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CHANDLER, Philander "An Early Settler"


Posted By: Richard K. Thompson (email)
Date: 4/8/2011 at 20:18:04

Fairfield Tribune
Fairfield, Jefferson county, Iowa
March 20, 1879
Pg. 3. Col. 5


A Very Brief Sketch of the Life of Philander CHANDLER

Jefferson county has many old citizens within her border - remnants now remaining of a generation which has passed away. It has occurred to us that a short sketch of the lives of some of these men, giving only the main points of interest, might prove of interest to some of the older ones and show to those who are younger the hardships which were undergone by the pioneers. We shall endeavor to give from time to time, therefore, a short history of some of the most ancient and most noted resident now living, and the one we have for this week is that of Philander CHANDLER.

Mr. CHANDLER was born in Washington county, New York, in the year 1814. His father moved to Essex county, at the head waters of the Hudson, in 1818, and settled in the forest twenty-five miles from any settlement. The Indans and wild beast of the woods were there the chief companions of young CHANDLER's life. At the age of twelve years in an unlucky moment he fell into the hands of a tribe of Winnebago Indians. They used him well, however, and taught him to hunt moose, deer, bear, turkey and other wild game, and also how to trap. This life he followed until twenty-five years old, when tiring of the persuits of the savage he longed to return to civilized life and become a farmer.

That being a cold, mountainous country, poorly adapted to agriculture, Mr. C. came west in 1840, and in the fall of that year "squatted" on the land where he now lives in this county, about three miles northeast of the city on the Salina road. The county was at that time chiefly inhabited by Indians, wolves, and wild cats. He began work in earnest, nevertheless, and at once built him a log cabin and went to keeping house for himself, spending his time at first in making rails with which to fence his farm. In 1841 he opened his farm and realizing the need of a help meet (sic. mate ??) he was married in the folowing year to Martha BONNIFIELD. Miss BONNIFIELD was born in Randolph county, Virginia, in 1821, and came to the territory of Iowa in 1837 along with her parents (sic. Rhodham and Sarah Nancy BONNIFIELD). Mr. CHANDLER's land was surveyed in 1841 and from about that date the Indians began gradually to disappear. In 1844 the land came into market by being offered for sale by the government. Mr. C. had left in New York a sufficient amount of money to enter his land, but lo and behold, when he sent for it what was his suprise (sic. surprise) to hear that the party with whom his money had been left had become bankrupt and that nothing could be recovered. This was a heavy blow; his land was offered for sale and not a dollar did he possess with which to secure it. But he had energy, determination, and a willingness to work, and with good health added to these he determined to begin again.

He had heard that Wisconsin was a good country for game and furs, and as his early life had been spent in trapping and hunting, he made up his mind that he could in that manner make money enough to secure his land. Therefore, in that year, 1844, he bid his young wife good-bye and started for the north. He went up the Mississippi five hundred miles and then down the Chippewa river one hundred miles, fighting his way through two bands of Indians, the Winnebago and Chippewa tribes. He stopped at a lake which appeared to be a good trapping point, and remained there five long and weary months, intent upon making money. At his place he was three hundred miles from the nearest post office or any white people, his only companions being, as had occurred twice before in his life, the Indians and the beasts of the wilderness.

In the spring of 1845 he returned to Prairie du Chien, sold his furs, came home with his pockets full of gold and silver, and entered his land. In 1850 "hard times came again once more." He rented his farm and removing his famiy to Wisconsin went to work to make the lumber to build him a house and barn. He cut the trees from the woods, sawed it, and run it down the river to Burlington. In 1853 he hauled it home with an ox team, whiche was the last of his serious troubles.

Mr. CHANDLER now possesses 480 acres of good farming land worth $50 per acre, and with no mortgage on it either. He has had five children, all of whom are living but one (sic. Alonzo J CHANDLER died in 1874), and has been a grandfather many years. The names of his children living are Mrs. Harriet HOBBIE, Mrs. Iowa HOOPES, Mr. Warren CHANDLER and Mr. Chas. Scott CHANDLER, all married but the last. His wife still lives to bear him company, and a green old age has been reserved for him in requital for the toil and adventure of his early life.

* Transcribed for genealogy purposes. I am not related to the person(s) mentioned.

Note: Philander CHANDLER died on Nov. 12, 1883 and was buried at Evergreen Cemetery, Fairfield, Jefferson county, Iowa. Two of his siblings, Ward and Lewis, are also buried in this same cemtery with members of their respective families.


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