JAMES ARCHIBALD CAMPBELL
Among the schools and colleges that have been established in North Carolina since the close of the Civil war none has performed greater service and has achieved better fame through the character and activities of its former students and graduates than the Buies Creek Academy, which recently under enlarged charter powers and equipment has entered into a new phase of its history as the Buies Creek Junior College. The school was started forty years ago, and the founder is still active and the president of the new college. Probably no school in the South has reflected more directly the splendid ideals of its head than the Buies Creek Academy.
James Archibald Campbell, one of the great educational leaders of North Carolina in his time was born in Harnett County, January 13, 1862: Five generations of this family have lived in Harnett County, the founder of the family being James Campbell, who came from the .north of Ireland but was of Scotch ancestry. He was the father of Ransom Campbell and grandfather of another Ransom Campbell. Rev. Archibald Neill Campbell, father of James Archibald Campbell, spent his life in the Baptist ministry. As a young man he had learned the trade of blacksmith and gunsmith and it was as a mechanic that he served the Confederate government during the war. He followed his trade and farming while engaged in the ministry. He established a number of churches over Harnett County. His death occurred in October, 1906, at the age of sixty-seven. His wife, Hunny (Betts) Campbell, was also born in Harnett County and died in 1910.
James Archibald Campbell was educated in local schools and the Oakdale Academy and in 1885 entered Wake Forest College, where he continued his studies a year and a half. He finally returned to Wake Forest and completed the work leading up to his Bachelor's degree in 1911, receiving from the same institution the degree of Doctor of Divinity at the 1926 commencement. In 1886 he was ordained a minister of the Missionary Baptist Church. It was on January 5, 1887, that he began teaching in the Buies Creek neighborhood, having a one-room school that cost three hundred and fifty dollars. That was the beginning of the famous Buies Creek Academy, in which many hundreds of young men and women have been trained for lives of usefulness. The institution today has a splendid equipment, comprising seven brick and three frame buildings, thirty acres of land, the physical plant being valued at about $400,000. There are twenty- five teachers in the faculty and the enrollment for 1925 was 767 students.
Mr. Campbell has not only given undeviating devotion to the administration and upbuilding of this school, but for over forty years has carried on pastoral duties. He has served many pastoral charges and promoted the erection of houses of worship in a number of localities. He is still pastor of three churches, the Buies Creek Baptist Church, which he has served for thirty-two years, the Spring Branch Church in Sampson County, of which he has been pastor thirty-seven years, and the Coates Baptist Church, which he organized and of which he has been pastor for eighteen years. He is the only pastor of these three churches now living and the aggregate membership of the three is about 1300. During his pastoral service he has baptized about 6000 persons, and 1200 of the students of his academy have received that rite from him.
Mr. Campbell is one of those rare men with a remarkable capacity for work, and even this busy program of conducting an academy and serving as pastor of different churches does not complete his record. He was county superintendent of schools of Harnett County from 1890 to 1894, and again from 1897 to 1899. Since 1905 he has been a trustee of Wake Forest College and for the past two years has been president of the Board of Trustees. Since 1880 he has served as clerk of the Little River Baptist Association. He is president of the Bank of Buies Creek, owns and operates a farm of 500 acres, where he has his home, located about a mile from the college. He is a member of the Masonic Order and in politics is an independent voter. Mr. Campbell was chairman of the Anti-Saloon League in Harnett County for several years.
On November 18, 1890, he married Miss Cornelia Pearson, daughter of William and Matilda Jane (Lanier) Pearson, both of whom are natives of Harnett County. Her father spent his active life as a farmer, was a member of the Legislature and was founder of the Buies Creek Baptist Church. He was a Confederate soldier and a member of the board of county commissioners. He died in 1918 and her mother in 1922. Mr. and Mrs. Campbell are the parents of three children. Leslie Hartwell, born April 3, 1892, graduated from Wake Forest College in 1911 with the A. B. degree and in 1916 took his Masters degree, and is now dean of the Buies Creek Junior College. Arthur Carlyle, the second son, was born in November, 1894, holds the degrees B. A. and M. A. from Wake Forest College and is now president of Coker College at Hartville, South Carolina. The daughter, Elizabeth Pearson, born in 1896, is the wife of A. E. Lynch, and both are teachers in the Buies Creek Junior College.
The last year of the school under the name of Buies Creek Academy closed in the summer of 1926, and in the fall of that year the first session of the Buies Creek Junior College began. Upon recommendation of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina at its session in Wilmington in 1926, the name of the institution was changed from Buies Creek Junior College to Campbell College in honor of its founder. In commenting on this new epoch of the school and the splendid equipment of buildings and other facilities an editorial in the Charlotte Observer of May, 1926, went on to give an appropriate tribute to the founder and head of the college. While a great many articles have been written from time to time in the press concerning Buies Creek Academy, this brief sketch may be appropriately concluded with a quotation from the Observer editorial:
"It was thirty-nine years ago that James Archibald Campbell, fresh from college, returned to his native county and community and founded Buies Creek Academy, in what was then regarded as one of the "dark corners" of North Carolina. Young Campbell had nothing with which to start but Scotch grit, indomitable will, faith never failing and unshakable in the Infinite and in the efficacy of prayer; a heart large and tender with love for humanity and a consuming zeal to serve his God and his fellowman. The school was launched with neighborhood pupils in a small one-room building and gathered under a brush arbor for commencement occasions. Soon a building, splendid for that day and place, was erected and later enlarged, and it served until it was destroyed by fire about a dozen years later.
All the years thus far had been years of struggle but of noble service and the fire marked the beginning of greater struggle but nobler service if possible.
A new and much larger modern brick building took the place of the one destroyed by fire and the love and loyalty of the students for Rev. J. A. Campbell, the principal, was demonstrated on that day, some twenty-five years ago, by the fact that the bricks for the new building were, carried up on the structure for the bricklayer by the boys of the school as a voluntary service: Through all the years the school has been growing and serving in greater measure not only the county: of Harnett; but the state of North Carolina. Its service has gone beyond the borders OJ North Carolina, for students have been coming from other states for more than twenty-five: years. The past year seventy-seven counties and seven states and Cuba were represented in the student body of 638. Rev. J. A, Campbell, the president of Buies Creek Junior College, is one of the most remarkable men North Carolina ever produced. In addition to his work as principal of the school he always has done regular work as a minister of the Gospel, serving constantly as a pastor; he was for a number of years superintendent of education for Harnett County, and has always been active in the affairs of his denomination as well) as in civic and educational work in his county and state. He founded the school before he graduated from college, and long years after the school had grown to be recognized as one of the leading secondary schools of the South. He completed his college course and was graduated in the same class with his two sons.
It is doubtful if any school in the world more thoroughly permeated by wholesome moral; and .religious influences. The very influence of the life of the noble man at the head of the school is benign and inspiring. He has been an inspiration and a kind and gentle counselor and father; to thousands of boys and girls, who have loved; him in such measure that in many cases their devotion to him was all sufficient motive for clean lives and exemplary conduct.