Joseph Watson Campbell was a farmer in Albemarle County, Virginia. Payroll and muster records indicate Joseph served for a time in Captain Samuel Brown's Company of the 33rd Regiment of the Virginia Militia as a Private during the War of 1812. He is referred to as "Capt. JW Campbell" on a number of documents. He also began a family farm that was approximately 800 acres mostly in Albemarle County with a small portion located in adjoining Louisa County. Campbell grew tobacco, wheat and timber, raised livestock, operated a saw mill and a blacksmithing shop from his farm. Census records and tax statements indicate he was a slave holder. According to the 1820 United States Census, Campbell held six slaves. In 1850 his holdings grew to 26 slaves, both male and female aging from 2 to 65. Later in his life his affairs were overseen jointly with his son-in-law, Stephen F. Sampson.