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Campbell, J. R.


    Jeremiah Rockwell Campbell is a native of Boston, where he was born November 26th, 1827.  He is of Scotch-English descent, and his ancestors were among the early settlers of Massachusetts.  He was educated at the Elliot School, in Boston, one of the finest institutions of the kind in the State, and a very noted institution of learning, and afterwards at mercantile schools.  At the age of fifteen he began his career in the hotel business, connecting himself with the Campbell House, in Boston, which was conducted by his uncle.  This establishment, in that day, was the rendezvous of all the local celebrities of Boston, and included among its patrons such men as William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips, Governor Andrews, Vice-President Wilson, etc., etc.  Having learned the business, he branched out for himself as a restauranteur, in which he was successful.  Having a fancy for agriculture, he tried farming for a few years, but in 1866 abandoned it and New England for the more congenial climate of Florida.  It was a great day for Jacksonville, as events prove, when J. R. Campbell first made it his home; for from that time to the present he has been a conspicuous figure in the City's development.  The first thing that struck him on his arrival was the inadequacy of hotels at a point which he believed could be made one of the leading resorts of the country.  He immediately set about to remedy this condition, and the result was the St. James Hotel, which, with the aid of some friends, he erected, and threw open its doors in January, 1869.  It was then, and for many years thereafter, the largest hotel in the State, but not what it is today, for it has been gradually enlarged and improved to its present magnificent dimensions.  (See cut elsewhere.)  With the completion of the St. James, travel to Florida received a new impetus, which has steadily grown.  Mr. Campbell was the first to introduce electricity into Jacksonville, when he erected a plant in 1883 to light his hotel.  Subsequently he organized a company to illuminate the City, which was accomplished in 1888.  This was afterwards merged into the Citizens' Gas and Electric Company.  He was also active in the organization of the Jacksonville Loan and Improvement Company, which did much in the development of the City.  In fact, he has been active in all public enterprises where the advancement of the City was involved.  He is a large land owner in Florida; at St. James City, Charlotte Harbor, Marietta, etc.  He is a man of broad and liberal ideas, and is always on the side of progress; a man that is of great value to the community in which he lives.  He was married at Chelsea, Mass., in April, 1856, to Mary J., daughter of Captain C. B. Wilder, and has three children, one daughter and two sons.

 

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