JAMES A. CAMPBELL
Born in Ohltown, Trumble County, Ohio, on September 11,1854, James Anson Campbell was reared in Austintown, and was the youngest of eight children. He completed his education at Niles High School and furthered his learning at Hiram College for a year.
While at Hiram, young Campbell received an appointment to WestPoint and passed the entrance exam. He changed his mind and did not enter the academy. Instead, he taught in a country school for a short time, switching to the hardware business in Youngstown.
Campbell worked 14 hours a day as a clerk for the Morris, Barbey and Company hardware store on East Federal Street. He was twenty years old at the time, and when a better position came along, charge of an undertaking and furniture business in St. Petersburg, Pennsylvania, he undertook it. There he met his future wife, Uretta Place, and they were married in 1880.
Five years later Mr. Campbell organized the Youngstown Ice Company, and was its manager until 1890. He turned to the iron business through the Wick family, who operated the Union Iron and Steel Company. Colonel George Wick offered him a job as manager of a small plant of the family’s in Pomeroy, Ohio. Campbell showed good business sense in revitalizing the plant and increasing its profits.
Colonel Wick then moved him to their plant in Girard. Soon after, Union Iron and Steel became a part of U.S. Steel, and Campbell moved on, in 1895, to the Mahoning Valley Iron Company to take on the superintendent’s position.
When Mahoning Valley merged with Republic Iron and Steel Company, Campbell, bothered by all the nergers and working now as general manager for Republic, discussed the formation of an entirely new company with Colonel Wick.
He and Wick approached Samuel and D.J. Wilkoff, who owned a scrap business, about plans to build a mill to produce iron pipe and iron sheets. Several others were interested in the project and on November 28,1900, the Youngstown Iron Sheet and Tube Company was formed.
Mr. Wick became the first president and treasurer, and Mr. Campbell was elected vice president and manager. In 1902 wick left the presidency because of ill health and Campbell moved up to guide the struggling young corporation. He was officially named president in 1905.
James A. Campbell served as head of the Youngstown Sheet and Tube Company for twenty-seven years. He never worked as a steelworker, but helped direct the fledgling industry to become one of the top four steel companies in the country.
Mr. Campbell had been pleased when the residents of East Youngstown chose in 1926, to rename their city “Campbell” after him.
Mr. and Mrs. Campbell were the parents of Louis, Helen (Ravelli) and Rebecca (Campbell). Mr. Campbell died on September 29, 1933, at the age of 79. He had been in poor health since the famous Sheet and Tube-Bethlehem Steel merger trail of 1933, in which Cyrus Eaton attempted to merge the two companies.
Eleven days after her husband died, Mrs. Campbell succumbed to illness. A year later, their only son Louis died of a lengthy illness.
An oil painting of Mr. Campbell hangs in the main hall of the municipal building. It was painted by his artist son-in-law and is inscribed “James Anson Campbell, after whom this town was named. Presented by his son-in-law, Federigo Guglielmo Ravelli. January MCMXXVIII”. (1928).
Special thanks to Mrs. Florence Galida for permission to print this article, taken from her book, “The Fascinating History Of The City Of Campbell“, 1976.