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Biography of John Willard Campbell

Posted By Dennis Partridge On In Kansas,Michigan | No Comments

John Willard Campbell is a pioneer of Reno County, had lived there continuously forty-four years, and had identified himself successfully and public spiritedly with the community of Plevna, where he still resided.

Mr. Campbell was born in what is now Bay City, Michigan, May 4, 1852. He is of Scotch-Irish ancestry, the Campbells having located in New York State in colonial days. His grandfather, John Campbell, was born in New York State and died near Buffalo in 1845. He was a sturdy farmer of Western New York.

N. R. Campbell, father of J. W., was born near Buffalo in 1820, grew up near that city on a farm, and in 1851, near Erie, Pennsylvania, he married Miss Elmira Dixon. She was born in Tayburg County, New York, in 1832. Soon after their marriage N. R. Campbell and wife moved to Bay City, Michigan, where he did general work for a time, and for two years was a resident of Oakland County, Michigan. In 1873 he brought his family to Kansas and was one of the first settlers in Plevna Township, where he homesteaded 160 acres a mile south and one and one-half miles east of the town, and also took up and developed a timber claim of a quarter section. This land sufficed him for his purposes of a general farmer and stockman, and he lived on the homestead until his death in 1892. He was a republican and filled the office of trustee of Plevna Township. His widow survived him until July, 1915, dying in Montana, but was laid to rest at Plevna. Their children were: John W.; J. J. Campbell, a retired farmer at Denver, Colorado; Ida N., living at Eklaka, Montana, widow of H. A. Abbott, formerly a merchant and farmer at Plevna; Dean, wife of John W. Hanam, a granger and farmer at Plevna; Julia A., who died at Plevna in 1911, wife of D. J. Dunham, formerly a blacksmith at Plevna and now living retired with his children; Lillie G., wife of W. H. Mitchell, who for a number of years was a section boss on the railroad but is now running a restaurant at Pretty Prairie, Kansas.

John W. Campbell was educated in the public schools of Bay City, Michigan, and was twenty-one years of age when he came with his father to Kansas. Being of age he was able to exercise his rights as a homesteader and took up 160 acres a mile south and a mile and a half east of Plevna. That land had furnished him with a vocation and with his business opportunities, and he still owned it, together with his father’s original homestead of 160 acres, having made a fine farm out of the land from the virgin prairie. His sons now conduct the farm. Mr. Campbell is a director and vice president of the Farmers Elevator at Plevna. He had served six terms as trustee of Plevna Township and also as township clerk, is a republican in politics, and is prominent in Plevna Camp No. 2078, Modern Woodmen of America, having been clerk of the camp for the past twenty-three years. He is a life member of the Kansas State Historical Society, and was at one time a member of the board of directors.

In 1890, at Plevna, he married Miss Julia M. Dennis, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ed Dennis. The mother is now deceased and her father lives at Plevna, where for the past twenty-five years he had been a mail carrier. Mr. and Mrs. Campbell have two children, both sons. Jason Edward farms a portion of his father’s place and also rents land for his extensive operations as a farmer. Jesse R., the other son, lives with his parents and is also farming the old homestead.


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