JAMES LAFAYETTE CAMPBELL, real-estate dealer, and father of the house of correction
bill in the Illinois legislature, is a native of the Empire State, being born in the town of Cale-
donia, Livingston county, May 19, 1831. His father, William Campbell, was a Vermonter by
birth, and remotely of Scotch extraction. His mother, whose maiden name was Hannah Ladd,
was a native of New Hampshire. She is still living. Her husband died December 15, 1880, aged
Mr. Campbell came to Illinois in 1850, and subsequently removed to Iowa, finishing his edu-
cation in the academic department of the upper Iowa University, at Fayette, in that state, and
teaching school for nine or ten terms in Fayette and Delaware counties. He read law with Hon.
Milo McGathery, of West Union, Fayette county; was admitted to the bar at that county seat
in June, 1862; settled in Chicago in the autumn of that year, and was graduated from the law
department of the University of Chicago in 1866. After practicing his profession for two years
he engaged in the real-estate business, which he has since followed very closely, and with a fair
measure of success, though having, like others in the same line, his ups and downs. Campbell
avenue and Campbell park, on the west side, were named for him.
Mr. Campbell represented the twelfth ward in the city council from December, 1869, to Decem-
ber, 1871, and while in that body was impressed with the necessity of reform in the management
of the bridewell, which was being run at an expense to the city of $50,000 to $100,000 a year. He
made frequent attempts to have the matter investigated, but was defeated through the influence
of the ring. Finally, on his motion, a committee of the common council was chosen, of which
he was made chairman, and authorized to visit different reformatory institutions, and to make a
report. This they did.
In order to effect this reform, Mr. Campbell became a candidate in 1870 for the legislature,
whither he was sent, and where he introduced and secured the passage of the house of correction
bill, doing away with the bridewell system, and introducing the present self-supporting system of
management, and thus saving to the city annually more than $50,000, as shown by the reports of
the superintendent for the last seven or eight years.
Although the writer has known Mr. Campbell for nearly a quarter of a century, he can recall
no act of his life for which he is entitled to more credit than for his persistent efforts in securing
the extinction of the bridewell system, so tempting to public plunders. In 1873 Mr. Campbell
128 UNITED STATES BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY.
was again elected alderman of the twelfth ward, and served two and a half years, being, as usual,
faithful and efficient in his duties to the public. He is a republican in politics, and a Master
Mason, being a member of Blair Lodge.
He was married July 19, 1859, to Miss Sophronia R. Crosby, daughter of Rev. J. W. Crosby,
of Iowa, and they have one son, who has just finished his literary education, and is studying for
WILLIAM S. CHERRY.
WILLIAM SLOAN CHERRY, general superintendent of the coal mines at Braidwood and
Streator, is a son of William Cherry, a native of Ireland, and a music teacher, and Mary
(Sloan) Cherry, who was of Irish parentage. He was born July 9, 1837; was educated in the
graded and high schools of that city, and after serving an apprenticeship at the machinist's trade,
took a course of studies in the Polytechnic Institute, Philadelphia, paying particular attention to
mining and mechanical engineering. While working at his trade as a machinist, he went into
the coal regions of Pennsylvania, and was engaged there in mining, and alternated between work-
ing at his trade in Philadelphia, and in the coal regions, until the war broke out.
In 1861 he enlisted in the engineer corps of the United States navy, and was in the service, in
all, a period of seven years, being the last two years in the South Atlantic squadron, off the coast
of South America. On leaving the navy Mr. Cherry turned his attention to the manufacture of
white lead, at Wilmington, Delaware, carrying on that business between two and three years.
In the autumn of 1871 Mr Cherry came to Illinois, and with the exception of one year since,
spent in the general office of the Chicago, Wilmington and Vermilion Coal Company, has resided
in Streator, his position here being that of general superintendent of the mines. Both by educa-
tion and experience he has especial fitness for this office, and is managing it to the entire satis-
faction of the parties concerned. He is a man of great business tact and ability.
When he was called to Chicago he was holding the office of town school trustee, being presi-
dent of the board. That post he had to resign on account of leaving, and we cannot learn that
he has accepted any other civil office. He is a director of the Streator National Bank, a Royal
Arch Mason, a member of the Presbyterian church, a man of solid parts, and a highly esteemed
In 1872 he was married to Miss Mary D. Godfrey, of Philadelphia, and they buried two chil-
dren in infancy, and have three living.
REV. HIRAM WASHINGTON THOMAS, D.L).
THE subject of this sketch is'the son of Joseph and Margaret (McDonald) Thomas, who were
well-to-do farmers in. Hampshire county, West Virginia. On his father's side he is of Ger-
man and Welsh, and on his mother's Scotch and English extraction. Hiram is the fourth in a
family of six children, having three brothers older and two sisters younger than himself, and was
born among the mountains of West Virginia, April 29, 1832.
When but a year old the family removed to Preston county, near the Maryland line, where he
grew to manhood. He was naturally of a slender constitution, with a massive brain overtopping
his body, and it was fortunate that his childhood and early manhood was spent on a farm among
the rugged mountains. The out-door active life of a farmer toned up his physical to a reasona-
ble equality with his mental constitution, so that he has been able to bear an amount of intellec-
tual work, surpassed by few, and at the age of fifty years his vigor is unimpaired and his personal
appearance still youthful. The educational facilities of his native place were, fortunately perhaps
for him, meager and primitive, and he was left to the very necessary work of preparing a consti-
UNITED STATES BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY. 131
tution for future use. The thirst for knowledge was, however, so great in him, that at the age
of sixteen he went one hundred miles on foot to Hardy county, Virginia, and worked nights and
mornings for a winter's schooling at a little village academy. Two years after one Doctor Mc-
Kesson, of his neighborhood, took him under his private tutelage for two years, after which he
attended the Cooperstown, Pennsylvania, academy, and subsequently the Berlin Seminary, in the
same state, then under the direction of J. F. Eberhart, now a member of the People's Church,
Chicago, and a fast friend of the doctor's.
On removing to Iowa he continued his studies privately under Doctor Charles Elliott, formerly
president of the Iowa Wesleyan University, and Professor W. J. Spaulding, at present the presi-
dent of that institution. His studies have, however, never been discontinued. Like all men of
mark, he has never graduated, but expects to remain a student to the end of life. The greater
part of his knowledge of books he has acquired since he began to preach, and has facilitated his
work greatly, and fastened his acquirements in his memory by making immediate use of them as
fast as acquired, a most admirable method.
His mother was a devout Methodist, and his father a Quaker. The moral tone of the family
was exceptionally high, and its religion both practical and intensely devotional. At the age of
of eighteen Hiram became converted, and began soon after to preach. Like many other great
preachers he had the conviction from childhood that he must one day preach, and, although he
fought against it long and energetically, yet when the time came he succumbed and entered into
He at first joined the Pittsburgh conference of the Evangelical association, or German Meth-
odists, with whom he remained till in 1856 he joined the Iowa conference of the Methodist
March 19, 1855, he married Miss Emmeline C. Merrick, an accomplished young lady of Demp-
seytown, Pennsylvania. Her people were Presbyterians, and Methodist preachers, though pop-
ular with the same class who used to hear Christ " gladly," were, nevertheless, at that period
considered rather among the proletariat. The union was, however, a happy one, and through all
the extraordinary trials of the life of an itinerant Methodist preacher on the frontier, they have
found in each other an unfailing source of strength and consolation.
In the autumn of 1854 his parents sold out their Virginia home, removed to Washington
county, Iowa, and bought a tract of land. Thither Hiram followed them the following spring
with his young wife and the rest of the family. The summer was spent opening a new
farm, house building, etc., the young preacher working faithfully seven days to the week, six on
the farm, and one in the pulpit. In the fall, that scourge of a new country, congestive chills and
fever, brought him and his faithful wife to the verge of death, but as he firmly believes, his life
was spared in answer to prayer; whether his faithful spouse was included in the petition, or is
indebted to the efficacy of a stronger vital organization for her escape, is not recorded, but it is
certain that she too was spared to remark that there was little left of Thomas but a handful of
bones and a tuft of red hair.
But he was not ordained to bury himself or his talents in Iowa soil, and speedily relinquished
the farm entirely for the pulpit, and entered fully upon the arduous life of a Methodist itinerant.
For several successive years he managed to eke out a subsistence for himself and family on $300
a year. The leading charges of Marshall, Fort Madison, Washington, Mount Pleasant and Burling-
ton enjoyed the benefit of his labors, besides two years spent as chaplain of the state penitentiary.
In 1869 he was transferred to the Rock River conference, and stationed at Park avenue, Chicago
After three years he was appointed to the First Church (Methodist Church Block) of the same
city, where, likewise, he remained three years. He was then sent to the First Church of Aurora,
for two years, and next to Centenary Church, Chicago, where his term expired in October 1880.
His early preaching gave promise of all his later fame. He always drew large congregations, and
the churches flourished under his care. It was predicted many years ago by astute friends that
he only had to be transferred to a large city to acquire a national reputation. He has captured
I -12 UNITED STATES BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY.
every place in which he has preached, and his success in Chicago is only a repetition of his career
on a smaller scale in the villages and towns of his earlier ministry. There have usually been
many demands for him, and a spirited rivalry between the leading churches of his conference, as
there is now between cities and denominations.
Doctor Thomas has been a man of sorrows as well as of privations and arduous labors. Of
seven children born to his home but one survives, now a young man of promise, attending Rush
Medical College in Chicago. His large personal experience in the school of grief has opened a
door for him into the hearts of the afflicted and desolate, few not tempered in the same school can
enjoy. He was born and reared in humble life; he drew his first breath among the freedom-
inspiring mountains; he had his long struggle with poverty, and is familiar with its trials and
temptations; he has mingled with the lowly, and become familiar with their wants and woes, and
no fame, honor, or pelf of his later years can lift him above the common people in his sympathies
or his labors. He began his life with them, he has spent it for them, he will close it among them.
This is the secret of his heresy, it is the secret of his power. And had not Methodism " progressed "
out of its primitive simplicity and liberality it would not have scandalized and wronged itself by
expelling him from among them. However, it gave him a broader field and probably increased
his usefulness by breaking down for him the wall of partition which the church unconsciously
erected between her ministers and the people, and casting him with her ban upon him into the
bosom of the people whom he loved. At the funeral of John W. Coon, the famous billiardist,
long before the infamous heresy trial took place, he expressed himself in the following manner,
which, in view of the succeeding events, seems almost prophetic. At least it shows the drift of
his sympathies, and proves him to be too great in mind and heart to be hedged about by the nar-
row confines of any church or formulated creed: " Nothing pains me more," he said, "or gives me
more anxious thought than that the world's great need, and religion's great gift, man's want and
God's fullness, cannot be brought together. It rests upon me with such a weight that I have
sometimes almost felt that God calls me to a ministry at large outside of the church that I might
get near to the hearts and homes of the people."
The expression of such sentiments could not but make him very popular among those who most
need human sympathy and ministerial counsel and assistance, and naturally the narrow bigots of
his own class would look with increasing disfavor upon him. He would be "regarded by the
Scribes and Pharisees with jealousy, anger and suspicion, in proportion as it became manifest
that "the common people heard him gladly." It hence became early manifest that a separation
must sooner or later come the drift of events could not be checked. With the deepening of
his sympathies for humanity came the inevitable broadening of his religious, or rather theologi-
cal, views of truth and his understanding of the Scriptures. He who is a lover of mankind, and
is in sympathy with the gentle inspiration of the works of nature, must get a continually expand-
ing view of nature's God, and must interpret his Bible in harmony therewith. Hence, Doctor
Thomas found his view of the doctrines of inspiration, atonement and future punishment under-
going a change, and before he was himself fully aware of it his heart and brain had revolted
against the absurdities of plenary inspiration, substitutionary atonement and eternal torment.
With him. to study, to learn and to preach were necessary steps in a process continually going on.
He never waits to inquire how truth will be received, what will be its effects upon himself. He
only asks if it be truth; his duty to proclaim it he never questions.
His opposers did not stop to inquire if his views were truth, nor yet whether they were con-
trary to the essentials of Methodism, but placed the issues of their cause against him upon the
standards of the church, and themselves determined the standards. There could be but one issue
to such a trial. The trial itself is the most unimportant portion of the history we write, yet
faithfulness to the record demands a place in their pages. It is difficult to ascertain the date of
the earliest expression of heresy by the doctor, and it is of little moment. It is probable that
his early popularity arose from his human and rational view of God, the Bible and its teachings,
which came to him unconsciously, and was expressed as unconsciously and as naturally as he
UNITED STATES BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY.
breathed. However, rumors of his unsoundness were heard as far back as 1865, while yet in Bur-
lington, Iowa, and on that account an effort was made to prevent his transfer to Chicago.
It was not, however, until he became the pastor of the First Church that his liberal views
attracted general notice. His nearness to the people and ( his popularity among publicans
and sinners, who flocked to hear him, and many of whem he reformed, gave offense. Besides
this he did a good deal of undenominational work. He originated the Philosophical Soci-
ety of Chicago, and was its second president. This society was organized soon after the
great fire, and held its meetings for a time in the Methodist Church Block. It was composed of
such men as Judge Booth, Professor Rodney Welch, Doctor Samuel Willard. General Buford,
Doctor Edmund Andrews, Rev. Joseph Haven, E. F. Abbott, J. W. Ela, Professor Austin Beir-
blower, and two hundred or three hundred more orthodox, liberal, skeptics, spiritualists, athe-
ists, catholics and all the shades between these. Its discussions were not always orthodox, as
might be expected, and Doctor Thomas was held responsible for every variation therefrom.
He affiliated with liberal-minded people outside of his own church; preached a rousing ser-
mon in defense of Professor Swing, followed it with one on Hell, something after the example of
Henry Ward Beecher; sometimes preached for the Universalists and Unitarians; organized an
undenominational preachers' meeting called the Round Table, and in general conducted himself
in a way which indicated that he could no longer, "after the straighter sect of our religion, live a
When, therefore, in the fall of 1875, his term at the First Church in Chicago expired, the com-
plaints had grown so loud in certain quarters that he was sent out of the city to Aurora. There
was a great storm of indignation raised about this. His own church, the newspapers and the
general public believed it was designed to injure and ultimately to ruin him. Several large and
wealthy churches of other denominations offered him places. Charges in other conferences
sought his services, but he went quietly to his new appointment, and soon built up a large con-
gregation in Aurora. Persistent efforts were, however, made to get him back to Chicago, and
with final success, for he was appointed to Centenary Church in 1877. Immediately this society
became one of the largest in the Northwest, and other clergymen claimed that their congrega-
tions were rushing off to Centenary Church and getting Thomasized. During all this time he
was lecturing throughout the Northwest, giving during the lecture season one or two lectures a
week in Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and occasionally other states. This spread both his
fame and his opinions, and multiplied both his friends and his enemies. But the crisis of his
religious affairs was approaching.
When the next conference met at Mount Carroll, in October, 1878, the subject of Doctor Thomas'
recent utterances was privately discussed, and a plan carefully matured in secret to bring the
matter to a head. With characteristic boldness, and rejoicing in his own freedom, Doctor Thomas
preached before the conference a sermon, in which he took occasion to give free expression to his
peculiar views and criticise the narrowness of some of his brethren.
A committee on conference relations was appointed, something unusual in Methodism, with
special reference to this case. This was a sort of star chamber before which complaints might
be secretly brought against any minister, and some one, unknown to anybody except the commit-
tee, made charges against Doctor Thomas, and an adverse case was worked up. The committee
reported the case to the conference, and there was much discussion of the matter, but finally the
presiding bishop, Doctor Foster, cut the matter short by asking all those to rise to their feet who
felt that no loyal Methodist could preach such a sermon, an unwarrantable proceeding, asking, as
it did. judgment before trial. A large majority nevertheless of the conference stood up, and set
themselves right on the question of heresy before the world. A resolution offered by W. H. Strout
and A. Gurnay was then adopted, asking Doctor Thomas either to abandon his objectionable
teaching or withdraw from the church; in other words, to become a hypocrite and stay in, or
remain an honest man and go out. He very properly refused to do either, thinking probably
that the church was in need of honest men.
134 r. \rn-.D STATES BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY.
A committee was then appointed to consult with the doctor, and made a minority and a
majority report. Rev. S. A. W. Jewett thereupon offered a series of resolutions as a substitute
for both, which was adopted by a vote of eighty-five to nineteen, and which disposed of the case
for that year. It is too long to insert here, but sums up the matter by regretting that the doctor
won't do as they wish, and hoping that he won't preach any more heresy, and declaring that they
will let the matter rest for the present. Doctor Thomas was returned to Centenary Church,
preached in about the same vein as before, but when conference met in October, 1879, in Chicago,
there was no disposition to reopen the case, and he was returned to Centenary Church for the
third year. The fires of opposition, however, continued to burn, and there was a growing deter-
mination to get rid of him, but an increasing uncertainty how to do it. They were anxious to
avoid a heresy trial, and there was some talk of sending him to some obscure charge in the
country, where he would have no alternative beyond accepting obscurity or withdrawing from the
church. The popular outcry raised against this proposal, however, rendered it impossible to exe-
cute it, and there was nothing to do but either to restore him to full confidence or to try him for
heresy. This was the situation when the conference met in October. 1880, at Rockford, Illinois.
At almost the very opening of the conference this case was taken up and his'character passed.
It was hoped that this action would end the matter, but it was equally unsatisfactory to his ene-
mies and to his friends. His friends determined he should be relieved entirely from censure, and
his enemies determined he should be expelled. R. D. Sheperd offered a resolution nullifying the
action of censure by the conference of 1878. This was laid on the table and followed by a series of
resolutions offered by W. H. Tibbals, requesting him to immediately withdraw from the church.
They were promptly passed by a vote of 96 to 45, seventy-five members being absent or refusing to
vote. The next day Doctor Thomas read his reply in which he recited his faith and manner of
life, and refused to withdraw.
A committee was appointed to consider his reply. This they did, and recommended that the
whole case be turned over to the presiding elder of Doctor Thomas' charge, Elder W. C. Willing,
of the Chicago district. This recommendation was adopted, and Doctor Willing proceeded after
the adjournment of the conference to make up his committee. Meanwhile Doctor Thomas asked
and received a supernumerary relation pending the action of the committee. At Doctor Thomas'
request Doctors Jewett and Hatfield were appointed his prosecutors. The court met in Septem-
ber, 1881, in the Methodist Church Block, and proceeded to give him a preliminary trial. Rev.
Doctors Miller and Bennett, of Iowa, and Axtell and Sheperd, of Rock River conference, were
his defenders, but the case went against him, after an examination of several days, and he was
suspended from the ministry. At this preliminary examination there were three charges of.
heresy: the atonement, inspiration and future punishment, and the doctor was found guilty upon
all three counts. According to Methodist usage, the decision of this lower court was sent up to
the conference which met in October, 1881, at Sycamore, Illinois, for final adjudication.
On assembling, Doctor Willing announced the decision of the lower court, and moved a com-
mittee of fifteen to try the case. The bishop appointed the following gentlemen as that commit-
tee: Doctor Fowler, chairman; T. P. Marsh, M. H. Plum, Louis Curts, Henry S. Martin, John
Roods, M. McStokes, F. F. Farmiloe, George W. Winslow, C. W. Croll, Robert Beatty, Isaac
Lineberger, Rufus Congdon, J. M. Clendenring, F. A. Harding and E. M. Boring. Doctors Park-
hurst and Hatfield were the prosecuting counsel, and Miller and Bennett, of Iowa, and Axtell and
Sheperd, of the Rock River conference, were on the defense.
The trial began at the opening session, October 5, and continued at intervals till October 10,
when, as was anticipated, he was again found guilty and expelled both from the ministry and the