Thomas Franklin Campbell (1869-1882)
Born May 22, 1822 in Rankin County, Mississippi, and raised on a Louisiana plantation, Thomas Franklin (known as T.F.) Campbell received his education in higher learning at Bethany College in what is now West Virginia. He practiced law in 1858-59 in Leavenworth, Kansas. In his move West, he maintained a boys’ home, practiced law, and preached in Helena, Montana. Campbell served in the Mexican War before being appointed Territorial Superintendent of Schools by the Governor of Montana in 1863.
In 1869, Campbell was appointed President of Christian College (now known as Western Oregon University). When Campbell arrived in Monmouth, the school was just one small building. In the book Since 1856…Historical Views of the College at Monmouth, Stebbins describes a conversation between Campbell and the trustees where Campbell asked the trustees, “Where is the college?” He was told, “You are to build it.” When he inquired about the funding, he was told, “You are to raise it.” He did both. During his tenure as president, a three-story brick structure was built, setting the pattern for all successive buildings on campus. The brick for the building was prepared on the grounds by the young men of the school. It was later named Campbell Hall in his honor. The building’s design was inspired by the aesthetics of Bethany College in West Virginia.
In addition to being college president, T.F. Campbell was also a professor of moral philosophy, moral science, and Biblical literature. He had hoped that Christian College would become Oregon’s State University. The school was in close competition for the designation, with Monmouth losing by only one vote, and the State University was established in Corvallis. He made one foray into politics with an unsuccessful bid for State Governor in 1874.
Campbell installed a steam operated printing press in a small wooden building at the back of campus and began publication of the Christian Messenger, a church and family paper designed to bring Christian College closer to its supporters and to aid in the growth of the church and its influence. The operation of the Christian Messenger enabled young men and women to learn newspaper work. Due to confusion with another paper of the same name, it was soon renamed the Pacific Christian Messenger. Among those who learned the newspaper trade at the Christian Messenger was Charles Doughty, the founder of the Polk County Observer; in circulation to this day and now known as the Polk County Itemizer-Observer.
After the death of his first wife, Campbell later married Mary Stump in 1885. They traveled and preached around the United States after leaving Monmouth, continuing to fund-raise for the college. T.F. Campbell died on January 17, 1893 and is buried at Fircrest Cemetery in Monmouth, Oregon.