By John Limmer
Phillip Chambers was born "across the big pond" somewhere around 1750. Like so many of his fellow disgruntled Englishmen, when old enough to do so, he migrated to America. And, like most of his immigrant peers, he joined in the battle for freedom from his native country, serving (by all accounts), as a male nurse in the Revolutionary War. Where he originally settled is unsure, most likely, somewhere in Maryland or Virginia, but he eventually wound up in Rowan County, North Carolina, where he met and married Miss Salome Club in 1778. From there, the family moved to Union County, South Carolina. The union was fruitful to say the least, it produced seventeen children before Salome's death sometime after 1820.
One of those seventeen children was Barak Chambers (February , 1792 -February 7, 1847) Barak married Agnes Sanford (1797 -June 14, 1890). They resided in Pendleton/Pickens District, South Carolina. Family records differ on exactly how many children blessed the union, but documentation exists on ten.
The Chambers clan was somewhat different in temperament than those we met earlier in the book. Records indicate they were a bit feistier, if you will, and somewhat less pacifistic in nature than were the Byrds, Newtons, and Pentecosts. When civil war erupted, many a hot-blooded Chambers man (and boy) chose to fight rather than flee. From the book, "Gold Fever", by Lamech Chambers, we find them not only enlisting in the army, but on opposite sides of the Mason Dixon line. From that book (references deleted) comes the following:
"The Chambers family during the Civil War is a case of the proverbial ' brother against brother' .Lemuel Chambers and his son Barak fought and died for the Union Army. The remainder of the Chambers family who are known to have fought in the war, including Lemuel's brothers, Lamech and Lucious, supported the Confederate cause."
CSA, Company C, 1- Regiment, South Carolina Rifles.
Joseph Marion Chambers enlisted on March 2, 1862 in Dawson County, GA. He was a defender at the Siege of Vicksburg, and he was put in charge of evacuating a group of wounded men by train. The train ran off the tracks near Montgomery, Alabama, and Joseph sustained a severe back injury. However, during the final five months of the war he joined a cavalry company commanded by Capt. William Barrett.
Phillip Chambers enlisted with, served with, and was on the same evacuation train with his brother Joseph when it left the tracks near Montgomery. Phillip suffered a severely fractured right ankle in the wreck which left him a "confirmed cripple". He had to use a cane to walk for the remainder of his life.
CSA (Unit not known)
Spencer Chambers enlisted on 23 November, 1863 in Eufala, AL. He was captured by Union forces on 25 April, 1865 in Greenville, AL.
CSA. 32nd Senatorial District Georgia Militia (Apparently not a regular combat unit as, in the Spring of 1864, all state and local militia were called into active duty to defend against General Sherman's advance on Atlanta. )
Lamech Chambers was chosen to serve in this unit because he had "a rifle in good condition and a horse with saddle and bridle".
Lemuel D. Chambers, son of Lamech, nephew and namesake of Lemuel, was also in this reserve unit.
Spencer Chambers, another of Lemech's sons, (not to be confused with the
Spencer Chambers who enlisted in 1863 in Alabama) was shown on the roll of this unit along with Lamech's third son.
Barak Chambers (not to be confused with his cousin Barak, the son of Lemuel).
All of the above had chosen, or had been chosen, to defend the South. Lemuel Chambers and his son Barak were apparently not as combative in nature as were their "kissin' kin". They managed to remain neutral, more or less, for most of the war. On November 23, 1863, however, circumstances forced a hard decision. Generals Grant and Thomas crushed Chattanooga. Surrounded by victorious Union troops, it no longer mattered much on which side Lemuel's true sympathies lay, and he was apparently a practical man. Then again, maybe joining the Union Army wasn't as difficult a decision as it might appear on the surface. Lemuel had earlier hidden in the mountains to avoid being drafted into the Confederacy. He was caught and handcuffed by a Rebel and told if he didn't join, he, the Rebel, would kill him. He refused. Rather than carrying out his threat, the Rebel brought Lemuel to trial, but he was later released for lack of evidence. Shortly thereafter, he opted for a blue uniform. Whether that choice was made out of expediency or spite, we will never know. The fact remains, at least two Chambers took up the Yankee banner.
Union Army, Company I, 5th Regiment, Tennessee Volunteers.
Lemue/ Chambers enlisted in the Union Army on February 18, 1864. He died on September 27 of that same year of unknown causes in a hospital in Knoxville, TN.
Barak Chambers enlisted with his father. According to a witness, Barak died - or was killed during the Civil War.
In a strange twist of irony, Lemuel's (assumed) attempt at ensuring his and his son's survival, (most probably) led ultimately to both their deaths.
Looking at this roster of Chambers soldiers, one would think they sprang from the loins of a warrior. Forgive the antiquated biblical expression, but such verbiage is, in this particular case, most appropriate, for the father and grandfather of most, if not all of them, was a Baptist minister .
REVEREND BARAK CHAMBERS (February, 1792 -February 7, 1847) married AGNES SANDFORD (circa 1797 -June 14, 1890) in South Carolina. Barak was a farmer and landowner in Pendleton/Pickens District, SC at the time of his marriage. In May of 1828, the Holly Springs Baptist Church was formed with Barak as a founding member and church clerk. He retained that position until October of 1835 when he was appointed minister, a capacity in which he served until 1841. And there was a Chambers in the pulpit of that church for 75 years following Reverend Barak Chambers term of service. His first successor was is own son, Lemuel.
Barak and Agnes known children were:
Lamech (1815), Arena (1820), Leonard (1820, Jeanette (1820, Lemuel (1823, Louis (1824, Thomas Lunar (1829, Julia Ann (1832), Salome Club (1835, and the last, Spencer in 1837. Hopefully, the foregoing has given the reader some of the flavor of the Chambers family. We will now focus our attention on the youngest of the good Reverend's children, and the Cross Cut connection: Spencer.
Whether he was the same Spencer Chambers recorded as having enlisted in the CSA on November 23, 1863 in Eufala, AL is possible, but unlikely, given the birth dates of sons Thomas and Paul. Unless, of course, he had an exceptionally sympathetic commanding officer .
In the Spring of 1860, at the age of 23 (an age when all young men are bulletproof and brilliant), Spencer joined his older brother, Lamech, his nephew Barak, and his brother-in-law, Soloman "Sol" Roe on a gold prospecting expedition to the Rocky Mountains. They traveled as part of the Green Russell band.
Lamech kept a daily journal during the entire five month expedition. Entries in that diary give us another look, from another perspective of life in those times. They began on April 3, 1860: One year after James Harvey McPeeters and Martin Byrd left Missouri for Texas, the same year as John, Anderson, and Willis Newton began their extended trek from Clark County, Arkansas, and one year before George Washington Lewis began freighting for Byrd's Trading Post. The pioneer families of Cross Cut were on the move, but in different directions. The Chambers wagons were pointing toward the Colorado Rocky Mountains.
The following are excerpts from Lemech Chambers journal. Spencer is referred to by his nickname, "Bud".
Apparently the expedition's provisions were not restricted to food and water alone. During their overnight encampment on Mud Creek on Monday, "Sam Bates got drunk and cut all sorts of capers". This was the first mention ofwhiskey, but certainly not the last. On Wednesday of that second week, the train "drove four miles to the last house on the route and we bought our supply of corn and one sack of flour -we give six dollars for the sack of flour and 35 cents a bushel for corn." Later that same day, "we sawour first buffalo." Whether or not they knew it at the time, they were looking that day at the source of their subsistence for weeks to come.
The further west the train traveled, the poorer the land became, the worse the weather got, and the scarcer water became. Their worries were on another potential threat however: Indians. Night watches were begun and rotated between party members. One would imagine each had heard his share of horrendous tales about "red savages" attacking wagon trains and butchering its occupants. They were mistaken on two counts~ one was that the Indians, when they did appear, would come in darkness.
25th Wednesday - We still stayed at our hole of water waiting for asnow storm. Capt. Russell rode out to look which course to go - we were cooking preparing to cross the desert - warm, but partially cloudy - there came up a shower of rain - killed I antelope. Barak, Willis, Rob Pierceand Palmour are all down on their knees working dough for supper. CaptainRussell has not yet got back to camp - we all live fat and lazy - WhiteEagle and his train of Comanches come on us - I felt rather bad. So much for a raid at night. As for red savages butchering them where they stood:
“26th Thursday - It commenced snowing early in the morning - it covered the ground quick. About eleven o'clock the White Eagle and his company of Comanches come in and struck up camp with us - we all got perfectly friendly and had a good time all through each other - it partially cleared off and turned warm - we prepared to start in the morning. The Chief White Eagle said that three sleeps would bring us to the Peak, but no wood or water.” So much for the anticipated massacre.
sleeps" later, on Sunday the 29th, Lamech writes, The wind was
blowing a perfect hurricane from the North. We traveled fifteen miles
we found any water and then Green turned a little off our course and
a beautiful pool of water. We stopped and fed, our boys eat the raw
with good grace. John R.Russell asked me to take some of his molasses
I thanked him for it- it is the poorest God-forsaken looking country
I have ever saw -grass about one inch long and covered with round
pears - No Pikes Peak The Chief had only miscalculated by one day
for the party spotted the peak the very next day. The journal recorded
that much anticipated event. A clear pleasant morning - ice
our water bucket - we drove up on the high prairie and saw Pikes Peak
his eternal cap of snow - a great rejoicing - I ran a half mile
We struck the big Arkansas Road and came to a house on the road - thence we traveled on to a house where wes aw a woman - we got to Aurora about three o'clock - I got five lettersfour from home and one from S. C. - I got great satisfaction. OnFriday the 4th in Denver City, “ me and Barak bought three shovels - two pans and one pack for $11 dollars.” On Saturday they panned about 1-1/2 pennyweight of very nice gold.
Gold, as they say, is where you find it. And there seemed to be plenty of it around. Unfortunately for our heroes, there was little more of it in anyone place to account for much more than "grub money". Lemech's journal entries ceased to be daily, and were gradually reduced to single lines giving only bare facts.
“25th We got to Denver - the wind blew and it rained - the worst dayI ever saw in my life.”
“June Ist - We begin to wash for gold and washed one hour and got about five pennyweight - Issac Morris was out of heart - he struck ball slate.”
“14th - We only made one pennyweight of gold - at night there came a powerful storm of hail and wind - I don't like this country.”
“16th - The boys were hard to get up - Barak was out of heart and begin to map and talk of going back to the States - I got a woman to do my first washing.”
What was probably the beginning of the end for the Chambers' big adventure came on June 19th. “I went to Denver and got a letter from home - it pleased me well- the women sent a piece of their new dresses - I kept them to remember them.”" In today's vernacular, we would refer to such subtle deviousness as "dirty pool".
The men worked on for another month, still hoping to "strike it rich", but to no avail. On the 24th of July, they gave up. “Us four sold three of our claims for $50 dollars each in cashand one good yoke of oxen - me and Barak, Bud and Hufstetter are now ableto go home to Georgia to see our families - great rejoicing with us - me and Hufstetter went to Denver and took a spree we was so glad.”
On August the 9th, this entry, ”Sol Roe, Rob Pierce, Barak, Bud Hufstetter and L. Chambers allstored our tents and drove down to Denver - Green Russell treated all our company and I ate with him at his expense - I love Green Russell. We then formed our outfit and jumped in our wagon and started to Georgia.”It should be noted here that if the casual mailing of swatches of material from the lady's new dresses on June 19th was too subtle a hint for the Chambers boys, the fact that no further communication was forthcoming from that day on simply emphasized the fact that the lady's figured it was high time for them to come home. Even the densest of men could not misinterpret that ultimatum.
The long trip back was every bit as arduous and eventful as the trip out, but of no particular consequence to our tale. Except for maybe their final encounter with the Indians. The closer they got to home, the more effusive and philosophical Lamech's entries became. Gone were the brief one liners of the gold camp.
“Barak and myself got up at daybreak - Barak got breakfast and prepared to start - the mosquitoes gave us another heavy battle before we left and said they would meet us at the Northe Platte tonight - we drove on about three miles and met the largest body of Indians I ever saw - some three thousand warriors, squaws and papooses - some four or five of them charged on two dogs and killed them with their arrows -they appeared perfectly friendly - we then drove on fifteen miles and tool dinner - a very hot day. Some wood - after dinner we passed O'Fallon's Bluffs and then we passed a large Indian camp of about three thousand -we gave some papooses some tobacco - we then drove to the next bend of the river and camped with about one hundred Sioux Indians. The Mosquitoes met us according to promise - we got supper and fed four Indians – They seemed to enjoy themselves”.
“Sunday the 19th - We got up and some of the squaws and papooses came to us for breakfast. Bud grumbled and growled - there is no accomation in him - he always opposed what I think to be fair and just between the white man and the red man of the forest - I think the white man generally treat them very badly - we pass through their country, burn their wood, kill their buffalo, deer and antelope - it is no more than just for us to give them a little bite to eat once in a while.”
A philosopher once said, "We are “all that has gone before". Spencer Chambers first experience beyond the comfort and safety of his mother's home was this trip to the gold-fields of Colorado through the wild, unsettled territory of the "uncivilized" American Indian. And it was made in the constant company of a gentle, compassionate big brother named Lamech. As much as "Bud grumbled and growled" at Lemech' s kindness, one would have to think it was a learning experience. One he would reflect upon in the ensuing five years of “civilized" war.
SPENCER (Bud) CHAMBERS (July 10, 1837 -July 27, 1918) married NANCY ANN ROE (April 30, 1843 -September 17, 1906) on October 28, 1861 -the year following his return from Colorado -in Marshall County, Alabama. Spencer had moved with his mother and four of his siblings to Alabama from South Carolina following the death of his father in 1847. Nancy was originally from Georgia.
Spencer and Nancy build a home on Short Creek, not far from the small town of Mc Ville, and close to the rest of the Chambers family. The family ran a lumber mill and grist mill, and farmed. Spencer, following in his father's footsteps but straying ever so slightly from his father"s denomination, became a Universalist minister. The good reverend and wife Nancy had seven children in their home beside Short Creek:
Thomas Eugene (February 21, 1862- September 21, 1948)
Paul Jones (January 1, 1865- February 28, 1926)
Solomon Roe (May 20, 1868 -August 31, 1950)
William Harrison Grigsby (Griggs) February 27,1871 -April 17, 1961)
Nancy Ann Lizette (August 30, 1874- November 28,1954)
Wade Hampton (March 12, 1877- 1962)
William Raliegh (March 10, 1880 -July 3, 1970). Bill served as state representative from Brown County in the Texas House of Representatives for eighteen years.
In the early 1890's, the eldest son, Eugene, went to Texas in search of new land to farm. He was followed there in 1893 by his brother W. H. Grigsby who had married Nancy Susan Shirley. Not long thereafter, Spencer, Nancy Ann, and the rest of the family (with one notable exception) joined Gene and Griggs in the Wolf Valley community between May and Rising Star in North Brown County, Texas.
In Brown County, Spencer established a successful farmstead, and continued serving as a Universalist minister for a number of years. Nancy was not as delighted with the move as was Spencer however. According to one granddaughter, Nancy Ann was not adverse to displaying her displeasure by throwing a "kicking fit" from time to time.
noted one exception to the list of Chambers traveling to Texas. That
was Spencer's third son, Solomon Roe. When the family moved south and
Solomon was about the same age as was Spencer when he took off to
on Pikes Peak. Sol chose to move north to Chattanooga, Tennessee. But
decision was a bit more practically based than was that of his father.
Solomon attended medical school in Chattanooga, attained a medical
and became Doctor Solomon Roe Chambers before joining the rest
his family in Texas.
Doc and Martha with son, Tom
Marjorie married twice. first to Auzie Edward Cearnal (deceased) with whom she had three children, and second to Felix Batts Leeton.
WINNIEMAY (March 5, 1908- January 19, 1909).
NORRIS ROE (September 6,1917) married ELLA MOSELLE SUDDERTB on May 16, 1939. Norris and Ella had four children: Ella Diana (September 1, 1942), Patricia Mae (July 13, 1944), Veronica Jean (December 6, 1955), and Roger Lee (April 9, 1957).
Diane married William D. Blankenship, Patricia married Darrell Walters and Douglas Bell, and Veronica married Dale Sustaire and John Durnell, Jr.
This was the family, and these were the descendants of Doctor Solomon Roe Chambers, the first of his clan to settle in Cross Cut. But he was not the only Chambers to establish residence in the area; there was another who followed short time later and ultimately played a role in the development of the town. The relative latecomer's name was Willis Harrison Grigsby (Griggs) Chambers, Solomon's brother. According to those who recall stories of his arrival, by far his greatest contributions to the Cross Cut community in general, and the local bachelors in particular, were the six unmarried daughters he brought with him!
Griggs and family settled first on a 160 farm in Coke County, near the town of Tennyson, situated on the Runnels County line. The year was 1909. He worked his own acreage that firs year, along with that of his neighbor who had not yet moved in, but only managed to "get by". To his relief, the following year his neighbor arrived, but to his chagrin, along with his neighbor came a crop-killing drought. Two straight years with little or no success was enough for Griggs. Besides that, he had a rather large family to feed. He decided there must be greener pastures somewhere in Texas, so he put his land on the market and began looking for it. In the fall of 1910 he found it, and traded his place in Tennyson for a farm owned by Mr. Bob Howell near Cross Cut.
In October of 1910, three dusty wagons pulled into the yard of the old Howell place carrying its new owners. The lead wagon, pulled by a horse named Snip and a mule named Jack, was driven by Griggs. The double hitch pulling the second wagon was a mule named Rat, and a horse named Selim. On its seat was Nancy Chambers, Griggs wife. The third was driven by Walter Chambers, Griggs and Nancy's eldest son, and it was pulled by two horses named Streak and Lee. Griggs' and Nancy's loads consisted of kids and household goods. Walter's wagon was full of chickens. Probably why he was chosen to drive it, and why it was last in line. The branches of the family tree loaded aboard that little wagon train are depicted below:
WILLIS HARRISON GRIGSBY CHAMBERS (February 17,1871 -Apri117, 1961) married twice during his lifetime. The first marriage was to NANCY SUSAN SHIREY (June 24, 1875- September 19, 1925) in Marshall County, Alabama on March 24, 1892. Griggs had been born in Marshall County. Nancy was born near Rome, Georgia, but her family moved to Marshall County when she was 10. The marriage produced 9 children, 3 boys and 6 girls:
Walter Raliegh (June 28, 1885 -October 15, 1975), Lola (June 22, 1897 - January 2, 1979), Lillie Pearl (May 10, 1899 -), Ina Lizette (July 7, 1900 -March 3, 1978), Allie (January 28, 1902 -February, 1998), Opal Eugina (February 17, 1904 - February 9, 1998), Annie Velaria (March 13, 1906 -), Joseph Weldon Bailey (March 10, 1910 -January 11, 1969), and Oscar Branch Colquitt (O.B.) (June 28, 1912 - January 19, 1996).
Walter manied twice during his life time. His first maniage was to Lelia Muriel DeBusk (August 20, 1898 -September 29, 1946) on September 5, 1920. His second marriage was to Iola Bowen; Lola married Richard Goodwin Wooldridge (April 17, 1888 -July 30, 1961) on February 9, 1919; Lillie married Robert Leslie Mills on December 30, 1920; Ina married Lewis E. Newton (October 22, 1894 -February 26, 1985) on December 27, 1922; Allie manied Wilmer A. Triplett on May 4, 1924, Opal married Walter Leslie Byrd (February 10, 1901 -October 12, 1980); Annie married Charles Alton Keeler on July 27, 1923; Weldon married twice in his life time. His first wife was Alene Sumner, his second, Evelyn Templeton; and O-B. married Aleta Mae Boland on March 30,1935.
Oscar Branch Colquitt, O.B., entered Daniel Baker College in 1928. He played four years on the basketball all-team and was president of the student body his senior year. His lengthy tenure as a public school teacher, coach and administrator included six years in the May public schools and 36 years with the Early schools. He earned a masters degree from Hardin-Simmons University in 1941. He retired in 1977 as Early High School principal after serving as superintendent of that district for 30 years. He was a retired U.S. Army Lt. Colonial and World War II veteran with over 20 years of active and reserve service.
June 22, 1996, a memorial service was held honoring former Early
School District Superintendent O.B. Chambers. A plaque honoring O.B.
his dedication to the district was presented to his wife, Aleta
who was accompanied by their only son, Gary and his wife, Pam.
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