STERLING VAN BUREN CAMP. Among the permanent settlers of Montague county whose advent hither dates from the year 1878 is Sterling V. Camp, who resides upon his farm twelve miles north of Bowie and who by his integrity and unquestioned character is one of the first citizens of his county. By the right of nearly a half century passed within its confines he can be called a Texas, and it is to such characters as his that this vigorous commonwealth has attained to its position as a moral and spiritual factor in the sisterhood of states. His life, though quiet and lacking in exciting incidents since the war, has been a quiet force, like the great majority of our people, in determining the destiny of his state, and it is their active influence which becomes the ruling element in our domestic policy. Since 1859 Mr. Camp has prided himself as a Texan. It was that year that he, accompanied by his parents, established himself in Grayson county, at what has since become Denison, and bought for one dollar per acre land which has since come to be valued at one hundred dollars. It was while improving and cultivating this home that the rebellion broke out, and he spent four of the prime years of his life as a soldier in the field.
Near Cleveland, Bradley county, Tennessee, Mr. Camp was born May 16, 1836. He was a son of William Camp, whose father settled on Hiowassa river, McMinn county, when William was a boy. William Camp was born in upper east Tennessee in 1812, and was married in McMinn county to Margaret Cowan, whose father, James Cowan, was, like William Camp, a farmer. The latter lived an uneventful and rural life and died in Grayson county in 1868, while his wife passed away in 1862. Of the issue of the marriage of William and Margaret Camp, Margaret, wife of Dr. S. J. McKnight, of Dalton, Georgia, was one; John and James, of Denison, Texas; Sterling V., our subject; Joseph, who died without issue, and Archibald, who died unmarried in the city of Mexico. William Camp was one of six children of his parents, viz: Margaret, who married William Bates and died in Bradley county, Tennessee; Mary, wife of James Porter, and died in McMinn county; Kezzie, who married Jackson Hambright, and died in Bradley county; John, who passed away in McMinn county, and Thomas, who died in Illinois.
The opportunities of Sterling V. Camp were those only of the farmer boy of primitive surroundings and he began life with little knowledge of books. As previously indicated, he had just reached a period of usefulness on the farm when his career was interrupted by the breaking out of the Civil war. He enlisted in 1861 in Company B, Thirteenth Texas Cavalry, which was commanded in turn by Colonels Bob Taylor, Jim Stevens and Stone. He was second lieutenant of Captain McNight’s company, and saw service in the Trans-Mississippi Department of the Confederacy. His first engagement was at Newtonia, Missouri, and then followed the heavy campaigning in Arkansas and Louisiana. He fought at Mansfield, Pleasant Hill and Yellow Bayou, Louisiana, and at Prairie Grove, Arkansas. He was detailed recruiting officer for his department after the Yellow Bayou fight, and in the performance of his duty was at Boggy Depot, in the Indian Territory, when the news of Lee’s surrender came.
Taking the result of the war philosophically Mr. Camp returned to the farm and took up the thread of peaceful industry where he had abandoned it. His efforts in Grayson were attended with good results and he found himself fairly started in life when he “broke camp” to settle in Montague county in 1878. In his new home he began the improvement of his two hundred and seven acres of Limestone county school land, which he purchased cheap, and in the cattle, horse and general produce farming which he has since conducted prosperity has been generally on his side. His farm lies on either side of Victory creek, a small stream, and his residence now stands conspicuously prominent on the crest of the low hill overlooking his domains.
September 12, 1865, Mr. Camp married, in Grayson county, Caroline, a daughter of James and Nancy (Keeney) Henry, who were Tennessee settlers in Texas. Mrs. Camp was born in Blount county, Tennessee, January 16, 1839, and is the mother of William J., of Rush Springs, Indian Territory, who married Ella Cox and has a child, William; Kate B., wife of W. W. Riggs, of Del Rio, Texas, has children, Sterling and Susie; Nannie, Mrs. Kelley Askew, who died on April 9, 1891, leaving a son, Sterling Camp Askew; Sterling V., Jr., of Streeter, Oklahoma; Center, of Clayton county, Texas; Dorthola, who married William Brown, of this county, and Daisy A., a school teacher at home.
Mr. Camp is a member of the Stoneburg Lodge, No. 771, A. F. & A. M., and performs his Christian duty as a member of the Christian church. In former years he was pleased to take some interest in Democratic politics in county campaigns, but his ambition never led to a personal desire for office and he has held none. In his makeup he is an even-tempered, peace-loving, agreeable gentleman, and a wide circle of close friends testify to his neighborhood popularity.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 196-197.