BIOGRAPHIES
Mackinac County MI


CHAMBERS BROTHERS

Chambers Brothers is the name of one of the best-known mercantile firms of St. Ignace, prominent not only in the business affairs of the city, but connected with its development in many ways. This firm succeeded that of J. Chambers & Brothers, whose career began about the close of the civil war, and marks an important chapter in the history of modern St. Ignace. This city has three distinct historic periods. It was founded about the time Philadelphia sprang into existence, and the mission reports indicate it to be a village of sixty houses all in a row, in which lived ten professors and five hundred students. This was as early as 1700. The second period of its existence is embodied in no written account, and the destruction and the destiny of its inhabitants can only be conjectured. The period of its modern existence begins with the latter half of the nineteenth century, when it again became a commercial point.

Fishing and lumbering for many years furnished the only means of subsistence to the inhabitants of St. Ignace, and fish and lumber were the articles of commerce which were sent from out this northern country in sufficient quantities to make men wealthy. Chambers Brothers saw here an opportunity of doing a good business, by supplying the fishermen with needed articles, and to that end opened a small store. Not long afterward they extended their operations by buying, packing and selling fish, and still later they, too, engaged in fishing, using the gill net and old pound net. In the height of their career as fishermen they operated two tugs besides numerous small boats, and their shipments reached 2,500 packages to one point at a shipment. They thus accumulated snug fortunes and abandoned fishing only when the supply of trout was greatly exhausted. In the meantime their mercantile business had largely grown, and for some time they also conducted a branch house at Naubinway, which was discontinued as recently as 1894. In 1874 the firm supplied the public need by building a dock. They have also erected a number of stores, have greatly improved the residence property in this city and are now extensive owners of real estate.

The present firm is composed of Patrick and Michael Chambers, both of Irish birth and sons of John Chambers, a native of county Mayo, Ireland. The family came to the Upper Peninsula in 1849 and located on Mackinac island, where the father was at times a sailor and farmer. He had little means at the time of his arrival, but successfully managed his business interests and became well-to-do. His death occurred in Saint Ignace in 1890, at the advanced age of eighty-two years. He taught his children the essential elements of industry and straightforward dealing, which have led them to prosperity and financial independence.

Patrick Chambers was born in 1842. His two older brothers, William and John, are both deceased. The latter left two children, William and Aggie. There is also a deceased sister, Bridget, younger than Patrick, and Michael was followed by a sister, Mary, who has also passed away, while Kate and Charles complete the family. In the school of experience Patrick and Michael Chambers acquired their knowledge, and through contact with the world they have become practical business men. During youth they engaged in fishing for others, and when they had attained their majority began business for themselves. They are self-made men in the truest sense of that often misused term, and their honorable and enviable career reflects credit upon their sagacity and business ability. Michael was once a member of the Michigan Legislature, and in 1871 Patrick was elected Supervisor of Ignace township, in which capacity he served for nine years, resigning to accept the position of County Treasurer, to which he had been elected. He concluded his long service in that office in 1883, and has since devoted his energies alone to his business. Any worthy enterprise promotes the welfare of the community in which it is located, and by their business interests and in many other ways the Chambers brothers have aided in the development and upbuilding of the historic and interesting city of St. Ignace.

Memorial Record of the Northern Peninsula 1895

MICHAEL CHAMBERS

This honored and influential citizen of St. Ignace is a native of the Upper Peninsula with whose history the family name has been identified for more than sixty years. He and his brothers have done much to further the development and upbuilding of St Iguace, where they established themselves in the general merchandise business many years ago and where each has contributed materially to the civic and industrial progress. The firm of Chambers Brothers is one of the best known and most important in St. Ignace and has long controlled a large and representative trade. Concerning the affairs of this firm the following record is given and is worthy of perpetuation: "The firm of Chambers Brothers succeeded that of J. Chambers & Brothers, whose career began about the close of the Civil war and marked an important chapter in the history of modern St. Ignace. This city has three distinct historical periods. It was founded about the time Philadelphia sprang into existence and the mission reports indicate it to have been a village of sixty houses, all in a row, in which lived ten professors and live hundred students. This was as early as 1700 and the Catholic mission at this point was one of the most important In the great wilderness of northern America at that time. But little authentic data are available concerning the intermediate period of the history of St. Ignace but its existence as a modern city began in the latter half of the nineteenth century, when it again became a commercial point. Fishing and lumbering for many years furnished the only means of existence to the inhabitants of St. Ignace and fish and lumber were the articles of commerce that were sent out from this northern country in sufficient amounts to make men wealthy. The Chambers Brothers saw here an opportunity for doing a good business, in the supplying to the fishermen needed merchandise. With this need in view the brothers opened a small store and not long afterward they extended their operations by buying, packing and selling fish. Still later they also engaged in fishing, in which connection they utilized the gill-net and the old pound-net. In the height of their career as fishermen they operated two tugs, besides numerous smaller boats and they built up a large and prosperous business, abandoning the fishing industry only when the supply of fish became too small to make the enterprise longer profitable. In the meantime their mercantile business had greatly in- creased in scope and importance and for some time they also conducted a branch store of Naubinway. In 1874 the firm of Chambers Brothers constructed the first dock at St. Ignace and this supplied a very exigent demand. They have also erected a number of stores, thus greatly improving the residence property in St. Ignace, and they are now extensive owners of real estate. The present Ann is composed of Patrick and Michael Chambers and another brother, John, was associated with the enterprise until his death, which occurred in 1891."

Mr. Chambers was born in St. Ignace on the 12th of June, 1850, and is a son of John and Margaret (O'Malley) Chambers, both natives of county Mayo, Ireland, where the former was horn in 1801 and the latter in 1811. The parents passed the closing years of their lives in St. Iguace, where the father died in 1885 and the mother in 1897. Their marriage was solemnized in their native land and there four of their children were born, namely: William, Bridget, Patrick and John. Four children were born after their immigration to America, namely: Michael, Mary, Catherine and Charles. The father came to America in 1846, making the trip on a sailing vessel and lauding in the city of Philadelphia. He made his way to the west and found employment in connection with the construction of the Illinois and Michigan canal, in which connection he resided at Bridgeport, now a part of the city of Chicago. There he remained until the spring of 1849 when he removed to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and established his home on Mackinac Island. In this year his wife and children joined him in America. John Chambers reclaimed a farm near Castle Rock. St. Ignace, and during the greater part of his active career in the Upper Peninsula he gave his attention to agricultural pursuits and fishing. Both he and his wife were devout communicants of the Catholic church and in politics he was a stanch supporter of the cause of the Democratic party. He was a man of sterling integrity of character and of alert mental powers, and it has been well said that, "He taught his children the essential elements of industry and straightforward dealing, through which they have gained prosperity and financial independence." Michael Chambers was afforded the advantages of the somewhat primitive schools of Mackinac county, where he was reared under the conditions and influences of the pioneer days and where he early began to assist in the work of his father's farm. In 1870 he became associated with his brothers in the general merchandise business at St. Ignace, where they erected a store in that year and the enterprise has been continued during the long intervening period under the original title of Chambers Brothers. The brothers have ever shown a loyal interest in all that has touched the welfare of the community and they have a secure place in the confidence and esteem of the people of their home city and county as is shown in the fact that Michael Chambers served two terms as mayor of St. Ignace while in 1899-90 he represented his district in the state legislature. In 1902 he was appointed by Governor Winans a member of the board of control for the Michigan School of Mines. He is a Democrat in his political allegiance and is a zealous communicant of the Catholic church, in whose faith he was carefully reared. Mr. Chambers is a bachelor.

It is worthy of note in tins sketch that Charles M. and Tully O Malley, maternal uncles of Mr. Chambers, were numbered among the sterling pioneers and influential citizens of the Upper Peninsula, where both attained prominence in business and public affairs. They came to Mackinac Island in 1834. several years before the admission of Michigan to the Union, and here they entered the employ of John Jacob Astor, the organizer of the American Fur Company. Later they engaged in the general merchandise business on their own responsibility. Charles O'Malley was a member of the state legislature in 1846-7 and was speaker pro tern, of the house. Ho was a man of fine intellectual gifts, having received an excellent educational training in Ireland and having later completed a course of study in the University of Montreal, Canada. While a member of the Michigan Legislature he was chairman of the committee on education and as such chairman reported out favorably the bill for the establishment of the University of Michigan. He erected the first transient hotel on Mackinac Island and this historic old building is still standing, being known as the Island House. Charles O'Malley served as probate judge of Mackinac county and later held the same office in Delta county, having removed to Escanaba many years ago and having been a resident of that place at the time when the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad extended its line into the Upper Peninsula. He was prominently identified with the lumber industry as was also his brother, Tully O'Malley, who served as sheriff of Mackinac county at the time when the Mormons established themselves on Beaver Island. In his official capacity he arrested a number of the Mormons for robbing vessels at St. Ignace, Beaver harbor, taking a detail of U. S. troops then stationed at Fort Mackinac for the purpose of making the arrests. The Mormons at that, time were at the zenith of their power under King Strang and according to reports committed many depredations on defenseless fishermen and settlers who happened from any cause to come within their influence.

A History of the Northern Peninsula of Michigan and Its People
By Alva L. Sawyer 1911 The Lewis Publishing Co Chicago IL

MICHAEL CHAMBERS

William D. Chambers reverts with a due measure of pride to the fact that he can claim as the place of his nativity one of the most beautiful islands in North America and it is a source of satisfaction to him that in connection with his business, which is that of real estate and landscape gardening, he has done much to improve and further beautify the natural attractions of the island. He was born on Mackinac Island. Mackinac county, Michigan, on the 5th of April, 1867 and is a son of Frank and Mary (Murray) Chambers, both of whom were born in county Mayo Ireland, tho former in the year 1833 and the latter in 1836. Frank Chambers emigrated from his native land to America in 1848 making the voyage on a sailing craft and landing in New York City. From the national metropolis he came to Mackinac Island, where he engaged in the fishing business and he became one of the honored and influential pioneers of the Upper Peninsula.

Later he spent the summers in fishing on Beaver Island and continued to be identified with this line of enterprise until 1885. when he engaged in the transfer business, to which he has devoted his attention for the last twenty-five years. He is now living, virtually retired, with his wife, at Iron Mountain. In polities he gives his unswerving allegiance to the Democratic party and both he and his wife arc devout communicants of the Human Catholic church. Mr. and Mrs. Chambers became the parents of fourteen children, eight of whom are now living and whose names arc here entered in order of birth.—Patrick, John. Katherine, William D.. (the subject of this sketch), George, Barney, Stella and Gertrude.

William D. Chambers was afforded the advantages of the public schools of Mackinac Islam) and in 1888 he initiated his independent career by engaging in the real estate and landscape business to which he has since devoted his entire attention. Charles T. Countec, a prominent banker of New York city, and many others, who have established summer homes in this beautiful vicinity.

In politics Mr. Chambers is an uncompromising Democrat and his popularity and ability have been shown appreciation by his fellow citizens through his election as councilman, in 1888, of which position he remained incumbent for one term, and also by his election as mayor of the city in 1909, lo which office he was re-elected in 1910. He has proved himself an able executive and has done much in the way of developing the industrial and civic affairs of Mackinac Island. No citizen holds a more secure place in the confidence and esteem of his friends and acquaintances. In a fraternal way he is affiliated with the Knights of Columbus and he is a devout communicant of the Catholic church, in which he holds membership in the parish of St. Ann in his home city.

A History of the Northern Peninsula of Michigan and Its People
By Alva L. Sawyer 1911 The Lewis Publishing Co Chicago IL