Donald Harcourt Campbell and Albertha Ambrosine Ramsey

So far, we have covered the first three generations of my Jamaican-Scot Campbell family. In this instalment, we’ll pick up the story by taking a look at my paternal grandfather and his family. Before we continue, however, I’d like to illustrate how inter-connected some Jamaican families are.

My great-grandmother Ida Julia Campbell née Brandon, who we covered in an earlier instalment, had a younger sister Edith Brandon (1864-1942). Edith married Benjamin Isaac Pinto.

Now following the Pinto line we get Edith (my great-grandaunt) and Benjamin’s son Vernon Carl Pinto who had a daughter, Lisa Pinto, my 2nd cousin once removed. Lisa Pinto then marries Hon. Ivan Arthur Vaz (1905-1987) and they have Vernon Ivan Vaz who is both my third cousin and my brother-in-law.

And there’s more. Vernon’s dad Hon. Ivan Arthur Vaz had an older sister Lena Elma Vaz (1896-1991) who married Cecil Guy Campbell (1898-1985), my granduncle. In later generations not covered in this story, there is also, at least, one other connection between the Vaz and the Campbell family.

With that, I’ll get on with my story.

Donald Harcourt Campbell

My grandfather was Donald Harcourt Campbell (1883-1974). We called him “Papa.” He was the second son of A. James Campbell, his older brother, Stranton St Leger Campbell (1883-1883), having died in infancy. Donald married Albertha Ambrosine O’Donnell née Ramsey, the widow of Henry (Harry) William O’Donnell (1857-1895). Albertha, known as “Bertha,” had a son, Henry Doyle O’Donnell (1894-1924), by her first husband. Albertha’s parents were James Henry Ramsey (1842-1901) and Helen Victoria Bogle (1842-1924).

While I have not researched the Bogle family line, I know of several Ramsey relatives living in Canada and Australia. The earliest Ramsey ancestor I found was James Robert Ramsey who married Frances Charlotte Child. James and Frances were born in the early nineteenth century. Their Jamaican-born son was James Henry Ramsey who was Albertha’s father.

Albertha Ambrosine Campbell

Because my parents were divorced when I was very young, and I lived mainly with my mother’s family, I don’t know a lot about my granddad’s life. Some Ramsey family research shows him as having seven children, aside from Henry Doyle O’Donnell, his step-son. I met only my dad, Clinton Garth Ramsey Campbell, and his older sister Beryl Joyce Koth née Campbell. I also know about Dad’s older brother Donald who was killed the year before I was born. Of dad’s other siblings, Mavis, Arthur, Violet and Alice, however, I have no information.

Papa’s birth certificate states his parents, James and Ida Julia, lived at  3 Fleet Street in Kingston, Jamaica. Other research shows that, at the time of his sons, Donald’s and Arthur’s, birth, Papa lived in the Isthmus of Panama at Colón—a seaport on the Caribbean Sea coast of Panama—and worked as a clerk for the Panama Railway. Those births were recorded in 1906 and 1910 respectively. 

Papa, I was surprised to learn, was brought up by his maternal aunt Blanch Brandon. She apparently doted on him and, according to his sister Violet, “…nothing was too good for him.”

The Panama Railway was a railway line that ran parallel to the route of the Panama Canal, stretching across the Isthmus of Panama from Colón on the Atlantic to Balboa on the Pacific, near Panama City. The Panama Railway was important at the time for the Panama Canal was then under construction. The rail line predated the canal by about five decades and was built, in part, to accommodate the increased traffic to California because of the 1849 California Gold Rush.

By 1913 the family was back in Jamaica and living on Brentford Road near Cross Roads in St, Andrew. That is the year my father was born. Donald Harcourt worked for several years for the United Fruit Company—previously known as the Boston Fruit Co., and the present-day Chiquita Brands International—in Jamaica. 

I find it interesting that he worked for the same company as my maternal grandfather. Many other family members also worked for the then famous “fruit company” and steamship line so, perhaps, I should not be surprised that both my grandfathers did so too.

Donald Harcourt Campbell (1873-1974) Birth Registration

At some time, Papa had a farm that produced bananas. His fruit was, apparently, sold in England by his stepson Henry Doyle O’Donnell, who stayed in England after WWII and operated a fruit importing business. In the mid-1940s, Papa also owned a hardware store in St. Andrew, above Half Way Tree.

By the time I knew my grandfather, he was a widower—Albertha had passed away in 1929—and he was already semi-retired. He lived at 1 Sullivan Avenue in St. Andrew with his daughter, Beryl, and her family and worked part-time for his brother’s company, Rapid Vulcanizing, where he was known as Mr. D. I believe he was the company’s treasurer.

The daughter with whom Donald lived out the rest of his life was Beryl Joyce Koth née Campbell who had married Bernard (Bernie) Otto Wilhelm Koth (1907-1953), a particularly nice German gentleman, who was my godfather. Uncle Bernie was employed by George and Brandy, which I believe were commission agents.

Beryl Joyce Koth née Campbell marriage to Bernard (Bernie) Otto Wilhelm Koth

During the Second World War, Bernie was held at a British detainment centre in Jamaica along with other German and Italian nationals. He had been charged with being an enemy alien. Fortunately, however, he went to court and was able to secure his release in August 1941. According to the Jamaican newspaper, The Gleaner, 25 August 1941, his appeal was based, in part, on him being a naturalized British Subject and, as such, should never have been held in the first place.

As an aside: One of his fellow detainees was Alexander “Busta” Bustamante (1884-1977). British authorities in Jamaica had locked up Busta because he had become a nuisance and instigator of civil unrest at the start of the Second World War. In 1943, Bustamante formed the Jamaica Labour Party and later served as mayor of Kingston (1947-48) then chief minister of Jamaica (1953-55). Knighted in 1955, Sir Alexander later became the first prime minister of a fully independent Jamaica. I feel privileged to have met Sir Alexander on two occasions, once as a child and later as a teenager. On my last Tuesday night in Jamaica—that was the summer of 1955—my sister Diane, her then fiancé Vernon Vaz, another young lady, and me had dinner with the great man at my gran-uncle AC Campbell’s night club, the Rainbow Club at Half Way Tree.

Beryl and Bernard Koth had two sons, Otto Koth (1934-2003) and Dr. Karl Bernhard Walter Koth, both of whom immigrated to Canada in the 1970s. Aunt Beryl died in 1996 while living in Canada with Otto and his wife, Angela née Cashman, who he had married in Jamaica. Otto and Angela had Bernard, Anthony, Stephen and Anna, all of whom now live in Canada and the US. Otto became a successful banker, first in Jamaica and later at the Bank of Nova Scotia at Toronto, Canada. Sadly, Otto passed away in 2003.

Karl left Jamaica in the fifties and lived for a while in Germany, where he joined the German air force. While in Germany, Karl met and married Beverly Sharp (1940-1994) of Shawnee, Oklahoma, USA. Later, Karl attended universities in the U.S. and Canada. Before immigrating to Canada, Karl returned to Jamaica and taught history at Jamaica College, his high school alma marta. In Canada, after a stint in insurance sales, Karl attained his Ph.D. and joined the faculty of arts at Okanagan University College at Kelowna, British Columbia as associate dean. 

My father was the youngest of Donald’s three sons, and the only one to live anything resembling a long life. Sadly, both of his older brothers died early and under unfortunate circumstances.

Donald Ramsey Campbell, jr. (1906-1639)

Dad’s only other brother to survive childhood, Donald Ramsey Campbell, jr. (1906–1939), died an untimely death—he was only 32 years of age.

Donald attended Calabar High School, which along with Wolmer’s and Jamaica College seemed a favourite choice for many Campbell boys. By all accounts, he was popular and excelled at sports. On finishing high school, Donald articled as a Chartered Accountant with Tapley Bowman & Company and then obtained an accounting position at Kingston Liquor Stores Ltd. Donald was a member of the Wembley Athletic Club’s football (soccer) team.

A note about the firm, Tapley Bowman & Company: The firm is one of the oldest public accounting firms in Jamaica. It began in the early 1900s as Tapley & Co. and became Tapley Bowman & Co. in 1923, then Peat Marwick Mitchell & Co. in 1958. In 1987, the firm changed its name to KPMG Peat Marwick and, since 2005, the firm has been operating as KPMG in Jamaica.

Donald Ramsey Campbell, jr. Birth Record

Donald’s choice of becoming an accountant was in line with what seemed to be an unintentional multigenerational tradition. His father and grandfather were accountants and so was his brother, my father, for part of his career. Moreover, without realizing the tradition existed, I too became an accountant.

Readers may remember from an earlier instalment that Wembley Athletic Club for which Donald played football had a special connection to the Campbell family through my granduncle AC Campbell’s involvement with the place.

One fateful night in late January 1939—mere days following my parents’ marriage—Donald intervened in an altercation at a night club in Kingston and was struck a fatal blow to his head and died within a day or two.

His assailant was a 32-year-old chauffeur, Daniel Morris, who was charged with murder, but later pleaded guilty to, and was sentenced for, manslaughter on May 30, 1939. The Crown Prosecutor took pains to point out at the trial that Donald had done nothing to provoke the attack—his role in the altercation was one of peacekeeper.

On reporting about Donald’s death, The Gleaner newspaper (31 Jan 1939) described him as, “a popular and well-known sportsman [who] played football for the Wembley Athletic Club and indulged in many other forms of sport.”

Donald was buried at May Pen Cemetery on 30 January 1939. He had never married.

We’ll save the story of Papa’s step-son Henry Doyle O’Donnell, Grandmother Bertha’s son from a previous marriage, for another day.

Gloria Tozer (1924-2008)

Among Papa’s children was Gloria Tozer (1924-2008) who he had adopted, though the adoption may not have been formally registered. Gloria—whose mother was Camille Dolores Pinto—was related to Papa through his mother’s Ida Julia Campbell and her sister Edith Augusta Pinto. Papa adopted her when she and her four girl sisters were abandoned by their father following their mother’s death. Gloria was not yet three years of age.

Camille Dolores Pinto (- 1926)

Gloria went to Wolmers School after which she left Jamaica and went to work in Trinidad. There she married her Jamaican husband Ulric Dias and returned to Jamaica at the conclusion of WW2. Gloria and Ulric with their three children left Jamaica in 1964 and settled in Sydney, Australia. She died in Australia in 2008.

Gloria was my godmother.

See here for Donald’s portion of my Campbell family tree.