This New Philadelphia home, located on Tuscarawas Avenue, once belonged to an Irish immigrant who became one of Tuscarawas County’s most prominent and respected educators of the late 1800s.
A note about addresses: House numbers and street names often change over time.
The Campbell family immigrated to the United States from County Down, Ireland at the height of the deadly Potato Famine of the late 1840s. John Campbell (1790-1867) and his wife Nancy (1795-1868) immigrated with their four young children and John’s parents. They family travelled briefly through Utica, New York before settling in New Philadelphia, Ohio around 1847. There John established a business practicing the weaving trade, employing his children in the process. One of those children was a son named George E. Campbell (1830-1903).
While George worked as a weaver with his father, his brother William (1833-1886) learned the trade of shoemaking. However, given George’s later occupation as a teacher and William’s later political successes, they must also have received some formal education as well. Both George and William served in Ohio regiments during the American Civil War; George actually serving twice, once in the 16th Ohio Infantry and later in the 161st Ohio Infantry. After the war, George returned to Tuscarawas County and was named as Principal of the school in Uhrichsville, Ohio before serving in similar positions in Port Washington and eventually New Philadelphia. George was also appointed to be one of the examiners who would approve of the training and hiring of teachers in Tuscarawas County.
George’s parents died a year apart from one another during the late 1860s and by the 1870 census he was living with a fellow teacher and his family in New Philadelphia. Five years later George married fellow Irish immigrant Jennie Watson (1847-1923) and the couple set up their household on West Front Street in New Philadelphia. George’s brother William went from being a shoemaker to becoming one of the most prominent men in New Philadelphia. He served as Mayor of New Philadelphia from 1880 until 1883, acquired numerous land holdings in the city with partners like A.W. Patrick, and loaned money to anyone who asked. William’s wife passed away shortly after the birth of their first child and William died not long after from a tumor in 1886.
George Campbell served as his brother’s executor and he and Jennie “adopted” William’s young son, also named William. George spent much of the next several years working to close his brother’s estate and, once closed, sold his Front Street house in 1889 and made the decision to build a new house on Tuscarawas Avenue near the West End School. The house that George and Jennie built was a simple gable end Queen Anne style home with a full-width front porch, bay windows, and second floor back porch as well. It is possible that, when originally built, it may have had more decorative ornamentation.
Around the time he built his Tuscarawas Avenue home, newspapers in New Philadelphia started referring to George Campbell as “Professor.” It was also around the same time that George travelled to his native Ireland. He continued to work as a county examiner of incoming teachers and continued teaching in New Philadelphia as well. George’s nephew, and “adopted” son, moved to Lorain in the 1890s and worked in the leathermaking industry. William often visited at the Campbell home after his move to Lorain.
George’s health gradually worsened during the late 1890s and early 1900s until, in early November 1903, he succumbed to his illness. After his death, the newspaper reported that “many of the older citizens” in New Philadelphia “had been his pupils at one time.” George was buried in Fair Street Cemetery next to his brother and the two share a monument in the cemetery. Jennie eventually sold the home on Tuscarawas Avenue before moving into William’s Lorain home with his family. She was living there when she passed away in May 1923. She was also buried in the Campbell family plot in Fair Street Cemetery.
© Noel B. Poirier, 2023.