Monday, June 26, 2006


Mary Catherine Wilson, born October 12, 1820, in Madison county, Ala., and grew up and received her education while living in the first home of the family. On the 25th of April, 1839, she was married to John W. Campbell, a young lawyer, of Louisburg, Tenn., and settled in that town, where they lived three or four years. They then moved to Hernando, Desoto county, Miss., in 1844, where they lived for years. Seven children were born to this happy and loving couple­—John W., Annie, Parker, Mary (Betty?), Catherine, Elizabeth (Molly?), Nicholas Wilson, and Sallie. Soon after the birth of Sallie, the father was stricken with congestive malarial fever, and lived only two or three days. Cut down in the prime of life, just when he was most needed to care for, educate and train his children for usefulness. He had established a fine, lucrative law practice, and had drawn around him a host of admiring influential friends, and his prospects of earthly happiness and emoluments were bright, indeed, but death came when he was least expecting it.

Mr. Campbell was a man greatly beloved by his neighbors and friends. He was kind to the poor, and ever ready to go to the relief of the distressed. He was a kind, indulgent father, and idolized his wife and children, but he was not a Christian. He had neglected the "one thing needful"; had made the great mistake.

The sorrow of that poor wife and mother was distressing to behold. She had the sympathy, prayers, and advice of father, mother and sister and brothers, but to no avail, and not until she accepted Christ as her Saviour, and submitted to His chastening rod, did she receive comfort and strength to bear her great sorrow, and take up the burden of life. When a girl of twelve years, while attending a revival, or camp meeting, she had made a profession of religion, when under great excitement, physical and mental. When the meeting closed, and she had time to reflect, she found she had made a mistake, and this mistake had its effect upon her after life. She was the only one of the family who came into the church late in life, and proves the truth of God's word, "They that seek me early, shall find me," and common observation proves that they make the most consecrated Christians. My sister had a hard struggle to maintain and educate her family, but she summoned all the energies of her naturally strong mind and constitution, and with the assistance of father and friends, succeeded. The children were all bright and universal favorites, and her sons could get employment at the best wages when not in school. Her oldest son, John W., was serving in the County Clerk's Office, and the Sheriff's Office whenever he could be had, and it was said of him, that at the age of eighteen, he knew personally every man in his county. I have no doubt this was true, for an election for militia officers was ordered, and J. W. C.'s name was put on the ticket without his knowledge or consent. Had he known it he would not have suffered it, for he was too young to hold the office by two of three years. When the election came off, he received 1,800 out of 2,000 votes polled.

When the Ninth Mississippi Regiment was organized early in 1861, he enlisted as a private, but was appointed adjutant of the regiment by Col. James R. Chalmers. When the term of service expired, General Patton Anderson appointed him A. D. C. on his staff with rank of captain. This position I think he held when he was shot on the lines on Missionary Ridge in 1863. He had been sent to the lines with orders, and just as the enemy charged the lines, and drove our men down the mountain he was shot. He saw he would be captured in a few minutes, and he succeeded in dragging himself down the mountain wounded and bleeding, until he was rescued by the litter corps, and taken to a place of safety. He was promptly sent to the hospital, where every effort was made to save the young soldier's life, but to no avail. He died more from the injuries received in dragging himself from the battlefield, than from the fatal bullet. A noble soldier was lost to his country; a noble son was lost to a fond and doting mother. This was a terrible blow to my dear sister, and a severe test of her faith in the goodness and mercy of God.

At this late day we look back in astonishment at the fortitude and bravery of Southern mothers. Every day almost, brought news of death. Sorry and mourning were wafted on every breeze, but still, I never knew a Southern mother to withhold her last boy when duty called him to the front. They thought they were right. They knew they were right and they discharged duty faithfully, trusting in God, and they received all needed grace and strength.

Time moved on, and the girls developed rapidly into young womanhood, and were like Job's daughters, "The fairest in the land." Beauty, wit, and amiability, coupled with good sense and education in woman, will always command admiration. And we find the young ladies marrying as rapidly as they come of age, and settling down to the stern duties of wedded life. Nicholas, the youngest son, is the last to marry, and the mother soon finds herself alone : bereft of her children, but a kind protecting providence is around her, and she is blessed with health and strength and the sorrows of the past are swallowed up in the prattle of laughter of her grandchildren springing up around her. Her oldest daughter, Annie (Mrs. Burch Kuhl), moves to Florida, and the mother follows, and enjoys for several years the oranges and the tropical fruits of that sunny land. Then, as old age creeps on, providentially, or otherwise, she turns her face towards home. She has known, never, but one home, the place where her married life was spent, and the father of her children was buried. The last years of her life were spent in Memphis, Tenn., with her daughter, Mollie (Mrs. Wooldridge), who cared for her faithfully and tenderly to the last. On the 17th of August, 1903, she fell asleep, aged eighty-two years and 10 months, the greatest age attained by any one of the family for one hundred years. Her body was taken by her children and friends back to the old home, and deposited in the cemetery by the side of the husband she buried fifty years before, the only man she ever loved.

Looking at the grand and flourishing branch of the parent tree, from a religious standpoint, we will find, I think, fewer consecrated lives, and a smaller percentage of church members, than in any we have investigated, and why is it? It cannot be attributed to anything else, except the want of early religious training in the home, when deep and lasting impressions are made upon the heart and conscience of the little child.

I have seen it stated somewhere, that a lady asked the Sage, Daniel Webster, in his old age, when she should commence the training of her child? His answer was: "Fifty years before its birth, madam."

I know too little of Mrs. Campbell's children to write up their history. Annie—Mrs. Kuhl—lives in Orlando, Fla., and has a growing family. One, at least, grown and married, probably. Mollie—Mrs. Wooldridge—lives in Memphis, Tenn., has seven children, and seven or eight grandchildren. The other families, I do not know. This is, probably, the largest branch of the parent tree.


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