Guard John F. Campbell

Guard John F. Campbell

New Castle County Workhouse, Delaware

End of Watch Friday, October 22, 1909

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John F. Campbell

Guard John Campbell was shot and killed by an inmate with his own revolver.

A 19-year-old inmate refused to obey Guard Campbell's order to work and attacked him with a saw. Before Guard Campbell could use his gun, the inmate was upon him and a terrible struggle took place for possession of the weapon. A moment later the revolver discharged, and Guard Campbell fell to the floor, shot through the heart. Another guard arriving on the scene shot and wounded the suspect.

The subject later died in prison of tuberculosis.

The New Castle County Workhouse became part of the newly formed Delaware Department of Corrections in 1956.


  • Age Not available
  • Tour Not available
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Officer's handgun
  • Offender Shot and wounded

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Actually, the prisoner was not 'mortally wounded.' Here is the entry about Guard Campbell in the glossary of my book about patients at the Delaware State Hospital who were admitted between 1894 and 1920. The prisoner who shot and killed Guard Campbell at the Workhouse was Noah Graham.

"Guard Campbell" John F. Campbell was a guard at the New Castle County Workhouse. In 1909, he was shot and killed with his own revolver during an altercation with a young African American prisoner named Noah Graham. It was never clear if the revolver went off during the struggle for its possession, or if Graham was in control of the gun and deliberately and intentionally shot and killed Guard Campbell. In either case, after Campbell had been shot, one of the other guards shot Graham, wounding him. Graham eventually was declared insane and sent to DSH, placed in restraints, and kept under constant watch. He was admitted to the hospital on January 26, 1910 and died there of tuberculosis less than a year later, on January 6, 1911. He was buried in the Delaware State Hospital Spiral Cemetery, Grave #193.

The book is titled "Remembering Farnhurst: Stories from the Delaware State Hospital, 1894 to 1920.

Katherine Dettwyler
Research, writer, anthropologist, historian.

November 8, 2018

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