Campbell’s cemetery gets loving protection
By Cathy Gillentine
Sun News Editor
Campbell’s Bayou -- A wisp of breeze stirs the lush green grass, but it might be the
long skirt of Mary Campbell drifting across the turf as she walks beneath the giant oak
that guards shoes resting in Campbell’s Bayou Cemetery.
It is here, in a green oasis flanked by giant storage tanks, where lie the bones of
privateer Jim Campbell, his wife, Mary, some children and grandchildren –plus a dozen
For many years, after the little settlement was wiped out by the 1900 storm, the
cemetery lay in virtual ruins – visited mainly by vandals.
The land was acquired by the Malone family for their chemical waste storage facility in
the 1960’s and things at the almost-forgotten cemetery began to change for the better.
“It was old Mr. H. C. Dick, a relative by marriage, who inspired us to preserve it,” said
Arthur “Butch” Malone.” His sister was buried here in the 1900’s. He came out almost
every week to check on progress while we cleaned and mowed.”
What Mlaone employees found when they began to work on the cemetery was aplot of
ground full of holes and scattered bricks. Only one base of a headstone remained. From
old records, Malone was able to locate a map which marked the gravesites.
“You can’t believe the horror stories I heard,” he said. “People came digging out there
– even a troop of Boy Scouts. They just didn’t understand.”
Old newspaper reports on the desecration of the cemetery said those who vandalized
were looking for buried treasure, because of the Campbell’s connection with the pirate,
“There was never any treasure” said Malone “Those were poor people, or at least, not
rich. They made their living off the land.”
Fromn the chart, Malone learned there were 12 Confederate soldiers buried near the
front fence. But in spite of searches in Texas City, Houston and Austin, he has never been
able to find the names. “I need some help with that.” He said. “I believe the government
would provide headstones if we could find the names. Then we would put up a big stone.
or a plaque, with the family names,” he said.
Malone put a birdbath at the spot where Mary is buried. The company built a fence
back in the 1960’s and replaced it about two years ago.
The second fence encircled the first, which was later removed, and expanded the plot
by 20 feet each way. The Malones fabricated the sign in steel in their own shop and then
took to Santa Fe to have it galvanized.
“Things rust fast out here,” said Malone, “but it ought to last another 20 years or so.
Two Maries – McGrory and Bessire – both Campbell great-great – granddaughters
through the Parr line of the family, visited the cemetery on the Fourth of July to place a
red, white and blue wreath in honor of Jim Campbell, who served in the Navy during the
War of 1812 before he joined LaFitte’s privateering band as the captain of a ship.
Thursday they brought Bertha Wetzel, 89, who is a great-grandmother – a generation
closed to the retired privateer.
And Wetzel was full of stories told to her by her mother and memories of travels she
has made up and down the local bay front.
She was happy to learn the information she has agrees with information Malone has
studied. “I hate it when I try to tell them something and they tell me its not right,” she
The history begins with Jim Campbell, who was born in Ireland in 1789, came to
America as a small boy and was raised in Baltimore.
He enlisted in the Navy in the War of 1812 and served as a boatswain’s mate on the
After the war, Campbell met Jean LaFitte, who was privateering out of Galveston
Island. Campbell joined LaFitte and captained on of his ships.
Campbell married Mary Chivane, who, her descendants say, was part Sioux Indian, in a
Indian ritual Nov. 9. 1831 at Crow’s Ferry Landing.
Legend says love of her lured Campbell away from the sea to settle near Virginia Pint
and Swan Lake and found a community which became Campbell’s Bayou.
There, along with other crops, they planted fruit trees.
James died in 1856 and Mary in 1892, but they left their mark in a host of descendants.
They had a son, Warren, who married Sallie Adkins and a daughter, Diana, who
married Solomon Parr. Parr, an Englishman, had come to the community from Bolivar
Peninsula and had been a friend of the Campbell’s for years. They Parr’s had 13 children
– one of the reasons there so many kin.
In June 1966, descendants held a reunion-the first in 170 years. Among the families
who gathered were many names familiar in the area: Adkins, Bessire, Blume, Bundy,
Derrick, Dick, Etteredge, Flatt, Gordy, Gunderman, Hamilton, Hamrick, Lawrence,
McGrory, Munson, Repport, Saltz, Stephenson, Westerlage, Wetzel, Zipporan and
Those who want to visit must go to the gate on Campbell Bayou Road off Loop 197
South in Texas City, call the Malone number on the telephone push button which is
mounted in a box near the gate and request admittance.
They’ll travel through a site which is all 20th century – to a little green spot that goes
back into time.