James W. Campbell was a prominent citizen of Guernsey County, Ohio, known for his judgment, sound discretion, and public spirit. Despite facing numerous challenges in his life, he fought his way to eminence through hard work and determination. After serving in the army, he worked as a printer, editor, and lawyer, eventually becoming one of the most respected legal professionals in Ohio. He also succeeded in business, serving as a director and officer for various important eastern corporations. Later in life, he invested extensively in California orange and oil properties. Throughout his career, he was motivated by lofty ideals, making personal sacrifices for the greater good of his community and country.
In placing the name of James W. Campbell in the front rank of Guernsey County citizens, simple justice is done to a biographical fact, universally recognized throughout this and adjoining counties by men all familiar with his history. A man of judgment, sound discretion, and public spirit, he has so impressed his individuality upon the community as to gain the highest esteem of all classes.
Judge Campbell was born September 20, 1847, in Middleton, Guernsey County, Ohio, the son of Dr. James and Susan (Brown) Campbell, the former being a prominent practitioner here for many years, a man of influence, high character, and intelligence.
Born in this locality, which was settled by people from the island bearing the name of Guernsey, off the north coast of France, Judge James W. Campbell has, unaided, fought his way, step by step, to a position of eminence. At the age of fifteen years he, after repeated attempts, enlisted in the army and became a member of the regiment which Whitelaw Reid, in his “Ohio in the War,” credits with suffering the greatest hardships of any regiment at that time in the field. After coming out of the army, the young soldier prepared for college and entered Williams with a personal letter from President Garfield to Mark Hopkins. He worked his way through college, cleaning recitation rooms, kindling fires, and doing odd jobs to pay his way.
After leaving college, Mr. Campbell worked as a printer, as editor, and read law, all at the same time, and in so doing laid the foundation for the high legal and business reputation that he has since acquired. He was specially admitted to practice by the Supreme Court before that body took general charge of admissions and practiced in Cambridge, also in eastern Ohio, rising to a position of eminence in his chosen profession. No man in Ohio has ranked higher in law than Judge Campbell, and his legal attainments are equaled by few in this or any state. After nine years of practice, he was elected to the bench, the youngest man ever elected to the judiciary in Ohio, and made a record which has not been surpassed both for amount and quality of work. Judge Campbell has been successful not only in legal circles, but also in a business way. He was vice-president and is still a director in the oldest national bank of Cambridge, among the first of national banks organized in the United States. He was special counsel for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and the United States Steel Company; he was receiver and general manager of the Eastern Ohio Railroad and is still director in the Marietta & Lake and the Eastern Ohio Railroads and has been organizer, officer, director, and attorney for various important eastern corporations. He takes great interest in educational and literary movements and is familiar with the world’s best literature and a writer of no mean order of ability himself. He is a member of the board of directors of the Cambridge Public Library.
Recently, the Judge has invested extensively in California orange and oil properties, making his headquarters at Los Angeles. He is president of the Bankers and Merchants Oil Company and of the California Investment Company, vice-president of the Consolidated Midway Oil Company of California, which owns the largest well in the world, flowing three thousand measured barrels per hour; vice-president of the France-Alleman Oil Company, and treasurer of the Kern Westside Oil Company: treasurer of the Elk Hills Midway Oil Company.
Judge Campbell was married February 13, 1873, to Martha White, daughter of Hon. Joseph W. and Nancy (Sarchet) White, of Cambridge, a prominent and influential family here. Mr. White having, for a number of years, represented the Cambridge district in Congress. To Judge and Mrs. Campbell, one son has been born, Joseph W. Campbell, who, after graduation from the University of Chicago, entered the legal profession, having for a preceptor none other than his able father. Consequently, he made rapid progress in his studies, went through the Cincinnati Law School with high honors, and was duly admitted to the bar. He is now engaged very successfully in the practice at Joliet, Illinois, and he is also dealing extensively in real estate. He is a thoroughly competent and successful young man, to whom the future holds much promise.
The Campbell home is at the corner of Wheeling Avenue and Ninth Street, Cambridge, and is a commodious, modern brick house, thoroughly equipped and furnished with modern utilities and comforts and is known as a place of old-time hospitality and good cheer.
Throughout his entire professional and business career, Judge Campbell has been animated by lofty motives and made every personal consideration subordinate to the higher claims of duty. Broad and liberal in his views, with the greatest good of his fellow men ever before him, his conduct has been that of the lover of his kind and the true and loyal citizen, who is ready at all times to make any reasonable sacrifice for the cause in which his interests are enlisted. He is, withal, a man of the people, proud of his distinction as a citizen of a state and nation for whose laws and institutions he has the most profound admiration and respect, while his strong mentality, ripe judgment, and unimpeachable integrity demonstrate to the satisfaction of all his ability to fill honorably important official positions and to discharge worthily the duties of his trusts.