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Commemorative Biographical Record of the County of Kent, Ontario
James W. Campbell


JAMES W. CAMPBELL, reeve of Tilbury East township, and one of the large stock farmers of his section, is a grandson of one of the early settlers of the region.  The first of the family to come to the County of Kent was Charles Campbell, of Scottish ancestry, but a native of the North of Ireland, where he grew to manhood and married Margaret Lamon, a native of County Antrim, their family was born in the Emerald Isle. In 1830 the family emigrated to Canada, and for a short time made their home at Prescot, County of Elgin, coming later to Tilbury east.  Charles Campbell received of Colonel Talbot, who was the Crown agent, a grant of the north half of Lot 9, M.R.N., of 100 acres.  The land was wild and the roads had not been cleared, and here he began the life of a pioneer settler, and as such was forced to content with many hardships.  He was accidentally killed by a falling tree in 1848, at the age of 67 years.  To Charles and Margaret Campbell were born the following named children, the only survivor being the youngest:  Andrew took up government land, the north half of Lot 10 MRN, and married Bridget Finnessey.  John began farming in Harwich, and at the time of his death resided in Illinois; he married Grace McNeil.  James was the father of James W. Campbell.  Mary married Thomas William and lived at Mersea, County of Essex, Ontario.  Grace married John McNeil and moved o Iowa.  Charles, who located on one-half of Lot 6, MRN, married Jessie Mann.  Martha married Dr. Horatius Mills and resided in Romney township.  William died unmarried in Tilbury East.  Isaac, who began as a farmer on Lot 5, of the 8th Concession, married Maria Willan, and is a resident of Assumption, Illinois.

James Campbell, father of James A., was born at Ballymoney, County Antrim, Ireland, September 21st, 1822, and was but a child of eight years when the family came to Canada.  In the course of time he came into possession of a part of his father’s land, and he obtained one-half of Lot 4, in Concession 9, 100 acres, of Crown land, upon which he located and lived through the experiences of a first settler.  He prospered in his undertakings, and added to his original holdings from time to time, at one time owning land aggregating 575 acres in the township of Tilbury East, the north half of Lots 4 an 5, in Concession 9, 200 acres; south one-half of Lots 4 and 5, in Concession 8, 200 acres; south one-half of Lot, Concession 7, 100 acres; north one—half, Lot 9, MRN, seventy-five acres, this including the land he drew from the government.  Mr. Campbell was counted among the very successful farmers of his day in his township.  In politics he was a stanch Reformer.  In religious belief the family are all Presbyterians, and the father was an elder in the church at Valetta for about 20 years.

On November 22nd, 1849, James Campbell married Mary Ann, eldest daughter of Matthew Martin, one of the early settlers of the township.  She died May 21st, 1887, aged 54 years.  To this marriage children as follows were born:  Matthew, born April 7th, 1854, married Catherine Closson, and resides on Concession 8.  James William, born February 12th, 1856, is mentioned below.  Mary Ann, born October 1st, 1862, married John Sinclair, of Tilbury East, Lot 7, Concession 6.  John J., born April 28th, 1865, married Elsie Robertson:  he is traveling in Manitoba for the Manson Campbell Fanning Mill Company of Chatham.  Ellen Agnes, born June 28th, 1868, married David L. Gardiner, of Lot 9, Concession 7, Tilbury East.  Charles Thomas, born December 16th, 1870 married Henrietta Forest Gardiner, and they live at the old homestead. 

James W. Campbell enjoyed the advantages provided in the local schools and was reared on the farm to agricultural pursuits.  At the age of 22 he located on the farm taken up by his grandfather, and after a residence of 16 years there purchased 120 acres on the Back Line, where since 1896 he has had his home.  Mr. Campbell owns considerable land and engages largely in stock farming, making a specialty of export cattle.  Ever since becoming a qualified voter, he has taken a lively interest in political matters, in sympathy with the Reform party, and has filled many official positions.  During 1888 – 89 he was collector; in 1890 he was assessor; served on the township board in 1892-93-94-95-97-98-99 and 1900; and on January 1st, 1903, was elected reeve, being re-elected to that incumbency January 1st, 1904.

In 1878 Mr. Campbell married Janet Hodgkin, who was born in 1858 in Harwich, a daughter of Isaac and Ellen (Stevenson) Hodgkin.  Mrs. Campbell’s parents resided for some 30 years years in Tilbury East, the father dying at the age of 82, and the mother at the age of 76.  Mrs. Hodgkin was a daughter of Alexander and Janet Stevenson, and was born in 1814.  Mr. Campbell and his wife have three children, namely:  Ella M., born July 14, 1883; Gordon W., born March 30th, 1885; and Anna M., born January 23rd, 1887, who is a student in the Chatham high school.

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