"However, he was quite an accomplished rock hound and one-time unknowing
Pothunter turned into a highly regarded amateur archaeologist, and, in the
pursuit of same, had a brush with history ---- and almost fame ---- twice."

the Wanderling

The above quote was written about a man in archaeology circles that at one time was known throughout the desert southwest as Cactus Jack. Cactus Jack's full name was William Lawrence Campbell. He was an amateur archaeologist of some repute and most of what is known about him and his archaeology background is more-or-less described in the connecting link above and where the word pothunter, as included in the above quote, is found. When the name Cactus Jack or Larry Campbell shows up in conjunction with each other (or typed in with Carlos Castaneda or Roswell) during a Google search they are invariably connected to the word pothunter, and usually, unlike the above quote which spins toward the positive, ends up sort of unflattering.

The problem with the word pothunter is that in archaeology circles, in of which William Lawrence Campbell traveled, it is basically considered a derogatory term when applied to an individual operating in the field --- as the following definitions from a variety of sources will attest:

pot-hunt-er (pot' hunt' ter) A person who seeks artifacts from past civilizations for personal use, sometimes by illegal means, without adhering to professional standards of archaeology.

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.

To a serious archaeologist, the lowest form of life is that of a "pothunter". Where an archeologist seeks to preserve the past, a pothunter is a mere scavenger, stealing antiquities from their resting places, to turn a dime on the black market.

Curled Up With A Good Book,
Karen Pruitt Fowler, 2004

A Pothunter is someone who steals artifacts from or damages an archaeological site. These people take what they want from an archaeological site and leave the rest, ruining the context in which the artifacts are found and destroying the picture of the past. Pothunters either keep the artifacts for themselves or sell them for money. Either way, they remove a piece of the archaeological puzzle and remove artifacts from public knowledge and view. It is information lost forever.

Source unknown

Person who digs or picks up archaeological materials without permission in order to recover goods.

Effigy Mounds National Monument
Harpers Ferry, Iowa 52146

The law as it relates to historical preservation and archaeological excavation has been consistent with the popular perception of Indian people as "historical resources" and as appropriate objects of scientific study. Thus, there is no real argument between the amateur pot hunter and the professional archaeologist as to the underlying values at stake; both agree that Indian remains are objects for non-Indian study and excavation. There is merely the argument of who is the appropriate party to conduct the investigation, and perhaps one as to the ultimate disposition of the remains: that is, are they to reside on permanent display in a museum or are they to be bought and sold on the open market.

Tsosie, 1997. Archaelogy and Indigenous Rights:
Collaboration and Its Benefits

Now while it is true Cactus Jack, aka Larry Campbell and William Lawrence Campbell, was an amateur archaeologist, he was held in fairly high regards by the various professionals in the field he worked for most of his life . The pothunter label that had been hung around his neck was for the most part misapplied and not fully earned. A lot of that image had been contributed to by his own actions in his early years. In his later years people continued to connect phantom-like dots that weren't really there because he seemed to spend most of his adult life simply drifting between archaeology sites throughout New Mexico, Texas, and Arizona --- appearing to be not much more than a mere gadfly or old-timer to almost everybody he came in contact with. While it is quite possible that when he first started in the field he WAS what would be considered nothing less than a pothunter as described by most of the above definitions --- that was actually very short term. For the most part he was just trying to get by scratching out a living after World War II and initially did not have a deep enough archaeological understanding to know the difference. He was a quick read and fast learner with an uncanny instinct on where and how to find artifacts others overlooked or missed. Because of same he was taken advantage of by some professionals, that is, instead of them getting their own hands or reputations soiled or dirty they let him do it. At the same time, and it must be said to their credit, he was veered onto the right track by others just as readily. One of the first to do so was Dr. H.H. Nininger the founder of the American Meteorite Museum, the first meteorite museum in the world. Campbell, with no archaeological background and with nothing better to do, followed an Army buddy named George Donald Thompson to the desert southwest. He was scrounging meteorite scraps from the Canyon Diablo scatter field surrounding Meteor Crater in Arizona when he and Nininger crossed paths. According to Campbell, Nininger put him to work cataloging meteorites among other things. In only the few years that transpired between the end of World War II, where Campbell had personally seen the mysterious flying objects that harassed aviators and flight crews on both sides of the action called Foo Fighters, and he became known as one of the two archaeologist associated with the Roswell UFO in 1947 --- the other being, according to such reliable sources as ROSWELL ARCHAEOLOGISTS: The Dirt Before The Dig, the fully reputable William Curry Holden. Campbell, by the way, although not as reputable as Holden in the overall scheme of things, had truly moved up the rung, being classified as an amateur archaeologist --- or at least he was in retrospect many years later by the likes of author and researcher Thomas J. Carey --- although at the time, 1947, he may have still been in the process of shaking off his pothunter image.

After working with Nininger for a while Campbell developed a nearly fanatical interest in the Winona Meteorite. Archaeologists discovered the Winona Meteorite about twenty years earlier buried in an almost certain ritual style by Native Americans in a prehistoric village complex called Elden Pueblo not more than thirty-five miles northwest of Meteor Crater. The most interesting thing to Campbell about the Winona Meteorite was that it wasn't anything remotely like the nickel-iron bolide that created the so-called Meteor Crater. Nor was it anything like the small metal-like meteor hunks and spheroid residue left in the wake of the impact he was used to finding surrounding the crater in Canyon Diablo. It was instead, a very, very rare class of meteorite, called a primitive achondrite. What captured Campbell's fervid imagination was the ongoing theory that many primitive achondrites are thought to have originated from the highland regions of the farside of the Moon OR from the surface of Mars --- AND that the Native Americans that buried it had understood it's very special significance, entombing it in a specially designed stone cist hidden below the floor of one of the pueblos.

Painting by Leota La Paz, the wife of Dr. Lincoln
La Paz, showing a nighttime sighting of a green
fireball over the Sandia Mountains, New Mexico.

Almost exactly two years to the date BEFORE the Roswell Incident, in the early pre-dawn hours of Monday, July 16, 1945, while Campbell was still in the military and knee deep in his own quagmire of nuclear activities in the Siberian wastelands, at the Trinity Site, White Sands, New Mexico, the "first" nuclear explosive device on Earth was set off.(see) Shortly after that test and more extensively so after the war ended, just as Campbell was showing up for the first time in the region, a wide swath of the desert night sky over the general New Mexico area began being inundated by "green fireballs." Theoreticians in the Air Force believed the fireballs were propelled objects and not natural phenomena, bearing a very close similarity to the war-time Foo Fighters. Most of the experts, including famed meteorite hunter Dr. Lincoln La Paz, were in agreement that normal fireballs (meteors) are seldom if ever green, their trajectory is forced on them by gravity, and leave meteorites when they plunge to Earth. The green fireballs sighted over New Mexico did none of these things. Neither did they appear to be electrostatic phenomena as they moved too regularly and too fast. It is thought that the growing abundance of mysterious objects in the night sky over New Mexico and Arizona --- as well as the possibility of meteors from Mars like the one found secreted away in the underground stone cist in Winona that so fascinated Campbell --- is what drove Campbell further and further away from his Meteor Crater haunts and out into the barren flat scrublands and mountains of the desert southwest, only to end up near Roswell on that fateful night in July, 1947.

After a passage of thirteen full years, toward the end of the summer of 1960, the onetime pothunter turned reputable amateur archaeologist and now veteran digger, William Lawrence Campbell, was SEEN in the bus station in Nogales, Arizona in the company of the soon to be best selling author Carlos Castaneda. Because of that meeting, Campbell is thought to be a prime candidate to be Castaneda's colleague Bill.(see)

According to how Castaneda lays it out in his books, the person he sometimes leaves unnamed and sometimes calls Bill and himself had just returned from a Road Trip together, a Road Trip that ended at the bus station in Nogales so Castaneda could catch a bus back to Los Angeles.

Some months before Bill had told a somewhat then despondent Castaneda he intended to drive throughout Arizona and New Mexico revisiting "all the places where he had done work in the past, renewing in this fashion his relationships with the people (Native American or otherwise) who had been his anthropological informants." By then Bill had already become an established, reputable amateur archaeologist. And therein lies the rub. Bill was still, regardless of abilities, innate or otherwise, an amateur --- without a university degree or college background, and sporting NO formal affiliation. Nobody in any position was going to let him forget that or officially allow him to rise above that. Castaneda, however, was not in a position that summer of 1960 either. He was merely an unknown cipher of a student, an undergraduate lost among many hundreds of other undergraduates, just on the cusp of giving up on his studies when Campbell stepped in. The following is how Bill described their first meeting:

"Castaneda had shown up at the archaeology dig site a few days earlier. The two of us had seen each other or passed by each other on a number of occasions at the site, but we were yet to meet or talk. Although other student level people were either working at the dig and/or participating in various aspects of camp maintenance, Castaneda wasn't. He basically went around most of the day bugging high ranking anthropologists asking nothing but a continuous stream of unending questions. As I viewed it, in that he didn't seem to be there to participate in the dig nor particularly willing to help around the camp Castaneda wasn't being received very favorably by anybody at any level.

"It was just after sunset and a number of us, like we often did, were gathered around the fire bullshitting and going over the days events in the evening twilight. Castaneda had joined the group but basically just sitting there looking at the fire. Sitting directly across from him was a young woman that I had not seen before who had been reading a book until it got too dark to see. Her legs and lap were partially covered with a blanket and when the darkness set in she had placed the book on her lap folded open to the page where she had left off, with the cover facing up. I was just in the process of introducing myself to Castaneda, shaking his hand and telling him my name was Campbell like in the soup when a powerful gust of wind suddenly came out of nowhere -- like a Vortex or dust devil --- which was a nearly impossible happenstance for so late in the day. The wind tore loose part of a close by canvas shelter top and the sudden noise of the flapping canvas and swirling dirt and dust must have startled the woman with the book because without thinking she jumped to her feet and in doing so, grabbing the blanket, the open book fell from her lap right into the fire.

"Without a moment of hesitation Castaneda reached into the fire and pulled out the book, brushing it off and folding it closed. He then handed the book back to the woman. When he did he looked at the title then at me. The title of the book The Hero With A Thousand Faces (1949) by Joseph Campbell. When he looked back at the woman she was gone." (source)

Even though I mention I discussed the incident above many years after our conversation in the cafe and my uncle basically dismissed the whole thing saying Campbell was merely a gadfly, he did not dismiss everything totally. In so saying, he still knew and maintained a great respect for the natural order of things, the unfolding of events, the role of those involved in the events, and the power within and behind those events. For example, during that later discussion or one closely related, I tried to get my uncle to clarify some of my questions regarding the emaciated man thought by me to possibly be the Death Defier. The following, regarding that discussion, is found in a footnote to Julian Osorio, said by Castaneda to be Don Juan's master teacher:

During that discussion I tried to entice him (my uncle at the original source) to repeat for me what he had said that night outside the cave, verbatim, in whatever language it was, then translate into English the actual indepth meaning behind the words. He told me it ended that night in front of the cave and not to concern myself. However, he refused to say the Defier's name out loud intimating that he, my uncle --- and I quote --- "did not want to be found." According to Wallace, as told to her by a Castaneda confidant, by invoking the Death Defier's name in Tula, that is Nahuatl, the Defier's spirit will awaken.

So said, my uncle saying Campbell was a gadfly or not, my uncle still carried ahead of himself that great respect in the unfolding of events. That respect --- if you want to call it that --- truly shows up in the above where my uncle says he refused to say the Defier's name out loud intimating that he, my uncle --- and I quote --- "did not want to be found." It shows up over and over in his actions as well as in the many conversations I had with him, one example being the above interaction between the mysterious woman at the firepit and Campbell. Regarding that interaction, Campbell said:

"Without a moment of hesitation Castaneda reached into the fire and pulled out the book, brushing it off and folding it closed. He then handed the book back to the woman. When he did he looked at the title then at me. The title of the book The Hero With A Thousand Faces (1949) by Joseph Campbell. When he looked back at the woman she was gone."

My uncle told me that even though Castaneda looked back immediately after handing the book to the woman and she was gone, such was not the case with what Campbell saw from his vantage point across the fire. If you recall it was just after sunset and a number of people, including Campbell and Castaneda were gathered around the fire talking and going over the days events in the evening twilight. Campbell told my uncle, even though the woman was gone for Castaneda in almost the micro-second it took him to look back, such was not the case for himself. Campbell said, looking toward the woman across the fire after Castaneda handed her the book, he caught a glimpse of her dark silhouette between the flames rising superimposed against the twilight sky, and then almost in a wisp of smoke the blackened silhouette seemed to sail through the air beyond view in the darkness.

In that I had a similar incident transpire as a young boy at the Sun Dagger site, I was curious if it could have been the same woman. As it turned out she did not seem to be.

However, as part of that initial curiosity, when I asked my uncle if Campbell had ever made mention of what the woman looked like he said he had asked Campbell once. Campbell told him he had never seen the woman around the camp previously and only saw her briefly for a few moments across the fire that night. But, if he had to describe her, he thought she did not seem like a student or dig worker, but, although not dressed in the fashion of an Indian woman, more like what Hollywood thought a movie Indian woman should look like. Fairly good looking, probably around thirty with a somewhat Rubenesque body. She had a full face, high cheekbones and long black hair done in two long braids.

In Castaneda's third book Journey to Ixtlan (1972) in a section called 'A Worthy Opponent' dated December 11, 1962, Castaneda writes that over a month before, without elaborating on what actually transpired, he had a horrendous confrontation with a sorceress called 'la Catalina.'- 'La Catalina' had been mentioned only very briefly in passing through the words of Don Juan Matus in Castaneda's first book, with a date being cited by him as November 23, 1961. That passing reference was the very first time he, Castaneda, became aware of her existance. However, it wasn't until his third book Journey to Ixtlan was released and Castaneda revealed his OWN personal confrontation with 'la Catalina,' that he attempted to present a written description of her visual appearance:

I scrutinized her carefully, and concluded that she was a beautiful woman. She was very dark and had a plump body, but she seemed to be strong and muscular. She had a round full face with high cheekbones and two long braids of jet black hair. What surprised me the most was her youth. She was at the most in her early thirties.

Castaneda's book Journey to Ixtlan did not come out for general consumption until 1972. The conversation between my uncle and me, wherein the description of the woman at the firepit was brought up, happened some two to three years prior to that.

From the impact of the above simple incident, William Lawrence Campbell, the unknown, faceless Pothunter and veteran of a hundred digs who became known only as Bill in the yet to be forthcoming series of books, grasping the full depth of the moment, offered the equally unknown and faceless Carlos Castaneda a chance --- a chance that turned into nothing less than a positive Omen for Castaneda --- an omen-driven destiny that not only intitated Castaneda into the rituals and use of Sacred Datura by the Informant, but ended in nothing less than the direct meeting between Castaneda and the shaman-sorcerer he eventually apprenticed under, Don Juan Matus.


The quote below is from the internet site William Lawrence Campbell, a sort of companion page to this one. The quote is presented here because the paragraph cuts to the quick regarding Campbell's military service in the Arctic without need for a lot of explanation:

"It is no doubt Campbell could have or should have carved out a more memorable high-water mark on history. However, the primary reason he never did was because of a coordinated set of moves of his own making. He purposely kept a low profile by anonymously losing himself in the vastness of the desert southwest immediately after being mustered out of the Army at the end of World War II. He basically disappeared as quickly as possible, or at least it has been intimated, because of charges of misconduct unbecoming of a person in uniform. Apparently some sort of highly classified information or material connected to the German rocket scientist Werner Von Braun absconded by the Soviets in the closing days of the war and of a high interest to the United States, was being secretly transported by train across Siberia. It was then off-loaded and moved via convoy to a very remote area in the far north. It never arrived at it's destination all of it having simply disappeared enroute. Campbell, who had been operating in the Arctic regions for the U.S. Army Air Corps for a good part of the war, was somehow caught up in the disappearance." (source)

Since the time I originally wrote this Pothunter page and put it online it has been brought to my attention, somewhat convincingly, that Campbell's last name may not have actually been Campbell after all --- and one of the reasons finding more indepth background information on him by myself and others has been so difficult.

A reader of my works, who, for reasons undisclosed, requested he remain anonymous, sent me an email some time back relating he was the grown son of of a long time friend of George Donald Thompson. He and his father, now deceased, had come across the obituary page on Thompson one day during an internet search. Thompson was reportedly an "old Army buddy" of William Lawrence Campbell who accompanied Campbell to Meteor Crater following World War II.

In the email the man said his father told him the man I call Campbell only "adopted" Campbell as his last name from a nickname given him while in the military --- although he could not recall Campbell's real last name. After the military he continued to use it, making it his "real" last name for all practical purposes because, the man's father thought, of some possibly shady deals he may possibly have been involved in during the war. The man also said his father told him that it is most likely because of those shady deals that Campbell spent the rest of his life traveling around the desert southwest in an almost anonymous fashion.

According to the email writer the man called Campbell, at or just after the beginning of World War II attended the P-39 school at the Army Air Corps Technical Training Command at Camp Bell, N.Y., outside of Buffalo. From there he was assigned to the 57th Fighter Squadron before being transfered into or temporarily assigned (TDY) to the 77th Bombardment Squadron and becoming loosly associated with a variety of combat missions during the Aleutian Campaign and a number of covert missions over the Arctic, remaining in Alaska, it is thought, until the end of World War II in 1945.(see) The 57th flew both P-39 Airacobras and P-40 Warhawks, sometimes called a Tomahawk, from an airfield carved into the side of Kuluk Bay on Adak, one of the islands along Alaska's Aleutian chain. From there the 57th launched attacks further down the chain against Japanese forces that invaded and held Attu and Kiska islands.

It was not long before it was discovered that not only were P-39s crappy combat aircraft, they were not able to take the cold, with, among other things, ironic enough, air coolers breaking right and left with no replacements. Soon most of the P-39s were out of commission making Campbell somewhat redundant.(see) That is to say, the P-40s had all the staff and personel needed to keep them operating, while, as more and more P-39s became grounded, their pilots and flight crews began to sit around with their hands in their pockets. It was not long before they began seeking better climes to bide their time in. Soon they were wending their way down to Hawaii on R & R, specifically to Oahu and a USO hang out about an hour drive from Honolulu soldiers called Camp Bell.

So, here is the man I call Campbell, who had done his initial army training at not only a Camp Bell outside of Buffalo, New York, but he was now showing up as a regular at a Hawaiian USO facitlity thousands of miles from Buffalo, also called Camp Bell.

The story goes, according to the emailer, he had fallen so head over heels in love for a beautiful American Red Cross Doughnut Dolly at the USO facility that he began finding every way he could find to finagle a way to get back, and so hard did he try, that his fellow buddies began calling him "Camp Bell," which soon turned into Campbell --- the name he became known by.

The grown son who sent me the email said he knew what his father told him was true because the Doughnut Dolly Campbell was so head over heels in love with his father married.

The Doughnut Dolly was the grown son's mother.


The reason I say the above has been "brought to my attention somewhat convincingly" and think it is most likely accurate is because of the emailer's knowledge of previously undisclosed facts. The quote at the top of the above section that says that Campbell had been operating in the Arctic regions for the U.S. Army Air Corps for a good part of the war was just not widely known. My uncle had told me, or I may have heard it from Campbell somewhere along the way as well, but I never revealed it nor had it been made known elsewhere. While it is true the information shows up on the William Lawrence Campbell page NOW, at the time of the email, the fact that Campbell had served in the Arctic was just something that didn't seem to tie into his background at a high enough level to mention it. So it wasn't. However, the emailer not only knew Campbell served in the Arctic while in the military, he was also able to provide minute details of what, when, and where --- details that my uncle didn't either know or didn't bother to pass on to me.

Basically what I am saying is my uncle, in whatever he told me, he never revealed it to me in an out-and-out blatant fashion. I have, however, over the years extrapolated a number of small mentions here and there and putting them together have come up with a pretty good picture. Basically it starts around the central part of Germany in the German mountain and forest state of Thuringia near the town of Ohrdruf. From that, correlating dates, I discovered a top secret test of an explosive device of an extreme nature occurred that is said to have killed over 700 POWs interred in the Ohrdruf concentration camp located practically under ground zero of the explosion. That explosion was said to have been the second of two nuclear devices the Germans set off just at the end of the war. What Campbell was apparently involved in was the hijacking of all the bomb development related equipment while it was in transit by the Russians to Siberia. Much of the knowledge garnered from the hijacked material was said to have been incorporated into the U.S. efforts that led to the destruction of Hiroshima, something Campbell was not comfortable living with.


A great deal more on William Lawrence Campbell and his time and duties in the service in connection with him being stationed in the Artic and the Aleutians including some insight into the Aleutian Tigers a P-40 Flying Tiger like group commanded by the son the Flying Tigers founder Lieutenant General Claire Lee Chennault can be found by going to:





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The 77th Bombardment Squadron joined a fighter unit and two heavybomber outfits to become part of the famed 28th Composite group under the 11th Air force. In December 1942, the 77th received B-25 Mitchells. It was with the B-25s that the 77th launched most of their attacks against Japanese forces in the Aleutian Islands and later, 1944 and 1945 the Kurin Island. The squadron left Attu Island, Alaska, Oct. 19, 1945, arriving at Fort Lawton, Washington, Nov. 5, 1945, where it was inactivated, ending its World War II service.

I presented the contents of the email basically as presented to me. However, it wasn't long before a number of people, apparently familiar with the P-39, were bitting at my heels as to the overall credit of the aircraft or what a loser it was. My only interest in the whole thing is that Campbell was somehow afforded the time off to go to Hawaii on a regular basis so that "Camp Bell" became ingrained enough to call him that. For me specifically, how sufficient time off came about is neither here nor there, only that it did. The writer of the original email and how I presented it said the planes (i.e., P-39s) became less and less operational making Campbell redundant enough as a P-39 person that he had more free time than those whose jobs were to fly and keep flying the P-40s.

According to aircraft afficiendos who contacted me it was not just air coolers breaking right and left with no replacements but, initially, the lubrication system quickly froze in the cold weather as well. Eventually modifications and the addition of a heating system prevented freezing of the engines working parts including, it is supposed, the air coolers. Early models also suffered from undercarriage weakness, engine seizures and an inadequate rate of climb. It wasn't until the introduction of the P-39N that major changes were made to make the plane operational but by then the twin fuselage P-38s had been introduced along the Aleutian Island chain.

During the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 George S. Welch along with Ken M. Taylor managed to get their P-40s into the air and confront the enemy head on in aerial combat, between the two taking out eight Japanese planes. Later Welch was assigned to fly P-39s flying out of New Guinea. He is pretty much in agreement about P-39s as found in quote below from the source so cited:

"Despite his aerial victories on December 7, 1941, Welch was dissatisfied with flying the poorly performing Bell P-39 Airacobra. When asked by a journalist what aspect of the P-39 he liked, then seven-victory ace George Welch said, 'Well, it's got 1200 pounds of Allison armor plate.' This was a reference to the center-mounted engine (i.e.: behind the cockpit) rather than to actual armor plating. When Welch inquired as to when his squadron (the 36th FS) would receive Lockheed P-38 Lightnings, he was told, 'When we run out of P-39s.' He repeatedly appealed to be assigned to the 80th Fighter Squadron (which flew P-38s) until he was granted a transfer. Between June 21 and September 2, 1943, flying a P-38H, Welch shot down nine more Japanese aircraft: two Zeros, three Ki-61 Tonys, three Ki-43 Oscars, and one Ki-46 Dinah. Welch flew three combat tours (a total of 348 combat missions with 16 confirmed victories, all achieved in multiples) before malaria retired him from the war."(source)




Below, for your own edification, is a list of the websites where I mention the 1945 U.S. New Mexico nuclear test at Trinity Site in some fashion, most commonly related back to my uncle and then how atomic bombs and atomic bomb tests, German or American, circle back to what I have presented elsewhere in my works: