Calvin T. Chamberlain, from Beers 1879 History of Allegany County

Calvin T. Chamberlain

(From Beers 1879 History of Allegany County.)

There were three brothers by the name of Chamberlain, who came from England to Massachusetts about 1640, settling at Roxbury. They were men noted for their size and strength.

Simon Chamberlain, grandfather of the subject of this sketch, settled in New Hampshire and reared a family of four sons and five daughters, of whom Benjamin Chamberlain, the father of Calvin T., was the first born. Benjamin, at the age of sixteen, enlisted in the war of the Revolution, enduring the dangers and hardships of that conflict.

He was in the battles of Lexington and Bunker Hill, in the latter of which he was wounded. He saw service at Yorktown, Stillwater, White Plains, Monmouth and Stony Point. He went with General Arnold to Quebec, and with him scaled the walls of that city. He was made a prisoner of war and treated with great barbarity At Stony Point he won the distinction of being the second man who entered the works at the time of its capture, having been preceded only by Major Stuart, father of the late Mrs. Philip Church, of Angelica. He lay in camp at Valley Forge in the winter of 1777-78.

Sergeant Chamberlain was a brave soldier. After peace was restored he settled at Mount Vernon, Me., and married Miss Tibbetts.

He had six sons, of whom Calvin T. Chamberlain, born December 5th, 1795, was the fifth. In 1800 the family removed to the Genesee river country, and later settled in Belfast. In 1816 Calvin T. settled in Cuba in company with the venerable Ira Tracy, of Belmont. At that time there were only a few families within the limits of the present town. No village reared its spires heavenward then as now, where he had chosen his home. He saw its rise and progress, and the development of its wealth. Perhaps he contributed more than any other to its prosperity. He was always foremost in his efforts to advance the public interests. A few years after his arrival he built the pioneer store in town, and from his engagement in the business dates the birth of that enterprise which has since resulted in the growth of the present prosperous village of Cuba upon the spot where he began the struggle of his manhood, without the aid of wealth or personal influence, and with only such a rudimentary education as the country then afforded. With his own head and hands he began the battle of life and pushed it until near its close, with an indomitable energy and persistency, without which success is rarely attained; working and winning his way to positions highly honorable, and which made him one of the best and most widely known men in Western New York, and gave him an extensive acquaintance all over the State.


 Residence of Calvin T. Chamberlain in Cuba NY, from Beers 1879 History of Allegany County

About 1834 he was elected by the Democratic party to the Assembly of this State and afterward reelected. In 1844 he was elected to the State Senate for four years. This body then, with certain judge, composed the highest court in the State, known as the Court for the Correction of Errors. He [discharged ] the two-fold duty of judge and legislator with eminent ability, and with honor to himself and entire satisfaction to his constituents. In his political course and in his engagements in public works he became the intimate friend of such men as Ex-Governor Seymour, Daniel S. Dickinson, and hosts of the notables of this State. He was a member of the constitutional convention of 1846.

In 1816 he became a mason and in 1827 a knight templar, becoming a member of Columbia Encampment in New York, to which General Lafayette belonged. He was a member of the order for sixty-two years, and at the time of his death was probably the oldest member of the fraternity in Western New York
In 1851 he was appointed by Governor Washington Hunt brigadier-general of the 30th brigade, 8th division, of New York militia, and held that position for several years.

His was a busy life. Farming, lumbering, manufacturing of various kinds, banking, milling, building and promoting public works, all largely engaged his attention.

General Chamberlain was eminently helpful and generous; envy was a feeling to which he was almost a stranger; the success of others gave him genuine pleasure. His aid to young men laid the foundation of many a fortune to them, and often to his own loss. One of the noblest and most prominent traits of his character was his unfaltering faith in the honesty and uprightness of those in whom he confided.

Though giving freely of his means in establishing all of the various churches in the village, he had been for years a member and leading supporter of the Episcopal church, whose house of worship stands as a monument to his benevolence and generosity, and of which society he had, since the foundation of the parish, been the honored senior warden.

From his public career we turn to his domestic life. He was twice married. In early life he married Miss Betsey Moore, with whom he lived upward of twenty-five years. There was no issue of this marriage. May 14th, 1846, at Christ Church, Boston, Mass., he married Sarah Russell Waters, a most estimable and accomplished lady.

"A perfect woman, nobly planned
To warn, to comfort and command."

Six children were the issue of this marriage, four of whom are now living : Benjamin Waters Chamberlayne, San Francisco, Cal.; Josephine A. T. C. Jackson, wife of Charles A. Jackson, of Petersburg, Va.; Grace H. Bishop, wife of Gabriel Bishop, cashier of the Cuba National Bank, and Ernestine S. E. Chamberlayne.
It was in his own house that the virtues of General Chamberlain shone with their brightest and holiest lustre.

Casting off, as soon as he entered his house, the cares and troubles attendant upon his busy life, his presence brought that gentle radiance of affection, which at once beautifies and makes home lovely, and gives us a mirrored glimpse of the happy home hereafter. As a husband he was kind, affectionate and generous, and as a father he combined all those qualities which endear a parent to his children.

He died at his home June 27th, 1878. He was buried with masonic honors, and his remains were escorted to their last resting place by his masonic brethren and a large number of knights templar of St. John's Commandery, No. 24, Olean, of which he had been commander.