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Fayette County, Iowa  

 Biography Directory


Portrait & Biographical Album of Fayette County Iowa

Containing Full Page Portraits and Biographical Sketches of

Prominent and Representative Citizens of the County

Lake City Publishing Co., Chicago

March 1891


~Page 506~



George W. Chamberlin

George W. Chamberlin is the owner of a valuable farm of four hundred and forty acres in Bethel Township, his home being on section 15. From a wild and uncultivated tract of land, he has developed rich and fertile fields which pay a golden tribute to his care and cultivation; useful and substantial improvements have been made thus enhancing the value of the place and every facility for model farming provided. Good barns and outbuildings and a comfortable dwelling stands as monuments to his thrift and industry, and the fine grades of stock there seem to show that he is a man of progressive ideas. We again repeat that this farm is one of the best in the county, but we will turn from his home and take up the personal history of Mr. Chamberlin, who is so widely and favorably known throughout the community.


He is a native of Vermont, his birth having occurred in Windsor County, September 22, 1824. His parents, Washington and Asenath (Kellogg) Chamberlin, were also born in that county, the former April 23, 1795, and the latter August 29, 1801. Both were descended from early New England families, the Chamberlins being of English descent and the Kelloggs of English and Welsh. They were married in Bethel, Vt., in 1819, and their union was blessed with nine children of whom our subject was third in order of birth: Lucy M., the eldest, born December 17, 1820, is the wife of Charles Davis, of Bethel, Windsor County, Vt., and the mother of three children; Martin J., born September 8, 1822, married Jennie Hubbard in Windsor, Vt., who with their only child died. He then wedded Katie Hubbard, a sister of his first wife and with their child now resides in Springfield, Mass., where Mr. Chamberlin holds the position of foreman in the Smith & Wesson gun manufacturing establishment; John L., born March 8, 1826, died in Bethel, Vt., August 18, 1852; Hiram M. born June 6, 1829, wedded Mary Kendall of Rutland, Vt., who died in 1887, in Springfield, Mass., where her husband and three children are now living; Francis H., born December 28, 1831, is a farmer of Bethel, Vt., he wedded Augusta Davis and they have one daughter, Bell; Nancy, born October 28, 1835, is living in Bethel, Vt.; Julia A., born September 8, 1842, died in Bethel, January 15, 1882; Billie, born October 21, 1844, died in infancy.


In the public schools of the Green Mountain State George W. Chamberlin acquired his education and under the parental roof, in the usual manner of farmer lads, was reared to manhood. An important event in his life occurred on July 22, 1845, in Bethel, where he led to the marriage altar Miss Dorcas M. Billings, daughter of Willard and Dorcas (Lamb) Billings. Her father, born in 1782, in Connecticut, was of English descent, and her mother was born in Connecticut in 1787, of Scotch parentage. In their family were the following children: Silenda became the wife of Ira Burbank in Bethel, Vt., and they removed to this county in 1855, locating on a farm in Bethel Township. Their last days were spent in West Union; Hiram was married in Ohio, and died in Wapello County, Iowa, leaving three children, all of whom are now deceased with the exception of Mrs. Haugh. of Bethel Township; Chastina became the wife of Robert Keys in Ohio, and in an early day they removed to Chicago where Mr. Keys purchased property. They started to California by steamer about 1849 and her husband died during the voyage and was buried in the water. Her death occurred in California; Lorenzo married Maria Gildersleeve and resides in Wisconsin; Almond died in early youth in Hartland, Vt.


Mr. Chamberlin is a mechanic by trade and during the earlier years of his life followed such pursuits. At the age of nineteen he left his native State and, going to Springfield, Mass., secured a position in the National Armory. After five years spent in Springfield we find him in Millbury, engaged in repairing and changing old muskets from flint locks to percussion locks. Going to South Carolina, still in the employ of the Millbury firm, he there engaged in work on guns for two years when he returned to Windsor, Vt., and secured a position in Robins & Lawrence's gun shop, where he remained until his emigration to the West. In the meantime he had married and several children were born of the union. Thus having a little family dependent upon him, it was natural that he should seek the best opportunities for acquiring a competence and believing that he would better prosper in the West, he accordingly turned his face toward the setting sun and on the 4th of June, 1855, we find him in West Union. The previous year he had entered a quarter section of land in Bethel Township (then unorganized), his present farm. On the 3d of July, he made his way to a cabin 10x12 feet belonging to Daniel H. Goodenow in which his family lived until the following November when his own cabin, of similar dimensions, was ready for occupancy. The following winter he spent in getting rails, posts, wood, etc., and making preparations for the development of his land. His life hitherto had been one of confinement in the shops, thus this winter he took daily trips of seven miles from the timber to the prairie farm, hauling rails out and returning with hay and grain. He used an ox-team and in the almost frigid temperature of Iowa the drive was not always most pleasant. He also enjoyed the questionable luxury of being hurried home many times by the blood-thirsty wolves which then infested both prairie and forest. Many were the hardships and trials endured by this worthy pioneer and his most estimable wife who indeed proved a helpmate to him in those days.


The Chamberlin home was also brightened and blessed by the presence of six children: Lewis A., the first born, opened his eyes to the light of day in Springfield, Mass., July 6, 1846, married Imogene Saucer, December 24, 1874, at Ft. Atkinson, Iowa, and they now reside with their family of four children in Harlan, Kan., where he is employed in a warehouse. Their children are Viola, Nellie, Dorcas Ethel and George Francis. Emma D., born in Springfield, Mass., May 18, 1849, in Bethel, Iowa, November 25, 1868, became the wife of James B. Woodburn, by whom she has three children, Alson C., Willie and Walter, and they now reside on a farm near Minden, Neb.; Frank W., born in Windsor, Vt., January 12, 1855, married Nellie Ward April 20, 1886 and is now engaged in farming in Graham County, Kan., where he resides with his wife and daughter, Clara; Hattie S., born October 12, 1856, in Bethel, Iowa, on January 1, 1873, became the wife of John Brockway who is engaged in the lumber business in Chickasaw County, Iowa. Their children are Mattie, Grace and Susan; Ira George, born on the homestead farm, April 6, 1864, married Esther A. Crandall, September 14, 1887, and operates a portion of the home place. They have two children, Gladdys Irena and Earle Almond; Ida Grace, twin sister of Ira George, is at home with her parents and completes the family.


Mr. Chamberlin possesses most excellent business ability as is evinced by the success which has attended his efforts. He began life with no capital save industry, enterprise and a determination to succeed and has risen to a position of wealth and influence, winning the confidence and respect of all by the uprightness which has characterized his dealings. His success is certainly justly merited. In his political affiliations in early life he was an old-line Whig. On the organization of the Republican party he joined its ranks and afterward affiliated with the Greenback party but now holds himself free to support whatever candidate he may desire. In religious connection, he and his wife were formerly Methodists but their views being more liberal than those held by that church, they withdrew. Mr. Chamberlin takes considerable interest in civic societies, has held membership in the Odd-Fellows Lodge, with the Patrons of Husbandry and the Sons of Temperance. He is now a member in good standing of Ansel Humphreys Chapter, R. A. M. of Fayette, Iowa, and West Union Lodge, No. 69, A. F. & A. M., and Langridge Commandery, No. 47, K. T., both of West Union.


Our subject has filled almost all of the township offices and he was instrumental in bringing about the change of the name of the township of Bethel and has been a member of the Board of Supervisors from this township, and was elected Justice of the Peace in 1890.




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