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1943: Campbell recalls time in lumber camp

Bits By Betty
Lead Summary
Betty Mann, Rock County Historian

The following article is part of the Diamond Club Member group that began in the January 7, 1943, issue of the Rock County Star Herald. Members of this group consist of persons of age 75 and older.
The following appeared in The Rock County Herald on May 27, 1943.
“When we could see three stars in the sky, then it was quitting time,” declared D. W. “Dick” Campbell, Luverne, as he recalled the days when he was employed in a Michigan lumber camp. “We’d go out into the timber at 4 o’clock in the morning, and we wouldn’t come into the shack until it was dark at night. The work was hard, but we earned good money, and had good board, so most of us enjoyed it.”
Mr. Campbell never did any log rolling to speak of, he states, but he has tried it, and he “could fall off into the water with the best of ’em.” He lived in a logging camp, and true to tradition, Paul Bunyan stories and other tales were common in the evening when the day’s work was done.
“The outfit that served the best grub was the one that kept their help the longest,” Mr. Campbell recalls, “and the fellow that didn’t serve the best eats all the time didn’t have anyone showing up looking for work.
“The camp I was in served as good a bill of fare as you’d find in the best hotels. They’d hire the best cooks in the country. I remember how they used to keep pie, cake and hard boiled eggs on the table in the shack all the time, so whenever a man would come past and feel like he wanted something to eat, all he’d have to do was to step inside the door and help himself. You can bet that most of us were pretty hungry all the time, too.”
Mr. Campbell was born Nov. 26, 1867, in Isabella county, Michigan, which is about in the center of the state. The country was wooded, and what farming was being done was on land which had been cleared of trees. He states he has seen a million or more feet of high grade soft and hard wood burned just so that the land owner would be rid of it and could use the land for raising crops.
His father was a Methodist minister, and being located in a sparsely settled community, where parishioners had but little to contribute to the support of a church and pastor, there was little income for the Campbell family.
Mr. Campbell began working away from home at the age of 14. He helped shock in the harvest field, and received half as much as the adult men doing the same work. All the grain was cut with a “cradle” and all hay was cut with a scythe, because in most instances, the stumps of the trees in the clearings had not been removed. It would require about 10 years for a hardwood stump to rot out, it would likely remain for many more years.
When the Devils Lake, N. D. Indian reservation was opened to homesteaders in 1892, Mr. Campbell came west to file a claim. He had no sooner arrived in Devils Lake when a blizzard arose. When the storm did not abate after a couple of days, he decided North Dakota was no place for him, so he started back to Michigan.
He came as far as Luverne, and while waiting for a train, to go to Sioux City, he was offered a job as clerk in the hotel, and accepted. He worked there a few weeks, then he went to work at the Older nursery. That fall, he went to Bellingham, Wash., where he worked in a saw mill.
At Luverne, on Sept. 12, 1894, he married Emma Ingelson, and they farmed in Mound and Springwater townships for three years before moving back to Michigan. They farmed there a number of years, and then returned to Rock county where they lived ever since. During the last world war, Mr. Campbell operated the elevator at Ashcreek for about three years. He came back to Luverne, and operated the Sand Lime Brick plant and in 1921 was elected city recorder, a position he held for 10 years.
At the present time, he lives alone in his home on Barck street, and during the summer months enjoys gardening.
Of seven children born to him and Mrs. Campbell, five are living. They are Paul, of Luverne; Mrs. Fred Frahm, Magnolia; Pat, of Petosky, Mich.; Ray, of Chattanooga, Tenn.; Kenneth, of Lansing, and Millie who is with the WAAC’s at Des Moines. He also has 10 grandchildren.
Of seven children in his father’s family, he is one of three now living. His brother, Tom, lives in Lansing, Mich., and his sister, Mrs. Fred Wright, lives on a farm near Lansing.
Mrs. Campbell died in 1921.
Mr. Campbell, who states that he hasn’t been really sick in bed in his entire life, attributes his good health and his long life to the fact that he never let anything worry him. “I believe,” he says, “that more people grow old from worrying more than from any other thing.”
The following appeared in The Rock County Herald on Sept. 16, 1932.
         Donations to the Rock County Historical Society can be sent to the Rock County Historical Society, 312 E. Main Street, Luverne, MN 56156.
Mann welcomes correspondence sent to

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