From A Biographical History of Central Kansas, Vol. II, p. 1344
published by The Lewis Publishing Co, Chicago & New York, 1902


   Among the well known and highly respected citizens of Rice county who have borne an important part in the development of the state is William Campbell, whose name is enrolled among  the pioneers of this section of the country.  Through his own exertions he has attained an honorable portion among the representative men of the west, and with signal consistency it may be said that he is the architect of his own fortune.  He is the father of the first male child born in Rice county, and nobly has he performed his share in the task of reclaiming wild lands for purposes of civilization and in making this section of the state the beautiful spot that it now is.

   Mr Campbell was born in Greenup county, Kentucky, August 16, 1847, a son of Willis and Catherine (Thompson) Campbell, both natives of Adams county, Ohio, where they were married.  The Campbells are of Scotch descent.  Soon after his marriage the father removed to Kentucky, where he was employed in an iron furnace and at other public works for many years.  His death occurred in 1884, and he was survived by his widow for only two years, her death occurring at the same place in 1886.  She was a consistent and worthy member of the Methodist church.  This worthy couple were the parents of five children, namely:  James, who served in the federal army during the Civil war, having been a lieutenant of his company, and he now resides at Cape Girardeau, Missouri; Mary, who became Mrs Griffith; Russell, a resident of Kentucky; William, the subject of this review; and Willis, of Ohio.

   William Campbell remained under the parental roof until sixteen years of age.  At that early age his patriotic spirit was aroused and he donned the blue as a defender of the stars and stripes.  July 16, 1863, he became a member of Company D, Fortieth Kentucky Volunteer Infantry, and was consigned to the Army of the Tennessee, under the command of General Hudson.  He took part in many skirmishes and went on many long, hard marches.  During his service he received a wound in the arm, being struck by a minie ball, and he was confined in a hospital for six weeks.  As soon as able he rejoined his command, and on the expiration of his first term of service he veteranized and remained in the service of his country until the close of hostilities.  From exposure and hardships he contracted typhoid fever, and was confined in a hospital at Lexington, Kentucky, at the time of Lee’s surrender, at which place he received an honorable discharge.  He returned to his home with an honorable military record, but for a time was unable to perform manual labor.  After regaining his health and strength he went to Meigs county, Ohio, where he remained until 1869.  The year 1871 witnessed his arrival in Kansas and secured a homestead claim on section 2, Center township, Rice county, but the following year abandoned the claim and located another in Lincoln township, where he resided until April 1, 1902, when he moved to Chase.  At that time wild animals were numerous in this section of the state, roaming at will over the vast prairies, and the huntsman could keep his table abundantly supplied with wild game.  Mr Campbell endured all the hardships and difficulties incident to life upon the western frontier, but by unfaltering energy and persistent purpose he has prospered in his undertakings and has lived to witness the wonderful transformation which has taken place, the wild lands being transformed into fields of waving grain and the country is now inhabited by a prosperous and contented people.  In 1874 the grasshoppers destroyed all vegetation upon the place and he has met with other reverses, but he usually harvests good crops and his efforts have been attended with a high degree of success.  He has made farming his life occupation and he is now accounted one of the leading agriculturists of his locality.  Soon after locating in Rice county he erected a sod house, which was his place of abode for six years, and he then erected a small frame building.  He has added to his residence until he now has a large and well built dwelling, and he also owns a good residence property in Chase, where he now lives.  His farm property is located four and half miles northeast of Chase, and there he has a fine apple orchard, beautiful groves and substantial buildings.  The hardships endured during his army service and upon the frontier have brought on rheumatism and for the past several years he has been confined in the house much of his time, but he bears his afflictions with Christian fortitude and with cheerfulness.

  Mr Campbell was married in Meigs county, Ohio, in 1869, to Miss Sarah E Cornwall, who was born in that county January 13, 1844, a daughter of Goldsmith and Cynthia (Cook) Cornwall, natives of Ohio.  The father was a school and music teacher for many years, and also followed farming.  His wife died in 1853, and was survived by her husband until 1891, when he, too, was called to the home beyond, both dying in Ohio.  He was a member of the Universalist church and she held membership in the Methodist church.  Their union was blessed with five children:  Martha, who became Mrs Rintoul; John; George; Sarah E, the wife of our subject; and James.  Unto Mr and Mrs Campbell have been born eight children, namely:  Charles L, who was the first male child born in Rice county, and who died when only one year old; Mattie, who is at home; Nineveh, now Mrs G Buzzo; Cora, also at home; and Frank, now engaged in farming on the old homestead; Ancil C, Lucius H and David R, at home.  The parents and four of their children are members of the Methodist church.  In 1874 Mr Campbell became a member of that denomination, in which he afterward became an ordained minister, and he has labored untiringly and with excellent results in the spreading of the gospel among his fellow men.  In 1896 he went to Oklahoma, where he remained for three years, during which time he conducted divine services and made many conversions, bringing many sinners to realize their condition and starting them in the right path.  One conversion more memorable than most others was that of an old gentleman seventy-six years of age who called himself a moralist and who after his conversion was pleased to know that he had found the true way.  Since his return to Kansas Mr Campbell has preached occasionally.  His path has ever been upward, both in a spiritual and temporal sense.  As this review shows he is distinctively a selfmade man, - one of nature’s noblemen, whom no force of circumstances could prostrate or draw into obscurity.  His friends are many and he is honored and respected by all who know him.