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JOSEPH CHAMBERS, The oldest living representative of one of the pioneer families of Madison County, Joseph Chambers, who lives retired at his home in Lafayette Township, has had many varied and interesting experiences during nearly seventy years of residence in this vicinity. His home is a fine farm of two hundred acres, about five miles northwest of the city of Anderson, Concerning the Chambers family and his early reminiscences in this County, Mr. Chambers has furnished some valuable data which in succeeding paragraphs will be incorporated for preservation in this work, A brief outline of facts concerning his life and the family history is given preceding this account which comes directly from this interesting old citizen.
Joseph Hiram Chambers was born in Bartholomew County, Indiana, on the 4th of January, 1845, His parents were Franklin and Mary (Drybread) Chambers, Franklin Chambers, the father, was born in Lawrence County, Indiana, a son of Hiram and Hannah (Thompson) Chambers, Hiram Chambers brought his family to Madison County in 1840. His children were named as follows: Franklin, John, Malinda, Miller, William, Emily, Jane, Elijah, Caroline and Bassald, Hiram Chambers spent the remainder of his life in this County.’ He had four brothers, James, Francis, William and Smith, and one sister, Nancy Short, but all are deceased, James lived on the farm in Delaware County now owned by Miles Walters, and of his family there are but two children living, Polly Walters and Julia Ann Walters. Francis Chambers lived on the farm now owned by Weems Bronnenberg, and of his family there are also but two children living, Adeline Wigner and Mary Young, William Chambers lived in the southern part of the state, and it is not known whether he has children living. Smith Chambers lived on the farm now owned by Henry Boner. In about 1848 or 1850 Mary Chambers, the mother of Joseph Chambers, bought the property of Smith Chambers, and he then moved to Clinton County, Indiana, and died there a few years later, He has but one child living, Angeline Hart, Hiram, Francis and Smith Chambers had adjoining farms and reared their families together. As they married they located their new homes around in the same vicinity, and it became known as the Chambers neighborhood.
Franklin Chambers, the oldest of the children of Hiram and Hannah Chambers, was educated for the most part in Lawrence County, Indiana, He was a farmer, and by his marriage to Mary Drybread, which occurred in Delaware County, this state, he had three children: Julian, deceased, who married John Michaels; Joseph H., the subject of this sketch; and Hannah, deceased, The mother was twice married, first to Thomas Camby, and they had one child, Melcena, deceased.
Joseph Chambers was a baby when he was brought to Madison County, and he was four years of age when his father died. For the three following years his home was in Delaware County; after which they moved to Richland Township, where they lived for seven years and then moved to Lafayette Township, where he has resided ever since, When fourteen years of age he took charge of the home farm, consisting of eighty acres, and thus at an early age had severe responsibilities thrust upon him, but it has been the tribute paid him by his old associates that he always bore his burdens faithfully and discharged every debt, whether in money or obligation, ever imposed upon him.
On February 1, 1866, he married Rebecca Pritchard, a daughter of Samuel and Martha (Davis) Pritchard, Samuel Pritchard. who came from South Carolina, was a farmer and located in Madison County, spending many years in Adams Township, He was a son of Benjamin Pritchard, who was among the oldest settlers of Madison County. Samuel Pritchard and wife were the parents of the following sixteen children: Mary, Lucinda, Clarinda, Phillip, George, Louisa, Jane, Margaret, Rebecca, Peter, Sallie, Calvin (who was killed in the Civil war while serving for the Union), Martha, Samuel, Susan and Benjamin. Mrs. Rebecca Chambers was the last of her family in Madison County with the exception of one sister, Martha Davis, now living in this Township, Mr. and Mrs. Chambers became the parents of five children: Mary I., now deceased. Martha, the wife of S. A. Alexander, who lives near Frankton in Lafayette Township, and is the mother of four children, Joseph, Herchel, Forrest and Ernest, James C. married Emma Bolin, is a resident of Lafayette Township and has the following seven children, Edna, Thelma, Mildred, Dorothy, Joseph Theodore, Robert Lee and Howard, Anna is the wife of Byron Stevens, and has four children, Everett, Mary, Donna and Marcus, Arthur, who married Addie Bilby, has the following six children: Alice, George, Hazel, Mabel, Earl and Chester Lee, Mr. Joseph Chambers has been a farmer all his life, and is a successful one, He has interested himself little in politics except so far as to be always ready to promote the welfare of his home community, Mr. and Mrs. Chambers are members of the Christian church.
Mr. Joseph Chambers, so far as known, is the oldest of the Chambers name now living, and as he looks back over the past receding years it seems but a short while to him since Smith Chambers and Ann, his wife, gave a turkey roast on Christmas day of 1864, As well as he can recollect the ones who attended that celebration, and who have since passed away, are Smith Chambers and his wife Ann, George Chambers and wife Rebecca, John Chambers and wife, William Chambers, Mary Chambers, Rachel Chitty, Susan Chitty, Mary Bodle, William Barnes, Lindy Barnes, Juliann Michaels, Samuel Rick, Elizabeth Rick, Daniel Walters, Elizabeth Walters, Free Boner and wife, James Short, and Henry Walters and wife. The attendants on that occasion still living are: Polly Walters, Juliann Walters, Miles Walters, John Michaels, Tishy Boner, Sarah S. Eshelman, and Joseph Chambers, Out of thirty- two only nine are living, but there may have been others in attendance whom he has forgotten.
“The first school I ever attended,” says Joseph Chambers in his reminiscences, “was in a little schoolhouse in Richland Township not more than twenty feet square, made of round logs, It had a fireplace in the north end that burned wood about four feet long, The chimney was made of mud and slats driven 0ut above one inch square, The door was in the east side, and on the south end was the window, It was a log cut out, and the window glass was put in about one foot wide the entire width of the room, Under that window was the writing desk. It was a plank about eighteen inches wide, Holes were bored in the logs of the wall, pins stuck in and this board was laid on those pins. The benches were made of slabs, Mose Treadway was the teacher, I went to this school two or three terms, The house stood about eighty rods west of where Henry Boner now lives, The ones living who went to that school are Betsy Ann Bigsby, A. J. Barracks, Adaline Wigner, Gilbert Scott, Hester Ann Delp and myself, If there are any more I have forgotten them, In about 1854 they built a frame schoolhouse about eighty rods north of the old one, Isaac Scott was the first teacher that taught in the new house, The last school I went to in that house was in 1859, taught by A. J. Barracks, He gave a prize for spelling, and three of us tied-Mary Young, Ned Johns and myself, and the teacher gave each one a prize. All three of us are living. The Chambers Christian church was 0rganized in that house by Ebenezer Thompson with seven members-Hiram Chambers and wife, John Chambers and wife, Susan Chambers, Mary Chambers and Nancy Scott, They held meetings in that house until it burned in 1869, Hiram Chambers deeded to the church the ground and they built a church house there and it is still standing.
“We had no buggies then in which to go to church, If we went to church with our best girl we walked, if it were not too far; if it were too far to walk we rode horseback, If the girl had a horse and sidesaddle we rode a horse apiece, if not we both rode the same horse, the girl riding behind, Our clothing was home made, My mother kept a few sheep, and we would shear them and wash the wool, pick it, take it to the woolen factory, have it carded into rolls, take it home, and mother would spin it into yarn, She would then color it and weave into cloth. She would make flannel for herself and the girls and jeans for me. and this is what our clothing consisted of for the winter.
“I rode on the first steam car that came to Anderson, They gave a free ride to Pendleton and back, Anderson was but a small Place then, and they called it Anderson town, There were but about three stores in the place, I have seen it grow to be quite a city, We had DO family .reunions then, and the last was the seventh reunion of the Chambers family. These reunions have been a particularly pleasant occasions for the older members especially, of the Chambers family,” Mr. Chambers also speaks of the somewhat melancholy circumstance that each year witnessed the passing of some face which had been visible in the previous assembly, but that each year new young faces came to fill in the picture where the old were blotted out.