38 – Robert Campbell of Butler’s Rangers

My interest in Robert Campbell of Butler’s Rangers is that my Jessamine Co, KY Campbell’s are a (kind of) close DNA match to this Robert Campbell at 65/67 markers.  Since we are at a 15yo brick wall with the Jessamine Campbell’s, my thought was to work on someone who was closely related hoping to find a clue. Unfortunately, after studying many, many Campbell’s of ENJ, most documented in this blog, I haven’t found any clues to either this Robert or my own Jessamine Campbell’s.

Robert Campbell of the Butler Rangers matches 66/67 to 2 other Campbell families.

The families of George Campbell and David Jefferson Campbell match 67/67 to each other. As stated before, my Jessamine Co, KY family matches Robert Campbell of Butler’s Rangers 65/67 but we match the families of George Campbell and David Jefferson Campbell 64/67. I don’t know what to make of that!

I was able to contact the “owner” of the DNA. He was certain his ancestor was Robert Campbell of Butler’s Rangers but he had been given a genealogy of Robert that looks like this:

  • Archibald Campbell b. 1647 of Lanarkshire, Scotland, md. Mary _____ (1637- )
  • Duncan Campbell (s/o Archibald Campbell) b. 1706, Barony Parish, Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Scotland. md. Mary Sarah Campbell (?maiden name) 2+ children
  • Robert Campbell (s/o Duncan)  b. 1746 of Barony Parish, Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Scotland., d. 1831 St. Catherines, Grimsby, Ontario, Canada. Robert m: (1)Frances Eldridge, 1 child, Duncan, (1770-), and he m. (2) Mary Smith b. 1765 d. 1825. They had 11 children

While almost everything is incorrect about the above genealogy of Robert, I try to always give some credit for a “grain” of truth. There has to be a reason someone put these names together. Unfortunately, I haven’t found anything on an Archibald or Duncan that fit these dates but I haven’t dedicated many hours to solving that puzzle. It could be that this was a completely different Robert than the Butlers Rangers Robert and someone inadvertently attached Mary Smith.  I don’t know.

The biggest lead I had on this Butler’s Rangers Robert was Robert Campbell of Fresh Ponds in Monmouth County NJ but I am certain that family went to Sunbury, New Brunswick, Canada. That Robert (I believe Robert JR) was active there Sunsbury as late as 1795, long after we know Butler’s Rangers Robert was in Grantham, St Catharine’s, ON, Canada. By today’s standards that’s 900+ miles away.

All of the information I know of Robert Campbell is from an article written by Catherine Webb dated July 18th 1996. You can find a copy of the original article posted here, and I will transcribe it at the bottom of this sketch.  Ms. Webb included several sources in her work which I will not be including in my transcription so I encourage you to look at those in the original document. The article was based on a letter written by George William Campbell in 1929. George was the great grandson of Robert Campbell who was a sergeant in Butler’s Rangers during the Revolution and eventually settled land across the river from Fort Niagara.

My idea of studying all the early Campbell’s of ENJ came from a clue in the above article that Robert’s family came to America after the Monmouth uprisings following in the Duke of Argyle’s execution. While this could be true, it may be that Robert’s family had moved away from ENJ in the 90 year time frame since coming to the American Colony – or I just didn’t find them.  If I take up this search again, I will probably center it around the Mohawk Valley, where Col John Butler was known to have lived. Perhaps it was in Upper New York that Robert became acquainted with Col Butler. There is an informative article written here that seems to be a good place to start. In fact, it identifies the probable location of Frederick Smith, Father of Mary Smith who m. Robert Campbell of Butler’s Rangers.

With that, I will include a transcription of the article by Catherine Webb. I transcribed it and put it here so that it could be picked up by search engines more easily.  I’ll do my best to be accurate but please double check everything against the original document.  I used voice recognition software to transcribe, then went back to fix any errors but there may be (most certainly are) some remaining – especially spelling of names.  You can find the original document at this web site:  http://missingpearsons.tripod.com/camp2.htm

I also include a link to the The United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada which provides the children and spouses of Robert Campbell and Mary Smith Campbell.

Robert Campbell Article by Catherine Webb

A Short Biographical Sketch of Robert Campbel, Sergeant-Major Butler’s Rangers

By Catherine Webb, July 18th 1996

In 1784 when Robert Campbell subscribed his name to settle the land across the river from Fort Niagara, he had already experienced seven hard years of fighting for the crown in the American Revolution. Although he must have known that further hardships would ensue, Campbell was one of the many who recognize the great potential of the largely unsettled territory.

Robert was born in America in the year 1756, although his exact birthplace is unknown. In 1929, his great-grandson George William Campbell wrote a family history stating that Robert Campbell’s ancestors had come to America in the late 1600s following the Duke of Argyle’s execution during the reign of King James II of England. Although an uncertain connection, historical records do show that Lord Neil Campbell, brother of the Duke of Argyle, took refuge in Perth Amboy, East Jersey in 1686, and was accompanied by many members of his kindred in clan. Two of Lord Neil Campbell sons and their families had already emigrated to America as early as 1684. The two sons Archibald and John held lots in the settlement of Perth Amboy, and an area which was called Campbell Gully. Lord Campbell served as Deputy – Governor of E. Jersey for two years commencing in 1686, although he returned to Scotland in 1687 (having appointed Andrew Hamilton as a substitute). (MY NOTE: Their is no evidence John Campbell was a son to Lord Neil Campbell and in fact he probably was not. However he was an original Proprietor of ENJ. John Campbell arrived in ENJ about a year prior to Lord Neil Campbell and his son Archibald who traveled together after the uprising.)

George William Campbell also wrote that Robert Campbell was a law student at the time of the Revolutionary war broke out. In 1776, at the age of 20 he “joined the Royal Standard in America” and enlisted with Butler’s Rangers in which he served as a sergeant major. In a “return of persons… In Lieut. Col. Butler’s company in the Corps of Rangers at Niagara, 30 November 1783”, Robert was listed as a 27-year-old Sgt. receiving single rations. Within the next two years, he had married Mary Smith, the daughter Frederick Smith (who served in Capt. William Caldwell’s company of Corps of Rangers), had subscribed their names “in order to settle and cultivate the Crownland opposite to Niagara” and had started what was to become a large family with the birth of their first son James. By 1786 he was listed along with his wife, son, and a daughter on a Loyalists Victualling list.

Initially Robert and his family settled on 200 acres of land along 12 mile Creek comprised of lot numbers 18 and 19 in the eighth concession of number 3 Township in the District of Nassau (later to become Grantham Township in the County of Lincoln). By September 17, 1787, he had cleared 12 acres of his land and sewn 6 acres of wheat and by 1791, he had taken possession of an adjacent 100 acres of land consisting of lot 18 in the 9th concession. This land is now situated in the city of St. Catherine’s along 12 mile Creek, S. Of Rykert St. And N. Of Lockhart Dr. In Campbell’s 1798 land-grant, 45 acres was set aside for clergy reserves in Flamborough Township. In 1806, Robert transferred 50 acres of lot 18 in the 18th concession to Jacob Dittrick.

Campbell eventually built and operated to gristmill on lot number 19 in the ninth concession along 12 mile Creek (His mill is one of the number shown on a circa 1815 map by Lieut. W.A. Nesfield). The north half of the slot was purchased from John Gould on March 11, 1806, so it is possible that the mill was built after that date. Francis Goring an agent of Robert Hamilton recorded that Campbell paid certain of his debts with flour.

Campbell’s participation in the military did not end with the disbanding of Butler’s Rangers. He was an Ensign in the Capt. Benjamin Pawlings company of the Nassau militia (1792) and later a captain in the second Regiment of Lincoln militia (commission June 4, 1811). He resigned from the latter on March 9, 1814. A number of his sons also participated in the militia. His eldest son James was living in Smithville when the war broke out and served as a private with Capt. William Applegarth’s flank Company, second Regiment York militia and was present at Queenston Heights (where he was wounded in action on October 13, 1812), Lundys’ Lane, and Stoney Creek. A James Campbell was also listed as an ensign in the fourth Regiment of Lincoln militia in 1814. Later he served in the 1837 rebellion as captain and in the 1840 was major of the seventh Regiment North York militia. Robert Campbell (the second son of Robert Campbell) served as a private in the war of 1812 with Capt. John McEwens flank Company, first Regiment Lincoln militia (with his brother Peter) and as a gunner with Capt. Powell’s corps which he served the guns from Queenston to the mouth of the Niagara. Peter Smith Campbell the third son of Robert Campbell also fought in the war of 1812 as a private in the second flank Company (Capt. John McEwens) of the first Regiment of the Lincoln militia. In 1838 he was made captain of the seventh Regiment of North York militia. In 1846 he was captain of the seventh Battalion of York militia. A John Campbell is listed as a private in the first flank company of the first Regiment of Lincoln militia, the first flank Company of the fifth Regiment of Lincoln militia, and as a gunner in Capt. Kerby’s corps of the second Regiment of Lincoln militia, which was active from July 1812 until March 1813, serving from Fort Erie to the emplacements at Chippewa and Queenston. Another son Francis served as a private in the war of 1812, with Capt. Isaac Swayze’s corps of Royal  Artillery Drivers. He was a commissioned captain of the seventh Regiment North York militia and 1838; major in 1840; and finally Lieut. Col. of the seventh Battalion Peel Militia in 1856. A story recounted by Emily McCollum a great granddaughter of the eldest son James Campbell states that following the Battle of Queenston Heights, Robert Campbell’s wife Mary was found wandering on the battlefield. She was “accosted by soldier and asked what she was doing there and she replied that she was looking for her husband and seven sons.”

Campbell was clearly involved in the civic life of the community. A number of official documents bear his name including an official welcome to the Lieut. Gov. Simcoe (dated February 24, 1792) congratulating him on his appointment to the government of upper Canada. His name is also listed on an assignment to the Anglican Chapel, St. Catherine’s dated February 17, 1796, and later on a petition to Brig. Gen. Vincent [dated May 8, 1813] following an American capture of the York the capital of upper Canada in April 1813 suggesting “resort to martial law to maintain order”. On April 20, 1818 he was listed as being on the committee to forward the views of a meeting held for the inhabitants of Grantham them at the house of Paul Shipman.

Circa 1819, at least some of Robert Campbell’s children move to Chinguacousy Township in Peel (although some of them had received U.E. Grants elsewhere – for instance Peter Smith Campbell received his land as a son of U.E. in Nasagaweya). They settled Campbell’s Cross (which is located east of Highway 10 and south of Caledon). Peter Smith Campbell may have returned to St. Catherine’s in the 1830s as he was listed as being a witness (along with Henry Middleberger) at the December 26, 1832 marriage of Amos B. Thomas and Jane Ann Osterhaut. Peter eventually moved to the Owen Sound area in 1840s, where his son George Adam Campbell had settled.

Robert indicated in his will that his gristmill was to be left to his wife Mary and then after her decease to his eldest son James (he married Margaret Schneider). The remainder of his real estate was to be divided equally amongst his other 10 children named Robert (who married Elizabeth Rowe), Peter Smith (who married Catherine Pickard, daughter of Benjamin and Mary Pickard), Alexander, (who married Rachel McCollum), John, who married Margaret Clendennan, Gustaves Francis, who married Katherine Deacon, Henry, who married Mary Van Wyck, Margaret who married Joel Smith at Thorold, Deborah, who married Daniel Reilley of Stamford, Mary who married Peter McCollum of Grisby, and Martha who married William McCoy of Nelson. Following Robert’s death in 1824 his eldest son James and the remaining children seem to have either given or sold their share of the estate, including the Mill property, to the second son Robert (a quit claim was registered on April 22, 1825). This suggests that while the other children had settled elsewhere, Robert remained in St. Catherine’s. Indeed, the 1820 Robert Sr had stated in his will that Robert Jr was to receive 75 pounds Halifax for three year service after he had come of age.

When Robert Campbell died on January 24, 1824 he left a legacy of patriotism and community service. Along with many other loyalists in their family, he played an important role in the initial settlement of the Niagara area and the growth of St. Catherine’s. His obituary in the February 7, 1824 edition of the Niagara Gleaner stated that:

  • Mr. Campbell was one of those loyal subjects who remained true to his king and country when the great body of people in the now United States took up arms against their lawful sovereign and was of course persecuted by those would be Republicans and was thereby obliged to leave all and flee to this frontier under the protection of the British government enjoying the course of this place designated by name of Butler’s Rangers. In that corps he discharged his duties faithfully as Sergeant–Major during the war. In 1784 he had his allowance of lands, part of which he took up on the 12 mile Creek in the Township of Grantham, on which he has resided ever since, and has brought up a large family in a very respectable manner, all of which are become well-settled in this country.

Roberts widow Mary moved to Campbell’s Cross where following her death she was buried in Snyder Cemetery (located north of Campbell’s cross). In May of 1831 Robert Jr sold the properties to Henry Mittleberger, thus ending the original Campbell family ownership of the land.

The rest of the article documents Ms. Webb’s notes and sources – See original for details.

Children of Robert and Mary Smith Campbell

There is an application for The United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada which lists the children of Robert Campbell. http://www.uelac.org/Loyalist-Info/extras/Campbell-Robert/Campbell-Robert-certificate-application.pdf

Robert Campbell of Butler’s Rangers was b. abt 1756 and died 1824 Grantham Twp., Niagara District. He m. Mary Smith, dau of Frederick Smith. Mary was b. abt 1765 and d. 1825. Children of Robert and Mary Smith Campbell are:

  1.  James married Margaret Snyder
  2. Margaret married Joel Smith
  3. Deborah married Daniel Reilly
  4. Mary married Peter McCollum
  5. Robert married Elizabeth Rowe
  6. Peter Smith married Susan Van Wick
  7. Martha Eliza married Wm. McCoy
  8. Alexander married Rachel McCollum
  9. John married Margaret Clendennin
  10. Henry married Margaret Van Wyck
  11. Gustavus Francis married Katherine Deacon

One Last Thing

On a totally unrelated note (but as a reminder to myself): there was a Robert Campbell who had m. a Francis in Monmouth County, NJ. In Historical and Genealogical Miscellany : Volume 1: data relating to the settlement and settlers of New York and New Jersey , [compiled by] John E. Stillwell. Published 1903, you can find some of the early records of Christ Church, Shrewsbury, Monmouth Co, NJ. You can link to a PDF version here.  There are 2 records for Robert that I can not account for:

  • Baptism: 9 Feb 1746, William s/o Robert & Frances Campbell age 5 years
  • Burial: 24 Sept 1747 Robert Campbell

Again I point out that this record probably has nothing to do with the above genealogy of Robert Campbell who m. a Francis Eldridge!!! I’m just putting it here as a reminder to myself.

  1. Gary Gerth said:


    What a challenge you’ve undertaken! And what a wonderful site.

    I am searching for almost as vast a heritage-I’m descended from John Willson b.1722 Albany,NY, son of James Willson abt. 1685-1774 and buried at the Wilson Family Cemetery on the Mohawk Valley. I am attempted to learn where/when this James came from.

    I was interested in a phrase found somewhere on your website(s) “Those Willsons(Wilsons) were also a large family in Middlesex and Monmouth Counties”.

    Many thanks,

    Dillon, MT

    • bwaltier said:

      Hi Gary! That was not an original quote. It was sourcing some information I took off a rootsweb site by a very knowledgeable Campbell researcher. You can find the quote/source here: http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/CAMPBELL/2005-04/1113688066

      I remember reading the quote myself when researching but for the life of me I can’t find it on my site!! The context of the Wilson family is in this post: John Campbell of Manalapan: http://wp.me/p2Yk2H-4m. A Jane Campbell m. Walter Wilson and her Uncle Dugal was the executor of her will. The little I know of the Wilson family is at the bottom of John Campbell of Manalapan: http://wp.me/p2Yk2H-4m

      A great place to search NJ records is right here: http://www.nj.gov/state/archives/searchdatabases.html It where I got most of my Campbell deeds. And of course Google Books…

      Hope that helps…

      • Gary Gerth said:

        Thanks so much for your info and links; I feel I may be zeroing on on a quest of the past couple years. We had thought our Willsons probably came by way of Ireland; partly on the basis that a James b.1718 in Northern Ireland was brother to my John b.1722 documented at the Albany Dutch Reformed Church. That particular James 1718 married a Sarah Campbell b.1742 Cherry Valley, NY, who is supposed to be a great great Grandaughter of Duncan Campbell b.1597. But now I know that James was not (immediately) connected to my line, and there is no data for Northern Ireland to otherwise connect us.My Wilson clan first showed up on (recent) record as part of the established business community in Albany as all those leaders belonged to that church. John Johnstone, who established Freehold & Perth Amboy, also had connections to the Dutch Reformed Church in Albany.The records of that church are all on line.

        It seem that some Wilsons have always been in proximity to the Campbell Clan but never intermarried to a significant extent. There were Willsons in Ayrshire, Midlothian, and Glasgow Paisely, and Lanarkshire.

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