My father, Oswald Campbell, was born Sept. 28, 1859 in Richmond, Virginia, the son of
John T. Campbell. My mother, Mary Ellen Watson, was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, the
daughter of James H. Watson. Both families moved to Missouri and there they met, and formed
a wagon train in the spring of 1875. My father was 16 years of age at that time and my mother
was 12 years old. The wagon train had undertaken, with slow moving oxen, a journey west that would take
them through trackless wastes, wide and deep rivers, and over rugged and lofty mountains, including the
Rocky Mts. The wagon train found it difficult to ford the mountain streams which were very high that season
of the year. They were attacked once by savage Indians but with no bad results.
The Watson family was coming west for the health of Mrs. Watson, Mary Ellen's mother, but she died in the Rocky
Mts. and was buried there. The wagons ran over the grave, so the Indians wouldn't be able to find it.
Their last camping grounds was the now Levi Anderson ranch, and they ate their last wagon meal there under the poplar trees beside
They arrived in Prairie City in the fall of 1875. There were about 15 wagons in the train that arrived in the beautiful John Day Valley
with its wild oats and bunch grass ready for harvest.
The Campbell family traveled on to John Day where they opened up a harness and shoe shop. They were again attacked by Indians but
again settled in peace. The Watson family stayed in Prairie City and bought the Hansen home.
Oswald Campbell and Mary Ellen Watson grew up and were married on Christmas Day 1881. They homesteaded some land and made a ranch at the
foot of the Blue Mts., about 6 miles east of John Day. There was a clear creek running through the ranch and the soil was very good.
Mary Ellen raised a garden and planted an orchard and won many prizes at the John Day Fair.
Oswald and Mary Ellen had nine children: Robert C., Walter, Clyde, Oswald James, Lester T., Ottie M., Elsie R., Bertha E., and Geneva A. Clara and Elsie died in early
We had a happy family. The neighbors and friends used to come to our house and we sang songs in the evenings and on Sundays. Some of the family
were talented with music. O.J. and Lester could play the violin, Geneva played the accordian, Bertha played the organ and I led the singing.
Robert C. married Florence Chewning, Walter C. married Blossom Howard, O.J. married Scott Wood after Clara's death, and Geneva A. married
James R. Cook.
Grandpa Campbell and my father took turns later staying with my family or Walter's. About every evening the subject was the Blue Bucket Mine and each thought he knew
©1998 Roxann Gess Smith
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