This biography is from "Memorial and biographical record; an illustrated compendium of biography, containing a compendium of local biography, including biographical sketches of prominent old settlers and representative citizens of South Dakota..." Published by G. A. Ogle & Co., Chicago, 1899. Pages 455-456
R. W. CAMPBELL. Among the agriculturists of Sanborn county who have
attained success from a financial point of view is the gentleman whose name heads this sketch. He is a large land owner and one of the most
progressive and energetic farmers and stock-raisers in this section of the country, and is a complete master of his chosen calling. His
sterling integrity and honorable, upright manhood fully entitle him to the position which he holds in the estimation of the people of the
community. His home is on the southeast quarter of section 1, Warren township.
Mr. Campbell was born in 1838 in Tennessee, of which state his
ancestors, as far back as his great-grandfather on the paternal side, were also natives, while the great-great-grandfather was a native of
Scotland. The mother was also born in Tennessee and there the father engaged in merchandising for some years, but after his removal to
Illinois, of which state the family were pioneers, he turned his
attention to agricultural pursuits.
Our subject, who is the third in order of birth in a family of ten
children, was reared on a farm in Illinois, and his educational privileges were very meager as at first there were no schools near his
home and later those established were very poor. He left home on attaining his majority, but was persuaded to return and assist his
father for another year or so. At the age of twenty three he moved to Logan county, Illinois, where he engaged in farming on his own account.
While there he was married, February 21, 1866, to Miss Nancy Abbott, a native of that state and a daughter of Henry and Ann Abbott, who were
of English birth. The father, who was a shoemaker by trade, landed in America with only three cents in his pocket, but at his death was worth
two hundred thousand dollars, acquired by his own well directed efforts. Mr. and Mrs. Campbell have a family of ten children.
During his residence in Illinois, our subject owned and occupied three
different farms. In 1883 he came to Sanborn county, South Dakota, and purchased the southeast quarter of section 1, Warren township, on which
he began life in this state in a little shanty, 12 x 14 feet, living alone the first five months, while breaking some of his land. At that
time there was only one house in sight from his farm, and during those early days he many times fought prairie fires to keep his neighbors'
property from being destroyed, his own always being protected by a fire guard. When he located here his stock consisted of a cow, two yearling
heifers, two mules and one horse, and his other possessions consisted of little besides his household goods. He now has, however, six hundred
and forty acres of valuable land, of which three hundred acres are under a high state of cultivation and well improved with good
buildings. At first he engaged principally in grain raising, but was quick to perceive that this section of the state was better adapted to
the cattle business, in which he is now extensively engaged. In 1893 he had the misfortune to lose sixty head of cattle from black leg and
other causes. He is a close observer and being a man of sound judgment has always benefited by past experience. He has invented a machine for
burning off stubble fields, which is called the Campbell weed, seed and insect exterminator and stubble burner, and from past experience and
the testimonials favoring it, it will undoubtedly prove a great success.
Politically, Mr. Campbell is a Populist, and he has been honored with
several township offices. He was active in organizing an Old Settlers Association in his neighborhood, which holds a picnic annually, and he
served as its first vice-president. He and his family are prominent members of the Methodist Episcopal church, and his children are active
members of the Epworth League.