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Fayette County, Iowa  

 History Directory

Past and Present of Fayette County Iowa, 1910

Author: G. Blessin


B. F. Bowen & Company, Indianapolis, Indiana


Vol. I, Biographical Sketches



~Page 1344~


George W. Chamberlin


In placing the name of George W. Chamberlin, retired farmer of Hawkeye, in the front rank of Fayette county’s enterprising and public-spirited citizens whose lives have resulted in incalculable good to the masses, simple justice is done a biographical fact, universally recognized throughout this locality by men at all familiar with his history. A man of good judgment, sound discretion and business ability of a high order, he managed with tactful success important enterprises and so impressed his individuality upon the community as to gain recognition among the leading citizens and honored men of affairs.

The Chamberlin family is an ancient one, being descended from William Count Tankerville, of Tankerville Castle, in Normandy, who came into England with William the Conqueror, but returned again into Normandy.

John de Tankerville was a younger son of the former Earl and was lord chamberlain to King Henry I. Richard, his son, was lord chamberlain to King Stephen, and thereupon assumed the name of Chamberlin.

In 1622 Thomas Chamberlin was chief justice of Chester. Thomas Chamberlin, baronet. Sir James Chamberlin, baronet.

Sir James Chamberlin, baronet, in 1745 was appointed major of the Royal Regiment of Horse Guards, Blue, and promoted to be lieutenant-colonel of said regiment in 1750.

Sir James Chamberlin was eminent as a soldier in the court of Henry III.

William of Gedding in Suffolk, a great friend and companion of Edward IV, was made a Knight of the Garter. The family motto was then “Virtuti, nihil, invium” (virtue, humility, freedom).

The subject’s great-grandfather was Jedediah Chamberlin, probably of Keene, New Hampshire, who was twice married. To him and his second wife, whose maiden name was Submit Osgood, were born four children. To him and his first wife, whose maiden name was unknown, were born eleven children. Of these children, the eighth in order of birth was Josiah, who married Patience Phillips, and they removed from Westmoreland, New Hampshire, to Stockbridge, Vermont. They had eight children, the third in order of birth being Washington, the father of the subject of this sketch. He married, in Bethel, Vermont, in 1819, Asenath Kellogg, who was born in Windsor county, Vermont, August 29, 1801, his own birth having occurred on April 23, 1795. The Kelloggs were of Welsh descent and became a prominent and well known New England family. To Washington and Asenath Chamberlin were born the following children: Lucy M., born December 17, 1820, became the wife of Charles Davis; Martin Josiah, born September 8, 1822; George W., the immediate subject of this sketch, was next in order of birth; John L., born March 8, 1826, died in Bethel, Vermont, August 18, 1852, unmarried; Hiram M., born June 6, 1829, married Mary Kendall; Francis H., born December 28, 1831, married Augusta Davis; Adeline Nancy, born October 28, 1835; Julia A., born September 8, 1842; William, born October 21, 1844, died in infancy.

George W. Chamberlin was born in Vermont on September 22, 1824, and was reared under the parental roof. During his youthful years he attended the public schools and when out of school his activities were given to work on the farm. He had natural taste for mechanics and during the first years of his mature life he was employed along this line. At the age of nineteen years he went to Springfield, Massachusetts, where he secured a position in the government armory. After five years there, he went to Milbury, that state, where he was employed in repairing and changing old muskets from flint lock to percussion lock. The firm by which he was employed then sent him to South Carolina, where he was similarly engaged for two years, at the end of which time he returned to Windsor, Vermont, and secured a position in the Robins & Lawrence gun shop, where he remained until 1855.

On June 4, of the last named year, Mr. Chamberlin, with his family, came to West Union, Fayette county, Iowa, having, the previous year, entered a quarter section of land in Bethel township (not organized), which comprises his present farm. On the 3d of July he installed his family in a rude cabin, ten by twelve feet in size, belonging to Daniel Goodenow, where they lived until the following November, by which time he had completed the construction of his own cabin, of similar size. The pioneers endured great hardships that winter, due to the intense and continuous cold weather, but they managed to pull through the winter in good shape, and from that time on they were prospered and lived in more comfort. Farming operations were necessarily carried on slowly and with many drawbacks. Mr. Chamberlin made use of oxen for field work, and he relates that on several occasions he was pursued by wolves, who compelled him to hurry to the cabin for protection.

By dint of the most persistent and unflagging efforts, Mr. Chamberlin created a splendid homestead out of this tract and at length was enabled to realize the full fruition of his early hopes and aspiration. He was a good manager and exercised sound judgment in all his transactions, so that eventually he attained to a position of comparative independence financially. He lived on the farm until he moved to West Union, where he remained three years. He then moved to Hawkeye, where he has been an honored resident for the past fifteen years. He has an attractive and neat residence here and is enjoying the fruits of his former years of activity. He also built and now owns one of the best business blocks in Hawkeye.

On July 22, 1845, Mr. Chamberlin was united in marriage to Dorcas M. Billings, who was born December 8, 1825, at Hartland, Vermont, and who passed to her rest on April 23, 1902, after a mutually happy wedded life of fifty-seven years. She was a daughter of Willard and Dorcas (Lamb) Billings, of Bethel, Vermont. Her father, who was of English decent, was born in Connecticut in 1782, while her mother was born in the same state in 1787, being of Scotch descent. Mr. and Mrs. Billings were the parents of the following children, besides Mrs. Chamberlin: Salinda, the wife of Ira Burbank, who came to Fayette county and settled in Bethel township in 1855, their last days being spent in West Union. Hiram, who married in Ohio, died in Wapello county, Iowa, leaving three children, all of whom are deceased with the exception of Mrs. Haugh, of Bethel township. Chastina became the wife of Robert Keys, of Chicago, and in 1849 they took steamer for California. Mr. Keys died en route and was buried at sea. His widow continued her journey to California, where she died. Lorenzo married Maria Gildersleeve and lived in Wisconsin. Almond died in Hartland, Vermont, in early youth. Nathan died in Iowa in 1900. Edwin died in Iowa (date not known). Elias, a half brother, died April 3, 1910, in Vermont.

To Mr. and Mrs. Chamberlin the following children were born; Louis A. died in October, 1901, at Hawkeye, leaving four children, Lucy Viola, Nellie Emogene, Dorcas Ethel and George Marion; Emma D. is now living in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, her husband, J. B. Woodward, having died at Hawkeye, in September, 1902; her children are Alson C., Willis B. And Walter Roy; Frank W., who lives near Campbell, Minnesota, was married twice, first to Nellie Ward and next to Hattie Olcott; two children, Clara Belle and Ruby, were born to the first union, and two, Beulah and Lloyd, to the second; Hattie S., who lives in Seattle, Washington, is married and the mother of the following children, Mattie, Grace, Susan and Glen, the latter dying when five years of age; Ira George, of Waterloo, Iowa, who is a traveling salesman for the International Harvester Company, is married and has children, Gladys Irene, George Everett, Earl Almond (died when fifteen years old) and Harold; Ida Grace has remained at home with her parents. She is a member of the Congregational church, in the work of which she takes a great interest, being a member of the Foreign Missionary Society-in fact, she takes a deep interest in all forms of church work.

Mr. Chamberlin is independent in politics, but has filled nearly all the township offices, having always maintained an intelligent interest in the welfare of his community. He served on the grand jury that indicted George Ostander for wife murder and who died in the penitentiary. He also served on the petit jury in the Ellison Smith murder case, in which, it will be remembered, Mr. Smith was acquitted.

Mr. Chamberlin has always been known as a man of kindly disposition, pleasant to all, honest and thoroughly trustworthy, according to the large circle of acquaintances which he can claim, and because of his uprightness and business integrity he is respected and admired by all who know him.

~transcribed for the Fayette Co IAGenWeb Project by Kathy Moore


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