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Below is a family biography included in History of Shawnee County, Kansas and Representative Citizens by James L. King, published by Richmond & Arnold, 1905.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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The death of Dr. M. A. E. J. Campdoras, on April 6, 1881, removed from Topeka a physician and surgeon of remarkable professional skill, and a man whose nobility of life and self-sacrificing spirit in the cause of right aroused feelings of veneration and admiration which attended him through years of a very unusual public career. Dr. Campdoras was born at Thuir, Department of the Pyrenees Orientales, France, and was a son of Francois Sylvestre and Justine (Joubert) Campdoras.

Dr. Campdoras was graduated at the college at Perpignan, where he received the degree of A. B. and then from the University of France, at Montpelier, in medicine and surgery, and then was assigned to hospital practice at Toulon. He entered the navy as auxiliary surgeon and was at sea six years. When Napoleon III declared himself emperor, Dr. Campdoras was surgeon of the “Pengouin” and was the only officer in the French Navy who was brave enough to stand firm for freedom and a republic, resulting in his desertion of his ship. In the campaign of the Var, when the insurrectionists were beaten, he escaped over the Alps to Italy and subsequently, with others, embarked at Genoa for New York.

In the spring of 1852 the party reached New York after three months of stormy voyaging and set foot on free land. During this voyage Dr. Campdoras and the late Charles Sardou, whose life story is related in this volume, became acquainted, having the same aims and suffering the same hardships, and later both settled near Topeka, friends for life. Dr. Campdoras practiced medicine and surgery in New York City for three years and then went South to Louisiana where he spent the winter of 1854 teaching Spanish at the Louisiana State College at Donaldsonville. In the spring of 1855 he came to Kansas and practiced among the very few settlers and the half-breed Kaw Indians settled along the bottom lands of the Kaw River, among whom were the Papans, the Bellemeres and the De Aubries. Here he took up a claim of 160 acres but this he later sold to the father of Spencer Wade. For some years he made his home with Charles Sardou and continued to practice until 1871, when his failing health caused him to discontinue.

Early in 1862 Dr. Campdoras enlisted as surgeon of the Second Regiment, Kansas Home Guards, Col. John Ritchie commanding, and served 18 months but was obliged to resign on account of ill health. He participated in the battles of Prairie Grove and Cane Hill, and in the latter fight his horse was shot from under him and he was slightly wounded. After being mustered out at Fort Smith, in October, 1863, he came back to his home, which was then in Indianola and resumed practice. In 1871 he retired to the farm which is located just west of the State Reform School for Boys,—a tract of 160 acres upon which his wife had a squatter right, under the law which then gave an unmarried woman a quarter-section of land. His health continued so poor that he at last fancied that if he could once more breathe the air of his native land, vigor would return to him and in 1880, after so many years of absence, he once more trod the soil of France. He met with disappointment and returned to his Kansas home in the same year. He learned what he had not known before, that the French government had condemned him to death on account of the part he had taken in the insurrection, but he also learned that he had powerful and devoted friends there who met and drafted a special bill asking for a pension. His disappointment was in the change that time had wrought and in the different way that freedom in his native land was regarded in comparison to the ideals for which he had sacrificed almost everything. As long as he lived, and his death followed his visit abroad, he placed patriotism before every other sentiment.

In 1858, Dr. Campdoras married Eliza Reader, who was born in Pennsylvania, of English and American parents, respectively. Her mother died when she was two years old and she lived with her aunt, Mrs. Eliza Cole, and was reared and educated in Illinois. When she was about 21 years old her uncle and aunt and brother Samuel decided to move to Kansas and they left LaHarpe, Illinois, on May 10, 1855, in a prairie schooner and reached their destination on June 5th of the same year. After her marriage she and her husband went to live at Indianola. They became the parents of seven children, as follows: Leon Samuel, Johanna Katherine, Frank Reader, Virginia Justine, Grace, Velleda Mathilde and Irene May. Leon Samuel operates the home farm of 160 acres which his father bought previous to his death, which is located two and a half miles north of North Topeka. The location is fine, the residence standing on an elevation among grand old trees, giving a charming view of the city of Topeka, the noble dome of the Capitol Building, the Kaw River winding through green banks and the wide spread of fertile farms. This home was built in 1887, the family having come here from the old farm which was situated in the lowlands. The eldest daughter resides with her mother as do Velleda Mathilde and Grace. Frank R. lives at Richter Station, where he is agent for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway Company. He married Florence Packard and they have two children, Francis P. and Cecile C. Virginia Justine is the wife of Albert C. Root, of Kansas City, Kansas, and they have two children, Irving C. and Eugenia J. The youngest daughter is the wife of Clarence P. Scott, of Kansas City, Kansas.

Dr. Campdoras was a member of Golden Rule Lodge, No. 90, A. F. & A. M., of Topeka, and he belonged to the Capitol Grange organization, also of Topeka. In politics he embraced the principles of the Republican party and always voted that ticket except during the candidacy of Peter Cooper, with whose sentiments he was so in accord that he cast his vote for the great philanthropist. It was always a matter of satisfaction that his early devotion to his native country was so valued by his fellow insurgents that he was proffered the command of the army, a position he declined on account of his youth, realizing that more experienced men would be needed to direct so great an undertaking. Neither would he accept political preferment in his chosen home, although he could easily have secured it. Joseph M. Cole, an uncle of Mrs. Campdoras, was a member of the first Free-State Territorial Legislature.

The following lines appear in Noel Blache’s book entitled “Insurrection of the Var,” December, 1851, translated from the French by Mrs. Campdoras.
“At the supreme moment the insurgents wish to show some appreciation of one who has always been dear to their hearts and in whom they had every confidence. Campdoras was surgeon on the flag ship ‘Pengouin,’ at that time anchored in the roadstead of St. Tropez. A grand garcon, brown and robust, born in one of our Pyrenees departments. His black hair and strong beard, his mobile countenance, slightly irregular, his eyes sparkling with intelligence, he looked full of frankness. A fluent speaker with easy jestures, all in him denoted the tribune. The virility of his character united with extreme promptitude of decision predestined him to the important part he played in the insurrection of the Var. His republican convictions were ardent and enlightened by a profound study of our revolutionary history, brave, generous, his love for the people was without limit. His goodness without equal. All those that have known him, especially those that have been intimate with him, remember how his conversation was witty, sharp and to the point owing to its originality and how his repartees were lively and piquant. They also remember what heart of gold beat in his breast, but that which they never forget were the flashes of light which sprang from his eyes when speaking on public affairs. It was then that he beat into retreat the reasoning of his adversaries, carrying conviction into their minds and bringing into light the indignation of their souls. When Campdoras learned the news of the Coup d’ Etat, he left the ‘Pengouin’ at once and sacrificed to what he considered his duty, his future, his position, his well-being, and placed himself resolutely at the head of the insurgents of St. Tropez.”

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This family biography is one of 206 biographies included in History of Shawnee County, Kansas and Representative Citizens by James L. King, published by Richmond & Arnold, 1905.  For the complete description, click here: Shawnee County, Kansas History, Genealogy, and Maps

View additional Shawnee County, Kansas family biographies here: Shawnee County, Kansas

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