseback through the then wild woods to Tennessee, undertaking of great peril then and not one of safety yet. I remember one of my great days for a child of four or five years of age when father and I went to the old furnace on Kings Creek to fish and on the wooden dam our old dog "Bull" in trying to pass us on the narrow ledge of the dam came near throwing us into the creek: and in throwing out my first fish I caught, I watched it so close that I fell backward. Those were our happy days. Happy days never to be forgotten. Another example of the daring of James Campbell who carried the specie to Tennessee was in alone guarding Great Grandfather's old Red mill with his gun at night to prevent the Indians from burning it or stealing its contents something few would have dared to have done showing that he at least had the old Pernicious spirit of the old Scotch Irish more than any one else of the family. It was asserted that he took part in the Moravian massacre of Indians in Ohio, whether true or not I don't know but he, I think was too brave a man to kill defenseless people unless he was drunk.



My great grand father's three sons were very unlike in disposition. James carried a chip on his shoulder for a fight and used too much whiskey and apparently not given to too much pity but his brother Robert was of a more sober and quiet disposition and a staunch Presbyterian and Alexander my Grandfather, was a cross between the two. He and his wife parted in old days but I never knew why they did so. I think temperament was not in harmony but the Campbells were above the average in morals and gentility of' that age. As many of the, pioneers were little above the savage Indian in civilization or refinement, so many of' them filthy in appearance and conversation and very profane.

In my Great Grandfathers day game was plentiful in the woods so that no one need starve for want of' meat. But the mode of life was primitive as their houses were generally one room, rough log cabins with puncheon floors, clapboard roofs with stick chimneys and open fire places where they did all their cooking with a very limited supply of pots and kettles and a few of the crudest style of house furnishing and often with no windows and the women spun, wove, and made up the clothing and which were not calculated to excite peacock pride in the wearer. The farm work was done with the wooden mould board plow, sickle for a reaper and the flail for a threshing, machine, wooden instead of steel forks and, not wagons or carriages and no roads to run them on. All travel and carriage of products went on horseback in early pioneer days. If it had not been more enjoyable then the present era of high taxation an the rush and grind of selfishness in a procession in which the weak are run down and trampled upon by the surging throng.

The writer was born in what is now called Hancock County, West Virginia, about, one half mile from the old iron furnace on the 6th day of' January 1831. My father was Robert Campbell and my mother was the daughter of John and Elizabeth Purdy. I was born in one of the old and rudest of pioneer cabins with the usual scant supply of a pioneer's outfit for a home. My recollections of' life began very early and I remember of sitting in the old cabin door at night and looking up into the starry vault and listening to the Wippoorwill in the near-by dark woods and indulging in meditations as to the mysteries of my wonderful environment. Mysteries some of which the wisest of men have never been able to solve. At the time of my birth my father lived on his father, Alexander Campbells land. My father and mother according to common report were very honest, pious Presbyterians and they so far as I could see did their best to fit their children for living an honest and upright life. If any of us came short of this, it might be ascribed in part at least to the Scotch Irish blood that we inherit from the ancient Campbell clan. Of, my Grandfather's ancestors, I know nothing as they came from Westmoreland County, Pa., and settled on a farm adjoining the Campbell's lands. I only know that after they came to his land that they were also Presbyterian, and that the happiest and sunniest hours of my life were spent at their home. So happy that after life seemed like a nightmare or troubled dream. The many flowers that surrounded that home still bloom in my memory and seemingly a fore taste of future olden of happiness in a future state. All scenes of my youth are vividly impressed on my memory. I still see that spot where I made mud pies and where I roamed among, the bloom-laden dogwoods in the forest, and the cornfield in the hazy days of June where I leaned upon the hoe handle while I indulged I day dreams, and the cuckoo sang his mournful song in the old oak tree at the end of the lane.



The volume of bird song has largely died out  since and I miss it very much. The old log school house near by with its slab seats with merry children sitting in rows upon them and with whom, I studied and played are still a reality in memory, they never grow old, yet I know of no one of my first school except myself that still lives. We were a family of 12 children of which I was the eldest of' seven boys and five girls of which only half still live. At the age of' ten years I moved with my father to another farm mostly in woodland and hard to clear of its heavy timber had to help roll logs into heaps, many of which were three and four feet in diameter. I think my father brought on paralysis by his hard work and died at the age of 83. Father was born in 1803 and mother in 1810 and died age sixty years.

I finished my modest education in the Holliday's Cove academy. One W. B. Maham an old school mate, and I rented a room and boarded ourselves. Sometimes boys would gather at night and we would have what we called a stag dance and make the old shanty tremble. One Eli Stein furnishing us with the music from an old violin. Man is a fool when young and stills a fool when old but less noisy when his joints stiffen. Maham report says has been dead a number of years. The last time I passed his farm, it had grown up into a town.

I was married on Friday the 13th day of April 1855 to a second cousin Mary Josina Campbell, one of nature's best efforts in giving us a perfect woman and my strongest wish and earnest prayer is to join her in a future state in our youthful prime with all our imperfections left behind, so that we may renew the rapturous joy and happiness as it began at our first meeting that soon led to our marriage. My wife left this world August 4th 1913. We never fully appreciate our partner in life until we lose them then we would give the world to call them back to reveal to them how much appreciate them and how great is the blank that is left behind never to be filled on earth. Man's great first love is all the perfect love he will ever have for women, all other is defective.

My father bought a farm for a brother and I near his own and bought the brother's interest and I think it was wrong to leave him in his declining days when he had worked so hard to fit us out with a home, but I might hate been more a hindrance than an advantage to him, as many other sons have been but the civil war came on and, demoralized me and having been brought up in an extreme state rights democratic neighborhood and all children are almost sure to adopt the politics and religion of the father and stick to them. Through this environment and training I became a radical states rights democrat so called, though no man that upholds slavery is a democrat, so that my position brought me into antagonism with the Union Party and it got so warm for me that when some Union Soldiers entered and surrounded my house to capture me and take me to Camp Chase Prison, I, not relishing such entertainment, made my escape from a second story window and escaped on my fastest time to the woods and they gave up the pursuit.



This decided me to leave home, so I got to rambling about and was in Canada a short time. So that instead of taking care of my farm and making money out of' the war, like others did, I was getting behind in the race of life. But I lived to see the errors of my ways and the folly of being an extreme radical in politics or religion.

One James Wright and I bought a farm and ran a sawmill one season soon after the close of the war then I sold my interest.

On 1879 I sold my farm at Mount Horeb for $5,000 and not having any location in view, was in doubt as to where to go and wondered around until time to get out and came to Jackson County, and bought 1100 acres of rough and wild lands at $5.00 per acre. An exorbitant price at that time and instead of occupying my own land, I rented a poor farm for seven years at a high rent and did other fool speculative things until near bankruptcy, when I sold land that cleared me of debt. All this time my mind was fixed on sheep husbandry and after moving to my own land and getting some land cleared I began to keep a few sheep and this turned out to be my most profitable venture as my land was better fitted for that than anything else. I sowed the first blue grass ever sown on these lime stone hills in 1870 and had a first class pasture. The next year about the time of my near bankruptcy, a brother of mine caught me for about $1500 of which I received as little in return that I never felt as if I had been paid anything. Of this a part was for a flock of sheep that I drove nearly across the state of Iowa, the hardest trip I ever made. I have done a great deal of hard work in my time and much of it without recompense but hard work without good financial management is little better than to sit down and do nothing and let the workers support you. I followed surveying land in the rough hills of Jacksons and Wirt, almost killing labor and for which the pay was sometimes nothing. One of the last surveys I made was to run a division line in the Gen. Washington survey at Ravenswood under the order of the court, in which others were appointed with me to do the work and I did nearly all the work and the other surveyors got their pay and I got nothing.

I was a representative of Jackson in the legislature in the last session at Wheeling. I was of the republican minority a position such like a little calf yoked to a big ox. You must go where the big ox takes you. A legislature is a safety valve to let off periodically surplus gas a necessary evil and all things human imperfect while a great mass of useless stew is considered and blown out like chaff at both ends of the windmill. There is but little pure wheat to go into the granary. While I appreciated the honor bestowed on me by the good people of Jackson County, I will be best pleased to be silent on our record, not because we passed much bad legislation, but because we came to near doing nothing.


(more coming sooner or later)



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