East Tennessee businessman and railroad president Campbell Wallace was a native of Sevier County and grew up in Maryville, where he attended Anderson Seminary. At age fourteen he moved to Knoxville, where he was employed by a prominent merchant, Charles McClung. In 1837 Wallace entered a partnership with Matthew and Hugh L. McClung, forming Knoxville’s first wholesale business, McClung, Wallace, and Company.
In 1842 Wallace bought out the McClung brothers and founded his own Gay Street wholesale business, the Campbell Wallace Company. After Wallace’s company achieved success, he accepted a position on the Board of Trustees of East Tennessee College. In 1853 Wallace became the president of the East Tennessee and Georgia Railroad. While president, he supervised the construction of the line to Bristol, which completed the railway link from Atlanta to Washington, D.C.
In July 1863 Wallace resigned as president and fled to Atlanta to avoid capture in the impending Union army occupation of Knoxville. Wallace’s escape followed public criticism by the Unionist editor of the Knoxville Whig, William G. “Parson” Brownlow. Brownlow labeled Wallace as a militant Confederate and warned that he should either leave East Tennessee or be shot by Union supporters.
After the war, Wallace remained in Georgia. By 1866 he was superintendent of the Western and Atlantic Railroad and engaged in the rebuilding of the line that had been destroyed during General William T. Sherman’s attack on Georgia. Wallace headed the Georgia Railroad Commission from 1879 to 1893. He died in May 1895.