Hysterical Journey to Historic Places

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September 1st 2017
Published: September 1st 2017
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She and Frank Chamberlain got the ball rolling back in Hatley

The Chamberlain and Leavitt families came into collision at a little place called Hatley in Quebec Province, Canada. Hatley is only about ten miles north of the international boundary. Both families originated in New England and I am not sure what happened there to drive them north of the border or when that may have happened but our story starts there. Rebecca Leavitt was born there and she married Frank Chamberlain there in 1820. Rebecca’s dad was a fellow named Jeremiah Leavitt. She had a hatful of brothers and sisters but only her brothers Jeremiah II, and Dudley are important to us. The rest of them were just yet more Mormons.

The happy couple, Frank and Rebecca, scampered off from Hatley shortly after they were married, crossed the Great Lakes and settled down in an area that would eventually become known as Oak Lawn, Illinois. Frank remained there for the rest of his long and dreary life and was a pillar of the community. He and Rebecca raised a passel of busy and important children there, the second to last of whom was named Henry K. Chamberlain. He was born in 1844.

Joseph Johnson was born and raised in Virginia but settled in Scotland County Missouri during the 1850s. He was drafted into the federal army there and was wounded at Shiloh. He eventually moved to Wallowa County. He went up the flume in College Place, WA. He is my great great grampa,

While the Chamberlains were living up near Chicago, the Leavitts busily followed Joseph Smith around the country from Kirkland, OH, throughout Missouri to Illinois and finally on to Iowa as the Mormons were kicked out of everyplace they tried to settle. The only neighbors the Mormons ever found who did not immediately learn to hate their guts and liver were the fierce Potawatomy hunkered down on the banks of the Missouri River near Council Bluffs.

Rebecca’s brother, Jeremiah Leavitt II married a girl named Sarah Shannon in 1817 and they had child named Jeremiah Leavitt III who was born in 1822 back in Hatley. Jeremiah III grew to lusty manhood and in 1845 married a girl named Sarah Sturtevant in Nauvoo. The happy couple was into their first year of marriage when Joseph Smith was murdered by an angry mob of Gentiles over in Carthage, Illinois. Brigham Young ascended to the head of the church and led the forlorn and destitute Mormons across Iowa to their camp by the river.

Jeremiah III and his lovely bride were blessed by the birth of a daughter named Lucy Ann in that miserable camp. Jeremiah’s

This is the great grampa. He didn't have the gumption to insist that the second wife help him raise the child born to him by his first wife.
dad, Jeremiah II, took sick and died on the prairie during the trip across Iowa. Brigham Young made a break for the wilds of Utah right when Lucy was born so the Leavitts got left behind by the river. They did not make the journey out to Salt Lake City until 1852 when Lucy was six. The rest of the family was already there and had settled out near Tooele. Rebecca’s brother, Dudley, had been assigned to an Indian Mission at Santa Clara in Southern Utah. In that capacity he played an instrumental role in the Mountain Meadow Massacre in September of 1857. The rest of the Leavitt Family eventually ended up with church assignments to Southern Utah too, but they didn’t arrive there from Tooele until about 1860.

When the Civil War broke out in 1861 Henry K. Chamberlain, back in Illinois, had just turned 17 years old and was about to get drafted into the army. His dad suggested it might be a good time to go visit his cousins in Utah. By 1864 Henry had married Lucy Leavitt. She was his first cousin, one generation removed. They settled in Eagle Valley, Nevada on land

This is H W's second wife. She turned her back on the good christian burden of raising Grampa Glen. For his entire life Glen turned his back on religion.
that had been long used as a winter camp of the Paiutes. The Mormons fought many skirmishes with the Paiutes over control of that sheltered valley. Henry and Lucy raised a passel of kids there. In 1869 they were blessed with a bouncing little bundle of joy that they named Mary Ellen. Ella is what they called her.

The rough little silver mining town of Pioche sprang up about 12 miles to the west of Eagle Valley. Henry acquired a 1/5 share in the ownership of one of those mines and had a position on its board of directors. Sometime around 1880 the Nevada State Tax Collectors made an unwelcome appearance in Eagle Valley. The Mormon farmers there owed back taxes on the property they had stolen from the Paiutes going back twenty years. The farms prospered but there was no way that any of those farmers could come up with the funds to pay the taxes owed. Henry applied for a loan through the church, but the church would not get involved in secular disputes so they turned down the loan. Before Henry got done arguing with Brigham Young over the Rule of Consecration he found

The Mormons are handy with a high flown turn of phrase, but they have trouble getting their facts right. This monument asserts that Sarah Sturtevant was Dudley's mother, but actually Sarah was his sister-in-law. Sometimes in those Mormon families a sister-in-law could be the same as a mother. I once heard of a fellow who was his own grampa.
himself excommunicated from the church. He abandoned his farm, sold his mine for a handsome profit, and headed for Oregon. They wintered in Elko on the way north and arrived in the Wallowa Valley in the spring of 1882.

He purchased extensive farmland on Diamond Prairie. He got it cheap because it needed irrigation. His son, Frank Chamberlain, put in an irrigation canal that still exists there. It is called the Chamberlain Ditch. Henry also put in a sawmill on a portion of his property that adjoined Bear River. It would provide lumber to the growing community of Wallowa. His next door neighbor was a hard working farmer named Joseph Johnson Oliver. Henry and J J were both fiddle players and got along famously. In 1887 Frank Chamberlain married J J’s daughter May and they had a baby named Gladys. In that same year J J’s oldest son, Henry William Oliver, married Ella Chamberlain. That union produced a bouncing baby boy named James Glen Oliver who was born on January 5, 1888. That spring a typhoid epidemic made its way through Wallowa Valley. On March 20 Ella died. She was just 18 years old. On March 23,

Dudley had five wives and 36 children who were all glad to overlook the fact that he was a ruthless, cold-blooded killer in the glorious name of Jesus.
Frank Chamberlain died. Henry’s wife, Lucy, also died and so did another of their daughters. Lucy, Frank, and the daughter were buried in the Bramlet Cemetery on Diamond Prairie. Ella was buried in the Pioneer Cemetery in Joseph. The Chamberlain graves in the Bramlet Cemetery have all been lost. One of Henry’s surviving daughters was a girl also named Lucy and she married a fellow named Alford. When the Alfords moved to California Henry went with them. He died in Ione of consumption before he was fifty.

What happened in Wallowa was a family tragedy, but the only real dark spot in our family rests with Uncle Dudley. He was a ruthless cold-blooded murderer, but he prospered in a little place called Bunkerville where he took on five plural wives and sired 36 children. Dudley is buried in Bunkerville along with all of his wives and many of his children and their children’s children. Nowadays Bunkerville has become notorious as the home of Cliven Bundy, the terrorist who thinks he should enjoy access to federal land without paying grazing fees.

In 1846 while Frank and Rebecca were helping to build Chicago they had an

Heavy sigh..... We barely knew you.
extended visit from a 16 year old wayward cousin named Sam Chamberlain. One day Sam simply disappeared from their midst. The War with Mexico had broken out and Sam had joined the army. He was headed for Texas. When he got there he got a release from the Illinois Militia outfit he was with and joined up as a regular in a brigade of the First Dragoons. He fought through the war with them and as the war closed found himself among a company of brethren commanded by a man named Captain Joel Glanton. Instead of being formally released from their duty Glanton took his men and left. Eventually they all found their way onto a list of deserters. They were planning to head for the goldfields in California but needed funds for the trip. The governor of Chihuahua was offering a bounty on the scalps of Apaches so Glanton and his men became scalp hunters. What they quickly learned was that acquiring an actual Apache scalp was not without substantial personal risk and they were difficult to locate. It was much easier to just go ahead and kill ordinary Mexicans who had long hair and turn those scalps in

My great great grampa. Ella's dad.
for bounty. It worked okay for a while, but the governor soon got wise to it and chased Glanton out of Mexico. In Yuma they confiscated by force of arms an Indian ferry and began charging exorbitant rates for river crossings. Anything they needed or wanted they just stole from rightful owners. One evening the whole camp of them was attacked and every man present was killed. Sam Chamberlain was not among them during that massacre and eventually made his way to San Francisco and finally back home to New England where his startled family was glad to see him. Sam settled down with a wife and raised a pretty ordinary batch of howling children. During the Civil War he rose to the rank of brigadier general in charge of prison camps. In his later life he wrote book detailing things he did as youngster with Glanton. He called it his apology. That book fell into the clutches of a man named Cormac McCarthy and he wrote a novel about Sam Chamberlain. The novel is called Blood Meridian.

Bud Irwin is the family genealogist and our historian and has placed a great deal of effort in the

Hk's old property down in California is now on private land and not accessible. The farmhouse was by the pine tree.
origins of our family. Bud and I are first cousins and he says that he and I are sixth cousins, four generations removed to another Civil War general named Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain.

Frank Chamberlain died in 1881 and is buried back in Oak Lawn. Rebecca soldiered on until 1892. After Frank died she moved out to Utah be near her children. She is buried at the cemetery in Centerville. Her headstone is confusing. It says she is the mother of Franklin Chamberlain who is buried elsewhere. I think it was intended as homage to her husband, but I suppose it possible that they also had a wayward son named Frank. It might be that the legendary Frank Chamberlain who is rumored to have been killed in knife fight over a saloon floozy in Boise was Henry Chamberlain’s brother. Who knows?


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