Little Leo Campbell (1918-1923)

James Leo Campbell (1918-1923) lived a short life. The fourth of five Campbell siblings, he was born to John E. Campbell (1892-1959) and my 2nd great aunt Amanda Rhoads Campbell (1895-1988). Amanda was an older sister of my great grandmother, Ida Rhoads Sears (1900-2002).

Leo and I are 1st cousins 2x removed. His grandparents, John M. Rhoads (1852-1919) and Mary Margaret Costlow Rhoads (1858-1947), are my 2nd great grandparents.

The photo below was identified by my great grandmother as “Leo” and it appears he was commonly known by his middle name.

James Leo Campbell (abt. 1920)

James Leo Campbell (abt. 1920)

She also identified this photo of Leo as well.

James Leo Campbell (abt. 1921)

James Leo Campbell (abt. 1921)

My great grandmother lived to the age of 102 and probably identified these photos over six decades ago, if not longer. Generally she has been pretty accurate, but I have also discovered some mistakes. For example, she identified the photo below as her daughter, Dorothy Clara Sears (1922-1927), and her nephew, Leo.


The problem is that Leo was four years older than Dorothy and that difference is just not reflected in the photo. These children appear to be approximately the same age.

I believe that the boy in this photo is Leo’s younger brother, George P. Cambell (born about 1923), and that my grandmother mistook him for Leo.

Here is a photo of the Campbell siblings, presumably in 1924. Sadly, Leo is absent, having died the previous year. In age he would have been in between the two boys to the right. That is George sitting to the far right. He looks quite similar, though younger, to the boy in the previous photo.


The Campbell siblings in this photo, from left to right, are: Margaret Marie Campbell (abt. 1914), Alice Elizabeth Campbell (1915-1994), John Edward Campbell (1917-1983), and George.

Here is an earlier photo identified by my grandmother as the two oldest Campbell girls, Margaret and Alice. I can see some similarities though it is always hard to tell with photos of children. What do you think?


As I have said several times in previous posts, documenting the lives of the children in my family tree who have died is one of my most important jobs. It is important that we remember and tell their stories before they are lost forever.

Leo’s death certificate indicates he died of “uremic poisoning” (kidney failure). It also lists “3rd degree burns” as a contributing factor. I do not know how Leo received these burns. It is unlikely that anyone in my immediate family has even heard the story. There may be some decendents of the Campbells that might be able to fill in the gaps. I will try to track them down.

Leo Campbell death certificate.jpg

I wonder what kind of boy Leo was like. What kind of man would he have become? How did the loss of her nephew influence my great grandmother, especially given that she would lose her own daughter at a similar age only a few years later? These are just some of the questions I think about as I reflect on Little Leo’s short life and story.

Do you need some help telling a family story?