John Francis Campion1,2

#1198, (December 1849 - 17 July 1916)
Relationship1st cousin 1 time removed of Anna Margaret Donovan
Father*Michael Brevort Campion2 (c 1821 - b 1889)
Mother*Ellen Feehan2 (bt 1825 - 1826 - 1858)
John F. Campion
(Prince Edward's Island, Canada)
President Denver Chamber of Commerce
Photograph by Denver by Pen and Ink


Nellie May Daly b. 1872, d. c 1922
Children 1.John Francis Campion Jr.12 (1896 - 1923)
 2.Helen Margaret Campion+12 (1899 - 1947)
 3.Phyllis Campion+12 (1900 - 1901)
 4.Roland Campion12 (1901 - 1921)
"John F. Campion was a founding father and first President of the Colorado Museum of Natural History, now the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. His business acumen and generous donation of a world-class gold collection helped get the Museum off to a good start. John Francis Campion was born in 1848 on Prince Edward Island, Canada. In 1862 the family moved to Sacramento, California, where young John, after a two-year stint in the United States Navy, learned to prospect for gold and silver. At age 20 he found his first significant silver mine. It was in the White Pine area of eastern Nevada. Campion discovered and developed several successful mines in Nevada, where typically rich silver ore was associated with carbonate host rocks. In 1879 he moved to Leadville, Colorado after hearing of rich silver discoveries in carbonate rocks in that area. After ten years Campion found success and formed the Iron Hill Consolidated Mining Company. In 1890 he bought the Little Jonny Mine, a fair silver mine seemingly about to play out. Campion consolidated the Little Jonny with one of his properties and tunneled through notoriously unstable ground to find a very rich gold deposit. This find set off the "Leadville Gold Belt" rush just as the price of silver was falling drastically in 1893. At Breckenridge, he found rich native gold deposits in his Wapiti Mine, the source of world-class crystal gold specimens that formed the core of his famous mineral collection. Because of Little Jonny and Wapiti, Campion and his investors became immensely wealthy. Campion married Nellie M. Daly in 1895 and settled in Denver. They had four children. Campion quickly became active in local business affairs. He served as vice president of the Denver Northwestern Pacific Railway, the famous Moffat Road, president of Big Horn Land and Cattle Company, and was co-founder of Great Western Sugar Company, which brought sugar beet farming to Colorado. Campion also shared his wealth and talents with the community. He was president of the Municipal Art League of Denver and the Denver Chamber of Commerce, where he arranged transfer of its library to the nascent Denver Public Library. Campion was one of the driving forces to establish a natural history museum in Denver. He was a member of the initial group of prominent citizens that met in late 1897 to consider the proposal by the naturalist Edwin Carter of Breckenridge to sell his collection of mounted Colorado mammal and bird specimens to an institution that would house and protect it. The group arranged funding and assembled a management team. The Colorado Museum of Natural History was incorporated on December 6, 1900, with Campion chosen as President of the Board of Trustees. He served as President until his death in 1916. To add to its initial attractions, Campion donated to the Museum his 600-piece gold collection, which includes some of the finest examples of crystallized gold. The Campion gold collection forms the centerpiece of the Museum2s displays in Coors Mineral Hall."3 
"The Story of John Campion: In the early 1960s, one of Denver's most celebrated homes sat empty, dark, vandalized and strewn with trash and dead birds. This was the former home of John Campion, mining tycoon and empire builder who was known and revered throughout the state. Born in Canada in 1848, he soon moved with his parents and siblings to California where his father had found work. He was sent back to school at his birthplace, along with his brother, to continue his education. The boys, however, had other ideas, and ran away from school to enlist in the navy. John was accepted, while his brother was rejected and returned to school. When his enlistment was up, he joined his parents in Sacramento and took up the mining trade, at the time of a major mine discovery. He rapidly advanced to management, but very early on found himself in a reversal of fortune and lost practically everything he had made. He packed up his belongings and left for Eureka, Nevada where he developed and sold numerous mining properties, and again was amassing a considerable amount of money. He became a major investor in the Pioche Phoenix silver mine, a venture that brought in an even larger fortune. He soon got news of a carbonate discovery in the Leadville, Colorado area, and was one of the first to invest in and develop those properties.

Campion was also a pioneer in the sugar beet industry along with Charles Boettcher, and became a major investor in the Great Western Sugar Company. He had interests in the Tabor Grand Opera block at 16th and Curtis St., and the Ideal Cement Company, in partnership with Boettcher, who was another enterprising Colorado pioneer. Campion was a principal owner of Leadville's Little Jonny mine, a strike that brought untold wealth to others, as well, including J. J. Brown, husband of Margaret “Molly” Brown of Titanic fame. He was a founder of the Museum of Natural History in City Park, now the Museum of Nature and Science, and his donated collection of gold specimens can still be viewed there. Now a man of great personal fortune, Campion made plans to build a mansion befitting a man of his stature. Of course, Denver's exclusive Capitol Hill was his neighborhood of choice. Built in the early 1890s, the house at 800 Logan St. was a landmark for six decades. Designed in the Italian style of grey stone with a red tile roof, it featured the latest conveniences, including its own powerhouse, adjacent to the mansion.

Campion's death in 1916 set in motion a chain of events that gave the home the nickname “House of Sorrows.” In 1917 his oldest son, John Jr., who had secretly married a year earlier, lost his wife as she gave birth to their daughter. In 1921, Mrs. Campion's beloved brother suddenly died. In that same year, Roland Campion, her youngest son, was found dead in bed of heart failure while staying with a schoolmate while on break from Philips Exeter Academy. The shock broke her health and she died less than a year later at the age of 48, leaving her eldest son and two daughters, Helen and Phyllis, to survive her. Very soon afterward, Campion Sr.'s close associate in the Little Jonny mine, J. J. Brown, died unexpectedly. Then Phyllis was stricken with a serious illness and was hospitalized. It was during her recuperation that the only surviving son, John Jr., was killed in an auto accident in October, 1923, at the age of 28, after having been on a duck hunting trip to the family lodge at Twin Lakes, south of Leadville. He was interred in the $50,000 marble and granite family mausoleum at Mt. Olivet Cemetery, finished just months before his death. Phyllis Campion was not told of her brother's death until after she was fully recovered, and then she fell into a state of severe depression. And that was not the end of the heartbreak. The following year Dr. J. F. Nagle had motored from New York to Denver to announce his engagement to Helen Campion. Running late, he changed places with his chauffeur, stepped on the gas, and lost control of the car and wrecked it. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

A cold gloom hovered over the mansion and the sisters were left with only each other. The house was put on the market and the now-very wealthy sisters set about traveling as an escape from their distress. But it was to shadow the family still. Helen soon met and married Harry Mulvihill, a Denver real estate man. Their wedding was the social event of the 1927 season, and they decided to move back into the mansion on Logan St. together, the house that had been her home since childhood. They lived there until 1941 when they built a new home at 222 Gaylord St. in the country club district for themselves and their three young sons. But all was not happy in the Mulvihill household. The couple separated briefly in 1931 when it became public that Harry Mulvihill was an abusive husband. In May 1942 Helen Mulvihill obtained a restraining order to keep her husband from entering their house, and filed for divorce, charging extreme cruelty.
Harry Mulvihill had packed two suitcases, left the house, and the next day was found slumped in the front seat of his car, 54 miles east of Denver, dead of an accidental drug overdose . Found in the car was a bottle of whiskey, a bottle of sleeping pills and a prescription box of what was believed to be sedative tablets. Harry Mulvihill's entire estate was less than $4,000.
Helen Campion Mulvihill was married again the following year to George Cook, a childhood friend of Helen's. She died at the age of 48 in November, 1947, survived not only by her husband, but her children.

The Logan St. house was purchased by Claude K. Boettcher, who lived across the street at 400 E. 8th Ave., and was donated to the American Red Cross. They used the house as its Denver headquarters until moving to south Denver in the early 1960s. The Campion mansion was torn down, under protest from preservationists, in 1963 and replaced with a highrise apartment building, removing one of the last reminders of an illustrious mining career.

Compiled and edited by James Bretz ©2003.4 
Birth*December 1849He was born in December 1849 at Prince Edward IslandG.1,2 
1862He removed with Michael Brevort Campion to Sacramento Co., CaliforniaG, in 1862.5 
1863He and George F Campion removed to Prince Edward IslandG in 1863 to attend Prince of Wales College.5 
1864He was in 1864 at Boston, Massachusetts.6 
1865He removed to Sacramento Co., CaliforniaG, in 1865.7 
1865He removed to "The mountains", CaliforniaG, in 1865.7 
17 April 1871He and George F Campion appeared on the census of 17 April 1871 at Skamania, Washington TerritoryG.8 
April 1879He removed to Leadville, Colorado, in April 1879.9 
7 June 1880He and George F Campion appeared on the census of 7 June 1880 at Leadville, Lake Co., ColoradoG; Michael B Campion (50), fam. 291.10 
1881He appeared on the census of 1881 in the household of Michael Brevort Campion at Lot 45, Kings Co., Prince Edward IslandG; (also Anne McCulla (22), b. PEI.)11 
Marriage*15 April 1895He married Nellie May Daly on 15 April 1895 at Arapahoe Co., ColoradoG.12,13 
1898He was President of the Denver Chamber of Commerce in 1898 at Denver, Colorado.14 
13 June 1900He and Nellie May Daly appeared on the census of 13 June 1900 at 800 Logan Avenue, Denver, Colorado; also Anna B Daly (29), sister-in-law.15 
between 1901 and 1916He was trustee and first President of the Board of Trustees between 1901 and 1916 at Denver Museum of Natural History, Denver, Colorado.16 
July 1909He and Nellie May Daly traveled in July 1909 from Boulgne-sur-Mer, France, aboard the SS Rotterdam to New York, New York.17 
27 April 1910He and Nellie May Daly appeared on the census of 27 April 1910 at 800 Logan Avenue, Denver, Colorado; also eight servants.18 
Death*17 July 1916He died on 17 July 1916 at Colorado at age 66.19,4 
Burial*July 1916He was buried in July 1916 at Mount Olivet Cemetery, Wheat Ridge, Jefferson Co., ColoradoG.20 


  1. [S684] Wilbur Fiske Stone, History of Colorado (Chicago: S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1919), IV:14-17, entry for John Campion.
  2. [S42] 1881 Canada Census. age 32.
  3. [S2586] ArchchiveGrid, online URL. John F. Campion papers 1894-1915.
  4. [S853] Denver Stock Exchange, online,
  5. [S1486] Portrait and Biographical Record of Denver and Vicinity, Colorado (Chicago: Chapman Publishing Co., 1898), p. 1286.
  6. [S1486] Portrait and Biographical Record of Denver, p. 1286. "While in school the boys ran away, in order to enlist in the United States navy. George F., who was only fifteen, was rejected; but John F., who was seventeen, was accepted at Boston, where he enlisted, and having passed a satisfactory examination, was appointed assistant quartermaster. He was sent to the United States dispatch boat, "Dolphin," and on it carried the first despatches to General Sherman at Savannah when the latter had just completed his famous march to the sea. The river at Savannah was a seething furnace of burning cotton, making the passage dangerous; and it was also filled with sunken hulks of boats. However, the trip was made without misfortune and the dispatches delivered."
  7. [S1486] Portrait and Biographical Record of Denver, p. 1286. "At the close of the war, in 1865, Mr. Campion visited his parents in Sacramento, Cal., and from there went into the mountains as a miner."
  8. [S849] 1871 Washington Territorial Census. G.F. (22); J.F. (24); both unmarr., miner, b. PEI.
  9. [S1486] Portrait and Biographical Record of Denver, p. 1286. "In April, 1879, he went to Leadville, Colo., then at the height of its "boom"."
  10. [S17] 1880 U.S. Federal Census. Geo. F (30), lodger, miner, marr., b. and parents b. RI [sic]; John F (32), lodger, miner, single, b. and parents b. PEI.
  11. [S42] 1881 Canada Census. Michael (60), b. Ireland, widowed.
  12. [S684] Wilbur Fiske Stone, History of Colorado, p. 16.
  13. [S1011] Colorado Marriages 1859-1900, online, John Francis Campion and Nellie May Daly, marr. 15 Apr 1895, Arapahoe Co.
  14. [S1014] Joseph Collier and others, photographers, Thomas Tonge (descriptive text), Denver by Pen and Picture (Denver, Colorado: Frank S. Thayer, 1898), img. 67; John F. Campion (Prince Edward's Island, Canada) President Denver Chamber of Commerce, with photograph.
  15. [S5] 1900 U.S. Federal Census. John F (50), b. Canada Dec 1849, parents b. Canada, imm. 1845 [1865], in US 35 yrs, gold miner; Nella M (28), b. MI May 1872, parents b. Ireland, 3 children, 3 living [sic]; marr. 5 yrs.
  16. [S1013] Annual Report for 1974 of the Denver Museum of Natural History (1975), list of trustees; img. 37, " assortment of duplicate gold specimens from the John F. Campion collection, and included was one weighing some 78 troy ounces and another weighing 24 troy ounces. The two specimens fitted together perfectly and matched the photograph in Hurley's 1900 book on famous gold nuggets. The combined pieces totaled 102 troy ounces. There was one piece still missing which accounted for the 34 troy ounces difference compared with the original recorded weight of 136 troy ounces.
    There is no doubt that the specimen was acquired by John J. Campion, the first president of the Museum's Board of Trustees, who donated his gold collection to the Museum in the early 1900's."
  17. [S620] New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [images on-line], online, Year: 1909; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715; Microfilm Roll: 1311; Line: 22; Page Number: 80.
  18. [S8] 1910 U.S. Federal Census. John F (61), b. and parents b. Canada, imm. 1862, natrlzd, mine owner; Nellie D (37), b. MI, parents b. Ireland, 4 children, 4 living.
  19. [S2583] Denver County (CO) Probate Records, 1900-1946, online, Probate File 19682, Estate of John F Campion, 384 imgs (img. 966/2060 and ff.).
  20. [S854] Mount Olivet Cemetery, Wheat Ridge, Jefferson County (Colorado USGenWeb Archives), online, Campion Family Mauseleum: John Francis Campion, 1848-1916; Nellie Campion, 1872-1922; John Francis Campion Jr., 1895-1923; Roland Campion, 1901-1921.