James A. Campbell (1854 – 1933)

James A. Campbell
was born 150 years ago on September 11, 1854 on a farm in Ohltown in Trumbull County. (Today this farm is covered by the Meander Reservoir.) His father knew the advantages of a good education and sent his son to Hiram College. While a student at Hiram, young Campbell received an appointment to West Point Military Academy, but chose to remain in the Mahoning Valley.
Mr. Campbell’s first job was working as a clerk in an area coal mine. For five years he tried his hand at the Morris Barney Hardware Company, working as a salesman traveling throughout the neighboring counties. In 1883 the 29 year old salesman met John H. Fitch, who interested Campbell in a new and growing industry – ice harvesting. The two men formed the Youngstown Ice Company in the summer of 1884 and soon after this Campbell leased five acres of meadow land adjacent to Glacier Lake on Mill Creek. Mr. Campbell hired men with plows and wheelbarrows to form a shallow pond and to build a log dam to direct the flow of Mill Creek into the pond. An ice house was built in 1887. It had double walls filled with sawdust and a capacity of 30,000 tons. The Youngstown Ice Company continued to grow when Campbell negotiated an exclusive contract with the City of Youngstown to cut ice on the Mahoning River.
Mr. Campbell’s success in building the Ice Company caught the attention of John C. Wick, president of the Wick National Bank. He knew that the Trumbull Iron Company of Warren was looking for a general superintendent and that Mr. Campbell possessed all the abilities need in running a steel mill. On Mr. Wick’s recommendation James Campbell was hired in 1890 at a salary of $2,500 per year.
The Trumbull Iron Co. was consolidated with the Union Iron & Steel Co. and Mr. Campbell was placed in charge of its plant at Pomeroy, Ohio. He resigned this position in 1897 to become general superintendent of the Mahoning Valley Iron Co. at Youngstown. When this company was purchased by the Republic Iron & Steel Company, Mr. Campbell was made district manager for the Youngstown district.
In 1901 Mr. Campbell resigned his position as district manager and organized a corporation for the manufacture of steel plates and pipe under the name of Youngstown Sheet and Tube Co. He was elected president in 1904 when he was 50 years of age. During his lifetime he received two special honors that need mentioning. The first was when the people living in East Youngstown petitioned to change the name of their town to Campbell. The second event was when the French Government knighted Mr. Campbell for giving unsparingly of his time during WWI.
In 1880, Mr. Campbell married Uretta Place of Corry, PA. They had a son and two daughters. He built a lovely home on Logan Way located north of the City of Youngstown. It is said that he enjoyed playing golf occasionally at the Youngstown Country Club, but his chief pleasure was his work. We are told that Mr. Campbell became the richest man in Ohio before his death on September 20, 1933. Two weeks after his death his wife died and in 1935 his only son, Louis passed away. They are all buried in the family mausoleum located in the Tod Homestead Cemetery on Belmont Avenue.