Whether the elements of success in life are innate attributes of the individual, or whether they are quickened by a process of circumstantial development, it is impossible to clearly determine. Yet the study of a successful life is none the less profitable by reason of the existence of this uncertainty, and in the majority of cases it is found that exceptional ability, amounting to genius, perhaps, was the real secret of the pre-eminence which many envied. So it appears to the student of human nature who seeks to trace the history of the rise of Alden W. Campbell, a typical American of the best class. He is yet a young man but has achieved a success that many an older resident of California might well envy.
Mr. Campbell was born in Boulder county, Colorado, in 1875, his parents being William R. and Lydia R. (Wilson) Campbell, the former a native of Canada and the latter of Michigan. In the year 1877 the father brought his family to California, locating in Sacramento, where he has since engaged in the planing-mill business. The son attended the public schools of this city and also a night school of Sacramento, and his technical training was received through the medium of the International Correspondence schools of Scranton, Pennsylvania. During the time that he was preparing himself for his chosen field of labor at the night school he was awarded several silver medals as a competitor in architectural drawing, these medals being given by the California State Agricultural Society. The first was awarded him in 1894 and again he was a successful competitor in 1895, 1896, 1899, 1900 and 1902. At the age of sixteen years he entered upon his business career in the employ of Silas Carle, a pioneer builder of California, operating throughout the state. It was under him that Mr. Campbell first gained a knowledge of the builder’s art, and for three years he remained with his first employer. Later he was with the Sacramento planing mills for two years and there he gained his knowledge of interior finishing and woodworking. In 1897 he entered the employ of the United States civil service department in the post office building, remaining there for five years, during which period he devoted his leisure time to study and to preparing plans for many of the residences of Sacramento, including the Waite building on Sixth street between I and J streets. He also made the plans for the Coleman residences, and upon the completion of this work he was granted a certificate by the state board of architecture, permitting him to follow the profession of an architect. At that time Mr. Campbell severed his connection with the government and established an office at Sixth and J streets in the Casey building. In the summer of 1903 he prepared plans for and superintended the construction of the public school building at Davisville, California, which was erect at a cost of nine thousand dollars. he also made the plans and superintended the erection of the colonial residence of Robert Brown near Swingle Station, Arthur Dam at Wheatland, and at the present writing in 1904 is engaged in preparing plans for an opera house at Davisville, and a four-story apartment and office building and several residences to be erected in this city.
One of the reasons of his success is the fact that he combines with theoretical knowledge of the trade practical experience. It is his intention to further advance in his chosen field of labor by pursuing a two years’ course of study in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston. He is a young man of laudable ambition and sterling purpose, and has already won for himself an enviable reputation as an architect. Mr. Campbell is recognized as a prominent member of the Odd Fellows society in Sacramento, and is also identified with the Foresters of America, the Red Men and the Ancient Order of United Workmen. His interest in political questions is deep and sincere, and he gives an earnest support to Republican principles, believing that the platform of the party contains the best elements of good government.
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.