CAMPBELL, HON. JAMES. In the year 1774 Robert
Campbell, a Scotch-Irish man, together with his wife and family,
emigrated from the State of Delaware and settled in what at that time was
the Backwoods, Kishacoquillas Valley, Cumberland (now Mifflin) county,
Pa. The valley at that time was covered with a dense growth of tall
timber, consisting of oak, chestnut, walnut, and hickory. Here he made
himself a home, put up buildings, began farming, and raised his family. On
the 10th day of July, 1824, he died, at the age of almost ninety-four
years, leaving four sons and two daughters surviving him.
Of these, the eldest son, John Campbell, inherited the mansion farm. He
was seven years of age when his father came to the valley. At the age of
forty years he married Rachel, the eldest daughter of John Oliver, one of
the early settlers on the Juniata River, near McVeytown. She was fully
seventeen years younger than her husband.
They commenced house-keeping in a double log story-and-a-half house,
located near the mansion house. In this they lived until the decease of
their father, and in it their three sons and two daughters were born.
James Campbell, the youngest of the sons, and the
youngest but one of the family, was born on the 25th day of July, 1813,
and named after an uncle James Campbell, who was drowned in the Chemung
River, while traveling in New York State many years before.
From a puny, sickly child, he gradually developed into a healthy, stirring
boy. As he increased in years he grew strong, and like other farmers boys
in those days he was put to work, and educated to steady, every-day labor;
learned the shorter catechism; attired in home-made clothes and home-spun
linen he attended school in the winter and the Presbyterian Church on
From his father, who was a well informed man, he
acquired a taste for reading, especially historical works. Being
dissatisfied with farming, he resolved that he would earn a livelihood in
some other manner; the result of which was, that at the age of eighteen
years, he started to school at Germantown, Pa., with the intention of
acquiring a classical education. The academy was under the care of George
Junkin D. D. In the spring of 1832 Dr. Junkin was made president of La
Fayette College at Easton, Pa., and nearly all the pupils went with him to
Easton and started the new college with about one hundred students.
While here the subject of this sketch read Latin, and
began the study of Greek. In the fall of 1832 the bilious fever broke out
in the college; he, with others, had an attack of the disease, and as soon
as able he returned to his home. In the latter part of the year 1832 he
went to Jefferson College, Cannonsburg, Pa., where he graduated in the
class of 1837; then returned to Mifflin county and began the study of law
at Lewistown, Pa., under E. L. Benedict, and was there admitted to the bar
in the spring of 1840. In the same year he came to the new town of
Clarion, which had just been made the county seat.
On the first Monday of November, 1840, he, with twenty-five others, was
admitted to the bar at the first court held in the county.
At first the prospect was not flattering to a young lawyer, as the
principal business was controlled by the older lawyers of Kittanning,
Butler, and Franklin. Nevertheless, Mr. Campbell was counsel for one of
the parties to the first suit tried in the courts of the county, and by
patience and perseverance established a reasonably paying practice, which
continued to grow to such an extent that a partner was necessary to assist
in the business.
He was a member of the committee who built the First
Presbyterian Church of Clarionwe would infer a working member, as we have
heard that he rolled stone, shoveled sand, and as a lawyer, kept off
creditors until money could be raised to pay for the church. In 1847 he
married Nancy J. Hallack, daughter of Rev. J. K. Hallack, and raised a
family of five children, all of whom, except the youngest, are married and
In the fall of 1861, without solicitation on his
part, he was made an independent candidate for president judge of the
Eighteenth Judicial District, composed of the counties of Mercer, Venango,
Clarion, Jefferson, and Forest, and was elected by a handsome majority.
This was a large and laborious district, Venango county at that time being
the center of oil development, that occasioned a vast increase of
population and much litigation. Judge Campbell held as high as thirty-two
weeks court in a year, traveling hundreds of miles by stage-coach,
between the various county seats in his district.
In 1866 the counties of Mercer and Venango were created into a separate
judicial district, Judge Campbell remaining in the original district. At
the close of his term, in 1871, he returned to the practice of law, and
continued therein until the spring of i886, when he retired from the
practice to give his whole attention to his private business. Including
the ten years on the bench, he was at bar forty-six years. As a lawyer he
stood at the head of his profession. As a judge he acquired a wide-spread
reputation. By those who knew him, he is esteemed for his ability as a
lawyer, his honesty as a judge, and for his sterling integrity of
character. He has prospered with the growth of the town and county. He has
ever identified himself with the best interests of the community in which
he lives. At the age of seventy-three years, he is an active business man,
retains all his early love for reading, enjoys the society of business
men, and is hale and hearty, with a constitution but little impaired by a
long and arduous business life. He is one of not more than five who remain
of the first settlers of the town in 1840.
At the organization of the Clarion State Normal
School, Judge Campbell was elected president of the Board of Trustees, and
has ever been one of the most active and laborious members of the board.
His contributions to, and labors in behalf of this institution of learning
are a fitting climax to a life of usefulness and beneficence in a
community where he cast his lot so many years ago.
History of Clarion Co., Pennsylvania: with
illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and
pioneers, Syracuse, N.Y.: D. Mason & Co., 1887, pages 631-632.
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A genealogical study, Richmond, Campbell,
Cairns and Croft |
Genealogical account of the ancestors in America of Joseph
Andrew Kelly Campbell and Eliza Edith Deal (his wife) |
Genealogy of the Campbell, Noble,
Gorton, Shelton, Gilmour and Byrd families : and numerous other families of
prominence in America|
Historical sketches of the Campbell,
Pilcher and kindred families|
Our Campbell ancestors : 1742-1937 :
traditions and history of the family of five Campbell
brothers and sisters|
Prepared for the Clan Campbell Society
of the United States : and for the descendants of Duncan Campbell
& Mary McCoy |
Records of clan Campbell in the
military service of the honourable East India Company : 1600-1858 |
The Campbell clan |
The clan Campbell |
The descendants of Alexander Drummond of Georgetown, Maine :
including those by the name of Campbell, Chamberlain,
Crane, Morse |
The house of Waltman and its allied families : Alderson, Baker,
Bowman, Bierly, Brittain, Caldwell, Campbell, Charleton|
The Strother family and their Campbell-Cummings
Tinkham, Campbell, Winchester, Grinnell
and allied families |
A memorial history of the Campbells of
Melfort, Argyllshire |
The Campbells of Drumaboden |
The story of the Campbells of Kinloch |
The Campbells of Kishacoquillas:
historical sketch and genealogical records|
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