HISTORY OF CAPTAIN CHAMBERS

By Mary Chambers

Mount Jackson Sesquicentennial, 1815 - 1965

 

In the year 1812 there came to America from Belfast, County Down, Ireland, William Chambers and his wife, Mary Hazlett Chambers, and five children. They sailed from Belfast on the ship "Protection" commanded by Captain Barnes.

Three weeks and three days were consumed in making the voyage to New York; three weeks were spent in the metropolis. They then took a sloop to Philadelphia, Pa., remaining a short time in the Quaker City, soon commencing the tedious, arduous journey over the mountains to Pittsburgh, Pa.; the trip was made in the old "Conestoga" wagons - paying their way as on stage routes. From Pittsburgh, they came to Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, stopping at the home of John Dinsmore on Hickory Creek - a relative of Mr. Chambers who started in the virgin territory about 1800. When the Chambers family arrived, Mr. Dinsmore had quite a piece of land cleared off and was operating a cotton and loom shop. The farm is now owned by a granddaughter of James Wallace.

William Chambers settled on a farm of 200 acres on the south side of Hickory Creek in North Beaver Township not far from the present town of Mt. Jackson, erecting the first brick building in the township - the brick for the structure being made and burned on his Hickory Creek farm. The land was mostly forest and was purchased from Major Chamberlain of Revolutionary War fame. The neighbors there in those early days were Samuel Fate and William Woods - grandfather of the late General William McClelland - well know Captain of Battery B and afterward Adj. General of State under Governor Pattison.

Soon after this, William Chambers and several neighbors laid out the village of mt. Jackson - naming it after General Andrew Jackson who later became president of the United States. He helped build the first school house there which was out of logs and greased paper for windows. Although he offered his services for the War of 1812, as he had not yet become a United States citizen and was not accepted. Afterward he commanded a company of state militia for a time and was always known thereafter as "Captain" Chambers. Soon after the foundation of Mt. Jackson was laid, a little group of buildings clustered around the spot. It supported two dry goods stores, two grocery stores, and a group of mechanics who made their wares by hand. Before long, there were hatters, tailors, shoemakers, chair makers, wheel wrights, blacksmiths, carpenters and stone masons.

The two best known merchants were William Henry, a dealer in general merchandise and postmaster and Alexander Alcorn who kept the hotel. The inscription on the hotel sign was indicative of the industry of the early settlers - "Speed the Plow" - and by heeding it many became very prosperous. Today North Beaver Township is remarkable for the number of well-to-do people; possessing thrift, ability, and intelligence. Its citizens have a greater amount of money at interest than any other township in Lawrence County.

The Presbyterians organized the first church in the vicinity which has continued every since - stronghold of Calvinism. Rev. James Wright was the pastor in the new church and Samuel Clark, clerk. The Psalms were lined out at public worship and at stated intervals the pastor visited homes of the communicants and "the young, hopeful were put through the ordeal of reciting the catechism". In 1824 Reverend David Norwood established a Union Church. He was succeeded by Rev. John Neal and later by Rev. McClelland, a U.P. minister.

Mr. and Mrs. William Chambers were the parents of nine children - Samuel, Alexander, James, Robert, and Isabella - all born in Ireland - and John, Elizabeth, Mary and William, Jr. - first saw the light of day in America near Mt. Jackson. All these have passed to the Great Beyond, leaving many descendants in Lawrence County.

 

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Updated: January 21, 2000