Eugene P. Campbell

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Eugene Preston "Gene" Campbell
Sheriff of Concordia Parish, Louisiana
In office
June 1908 – January 30, 1940
Succeeded by Rhetta Schuchs Campbell
Personal details
Born (1870-02-18)February 18, 1870
Concordia Parish, Louisiana
Died January 30, 1940(1940-01-30) (aged 69)
Ferriday, Concordia Parish
Resting place Natchez City Cemetery in Natchez, Mississippi
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Rhetta Schuchs Campbell
Children Ruby Chandler Campbell Fulton
Alma mater Louisiana State University
Occupation Parish official
Religion Episcopalian

Eugene Preston Campbell, known as Gene Campbell (February 18, 1870 - January 30, 1940), was thus far the longest serving sheriff in the history of Concordia Parish in eastern Louisiana. He served nearly thirty-two years from June 1908 until his death, which occurred the same month as his reelection to a ninth four-year term.

Background[edit]

Campbell was born and reared on the Black River in Concordia Parish, the youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. F. L. Campbell, who were among the early pioneers of the region. F. L. Campbell was named assessor of Concordia Parish in 1888 by Governor Francis T. Nicholls and again in 1892 by Governor Murphy J. Foster, Sr. Eugene Campbell was himself appointed assessor by Governor Newton C. Blanchard. Campbell had five brothers, including a twin who died in early childhood. He played as an End, and was named as a letterman, on LSU's first football team in 1893. Campbell graduated in 1896 from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.[1]

Campbell and his wife, the former Darlene Schuchs, a native of Vidalia, had an adopted daughter, Ruby Chandler Fulton, and husband, Dudley Fulton, of Clarks in Caldwell Parish, Louisiana.[1]

Two Sheriff Campbells[edit]

After Campbell died in Ferriday of a lingering illness,[2] Mrs. Campbell served under appointment of Governor Earl Kemp Long as sheriff until her death a year and a half later on July 25, 1941. By that time Noah W. Cross of Ferriday began the first of his twenty-five years as sheriff, seven nonconsecutive and interrupted terms, in the combined law-enforcement and tax-collecting position.[3] A Vidalia native, Darlene Campbell was the daughter of Mike J. Schuchs and the former Julia Brunk. She was quickly buried on the same day that she died.[2] Mrs. Campbell was not the first widow appointed in Louisiana to fill the remaining term of her husband as sheriff. In 1936, when Sheriff Wyatt Luther Nugent of Grant Parish was killed in the line of his duty, his widow, Lydia Ann Rosier Nugent, served briefly thereafter.[4] However, no woman was elected sheriff in Louisiana until 1956 when Eloise Bouanchaud was elected sheriff of Pointe Coupee Parish to succeed her late husband.[5] The next woman elected sheriff in Louisiana was in 1999, when Beth Oakley Lundy won the position in Calcasieu Parish[6] with 51.5 percent of the vote cast against a fellow Democrat in the nonpartisan blanket primary.[7]

Services for both Campbells were held at the family residence, a Queen Anne Revival style house at 2 Concordia Drive in Vidalia. The house, included on the National Register of Historic Places, years later burned to the ground.[8] Both are interred at Natchez City Cemetery.[1][2]

The Tensas Gazette in neighboring St. Joseph in Tensas Parish opined at the time of Campbell's passing:

There was probably no other man in public life in this section at least, who had a greater hold on the people of his parish than Gene Campbell enjoyed. Indeed, it was often said that Gene Campbell held every public office in Concordia Parish in the hollow of his hand. ... The heavy load laid upon him in the last year of his life almost proved his undoing and unquestionable hastened his death. Gene Campbell's own weakness ... was his devotion and loyalty to his friends, oft at his own prejudice ...[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Death of Hon. E. P. Campbell", Tensas Gazette, February 1940
  2. ^ a b c "Mrs Campbell Died Yesterday: Splendid Lady of Vidalia Called by Death, Buried Yesterday", The Natchez Democrat, Natchez, Mississippi, July 26, 1941
  3. ^ List of 20th century sheriffs of Concordia Parish, Concordia Parish Library, Vidalia branch
  4. ^ "Frances Nugent Petrus". The Shreveport Times. Retrieved July 25, 2014. 
  5. ^ Monroe News Star. "Sheriff's Widow Wins Election in Point Coupee." April 18, 1956. p. 1
  6. ^ "First Woman Sheriffs in the United States of America". reocities.com. Retrieved July 25, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Election returns: Calcasieu Parish, October 23, 1999". staticresults.sos.la.gov. Retrieved July 25, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Sheriff Eugene P. Campbell House". archiplanet.org. Retrieved May 30, 2012.