Monday, September 26, 2011

Amanuensis Monday: Follow Up to New Treasures from My Mother #2 - Doc and Rose Campbell

I have an update on Doc Campbell and family, whom I wrote about back in June.

In his Handbook of Old Gallatin County, Jon Musgrave, has compiled 19th and 20th century sources, including bios from Gallatin. On p. 232-3, he transcribes (from Memoirs of the Lower Ohio Valley) the bio of my 2nd great grand uncle:

William Campbell, M.D. - 1905

WILLIAM CAMPBELL, M.D., who has practiced medicine at Equality, Ill., for almost forty years, was born two and a half miles west of that town Nov. 12, 1842. His father, William C. Campbell, was born in Virginia about 1789 and came in early childhood to Kentucky with his parents, who settled near Lexington. There he grew to manhood, married Mary Guard, and soon afterward came to Gallatin County, Ill. His wife died shortly afterward and he subsequently married Sallie Gillette Hewitt, the widow of William Hewitt, and a native of Vermont [contradicts census birth place]. They continued to live on the farm until 1858, when they removed to Equality and there spent their declining years. He died at the age of eighty years and she at eighty-two. Of their two children Doctor Campbell is the only one living.

Dr. William Campbell received his elementary education in the public schools of Equality, and began his business career as a clerk in a store. While thus employed he commenced the study of medicine, and after 1864 devoted his entire time to the acquirement of a professional education. In 1867 he was graduated from the Cincinnati College of Medicine, and soon afterward opened an office in Equality, where he has ever since practiced his profession. Doctor Campbell is one of the oldest practicing physicians in his section of the state, has a lucrative business, is recognized as one of the successful men in the treatment of diseases, and stands high with both the public and his brother physicians. He was one of the organizers of the Gallatin County Medical Society, to which he has belonged ever since its formation. As a member of Lodge No. 19, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, he has filled all the chairs, and has taken considerable interest in promoting the good works of the Methodist Episcolpal church, of which he is a member.

In 1867 he was married to Rose Norcross, a native of Evansville, Indiana, and they have three daughters and a son living. The three daughters live in Equality, where Nellie is a Mrs. Purcell; Mary a Mrs. Dempsey, and Nora a Mrs. Wathen. The son, William A., is an engineer on the railroad and lives in Danville, Ill. Doctor Campbell is one of the public spirited men in town, and as a Democrat takes a keen interest in political questions, though he is not what could be called a practical politician.
This biography which was kindly sent to me from a fellow Hewitt researcher answered many of the questions which I posed in my last post about the Campbells, however it also brought up additional questions. It turns out that some of the information contained in the above on Doc's father is incorrect. William C. Campbell has long been a bit of a mystery to many Gallatin researchers. I have made numerous inquiries about him in the past and had learned little about his origins. He was quite well-established in Gallatin and his name appears rather frequently in the town records, however it seems that no one except his contemporaries seemed to know his background - until now.

The bio above provides some clues, which led me to research done by Phil Norf on the Campbells of South Virginia. He mentions a William born about 1787, son of Captain William Campbell and Mary "Elizabeth" Ellison. Norf's exhaustive research places the family of this William Campbell in Augusta County, Virginia and then Tennessee prior to 1784 and in Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky from about 1784 to 1806. Afterward they moved to Muhlenberg County, Kentucky and then onto Gallatin County, Illinois. Sound familiar?

Since there are already some discrepancies with the birth info that I have seen for "my" William C. Campbell, the birth date of 1787 is not that much of a stretch. The bio above states he was born about 1789 in Virginia and the 1850 Federal Census lists him as born about 1791 in Tennessee, but the migration pattern fits perfectly with that of Norf's William since "my" William seems to believe he was born in Tennessee, which is where his family was before coming to Fayette County, which was Virginia at the time and not Kentucky.

Norf's work states that William's wife's name is unknown. I have three wives for "my" William. 1) Nancy Graham or Nancy K. Campbell, 2) Mary Ann/Margaret Guard and 3) Sallie Gillette Hewitt (my 2nd great grandmother). The bio above ignores Nancy and states that William C. married Mary Guard before coming to Gallatin from Kentucky, but I found their marriage record in Gallatin in 1837. Since he was already about 50 years old by then, it makes sense that Nancy was the wife that he married in Kentucky who died shortly after arriving in Gallatin. This is further supported by the fact that both Nancy and Mary are buried in Gallatin County with the inscription "Consort of William C. Campbell". It is interesting to note that two of the siblings of William from Norf's research married Guards and at least one married another Campbell. So, it fits perfectly with "my" William who married a Guard and, probably, a Campbell cousin.

Given that: 1) The migration pattern of the two Williams is exactly the same, 2) "My" William married into families that were allied with the "other" William's family, 3) Norf's William became a landowner quite young (1804), inheriting from his father which put him in a position to be well-placed in Gallatin society like "my" William was, and 4) Researchers do not have info on "my" William's early life or Norf's William's later life - it follows that they are the same person.

With that in mind, William was probably born in Fayette County c.1787 when it was still Virginia, and  not in Augusta County or Tennessee as he apparently believed. Since the family had lived in both places previous to his birth, the confusion is understandable. His parents were Captain William Campbell (1748-1800), son of "Black David" Campbell and Jane Cunyngham, and Mary "Elizabeth" Ellison Campbell (1755-1825). In the 1810 Census William is probably the young male living with his widowed mother and three younger sisters in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky. At least four of his sisters, one brother and his mother also ended up in Gallatin County by 1830.

The bio above also confirmed that all of my previous research on Rosanna Norcross and her children (that I wasn't too confident about) was indeed correct, except that instead of daughter Nora who is mentioned in the bio, I had Jennie who married George C. Helm on my tree. It appears that Jennie died before 1905 when the bio was written and Nora was born after the 1880 Census and married before the 1900 Census, thus making her "invisible" to me. With the info on her married name provided above, I was able to find Nora and even track some of her descendants forward.

I am happy to say that I feel like I have a really nice full picture of Doctor Campbell's family now and I hope that one of his descendants will happen upon my blog and contact me. Or, maybe I will get a DNA match one of these days to someone with the surname Campbell, Purcell, Dempsey, Helm or Wathen and because of this research be able to recognize the significance. Now, that would be fun!


  1. Nice blog. I came upon it looking for references to my Handbook of Old Gallatin County. (Somewhere out there is a bad e-mail address I'm trying to find).

    Sorry for the problems with the 1905 bio. There are a number of biographical sketches in that book as well as the 1912 History of Southern Illinois that I used which were written by children or even grandchildren of the subject of the sketch. They didn't always have their facts right.

    Of course, if they did, genealogical research wouldn't be half as much fun.

    Jon Musgrave

    1. It is so nice to hear from you, Jon! You have been such a help in the research of my ancestors from Gallatin County. I appreciate your generosity very much.
      No apologies necessary, of course. It is a wonderful find and I might never have known about it if it weren't for your transcription. I think we all know and expect mistakes in obits and other family-generated remembrances.
      I only wish I had one of these for all of my ancestors. It gives a great starting place for research, even when all of the facts aren't exactly correct.
      Thanks for the comment and good luck finding that bad email address.