Fred Chambers


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The following excerpt is taken from, “An Impromptu Story or Partial History of Edward Chambers and Family, Told by a Grand-daughter Sarah J. Mitchell Forbes, Copied by a Great-Great-Grandson--Thom F. Rhodes October 1925.” It tells the story of my ancestor, Fredrick Chambers. Fredrick was born December 10, 1820 in Kent Co., England and died July 12, 1888 in Savanna, Carroll Co., Illinois.

"When Fred Chambers was about twenty years old he was becoming very anxious to get out in to the world and do something as he called it. He asked his father how much he wanted for his time until he was twenty-one. He had a very valuable colt which he had been offered one-hundred dollars for it as it was three years old and ready to do good work. His father said, “Give me the cold and you may have your time.” He had a very dear friend and chum, a young shoemaker, who had just learned the trade, my the name of Alfred Thorpe, and these two, each with a small valise bade their fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers and friends good-bye and started for some unknown clime to “get rich.” I think they went to New Orleans first. As they left home with only a few dollars they resolved to work their way, getting little jobs at any place and at anything they could find to do. Often they would hire out, Fred to some farmer, and Alfred making for the nearest town with his kit of tools to find a job in some shoe shop. They kept pretty close together and at last they landed in Illinois where each of them took up land for prairie farming and resolved to stay the owners of these farms keeping them for “nest eggs” to start their fortunes. I think Mister Thorpe returned to Mina (in Chautauqua Co., NY) and married the “girl he left behind him,” Miss Francis Relf and in after years when his sons were young men, two of the three went West and settled on their father’s section homestead and are there yet, thrifty, wealthy, business men, farmers and merchants. Mister Chambers, or Fred, went to Savanna, Illinois, and started a powder mill but he lost the plant by an explosion but he soon went into the business again. At one time he took a team of mules and a covered wagon and finding a few to join him he went overland to Pike’s Peak to dig gold. He met with many thrilling adventures and was often in great dangers from Indians and wild beasts. He bought merchandise and sold it to the Indians enroute home trading for fine furs and buffalo robes which he could often get for a song-often a little tobacco or a pint of whiskey. He married a Miss Laura Strong of Mount Carroll, Illinois, and he owned and operated a hotel in Savanna for many years. He was a very strong energetic man and was interested in different occupations. He had the contract for the large suspension bridge of the government across the Mississippi River. It was a big job and netted him a large amount of cash. He had a family of six children. Clarence, a handsome boy died of scarlet fever and Jennie a bright sweet little girl contracted the disease and nearly lost her life. If left her entirely deaf and she soon forgot how to talk and her father spent hundreds of dollars trying to recover her hearing but in vain. She was educated in a mute school but she died at the age of twenty-seven years. They had four children left; Fred, William, Mable and Emma. He gave his children all a fine education and had a family which he was, and well might be, proud of. The mother was a highly respected and lovely lady and much was due to the devoted mother for the rearing of her well raised and highly respected family. (Note: at this point, the story continues telling how Fred & Laura Chambers died and how ownership of the hotel in Savanna was turned over to their two sons, Fred A. and Will. The hotel was lost in a fire and the two brothers moved to Los Angeles.) The daughter Mabel married a Mister William Westbrook, a banker in Savanna. She lost her husband in an auto accident after which she resided in Savanna for a time. As her health was bad she now lived with her sister Emma in Mount Carroll, Illinois until she became so bad that she was compelled to go to the west for her health. But she declined rapidly and died in a Los Angeles sanitarium in August 1922 (it was actually July 12, 1923) at the age of almost sixty years. Her only child, a son, died while a boy of lock jaw contracted from a scratch. Emma also has a fine husband, a Mister T.B. Rhodes, and a lovely home."