James Ira Campbell, biography c. 1904
[Southern Industrial and Lumber Review]
  Source: "James Ira Campbell," Southern Industrial and Lumber Review, April, 1904, p. 38d.
  James Ira Campbell.  

In the last issue of the Review a brief notice was made of the illness of James Ira Campbell, but little did we suspect at the time that his death was so eminent. Notwithstanding the fact that Mr. Campbell’s health has been poor throughout Last fall and winter, but few were aware of his really critical condition and those were loath to admit or discuss it. Consequently, the announcement of the death came suddenly and it brought sincere sorrow to his friends.

Mr. J. I. Campbell was in many respects one of the most advanced lumbermen in the business. He came from a school of his own. He was a business man long before he became a lumberman. He began as a retailer and he ended as one of the largest manufacturers. He was self-made in the strictest sense of the word. He devoted his entire life to the duty of founding name and fortune for his family. His personality was one of the most pronounced; his individuality made him a noticeable personage in any gathering. While Mr. Campbell was extremely reserved in his manner, giving his thoughts mostly to the exacting duties of the day and hour, he could unbend upon occasion and join with his fellow lumbermen in the enjoyment of conversation and social amities. He was particularly fond of the gatherings of the lumbermen's association and upon such occasions gave himself up to the enjoyment of meeting old friends and renewing old acquaintances. He was one of the oldest members of the association and served actively as vice president and committeeman for many years, and with truth it may be said that his failure to appear among his colleagues at the Orange meeting just closed was the cause of universal comment and deep sorrow. The absence of Mr. Campbell brought home to very many of the older members present that the sands of time were running fast and that soon perhaps others of the old guard would be called away to renew earthly friendships in another life.

The death of Mr. Campbell occurred on Thursday March 24th, after a long and severe illness, which can only be attributed to the strenuousness of his business life, which seemed to allow him no rest.

He was born in Austin county, Texas, Aug. 31, 1850. His father was Cyrus Campbell, a Methodist minister, who emigrated to Texas in 1828, grew up with the country, fought for the independence of the State against the Mexican troops and forged the fetters that bound Santa Anna after his capture at the battle of San Jacinto.

The family lived on a farm, and there James Ira Campbell spent the years of his boyhood and early manhood. It was while living in Comanche county that he married Miss Sarah McHenry Lee.

In 1880 Mr. Campbell sold the farm upon which he was raised and moved to Albany, Texas. Two years later he opened his first lumber yard at De Leon, Comanche county. His business prospered and more yards were acquired over the State. Mr. Campbell and his family removed to Lampasas. There they remained until nine years ago, when they removed to Houston.

Since that time the J. I. Campbell Lumber Company has become one of the most important and extensive corporations of this city. The business was manufacturing wholesale and retail, covering every branch of the trade. Mills were acquired and constructed over the State and yards were opened in many of the cities. The Warren, Corsicana & Pacific Railroad was planned, to extend through East Texas, connecting important lines.

Upon the signs of failure in Mr. Campbell’s health the partnership was merged into a corporation with capital stock of $500,000.

During his nine years’ residence In Houston and the years spent in other parts of the State his name has been connected with the best interests of his community, and in business and social circles his name has been among the most prominent.

Early in life Mr. Campbell became affiliated with the Methodist church, and since that time he has been a most active worker in religious circles. He was a member of Shearn Methodist church in Houston.

Mr. Campbell is survived by his wife and one son, Ira Lee Campbell, and three brothers and two sisters. They are: W. T. Campbell, a stockman of Childress county; C. M. Campbell, a lumbermen of Temple; L. W. Campbell of Dallas, Mrs. J. E. Stevens of Coleman and Mrs. J. M. Presler of Comanche.

The funeral services were conducted both from the home on Main street and from the Shearn Methodist church. The home services consisted of music and was attended only by relatives and near friends. The main services at the church were largely attended by citizens of Houston generally and were conducted by the pastor, the Rev. Sam R. Hay. The floral offerings were beautiful in the extreme. The following were the pall bearers, many of whom were the business associates of the deceased in his life:

Active—H. Booth, F. F. Fleming, J. P. Scott, Walter R. Jones, Ed. H. Harrell, J. M. Rockwell, Percy Allen and T. L. Hackney.

Honorary—S. F. Carter, W. D. Cleveland, J. W. Morrell, H. P. Daviss, Charles Dillingham, E. P. Hamblen J. C. Matthews, W. B. Jones, A. G. Howell and J. E. McAshan.

The body was interred in Glenwood cemetery.

And thus ends our earthly dealings with one who has been part and parcel of the great business activity of Texas. The presence of James I. Campbell will be sadly missed by his colleagues, but recognizing that the will of God is indisputable his friends accept the inevitable, at the same time offering their heartfelt sympathy to those nearer and dearer who find their loss hard indeed to bear.

The following resolutions were adopted at a meeting of Houston lumbermen, called for the purpose:

Whereas, The Almighty Father, whose councils are secret and wisdom infinite, has seen fit to remove from his labors among his brother lumbermen, J. I. Campbell; and

Whereas, J. I. Campbell has been for the past twenty or more years a prominent figure in lumber circles, both wholesale and retail, and one who was always ready to respond to the call of the lumbermen of Texas when any action of any character by them was necessary, and always ready to give his time and energy to the success of
the business in general, without regard to personal profit; and

Whereas, The Lumbermen of Houston recognizing in him a man who has contributed largely to the high standing of the lumbermen in the business world:

Be it therefore resolved, That in the death of J. I. Campbell the lumbermen of Texas in general, and of Houston in particular, have lost a faithful and energetic associate, and one who was always ready to devote his energy and talents to the furtherance of lumber interests; always ready to give of his time to the entertainment of visiting lumbermen, and to do any and all things honorable for the advancement of the interests of the lumbermen; and

Be it further resolved, That the lumbermen of Houston, together assembled, extend to the widow of our deceased brother, and his son and family, their heartfelt, sympathy, and join with them in mourning the loss of one whose place can never he filled; that a copy of these resolutions be sent to the family of deceased, and a copy be given to the press of this city.

Lumbermen of Houston,
By J. M. Rockwell, Chairman.
M. L. Womack, Secretary.

A Munificent Donation.
In commemoration of the life work, piety and patriotism of the late James Ira Campbell, and in conformity to his own ambition in life, his widow and his son have donated to the Southwestern University of Georgetown, Texas, the sum of $25,000 to endow a chair of history. The chair will be known as the J. I. Campbell chair.

This action of the widow and son of our lamented friend, coming so soon after his demise, cannot but stir warm feeling in the hearts of his fellow citizens, and still further accentuate the earnest wish of his friends that he might have been spared to see and enjoy the good results of the philanthropy which was in his heart.

Text and images were digitized and proofread from the original source documents by Murry Hammond. Contact Murry for all corrections and contributions of new material.