Johnnie Campbell Died Saturday A. M. In State Hospital

Twenty-one years ago, a young, attractive woman, a mother, came to Astoria. With her was her four year old baby boy. Why she came here, no one knows. She engaged rooms at the Senger rooming house, where she remained a few days and then left for parts unknown, leaving her little boy in the care of strangers. Time went on, the mother did not return and so the little boy became a charge for those in whose care he was left. A home had to be provided for the little black-eyed youth.

The editor of this paper happened to be supervisor of this township at the time, and it fell upon him to find a suitable and responsible home for the little boy. Mrs. Effie Danner and husband were prevailed upon to take the little boy and through their generosity and kindness he was cared for as if he were their own child.

Shortly after he was placed in this fine christian home, the mother of the little boy was again heard from. The writer took the little boy, accompanied by Mr. and Mrs. Danner to Lewistown, where they met the mother. After being told what disposition had been made with her deserted child, she decided to leave him with Mr. and Mrs. Danner. When the time came to leave, the mother was the first to leave the party and when she started to board the train this little boy, who seemed to realize, though only a small child, that his mother was going to leave him with strangers, clung to her dress with all his might and cried frantically for her not leave him. Before she could get aboard the train, it was necessary for her to break his hold with force, in other words, tear his little hands loose, while this was going on, the writer had hold of the child, trying to console him. It was a sad, sad scene indeed, to witness. The mother went on inside the coach and sat down. The train sped away and there on the depot platform was left a little boy, crying with all his might, pleading and begging for his dear mother. That was the last time that mother ever looked into the face of her little boy, her baby. That little boy never seen his mother again. He was brought back to Astoria, where he continued to live in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Danner, and where he grew to manhood under their care and guidance. That little boy was Johnnie Campbell, whose funeral was held Monday.

About three months ago Johnie suffered a paralytic stroke, rendering him helpless. He was taken to the hospital at Rushville, where he was given the best of treatment. He remained there for six weeks, then he was brought to the home of his foster mother, where he remained for a couple of weeks. His condition was only slightly improved and it was found that Mrs. Danner could not give him the attention he should receive, due to the fact that she was alone, her husband having passed away April 28, 1930. Not having the means to place him in a hospital, it was decided to place him in the Illinois State Hospital at Bartonville, where he would receive proper medical and nurse care. He was admitted as a voluntary patient. Letters from him indicated that he was getting along as well as could be expected and when the word came, announcing his death, it was a great shock to his foster mother and his friends.

The remains were brought to Astoria Saturday and on Monday afternoon at 2:00 o’clock at the Church of the Brethren, funeral services were held, conducted by Rev. E. O. Norris, assisted by Rev. W. R. Seitzinger. Burial in the Woodland cemetery. It was an impressive service, attended by many sympathizing friends, who were grieved that his young life could not be spared.

Johnnie was a good boy, industrious, possessing clean habits, kind and considerate of others and his sole aim in life was to do the good deeds. After he was stricken, he expressed a desire to see his mother before he passed on, and every effort was made to locate her by broadcasting over radio station WLS, announcing his serious illness. But no word was received from her.

Thus, save that his name was Johnnie Campbell, and that he was 25 years of age — he died unknown. No relatives, except his foster mother, was present to shed a tear. We know nothing of his family history. We do not know whether he has anyone alive today united to him by ties of kinship. But we do know that a mother entered the shades of vicarious sacrifice to give him birth and showered kisses on his face as all noble mothers have done since the morning of time. How could a mother be so cruel, so heartless as to abandon her bright eyed little boy who needed her care, her love and her prayers? Could it be that she was deranged when she committed the terrible deed of abandoning him, leaving him among strangers? If so, God pity her and may she be forgiven.

Johnnie’s poor, frail, sick, helpless body is now at rest. He died unknown.


Published in the Argus-Searchlight on 9/23/1931

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