Boone County Kentucky Historical Society

Thomas Campbell in Burlington, KY, 1817

Thomas Campbell in Burlington, KY
Boone County Recorder 8 Mar 1899, p. 1

Having seen a question in your paper regarding Thomas Campbell, the father of Alexander Campbell, I take this liberty to state a matter of history, hoping it may be interesting to your readers.
In the fall of 1817, Thomas Campbell, with his family, came to Newport, Ky., from Pittsburg, in search of a new home. Visiting the Baptist churches in this community, he came to Burlington, in Boone county, a town of 300 inhabitants. Being much pleased with the generous and hospitable character of the citizens, and thinking it a suitable place for the founding of a Seminary, he concluded, at the request of the principal families, to move his family to this place. A building was already being constructed for the purpose of a school. Here, in a short time, he had a flourishing school. Pupils were sent from different parts of the State and the school was prosperous beyond expectation. His daughter, Jane, then about eighteen years old, assisted her father. The people were pleased and exceedingly friendly: the school and work suited Mr. Campbell and it seemed that this was to be his permanent abode. However, in the summer of 1819, and event took place that suddenly changed all this.
One Sunday afternoon, in a grove near the village, a number of negroes of both sexes were amusing themselves in their accustomed ways. After watching them for a while Mr. Campbell went to them and invited them to his school-room where he read to them the scripture, talked to them and had them singing religious songs. The next morning a friend informed him that he had broken the law of the State, which was, at that time that, no one should address a company of slaves, except in the presence of white witnesses. This was a great surprise to Mr. Campbell, and he resolved to at once take his family from the place where he could not read the scripture and teach Christ to his fellowmen. Though greatly urged to remain, he very soon after returned east and settled with his son, Alexander, at what was then Buffalo Creek, Va. afterward the seat of Bethany College.
George A. Miller,
Covington, Ky.
Note: The Dictionary of American Biography, Vol. 2, p. 463, states incorrectly that this incident occurred at Burlington, Vermont. See Memoirs of Elder Thomas Campbell, together with a brief memoir of Mrs. Jane Campbell by Alexander Campbell. (Cincinnati: Bosworth, Chase & Hall, 1861).
Typed and edited by James Duvall, M. A.