Southwest Virginia Campbells

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The Siblings of Black David Campbell

by Phil Norfleet


Family Traditions

Margaret Campbell Pilcher, in her book entitled Historical Sketches of the Campbell, Pilcher and Kindred Families (published 1911), states the following regarding six (6) siblings of Black David:

" … I will now return to the brothers and sisters of ‘Black David’ Campbell, the third generation of this branch.

Elizabeth Campbell married.

Alexander Campbell was living in Kentucky in 1801, and was at that time over eighty years of age.

Robert Campbell married and had three sons, namely: James, called ‘Big Jimmie;’ Alexander, married Miss Lockhart, and ‘Elder’ David Campbell, who married Jane Lockhart, a sister of his brother’s wife.

Jane Campbell married a Mr. Allison. Died in 1800.

William Campbell married ________, and had a son, Major William Campbell of Nashville, Tenn. He was in the Continental Army. He married Anne Campbell, daughter of his cousin, William Campbell, and Mary Ellison, his wife. Their descendents are given in the forgoing pages.

Mary Campbell married Major John Steele. They had one son, Col. John Steele who was in the Continental Army, and was a member of the Order of the Cincinnati. He was severely wounded during the Revolution, and for many years was a counselor in Virginia. He died unmarried.

This completes, as far as the names and dates can be obtained, the sketch of this branch of the Clan Campbell. …" [1]

The Official Record

I believe that I can verify the existence of six siblings of Black David. The three brothers, Alexander, Robert and William, mentioned by Mrs. Pilcher, can all be substantiated. However, of the three sisters mentioned by Mrs. Pilcher, only Mary and Jane Campbell can be verified. I can find no record of the third sister mentioned by Mrs. Pilcher, Elizabeth. Conversely, Mrs. Pilcher fails to mention Florence Campbell, who was cited in Alexander Campbell, Sr.ís will. Perhaps Elizabeth and Florence are one and the same person?

The limited information that I have been able to collect re the siblings of Black David are presented in the following paragraphs:

1.  William Campbell

This William Campbell may be the William who, according to Mrs. Pilcher, married Mary Byers, but I have no evidence to support this. He probably died in Augusta County before the year 1772, when Captain William Campbell (1748-1800) and his other uncles (Robert and Alexander) started their migration out of Beverley Manor.

There is an Augusta County, Virginia will, dated 5 October 1754, for a certain William Campbell. In November 1759, an executor was appointed (Samuel Campbell) and bond given with respect to the estate of this same William Campbell, deceased. [See Augusta County, Virginia, Will Book 2, pages 343-344.] It is possible that this William Campbell is the brother of Black David, but I have no evidence that would support this conclusion. In the aforementioned will, William’s wife is stated to be a certain Sarah Campbell; children named in the will are sons Samuel, James and John, and daughters Mary, Margaret, Elizabeth, Mary Ann and Rachel.

2.  Robert Campbell (d. c. 1797)

William Campbell (1793-1885) of Santa Clara, California said that his mother, Margaret Campbell (1774-1853), was the daughter of Robert by Robert’s second wife, Margaret Killpateric (Kirkpatrick). [2] Based on information contained in several Washington County, Tennessee land records, I believe that Robert Campbell apparently died shortly before November 1797. In 1797, he had at least one daughter, Margaret, and four sons still living, i.e., William, David (Elder David), James (Big Jimmy) and John R. Campbell. This is evidenced by an indenture dated 06 Nov 1797, whereby:

" … the Heirs of Robt Campbell Decd – viz William Campbell agent in fact for James Campbell, David Campbell, John Campbell & William Campbell all of the County of Featt [Fayette] and State of Kentucky of the one part and George Gillespie of the County of Washington and State of Tennessee of the other part … " [convey] " … that tract or parcel of Land Lying on the Waters of Nolachucky on a branch of Big Limestone Known by the name of Campbells Mill …" [3]

A brief summary of my information concerning the six known children of Robert Campbell is summarized below:

1.  William Campbell: This William was the grandfather of Brigadier General Alexander Campbell of the Confederate Army. William’s life is briefly sketched in the Alexander Campbell Genealogical Report.

2.  Elder David and Big Jimmie Campbell: They were involved in the founding of Campbell’s Station and their lives are reasonably well known due to articles published by the East Tennessee historian, Laura Luttrell. [4]

3.  John Campbell: Better known as John R. Campbell; he is reasonably well known to historians as the ill-fated commander of the American forces at the Battle of Campbell’s Island, in the Mississippi River near Rock Island, Illinois [see map], during the War of 1812. This battle between American Regulars and Rangers commanded by Lieutenant Campbell and Sac and Fox Indians led by Chief Blackhawk, took place on 10 July 1814. A biographical sketch of John is included in the Alexander Campbell Genealogical Report. These two photographs were taken by the author at the Campbell’s Island State (Illinois) Memorial in 1998.

4.  Captain Alexander Campbell: The fact that Captain Alexander Campbell (1761-1816), [5] reputedly another son of Robert Campbell (d. 1797), is not mentioned in the above cited indenture, even though we know that he was living in 1797, is puzzling. I have not been able to locate a will for Robert in either Washington County, Tennessee or Fayette County, Kentucky. Perhaps Robert Campbell did leave a will in Fayette County which has been lost due to the fire which consumed most of the county records in 1803.

5.  Margaret Campbell: Although Robert Campbell undoubtedly had several daughters, the only daughter known to us is Margaret, who married David Campbell of Muhlenberg County, Kentucky. According to William Campbell (1793-1885) of Santa Clara, California, Margaret was a daughter of Robert by his second wife, Margaret Kirkpatrick. Margaret is discussed in greater detail in my essay on David Campbell (1772-1838).

3.  Alexander Campbell (d. ca. 1787)

William Campbell (1793-1885) of Santa Clara, California tells us the following concerning his Uncle Alexander:

"Uncle Alexander Campbell’s family I know all about. He came to Kentucky in 1784 with his family; with mother’s [Margaret Campbell’s]father (his brother) [Robert Campbell] and with grandfather’s [Captain William Campbell’s]family." [6]

Per the will of Alexander Campbell Senior, who died testate in 1758, Alexander, Junior was the youngest son. My estimation is that Alexander Jr. was born during the mid-to-late 1720’s. The land records of Washington County, Tennessee indicate that this Alexander must have died testate in about the year 1787 as a certain "John Campbell being executor of the Last Will and Testament of Alexander Campbell, deceased," [7] began to sell off Alexander’s land in Washington County in that year (also see the Table included in my essay on Captain William Campbell (1748-1800).

This Alexander (d. 1787) is undoubtedly the father of the Alexander Campbell who acquired 93 acres of land on the waters of North Elkhorn in Fayette County, Kentucky from the Reverend Lewis Craig, on 14 May 1793. This land was adjacent to the 137-acre tract of land of Alexander’s nephew, Captain William Campbell (see my Captain William Campbell essay). On 12 October 1805, Alexander and his wife, Mary, conveyed this land to a certain John Starke. [8] This was about the same time that the sons of Captain William Campbell (William and Charles) sold their adjacent 137-acre tract.

For several years after the 1805 land sale, the precise whereabouts of this younger Alexander and his wife, Mary Campbell, is unknown. However, in 1813, a certain Alexander Campbell acquired 300 acres of land in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky in the Longs Creek area. I believe he is the same Alexander Campbell who had lived next to Captain William Campbell’s family in Fayette County during the 1793-1805 timeframe. This Alexander died testate in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky in 1828. [9] His will, dated 19 July 1827, probated at the March 1828 County Court, mentions his wife Mary, sons Thomas and James, and daughter "Semin."

4.  Florence Campbell

She is mentioned in the will of her father Alexander Campbell (d. 1758) but not by Pilcher.

5.  Mary Campbell

She is mentioned in the will of her father Alexander Campbell (d. 1758) and is also mentioned by Pilcher as having married Major John Steele.

6.  Jane Campbell

She is mentioned in the will of her father Alexander Campbell (d. 1758); Mrs. Pilcher states that she married a Mr. Allison and died in 1800.

7.  Elizabeth Campbell

She is not mentioned in the will of Alexander Campbell (d. 1758) but is mentioned by Pilcher.


1.  See Pilcher, page 134.

2. See Journal of the Clan Campbell Society, Volume 14, Number 4 (Autumn 1987), page 37.

3. See Washington County TN Deed Book 6, page 285.

4.  Elder David’s and Big Jimmie’s lives are discussed by Laura E. Luttrell in her article entitled Some Founders of Campbell’s Station, Tennessee: A Genealogy of Alexander, David, and James Campbell, Part II, included in Publication No. 26 (1954) of the East Tennessee Historical Society, pages 108-112 and 127-124, respectively.

5.  Captain Alexander Campbell’s life is discussed in some detail by Laura E. Luttrell in her article Some Founders of Campbell’s Station, Tennessee: A Genealogy of Alexander, David, and James Campbell, Part I, included in Publication No. 25 (1953) of the East Tennessee Historical Society, pages 92-94.

6. See Journal of the Clan Campbell Society, Volume 14, No. 4, page 37.

7.  See Washington County NC Deed Book 3, page 25.

8. See Fayette County KY Deed Book C, page 1.

9.  Muhlenberg County KY, Will Book 2, page 444.