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Saturday Evening Journal

Maurice Campbell, familiarly known as "Cheap John" died at his residence in this city on Sunday morning, the 9th, after an illness of several months. Although only 14 years a citizen, he was one of the best known men in the country. The biographical sketch which appears below was published in the Journal of May 30, 1872. Maurice Campbell, better known as "Cheap John" was the son of Alexander Campbell andw as b. in the north of Ireland in the County of Donegal, Aug 22, 1841. Until he was 17 years old e spent his time in the routine duties of farm life;
but his tastes and inclinations were in a different channel and he early conceived the idea of emigrating to America, where he could carry into effect his plans for trading and trafficking with the people. But the great obstacle in his way was the want of the means to make the voyage. The labor he performed on the farm was due his father and even if he had received wage s the amount would have been small and the time would lengthened into years ere he could hav earned a sufficient amount to meet the necessary expenses. He determined upon a much shorter method, that of borrowing from his father. Thinking it unnecessary to speak to him about it, he went to his father's trunk on the afternoon of Sunday, aug. 27, 1858 and took out $50 and without any form ceremony of saying the farewell word to father or mother he started and walked to Donegal, the County seat of his native County, some 60 miles distant. At Donegal he took a jaunting car, a conveyance something similar to our livery here, for Londondery, 48 mi. further. The ride cost him two shillings or 50 cents. At Londonderry he sailed across the English channel to Liverpool. On the 4th of Sept. he set sail from Liverpooll to the US, and landed in NY on the first day of Oct. $20 of the $50 was now gone. He left NY for Wheeling, Va wher ehe had a brother. After spending a few days with him in visiting he was provided by his brother with a small pack of table linen and notions. He came over into Ohio and commenced his pilgrimage of traveling from house to house to dispose of his merchandise. He was quite successful and by Christmas he was enabled to repay the money he had "borrowed" from his father and $25 kas interest. He traveled in that State till the Fall of '59 when he came farther W. and spent that Fall & Winter in supplying the women of Ill. with his linens. In AUg 1860 he came to Crawfordsville since which time he has been a citizen of Montgomery Co. He commenced the spectacle trade the first year he was here in a small way, selling only the cheap quality. His trade rapidly grew and with it he increased his stock both in size and quality until he had succeeded in introducing into the County the best spectacles that are now made the celebrated glasses manufactured by George Staples. This branch of his business he made a specialty. "Cheap John" as he was familiarly called is known to every man, woman and child in Montgomery County. By his failing fund of good humor, his socal qualities of head and heart and his fair dealing in business he has succeeded in building a trade that many business men with more pretensions might envy.

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This page created:  16 Nov 2009