It must be true that an honest, faithful, capable life, considered even in its temporal relations, is not lived in vain: that its influence is not as transient and evanescent as mere physical vitality, but that the progress of mankind in all that is virtuous and ennobling, is accelerated by it; that although the life of one man may be a small factor in the aggregate history of the race, yet if well spent, its after influence is perceptible and continues to endure for the good of mankind.
Among the well-known citizens of Nodaway county whose work will long exert an ameliorating influence upon his locality is Judge William H. Chambers, of Union township, for his career is that of a man who, while advancing his own interests, has been vigilant of the progress of others. He was born in Coles County, Illinois, May 30, 1849. He was reared in Fulton County, that state. He is the son of John A. and Elizabeth Ann (Ellis) Chambers, the father a native of Kentucky and the mother of Indiana. John A. Chambers devoted his life to farming, dying in Fulton County, Illinois, at the age of fifty-two years. He served in the Civil war in Company A, One Hundred and Third Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and the hardships of the service made such inroads on his health that his death was finally due to that cause. He ranked as third corporal. His wife died when William H., of this review, was seven years old, and he married Matilda Ellis, sister of his first wife.
At the time of his father’s death William H. Chambers was twenty-three years old. He was put to work on the home place when a mere lad and assisted in the care of the crops, consequently his early schooling was interrupted. He remained with his step-mother one year after his father’s death, or until his marriage, at the age of twenty-four, to Frocine James, of Fulton County, Illinois, a neighbor girl and a schoolmate, she being eighteen years old at the time of her marriage. They began their married life on a farm which they leased, continuing to rent for some time. Mr. Chambers owned a team, wagon and harness, being in debt thirty-five dollars, but he went to work with a will and during the three years that he rented land in Fulton County he was very successful. He then came to Nodaway County, Missouri, in 1876, arriving at his future home on December 4th. He had invaded the West prior to this, visiting Nebraska and upon his return came through Nodaway County, Missouri, and, being impressed very favorably with the country, finally decided to make it his home. He bought eighty acres of land on White Cloud Creek, six miles northwest of Pickering, forty-five acres of which were in cultivation, and thirty acres in wild prairie; a small house was on the place, but no barn and little other improvements. He paid seventeen hundred and fifty dollars for the place, going in debt for about half of it; he had a sale before leaving Illinois and realized about eight hundred dollars from it; but being a hard worker and raising good crops, he soon had the place paid for and had it well improved, built an attractive and comfortable dwelling and excellent outbuildings, his house in 1886 and his barn in 1887. He has managed his place well and has added eighty acres to his original purchase, paying twenty-two hundred and fifty dollars for the same. This has been kept in native sod covered with blue grass and is used as a pasture. On this land Mr. Chambers, in 1907, built a stock barn, fifty-two by sixty-two feet, a shed-like protection for his cattle and hogs, and he feeds from one to three carloads of cattle at a time. He has also long been an extensive feeder of hogs, no small part of his income being derived from his livestock. His place is well improved in every respect, and shows that a gentleman of refined tastes and good judgment has its management in hand.
Judge Chambers has long taken a lively interest in the affairs of his township and county, and because of his public spirit and his ability he has been entrusted with positions of public importance, having served on the township board and as a justice of the peace, also on the school board ever since he came to the township, with the exception of two years. In 1906 he was elected county judge for a period of two years, on the Republican ticket, and he proved to be one of the best judges the county has ever had, looking carefully after the county’s interests just as if they were his own, possessing an excellent judicial mind and well qualified by nature for such a position. He is a member of the Baptist church.
The Judge’s family comprise the following children: Perry, who is connected with the drug store at Hopkins; Harry is a barber at Loveland, Colorado; Loren is at home and assisting with the work on the farm; Irvin is also at home; Sylvia married Mack Ulmer, a farmer in Pettis County, Missouri; Della married George Ulmer, a farmer in Llopkins Township.
Source: B. F. Bowen & Company. Past and present of Nodaway County, Missouri, p. 386-8. Indianapolis, Indiana: B. F. Bowen & Company. 1910.