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History of Cambria County, V.3

 

History of Cambria County.

    GENERAL JACOB MILLER CAMPBELL, during a long and peculiarly active career, was recognized as one of the most important figures in the business, military and political life of Cambria and adjoining counties. He was prominently identified with the establishment of the mammoth Cambria Iron Works, and with various other large industrial and financial enterprises; he rendered valiant service to his country during the Civil war period, rising to high rank; and for several terms in congress acquitted himself with such distinguished ability and pure patriotism as to earn respect and admiration as a statesman.
    He was born in Allegheny township, Somerset county, Pennsylvania, November 20, 1821. His parents were John and Mary (Weyand) Campbell, the father being a native of Scotland, who emigrated to the United States in 1817, while his mother was a native of Somerset county. In 1826 the parents removed to Allegheny City, where the son was reared and educated in the public schools. In 1835, at the age of sixteen young Campbell returned to the village of Somerset, where he entered the office of the Somerset Whig, and there mastered so much of "the art preservative of all arts" as was possible in a country printing office, and incidentally, by careful reading, adding largely to his fund of knowledge. In 1840 he entered the office of the Literacy Examiner, a monthly magazine published in Pittsburg, as a compositor, and after a few months relinquished his position to go to New Orleans, Louisiana, where he worked for some months in leading newspaper offices. It may not be amiss here to remark (and the writer of this narrative speaks upon his own personal knowledge and experience), that in that day the young printer deemed such travel a necessary sequence to his apprenticeship, and, to one of industrious and ambitious disposition, such proved a broad education in itself. In 1841 Mr. Campbell, then in his twentieth year, engaged in steamboating on the lower Mississippi and its most important tributaries, and during several years following filled the positions of mate, clerk and part owner of a vessel. In April, 1847, he married, and abandoned the river, locating in Brady's Bend, Pennsylvania, where he engaged in business in the Great Western Iron Works. In 1851 he went to California, but within a year returned and again entered the iron works. In 1853 he removed to Johnstown, Pennsylvania, with which city he was thereafter identified during the remainder of his life. His first engagement there was to assist in the construction of the iron works of the Cambria Iron Company, a mammoth undertaking in that day, and he acquitted himself so creditably that he was retained in the service of the company, at all times in important and responsible positions, until the breaking out of the Civil war, when his patriotic spirit would not permit him to rest in civil pursuits, and he resigned at the first call for troops by President Lincoln. He aided in recruiting the first company from Cambria county for the three months'


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