Judge John Tyler Campbell, who took up his residence in Santa Rosa thirty years ago, has from the first stood among the most prominent and public-spirited citizens. His career both previous and subsequent to that time has been marked with highest ability and executive energy, so that not only his immediate community and city but the state and country have felt the power of his influence. His public career has been especially honorable and useful, and California is happy and fortunate to number him among her most noted citizens.
The biographer cannot do better in this connection than to quote a personal opinion of Judge Campbell, written by the late Attorney General George A. Johnson, and expressive of the characteristics which have elevated the Judge to his position in public estimation.
“Judge Campbell is an able lawyer, an exemplary citizen, and in private life has won the esteem and respect of his fellow citizens. He is a good, pure, excellent man, of singular, genial nature and correct deportment. At the bar he has the respect and kindly regard of all his professional brethren and the confidence and esteem of the bench. He is an effective and pleasing orator, and is honored throughout the county, and in Santa Rosa, where he resides, is trusted and liked by all classes of people. He is a fine lawyer, ranking with the ablest at the bar here, is clear, methodical and learned. Where he is known he exerts a commanding influence. With a fine presence, a singular sweetness of temper and a most captivating address, he attaches all classes of people to him, and his companionship is sought and prized by all. As a legislator he held the highest rank. As the presiding officer of the house he evinced great knowledge in parliamentary law, and was clear, ready and decisive in his rulings.
“He is charming in social intercourse and the delight of the social circle. He is warm-hearted, and never deserts a friend. He is well versed in literature, is versatile to a high degree, has been a constant student and an inveterate reader all his life. He has written numerous short stories and been a contributor to magazines and periodicals. He is a most interesting conversationalist, and always has at hand apt and ready quotations; is humorous and entertaining, and draws around him hosts of warm and devoted friends. In a word, few better men have lived in California than the Honorable John Tyler Campbell.”
Judge Campbell is a native of that old and famous county of Pike, in the state of Missouri, and was born in the town of Bowling Green, September 9, 1842. He was the seventh in order of a family of eleven children. His father was the Rev. James Washington Campbell, a native of Williamsburg, Virginia. His mother, Sophia A. (Henry) Campbell, was born in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and was the daughter and the youngest child of Colonel Malcom Henry, who was a gallant soldier during the war of the Revolution. The great-grandfather on the Campbell side was likewise a colonel in the patriot army during the struggle which set the colonies free from trans-Atlantic domination. He was one of the hardy Scotsmen who rallied to the cause during the darkest hours of the Revolution, and participated in the battle of King’s Mountain in addition to other of the noted engagements in the Carolinas.
Judge Campbell received his early education in the public schools of Pike county, and he has a vivid recollection of that section of old Missouri as it was in ante-bellum days. His advanced training was received in McGee College at Macon, Missouri. When the civil war broke out he was not yet twenty years old. He espoused the Union side, and soon after his enlistment attained to the rank of captain in the Thirty-second Missouri Volunteer Infantry. He was appointed major of the Fifty-second Missouri Infantry, but the war ended before the regiment was mustered into service.
After the war he took up the study of law, was admitted to the bar, and located in Kansas City, where he was elected prosecuting attorney of Jackson county and also city attorney. He also served as police judge. Thus, before his removal to the Pacific coast he had attained prominence in public life, and had manifested his ability as an influential leader of men.
He came to California in 1874 and took up his residence in Santa Rosa, where he has ever since had his permanent home. In the following year he was elected city attorney, and also in 1876. He was assistant district attorney of Sonoma county in 1877. He was elected to the legislature and served in the session of 1883-84, for a part of the time being speaker of the house. In 1886 he was appointed American consul to New Zealand, and in 1888 was appointed consul to China. While at the latter post a vacancy occurred in the imperial German consulate, and, with the permission of the president of the United States, he was appointed by the German emperor as acting German consul in China, which position he held for three years, and at its conclusion he received a letter of commendation from the emperor.
At an election held in 1900 he was elected one of the board of freeholders called to frame a new charter for the city of Santa Rosa, and was chosen president of the board. He is now and has been for the past five years, a director of the Sonoma County Law Library, is a director in the Athenaeum Company and a director of the Masonic Hall Association. He has been a library trustee of the Santa Rosa public library, and for three years was president of the Conoma county board of education. Fraternally he is a past chancellor commander of the Knights of Pythias, a past worshipful master of the Masons, blue lodge, a past high priest of the chapter and a past eminent commander of Santa Rosa Commandery of the Knights Templar.
Judge Campbell married, in 1869, Miss Mary Reed, and they have two children: Ross Campbell is an attorney-at-law in Santa Rosa; and Lucy E. is the wife of J. iver M. Drummond, now residing in London, England.
Source: Leigh H. Irvine; A History of the New California Its Resources and People, 2 Volumes; New York and Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1903.