The Campbell Family


BETHANY, W.V.--It means something to be a Bethanian.  There is a certain grand history that is tied to the College.  When you are a Bethanian, you cannot help but want to be immersed in all of the traditions and history that come with the school.  You want to know everything there is to possibly know about the place you call home for four years and for a lifetime.  Often there are parts of Bethany that the students never come to know.  This series is meant to teach those very parts.

            Though Bethany College was founded in 1840, the history of Bethany began much earlier.  In 1788, in Ireland, Alexander Campbell was born.  His family immigrated to Western Pennsylvania in 1809, and by 1811 Campbell had moved to Brooke County where he married Margaret Brown.  The couple had eight children together.  The birth of his first child, Jane Caroline Ewing, encouraged Campbell to begin looking to faith and studying the subject of baptism.  As Bethanians, we know that we are required to take a course in religion because of Campbell’s great belief in the Christian faith.

            In 1827 Margaret fell ill with consumption or tuberculosis.  After Margaret’s death, Campbell married again the next year to Selina Huntington Bakewell, a dear friend of Margaret’s who would come to visit her while she was ill.  Following the wishes of a dying Margaret, the two would marry the following year and have another six children.  Of the 14 children Alexander Campbell would come to have, he would be preceded in death by ten of them.  All but William P. Campbell who is buried in Wellsburg, West Virginia are buried in God’s Acre Cemetery in Bethany, West Virginia.

            The Campbell family mansion was home to at least 20 people in the early 1840s.  It was so common to have an outrageous number of guests at any given time, that there often were 32 chairs ready and waiting in the dining room.  Alexander Campbell’s second wife, Selina, wrote that she would never turn anyone away, but welcomed all.  For this reason, a final addition was built onto the house in 1840 called Strangers’ Hall with the hope that guests would come as strangers but leave as friends.

            There is a room in the mansion dedicated to the Campbell family called the Genealogy Room.  The original cross-braced timber framing still hangs.  In this room you are able to “meet the family.”  The birth, marriage, and death dates for immediate family members of Alexander Campbell are listed.  The room also holds Thomas Campbell’s tombstone which was stolen in 1960 and found in a field in 1992 before being returned to the campus.  A new tombstone marks Thomas’ gravesite while the original stays in the mansion for safekeeping. 

            Alexander Campbell built a College out of faith and family, and that tradition remains true for Bethany College.  When you are a Bethanian it is not for just four years.  You remain family for life. 


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