Like so many other families the oldest son, Frank Campbell, moved on west to East Tennessee where he taught school in the mountains. He later attended Maryville College near Knoxville. Founded by a Presbyterian minister, Issac L. Anderson, Maryville, is the twelfth oldest institution in the South. (Today, it has about 1200 students and its mascot is the “Scots.”)
Frank Campbell received a call the ministry and moved to Cincinnati where he attended Lane Theological Seminary. He was ordained in 1912 and by then had married Gertrude Doling, a graduate of the University of Cincinnati. He and his wife served in a “number of missionary Presbyterian churches in Tennessee and Illinois.”
The Reverend Frank Campbell was also a stand-up vaudeville comedian. He loved impersonations and “The 1000 Faces of Frank Campbell” became a regular feature in the small towns where he was pastor. The advertising read “Frank Campbell, Preacher, Lecturer and Entertainer. A man with a Message. Born in Pennsylvania, reared in east Tennessee and worked his way through College and the Seminary. Combines native ability with scholastic attainments and pleasing personality.”
Perhaps his most successful ministry was at the First United Presbyterian Church in Rochelle, Illinois, where he was pastor for 19 years. The church grew, he raised money and paid off the debt, refurbished the building and stayed until 1943. His wife was also highly regarded both in the church and the community.
Those were difficult years for this family of five. They lived in the manse at 420 North Sixth Street but it was not a great house. They had little money to spend. However, the family had a large garden and “some days all the food they had was spinach and root vegetables, such as carrots, potatoes and radishes.” But, it was a happy home and Mrs. Campbell was an excellent mother. The Reverend Frank Campbell would move on to other churches until he finally retired in 1969. I do not know when he died or where he is buried.
The two boys, John and Jim, once built a vegetable wagon and tried to peddle spinach to their neighbors with little success. Dr. Jim would later refuse to eat spinach, claiming he could get more “iron from sucking on a nail than eating spinach.” Many years later, this same Dr. James Campbell would live in Lake Forest, Illinois and drive a Mercedes, but he never forgot those difficult years in Rochelle. He also had his father’s gift for acting and humor.
Here is why I like this story. This family had almost nothing. In today’s society they would be below the poverty line and eligible for food stamps. But, all the children became highly educated and successful and they did it through had work and sacrifice.
The oldest son, John D. Campbell, attended Knox College and then Harvard where he earned a Ph.D in psychology. He served in WWII and wrote a book entitled “The Men of Company K” about his war experiences. (I recently bought a copy on e-bay and if you want to know what war is really like read this book.) Eleanor went to Monmouth College and then the University of Illinois where she earned a master’s degree in education. “Her husband, Dr. Frank Scharletzki, became the head of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Maryland. “It was both remarkable and a tribute to the Campbell family that all the children were able not only to receive a college education, but to go on to graduate school as well.” Dr. James A. Campbell became a distinguished physician, educator and the modern day builder of Rush University Medical Center.
This story and all the family information comes from a wonderful book written by Malachi J. Flanagan, M.D. called “To The Glory of God and the Service of Man”. It is the story of James Allan Campbell and the history of Rush University Medical Center. Dr. Flanagan practiced at Rush his entire career but sadly passed away in September, 2009.
I have read the book twice and recently gave a copy to Dr. Jacob Rotmensch who is Mary’s cancer doctor. If you like Chicago history, especially its history of medical care, you will like this book. The book store at Rush told me it was out of print but I did find copies on the Internet.
The family story of the Reverend Frank Campbell is illustrative of the people Senator Jim Webb wrote about in his book “Born Fighting, How the Scots-Irish Shaped America.” He called these people “poor but proud and stubborn as hell.” Wesley Pruden of The Washington Times calls it their “Mountain Pride.” These independent pioneers who traveled through Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois and Missouri were “poor but proud and stubborn as hell.” My family on both sides made that same journey finally settling along Panther creek, east of Springfield, Missouri, where I was born and where we lived in a log cabin.
I don’t mean this to be a political statement because I know we all have different philosophies but are we losing that “Mountain Pride” that makes us independent and hard working? Jack Cafferty of CNN reports that almost half of Americans get some kind of government aid. Cafferty says: “With fewer than half of Americans paying federal taxes - and just about half get government aid - this country is headed down the drain and fast.” (I have waited until after the election to post this article, lest it be wrongly interrupted.)
Maybe we need a good dose of Mountain Pride - “poor but proud and stubborn as hell” much like the Campbell family.
Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Illinois St. Andrew’s Society
The Scottish American History Club is part of the Arts and Culture Division of the Illinois St. Andrew’s Society/Chicago Scots.