MARTINS FERRY — A Civil War veteran’s tomb received a new gravestone on Thursday, thanks to his great-great-grandson, Gene Campbell of Martins Ferry.
Campbell discovered about a year ago that his great-great-grandfather, James T. Campbell, was buried at Riverview Cemetery in Martins Ferry. However, when he found the marble grave marker it was barely legible. With the help of his daughter, Campbell applied to receive a new stone from the Veterans Administration. On Thursday, Randall L. Gallagher Memorials installed the stone for Campbell.
“It’s been a long process. My daughter (Lugene Campbell-Chine) started over a year ago. She made lots of calls to the VA. We had to have proof that he was a veteran of the Civil War to replace the stone,” he said.
Campbell said when he learned his great-great-grandfather was buried there, he was surprised that no one in his family, including his own father and grandfather, had ever mentioned it.
“My first reaction was why didn’t my father and his father tell me he was up here? The only thing I knew was that I had a grandfather here, not a great-great-grandfather. I was surprised. Why didn’t the Campbells talk to each other? They must have known. They were poor and worked hard and very few have stones,” he added.
“We looked at the cemetery records, which aren’t really good, and saw the name Campbell scribbled on a page. … The old stone was tipped over. We got down on our hands and knees and we could see the name. The rest was hard to read.”
James T. Campbell was a member of the Ohio 25th Volunteer Infantry. He was born July 9, 1825, and he died April 17, 1901, at the age of 76. He enlisted at 35 years old and served for three years. While he was at war, his wife Rachel, who was Campbell’s great-great-grandmother, took care of their five children. When he came back home after serving in the war, they had another three children, Campbell said.
He said James and Rachel were born in Maryland. They moved to Belmont County, first living in the Powhatan Point area and then settling on Burlington Road in Martins Ferry.
Campbell noted he has enjoyed learning more about his family’s history.
“Those people in those days worked hard. They had a hard life. Some of things he did were amazing,” Campbell said of his great-great-grandfather, noting he is still learning more about his ancestors.
Justin Gallagher was happy to be involved with the project. He was assisted by Ray Purtiman.
“I always tell people that genealogy is such an important thing. … It’s nice when a family member takes the time,” he said.
The new stone provided by the VA looks just like the original except it is made of granite instead of marble. To be given the stone, the VA also required that a legitimate company install the marker, which is where Randall L. Gallagher Memorial came in. Campbell said the company created his late wife Irene (Kovalick) Campbell’s headstone at Riverview Cemetery.
“We were up here more than usual because my wife died a year ago April. It’s been tough. She was a beautiful person. She loved everyone,” Campbell said.
Gene Campbell retired from Bell Atlantic in Wheeling. He enlisted in the Army in 1949 and was stationed in Germany for three years during the Korean War.