line.gif (2154 bytes)

James Chambers, grandfather of the subject of our sketch, was a native of Ireland, but emigrated to America and settled in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, at a very early day. He married a Miss Hutchinson, by whom he had two children--William and Jane, the latter of whom became the wife Judge James Bovard, of Butler county. Both are now deceased. After his marriage Mr. Chambers removed to Westmoreland county, where he lived until his death, which took place in 1848. He was taken prisoner at Sewickley sometime during the period of the Indian war, and taken to an island in Lake Erie, near Sandusky Bay, where he was kept until the close of the war and declaration of peace. He then returned to Westmoreland county, where he had erected a log cabin upon his 700-aacre tract of land. He began immediately to improve this land, but the Indians again became quite troublesome, and he and his young wife with the few other settlers were occasionally compelled to flee for safety to the blockhouse near by. Once a skulking band of savages stole Mr. Chambers' horses from the field, and detecting them in the act, the old pioneer lifted his voice in a series of stentorian shouts which attracted the attention of some soldiers in the neighborhood of the forts, nearly two miles away, who assisted him in recapturing the horses. The Chambers cabin, one of the genuine pioneer style, with puncheon floor, bark roof, etc., was the first built in the neighborhood, there being for two or three years no other within five miles of it. Mr. Chambers' land upon his death fell into the possession of his children, and is now owned by his grandchildren, the Chambers family having lived on and about this old place ever since James Chambers' settlement. The tract was improved by its industrious first owner, under many difficulties and amidst many hardships. He was obliged to pack salt and bar-iron, and various others articles which he needed, across the mountains upon horses; to use a wooden plow and other primitive tools, and his wife did all of her cooking upon an iron crane which was swung in the great fireplace.

William Chambers, the father of John B., was born in 1777, in Westmoreland county, and married Fannie Bovard, who was a native of the same county, born in 1787, and like himself of Irish descent. He died in 1851 and she in 1864. Eight children were the issue of their union, four of whom are now living--- Mary, James, John B. and William. The names of those deceased are--- Jane, Margaret, Hutchinson and Nancy.

John B. Chambers, to whom this sketch is chiefly devoted, was born in Westmoreland county, June 13, 1813. He remained at home until he was twenty-three years of age, and on May 6, 1837, married Martha Guthrie, a native of Westmoreland county, where she was born August 27, 1811. Her father, William Guthrie, was of Scotch-Irish parentage. He was twice married. By his first wife, a Miss Nancy Dixon, he had five children--- Samuel, Jane, Esther, Martha and Susan, all of whom are deceased. Mrs. Chambers is one of the children of the second marriage, and had three sisters--- Nancy, Mary Jane, and Sarah. Her mother's maiden name was Mary Hill.

The offspring of the union of John B. and Martha Guthrie) Chambers was four children, three sons and one daughter, whose names with their dates of birth follows: James H., born May 21, 1888; Samuel H., Jane 14, 1840; William G., December 15, 1842; and Mary Jane (now wife of D.A. Heck, of Butler, Pennsylvania), born January 20, 1844.

Mr. Chambers carried on farming for ten years after his marriage, and then removed to Apollo, where he engaged in building a freight and passenger boat, which he named the "Apollo Packet," and run on the Pennsylvania canal, between Apollo and Pittsburgh. After following this business for several years, he purchased a stock of goods and has since been engaged in merchandizing, in which occupation he has deservedly been very successful. During eighteen years of his mercantile life, he was freight and ticket agent at the Apollo station, for the West Penn. Branch Railroad Company, and at the same time was express agent. He still holds the latter agency. Upon the organization of the Apollo Savings Bank, May 29, 1871, he was elected president of the institution, a position which he has ever since occupied. He is the possessor of about 300 acres of real estate. and has a coal bank in successful operation, from which he supplies in part the town of Apollo. His varied business interests have been well managed, and the people have apparently ever had perfect confidence in Captain Chambers, judgment and sagacity. Both as the successful business man, and the practical, useful and public spirited citizen, he enjoys, the respect of all with whom he has come in contact.

Source: Page(s) 232-246, History of Armstrong County, Pennsylvania by Robert Walker Smith, Esq. Chicago: Waterman, Watkins & Co., 1883.
Transcribed December 1998 by Rodney G. Rosborought for the Armstrong County Smith Project.
Contributed by Rodney G. Rosborought for use by the Armstrong County Genealogy Project (

Armstrong County Genealogy Project Notice:
These electronic pages cannot be reproduced in any format, for any presentation, without prior written permission.

Return to the Biographical Index

Return to the Smith Project


Return to the Armstrong County Genealogy Project

(c) Armstrong County Genealogy Project


Return to the Armstrong County Genealogy Project

(c) Armstrong County Genealogy Project