Back When in Benton County

Part 15

The Heirs and Memories of Rowland Chambers

by Charlotte Wirfs

Rowland Chambers, with the help of the Kings, started a miniature population explosion in Northwestern Benton County.  Lovisa (King) Chambers raised 6 children including her sister's two, James and Margaret.

James married Carinda Kizer and later became president of Philomath College.  Margaret married Mr. Bagley.  Sarah, the first of Lovisa's children, married William Watson of Kings Valley and had a family of eight children.  William (Bill) married Minnie Fairchild.  Jackson (Jack) had two children.  John lived in Kings Valley and had three sons.  Franklin (Jake) married Emma Maxfield and livedin Kings Valley.  Henry and his wife, Barbara, had one son and resided in Whitcom County, Washington, before moving to Portland.  Ordelia (Delia) married Henry David Randall and raised 11 children in Olex., Washington. Samuel raised two sons and lived in Newport.  Lydia and Tip Maxfield had several children.  Rebecca married Asa B. Alexander and raised three daughters in Benton County.  Julia became the bride of Larking G. Price and lived in Benton County with their five children.  Lincoln (Link) and Corra had three children.  Anna and Alice died in 1879 in a diphtheria epidemic.

Like most Oregon pioneers the Chambers valued education.  Because of difficult road conditions and short school terms, Rowland hired a teacher to tutor his children.  Daughter, Julia, remembered attending school at home in Kings Valley and later going to the Little Red Schoolhouse which stood about two miles south of the present Kings Valley store.  One of Julia's teachers was her brother, James, and another was Henry Randall, who later became her brother-in-law.  Classes included the three "R's" and geography and algebra for the older boys.  Her half-brother, James, had a BA, (probably from Willamette University) when he was president of Philomath College in 1869.

Dancing was disapproved of, but the young people organized parties where they played Weevily Wheat and other dancing games.  For the annual May Day celebrations, every little girl got a new dress for the occasion.  The two girls who died in the 1879 diphtheria epidemic were buried in their May Day dresses.

Everyday dresses were made from homespun wool.  Rebecca Alexander remembers her mother, Lovisa, spinning wool from Rowland's sheep and her older sisters weaving it.  Lovisa dyed the wool with peach leaves and different kings of bark.  Later, when carding mills were set up, rolls of pre-cared wool could be purchased.

A granddaughter, Mae (Watson) Landess, described the Chambers' homes and reclalled that Lovisa was probably the first homemaker in Kings Valley to have a kitchen stove.

Next: Anna Maria and Sol King