Clio Logo

David Gee Campbell moved from Tennessee to Shawnee, Kansas, in 1860 and built this home for his wife and children. Sources indicate that Campbell was a slave owner prior to coming to Kansas and suggests that the people he had once enslaved may have also made the journey to Kansas with the Campbell family. During the Civil War, in 1864, Campbell moved the home from Shawnee to this location, a settlement known once as "Campbellton" which later became Merriam. Campbell had the foresight to donate land to the railroad, and its development increased the value of his property while also supporting the rapid expansion of the town. The Campbell home, the oldest home in the town, survives as the Merriam's origins before the train arrived and the community became a suburb of Kansas City.

The Campbell House and Historical Marker

The Campbell House and Historical Marker

The fertile and inexpensive land that became available with the creation of the Kansas Territory in 1854 attracted Tennessee native David Gee Campbell. He traveled to Kansas in two covered wagons with his wife and their children and possibly his parents and the people he had held in bondage. They settled in Shawnee in 1860. When Quantrill's Raiders burned Shawnee in 1864, Campbell bought acreage from a Native American family and moved the original house to modern-day Merriam. Campbell placed the home, located on what is today 9503 Johnson Drive, on an 18" rock foundation and basement made from stone and sand hauled from the Turkey Creek basin.

In 1867 the Kansas City and Neosho Valley Railroad began building a railroad through Turkey Creek. Understanding the value of a train stop to a town, Campbell decided to give part of his land to the railroad company. The arrival of the train to the growing settlement helped it grow. Campbell decided to donate more land, which led to the development of several businesses, including a Blacksmith shop and general store. The expanding community was named Campbellton in honor of its founder.

Campbellton, along with the entire Kansas City area, experienced considerable population growth in conjunction with the increased railway traffic into the region. As a result, the Kansas City, Fort Scott, and Gulf Railroad built the town's first railroad hub, which opened in 1870. The railroad spearheaded further land development, named Merriam after the railroad's secretary and largest stockholder, Charles Merriam. Over time, the additional land grew larger than the original Campbellton settlement leading to the town dropping the Campbellton name altogether by the 1880s.

The historic home stands today as a reminder of the town's original Campbellton name and its founder, David Gee Campbell. Although the house, which Campbell moved from Shawnee to modern-day Merriam, burned down in 1890. The rebuilt house, which enjoyed the same design as the original structure, arose in 1893 on the same foundation used by Campbell in 1864, which had survived the fire. 

"Campbell Home: First Home In Merriam." The Historical Marker Database. January 15, 2021. 

"The Founding of Campbellton." Historical Marker Project. 2006.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Photographer Unknown. Photo located at,