Samuel Campbell

Submitted by Nancy Hauser

SAMUEL CAMPBELL, of New York Mills, Oneida County, 
 was born on the 14th of February 1809, in Tarbolton, Ayrshire,Scotland. He sprung from that vigorous race which gave to his native country her profoundest impress, and during his entire life represented sterling principles, lofty integrity, and great force of character. 
    Tarbolton was once the home of Robert Burns, and in his 
childhood Mr. Campbell knew the scenes which the poet pictured and which were largely the sources of his inspiration. His love of nature, of freedom, of personal independence, as well as his scorn of hypocrisy, which was always naturally strong, was greatly strengthened by the Scottish poet and he had the great poet's carelessness of the distinction of rank and of society. He was taught in those schools which have had renown in Europe since John Knox returned from the feet of Calvin and Scotland broke forever with Rome. The education was thorough and disciplinary, there was no half-work about it; what the pupils got they kept, and it gave them great advantage and power to make their mark in all their wanderings. He was fond of athletic sports, and his skill in 
quoiting caused him to be chosen, when a lad, to take a man's 
place in parish matches; he loved curling and played down to thelast years of his life, and in all games and muscular exercises he was an expert; and so his body grew to the grand proportions of his manhood. 
In 1831 Mr. Campbell came to America, bringing with him for his capital his strong arms, his resolute courage, his quick adaptability, and his taste for mechanical pursuits. Fortunate accident brought him to New York Mills. Here he sought and found employment in the cotton mill which had been erected in 1825 by Benjamin S. Walcott and Benjamin Marshall. He began at the bottom of the business, and steadily progressed, as he proved himself valuable, through the various stages of employment until he became the foreman of the mill. The business of cotton manufacturing was in its infancy; machinery and methods were crude. There was in his surroundings every incentive to a young man of Mr. Campbell's tastes and aptness. Gradually the business came to find in him the practical manager, under whose supervision it developed and prospered.
    In 1847 he was admitted into partnership. Mr. Marshall retired from the firm soon after Mr. Campbell became a
member, and the firm thereafter consisted of Benjamin S. Walcott, his sons, William D. and Charles Walcott, and Samuel Campbell. This copartnership continued for some years and until the death of Charles Walcott. Subsequently Benjamin S. Walcott sold his interest to William D. Walcott and Samuel Campbell, who conducted the business under the firm name of Walcott & Campbell. It remained as thus constituted until January 22, 1884, when the New York Mills was incorporated, with a capital of $1,000,000. Four years after Mr. Campbell entered the firm it acquired by purchase the prosperity of the Oneida Manufacturing Company, which had been located at a point lower down on the Sauquoit Creek in 1807, and which was the first mill for the manufacture of cotton goods erected in the State of New York. The combination of the two mills made the largest manufacturing establishment then in the State. In 1852 a large addition to the mill was erected under the direction of Mr. Campbell. Shortly afterward the upper mill, known as Mill No.4, was erected; and constant improvements and additions have been made since, steam power and the most modern machinery have been introduced, and the goods of the company have retained, in the face of the closest competition, that unchallenged rank in the market which was theirs from the first. Messrs. Walcott and Campbell thus worked together for more than a quarter of a century in the harmonious development of the largest industrial enterprise of Central New York, building up around them a community of employees which is a model of temperate and thrifty prosperity. Nowhere in the United States can there be found a factory village which excels the New York Mills in the beauty of its natural surroundings, the neatness and comfort of the operatives' homes, the excellence of its schools, the
prosperity of its churches, or the contented intelligence of its people. In nothing that he had achieved did Mr. Campbell find a more honorable pride than in this village, wherein the example of his own life bore such gratifying fruit. The character of the proprietors of the mills is illustrated in the surroundings of their employees, quite as much as in the quality of their goods and the successful management of their great interests.
    Mr. Campbell always gave the closest personal supervision to the details of the manufacturing. Himself a practical machinist, he kept abreast of every improvement in the methods and machinery of cotton manufacture, and up to the day of his death he continued to give the business the same scrutiny which had originally made it successful, refusing, notwithstanding the multiplicity of his cares and some signs of the lessening strength of years, to surrender to younger men the responsibilities of his youth. He was reluctant to admit that there was a limit to the wonderful vitality which had carried him unbroken through a tireless life.
    Mr. Campbell's activity made him a large factor in public affairs. He was especially prominent and patriotic in his efforts to promote the success of the War for the Union and was one of the most efficient members of the Oneida County War Committee. As the Supervisor from the Town of Whitestown in 1863 and 1864 he threw himself with all his energy into the work of recruiting for the army and caring for the soldiers. Night and day he labored in this cause, inspiring enlistments, mingling among the recruits, watching for the welfare of their families, providing for them when sick or wounded, and encouraging them by word and act. His soul was moved with an absorbing fervor; his time and money were given to his adopted country with an unselfish devotion which showed how keenly alive he was to the blessings and value of the es and experiments in farming. He was the owner of one of the finest farms in Oneida County, and found in its cultivation upon scientific principles his chief relaxation from business cares. His tastes led him to cattle raising, and by importation, purchase, and careful breeding he gathered together the largest and the most valuable herd of short-horn cattle in the country. The sale of this stock in September, 1873, was one of the most remarkable that had ever taken place in the United States, the aggregate for 109 head being $381,990. He died September 22, 1885. An appreciative notice in Harper's Weekly for October 3, of that year, may appropriately be inserted here:
    In Samuel Campbell, who died on tile 22d of September, at New York Mills, near Utica, the State has lost one of its most valuable citizens, and all who personally knew him a friend who can not be replaced. Mr. Campbell, with his old partner, Mr. Walcott, was a most distinguished and successful manufacturer, and an efficient promoter of all moral interests, and, indeed, of all good interests. He had served as a State Senator, and his manly uprightness and vigor were a constant illumination of the best qualities of American character and citizenship, and reminded the legislature of that great unknown amid unseen public intelligence which scans and judges legislatures and governors and presidents.
    There was a characteristic largeness in all that he did and in the circumstances of his life. He and his partner had built up around them the flourishing town, with its great mills, which his own invention had supplied with ingenious mechanism. He was the natural leader of the little community, but a leader as beloved as trusted. His spacious house stood, amid ample, park-like grounds, upon a gentle eminence fitly commanding a broad and breezy panorama, including the beautiful valley of the Mohawk. His domestic life was singularly happy, and he dwelt, a genial patriarch, among those whom he loved as he was loved.
    "Large was his bounty, amid his soul sincere." To have known such a man is one of the benedictions of life; to have had his friendly regard is to be held closer to honest and manly living.'
    June 27, 1832, Mr. Campbell married Agnes Sinclair, daughter of John and Mary Sinclair, who was born in Glasgow,
Scotland, March 25, 1810, being the fifth in a family of eleven children. They had six daughters and two sons.
Source:'The Empire State in Three Centuries' Volume 3 Century History Company