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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Chambers Family Revisited


Robert Chambers is referred to as The Old Soldier and is apparently the immigrant from Scotland. Some say the name was originally Chalmers, but I have not found a reliable source that verifies this claim. His wife’s name was Margaret but her maiden name remains a mystery. It is believed they had several children, some of whom were born in Scotland. Some older written histories indicate Robert was from Lanarkshire, another bit of unverified information. However it does give a place to start more intensive research and I have found families of Chambers in Peebles, a small town in Lanarkshire. All of what follows in this blog is based on data found in Nova Scotia, Tatamagouche, Wallace, Wallace Bridge, Sand Point and other communities in Colchester County.

Another important point to reference is that, as far as can be determined, this Chambers family is not connected to the Chambers family who migrated here from Newport RI. That group of colonists left RI when many others left New England to take advantage of the free land given away by King George. They settled in a very different part of Nova Scotia. In the History of Tatamagouche, by Frank H. Patterson, LL.B., Robert Chambers arrived in NS in the early 1800’s and by 1802, it was recorded that he held 430 acres, 230 at Brule Harbor and 230 at Chambers Point. By1806 he had received a deed to land.  He was the first person in Tatamagouche to receive a free hold title rather than a lease. Another theory that appears to have no solid evidence is that Chambers was related to Joseph Frederick Wallet DesBarres, who was a land holder and governor of PEI and Cape Breton. In one of his biographies, it is stated that James Chalmers was his son-in-law. At this point of my research, I have found no connection between Robert Chambers and James Chalmers. The time line of this doesn’t really match either. But something could still show up as more records are found and shared. However, the histories do state that Robert was a good friend of DesBarres and this may be why he received the first free hold title of land. It could also indicate they were related, but still there is no verification. I also have to consider that a Scotsman might have pronounced his name is such a way that it ‘sounded like’ Chalmers. If we take out the ‘a’ sound in Chambers and substitute it with an ‘aw’ sound or something similar, we could easily come up with a name that sounds like Chalmers but is actually spelled Chambers.                                   

                          The Chambers land was along the shore on the north side.

The sons of Robert Chambers and his wife, Margaret, were Samuel and James. No daughters or other sons have surfaced yet. James left for New Brunswick where he died, unmarried. It is quite possible that he is the James Chambers who is accredited with building the first ship in Tatamagouche, a small schooner of 16 tons, called the “Fish Hawk” in May 1818. His brother Samuel was born in 1783 in Scotland and may have been the eldest child. I will elaborate more on Samuel Chambers, even though I still have many blanks. He married Sarah Jane McBurnie (aka MacBurnie) c. 1803, most likely in Tatamagouche, NS. Sarah was b. 1786 and died at Sand Point, Colchester Co., NS in 1872. Samuel died in 1873 and he and Sarah are both buried at Sand Point Cem. Their children were:
          *Robert (c. 1805-1873) m. Catherine Millar (Millard) (c. 1808- bef. 1881)
          James (1807-?) m. Annie Patriquin (1821- ?)
          Samuel (1813-1896) m. Margaret Armstrong (1814 in Eng. - ?)
          Daniel Duncan (1815-1881) m. Catherine Unknown (1814-1850)
          David (1820-?) m. Nancy Agnes Foster (? - ?)
          Edward (1821-1894) m. Mary Ann Simpton (1822-1912)
          William (1821-?) m. Ruth Millman (1827-?)
          Catherine (1822-?) m. Benjamin Douglass (? - ?)
          John (1823-1904) m. Elizabeth Thompson (1821- 1911)
          Thomas (1830-?) m. Mary Ann Hingley (1829 - ?)

*Robert married Catherine ^Millar (Millard)
          Robert and Catherine do not appear on any of the available census records that I’ve been able to access. They had at least 8 children, all of whom were born in, around or near Tatamagouche, NS. On the land that his grandfather, Robert, received from DesBarres in 1806, he raised his family. Another stumbling block is not being able to discover any death or burial information on this couple.
{^There is a controversy on Catherine’s name. I’ve read as many sources as I can find and have discovered that Millar came from Scotland and Millard came with the Montbeliard immigration. Both spellings have been applied to Catherine but I haven’t determined her parentage yet, therefore, I also haven’t been able to determine whether the spelling is a clerical error, transcription error or  - is the incorrect spelling being applied as her surname. There is a land transaction, in 1854, where Edward Chambers (s/o Robert and Catherine) sold land in Barrasois to Peter Millard. Based on that, I’m leaning toward the name being Millard rather than Millar.

The children of Robert and Catherine were:
          Edward (1826-1918) m. in 1852 Rockland ME, Eliza Leggett (1826                                England – 1884)
          *James  (1830-1913) m. in 1852 Point Brule, NS, Sarah McPherson                                                 (1831- 1913)
          George (1832- ?)
          Elizabeth (1835- ?)
          Margaret (1836 - ?)
          John (1838 - ?)
          Sarah (1841 - ?)
          Robert (1845-1891) m. in 1870, Bridget Delahunt (c 1854 – 1891)

Edward’s occupation was listed as Shipwright and he is found in the USA Fed. census of 1850 in Bath ME. At that time, Bath had a huge ship building industry. When the work on the home front slowed down, there was always work to be had building ships in Bath ME. The men lived in boarding houses which lined the streets parallel to the Kennebec River. At one time there were over 200 shipyards, actively building ships. In 1852, he married Eliza Leggett who was b. in 1826 in Saxmundham, Suffolk, England. They were married in Rockland ME but were living in Memramcook, NB, by 1853 where their oldest child, Lorenzo, was born. A second child followed soon thereafter, George, b. 1855. However it appears as though George died as a young child, as he does not appear in the 1861 or 1871 Canadian census reports. Herbert Smith Chambers was the third child born. Then followed Matilda, Florence, Caroline (Carrie), Cynthia, Emma and Bessie. Catherine Chambers, mother of Edward is living with the family in the 1871 Canadian census. This could mean that Robert had died, which makes the death date of 1873 for him incorrect. I have been unable to locate a death record for him. In the Chignecto Post, Sackville, NB, Nov. 15 1883, it is recorded that Edward Chambers has sold his house and land to Capt. Erwin Buck and removed to Truro, NS. By 1881, Catherine has died, as she no longer appears in any census reports. Then in 1884, Eliza Chambers died. I haven’t been able to place Edward again until 1911 when he appears in the census, living with his oldest son, Lorenzo. Edward died in 1918 and is buried in Dorchester NB.

Edward and Eliza’s children:
          Lorenzo (1853 - ?) m. c 1875, Mary McKelvie (1852 - ?) – 15 children
          George (1855 - ?)
          Herbert S. (1858 – 1926 Vancouver BC) He was a diabetic amputee.                                                m. 1882, Sophia Gertrude Dixon (1863 - ?) – 4 children
          Matilda Sarah (1860 - ?) m. in 1878, John W. Smith (1849 - ?) -7 children
          Florence (1861 – bef 1911) m. in 1881, George Bishop ((1850 - ?)                                                    – 8 children
          Caroline (Carrie) (1864 – bef 1918) m. in 1883, David Crowe (1859 - ?)                         lived in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. – 2 children
          Cynthia (1867 - ?) {My note – Cynthia and Emma could be the same person, one                             being the first name and the other being a middle name. Or they could have                           been twins.}
          Emma (1867 - ?) m. in 1885, William Wade (1860 – aft 1922) – 2 children
          Bessie (1870- ?) m. in 1887, Frederick Forrest (1861 - ?) – 2 children

*James was also a ship builder and can be found in the 1850 Federal census for Bath ME along with his brother Edward. He returned to NS by 1852 when he married Sarah Jane McPherson at Point Brule, NS.

The children of James and Sarah were:
          *Alexander Scott (1855 – 1887) m. in 1878, Rebecca Cole (1854 - 1944)
          Emma Jane (1860 – c. 1913) m. in 1883, Edwin Hicks (1857 – 1906)
          Nancy Lavinia (1863 – 1946) m. in 1882, Beverly Thomas Vincent                                                      (1856 -  ?)
          John (1864 – 1864 ) @ 3 months
          William (1865 – bef 1930 in Jersey City NJ) m. 1890 in Bath ME, Elizabeth                     Blasland (1840 - ?) – 8 children
          James (1867 – 1869) @ 20 months
          George (1870 - ?) m. in 1890 Bath ME, Carrie Varney
          Ella May (1874 – 1946 in Westfield NJ) m1. in 1891 Portsmouth NH,                                                  Percy George Turner, m2. in 1904 NJ, Walter Tavenor

In the 1900 Fed. census for Jersey City NJ, it is stated that Sarah had been the mother of 13 children but only 5 were still living. So far, I’ve only been able to locate the names of eight children. By the 1900 census, I do know that *Alexander, John and James were no longer living. They were married for 3 years before *Alexander was born, which provides an opportunity for a child to have been born before him. Generally speaking, most married couples saw their first born within a year of their marriage.
*Alexander was b. in Nova Scotia but as a young child the family moved to Dorchester, NB where three prominent shipbuilders had busy shipyards. Alexander followed in his father’s foot steps as a shipbuilder/carpenter. At sometime after his marriage, he became a mariner, possibly because his brother-in-law, William E. Buck, was the Captain of various schooners. As the First Mate on the Arabella, they sailed to NY city with cargo and on the return trip, encountered a fierce storm off the Cape Cod coast and all was lost. His daughter, my grandmother, had just turned 7 years old.
Emma Jane married Edwin Hicks, a NB man who had moved to Brooklyn NY to work in the shipyards there. They had three daughters, the youngest being Eva, who died when she was 4. Edwin died in 1906, leaving Emma and the two daughters on their own. The 1910 Fed. census show both girls, Ada and Stella, employed as stenographers and Emma stated she had her own income. As yet, I’ve failed to find any further information of these women.
Nancy Lavinia married Beverly Thomas Vincent. His name has been written as Thomas Beverly, Thomas B. and Beverly T. as well. His occupation was reported as a cabin builder on one of the children’s birth records. This sheds no light on what type of cabins he built. Since they lived in Saint John, NB a cabin could be associated with ships, as opposed to the type built in the more remote rural areas, far from where he lived.
William married Elizabeth Blasland in 1890, Bath, ME. He was a carpenter/shipbuilder and by 1900 had moved on to Jersey City, NJ where there were busy shipyards. By the 1920 census, there were 8 children, all still living at home. The oldest six were all girls and the youngest two were boys. The children were:
          Frederica (Freda) (1893 - ?)
          Ethel (1896 - ?)
          Gertrude (1897 - ?)
          Wilma (1899 - ?)
          Bessie (1900 - ?)
          Ida (1903 - ?)
          Walter (1906 - ?)
          Albert (1913 - ?)

William must have died sometime before the 1930 Fed. census as Elizabeth is found listed as a widow, living with Freda, Walter and Albert. From 1930 on, I’ve been unable to find any factual information about this family.
A George Chambers married a Carried Varney in Bath ME, however it is uncertain if this is the George who was the son of James and Sarah Chambers. Not enough information was given, yet the time lines were appropriate. Carrie’s father owned a lumber mill and it is within the realm of possibility that that a carpenter/shipbuilder would be acquainted with him. Work will continue on George and many of the others whose information is lacking.
Ella May married Percy Turner in Portsmouth, NH in 1891. Two daughters were born before Ella discovered that Percy was a bigamist. By 1900 she is in NJ living with her parents. It is believed that James went there because of the shipbuilding and she and the two girls went along. There, she eventually married Walter Tavenor and had a son, also named Walter.

The Westfield Leader, Jul 16 and Aug 27 1913


Death Certificates: James and Sarah Chambers

Supreme Court Record Truro, NS 1869

History of Tatamagouche, by Frank H. Patterson LL.B

Land Records

Topographical maps

Chignecto Post, Sackville, Nov 15 1883

Canadian Census 1861, 1871,1881, 1891

US Federal census, 1850, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940

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