Michael Campbell

Michael Campbell [1] was the husband to Adelaide (Johnson) Campbell and the brother-in-law to Montford T. Johnson. Michael Campbell’s courtship and marriage to Adelaide Johnson was much of the reason that Montford Johnson met and married Michael Campbell’s sister Mary Elizabeth (Campbell) Johnson. Michael Campbell’s early death further cemented the strong family relationships for which the Johnsons were known.

Adelaide Johnson meets the Campbells

The U.S. government established a fort near the Washita River in Chickasaw Territory in 1851. One of the soldiers stationed there was Sgt. Charles Campbell. It was there that his wife Mary Campbell and daughter Mary Elizabeth Campbell met local Chickasaw citizen Adelaide Johnson at the fort store. Mary Campbell was impressed with Adelaide Johnson. She encouraged the friendship between daughter Mary Campbell and Adelaide Johnson which lasted the rest of their lives [2, p. 19].

Adelaide Johnson and Michael Campbell fall in love, marry

Adelaide Johnson visited Mary Elizabeth often and soon fell in love with Michael Campbell, the Campbell’s oldest son. After a short courtship, the couple married at Tishomingo, the Chickasaw capital, in fall 1859. They made their home at the fort. Adelaide (Johnson) Campbell’s uncle was robbed and killed in the fall of 1860. She was given his cabin. Her brother Montford Johnson helped Adelaide and Michael Campbell move into the cabin. It was during this time that Montford Johnson would meet Michael Campbell’s sister, his future wife. During the Campbell’s first winter in the cabin, Jan. 28, 1861, Adelaide Campbell gave birth to their first child, Charles Bryant Campbell [2, p. 22].

Civil War sends Sgt. Charles Campbell to Kansas; Mary Campbell, son Michael remain at Fort Arbuckle

When the Civil War broke out, Texas Confederate troops immediately attacked and took over Fort Washita. Col. William H. Emory, commander of Fort Arbuckle, organized all Union troops in the area and retreated to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. However, Mary and Michael Campbell chose to stay in the Fort Arbuckle area. Michael Campbell moved his mother into his and his wife’s cabin and enlisted in the Confederate cause. He joined the Confederate’s Chickasaw Battalion as a major [2, p. 22].

Michael Campbell remained stationed at Fort Arbuckle. He often rode home to spend the night with his wife and children. On a summer afternoon in 1864, Michael Campbell found the Washita River, which he had to ford, was running bank deep. Henry Colbert, who lived near the river, told him he should take the long way over the mountain and avoid the river. Michael Campbell laughed and said, “Old Baldy (his horse, known to be a good swimmer) can swim the Atlantic Ocean!”

Michael Campbell drowns

Baldy came home alone the next morning without Michael Campbell. Searchers found Michael Campbell’s body two days later, caught in some driftwood. He was buried near Montford Johnson’s cabin [2, p. 25].

[1] Michael Campbell is portrayed by Caleb Martin in the Chickasaw Nation Productions’ film “Montford: The Chickasaw Rancher "The Chickasaw Rancher," Chickasaw Nation Montford, The Rancher, [Online]. Available: http://www.chickasawrancher.com/Cast/Caleb-Martin.aspx.. [Accessed 25 10 2021].

[2] N. R. Johnson, The Chickasaw Rancher, Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2001.