History of Bucks County, Pa Volume 3 by William H. Davis
Names and Page # Index



CAPTAIN THOMAS PRESTON CHAMBERS, of Newtown, Pennsylvania, son of Alexander and Frances Wayne CHAMBERS, was born in Philadelphia, February 20, 1836.  His life has been one of varied and constant activity; he has been a pioneer in many branches of industry, and is today one of the leading and influential citizens of the borough. 

            He received a good education in private schools, and in 1855 went West, where he remained two years exploring what was then an undeveloped country, returning again to his fatherís home in Newtown.  In 1861 he enlisted in Company K, One Hundred and Fourth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, (Captain H. Y. PICKERING), Colonel W. W. H. DAVIS commanding, becoming first sergeant, from which position he was promoted to quartermaster sergeant November 5, 1861.  After serving a short time he was taken sick with smallpox, and was honorably discharged on account of physicial (sic) disability, and was sent home.  Upon his recovery he recruited a company of infantry of which he was chosen captain, to repel the invasion of Pennsylvania.  He started with it to the front but on reaching Harrisburg was notified that the enemy had retreated.  After this he enlisted in the Twentieth Cavalry Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel John E. WYNKOOP, for six months, was commissioned second lieutenant, and at the expiration of six months was mustered in for three years in the same regiment.  Shortly before the close of the war Captain CHAMBERS was taken ill with typhoid fever, and was discharged on account of physical disability.  Captain CHAMBERS participated in the celebrated Hunterís raid in the Shenandoah Valley, and numerous other important engagements.

            Soon after the close of the rebellion, developments of oil along Oil Creek in the vicinity of Titusville, Pennsylvania, attracted the attention of all adventurous spirits.  It was not long therefore before Captain CHAMBERS entered the new field of industry, and established at Titusville one of the pioneer oil refineries of the region.  In this venture he was joined by his two brothers-in-law, Dr. H. Y. PICKERING, and Major Samuel COMFORT.   Succumbing to the inevitable, the refining business was eventually sold to the Standard Oil Company, and Captain CHAMBERS turned his attention to the production of crude petroleum.  He was the organizer of several large and successful oil companies, besides engaging in numerous private ventures in the petroleum industry.  He was practically a resident of Titusville from 1869 to 1887, and then returned to the family home in Newtown township.

            In 1898 he removed from there to the borough of Newtown, purchasing the Ewing property, which he has since made his home.   He was the promoter and organizer of the Newtown Electric Street Railway Company, of which he has been the largest stockholder and president since its organization.  Soon afterwards he acquired the control of the Newtown, Langhorne & Bristol Trolley Street Railway Company, of which he had been a director from its organization, (this was the first street railway built in Bucks county) and extended the line of trolleys to Doylestown.  With his son Alexander, he has had the active management of the company from its opening for traffic February 26, 1899.  In the autumn of 1899, while on a trip to Honduras, he became impressed with the natural resources of this undeveloped country, and on his return organized the Ulua Commercial Company for the purpose of connecting the Ulua River with Puerto Cortez by a system of Canals opening for navigation several hundreds of miles of the interior, and establishing a line of steamers to carry the fruit, mineral and other products of the country to the seaboard.  He was also one of the organizers of the Olancho Mineral Company, who are opening and operating gold mines in the interior of Honduras.   Captain Chambers and his two sons have spent much of their time during the last years in Puerto Cortez, Honduras, in the management of these companies and the development of their resources.

            Captain CHAMBERS was married October 16, 1860, to Hannah H., daughter of John and Mary (HOUGH) BARNSLEY, whose ancestry is given on another page of this volume.  Their children are: Mary B., Francis Wayne, married R. E. HOPKINS, of Tarrytown, New York; Alexander; Helen T., married E. T. ROBERTS, of Titusville, Pennsylvania; Anna Pickering; John B., Elizabeth C., and Clarissa W.

            Captain CHAMBERS is well and favorably known in Bucks county, and is connected with many of the local institutions.  He and his family are members of the Episcopal church.  He is a member of Newtown Lodge, No. 427, F. and A. M., and of the Philadelphia Commandery of the Loyal Legion, and also a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, Post No. 427, Newtown, Pennsylvania.

            Mr. CHAMBERS dates his ancestry on his fatherís side from William CHALMERS, as the name was then spelled, who was born and lived in Perth, Scotland.  His son Alexander CHAMBERS, came to Philadelphia when a lad, and married Ann FOX, of that city, in 1746.  He died in London, England, and is buried in St. Andrewís churchyard in that city.  John CHAMBERS, son of Alexander and Ann (FOX) CHAMBERS, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, about 1746, and married there in 1770 Deborah HALL; he died April 3, 1776.  George CHAMBERS, son of John and Deborah HALL CHAMBERS, was born in Philadelphia, August, 1774, and died June 7, 1814; he married Mary PRESTON, August 1, 1796, and had six children.  After the death of George CHAMBERS his widow married Mr. Richard HARRIS, of England, and in 1827 moved from Philadelphia to Newtown township where they purchased a farm of one hundred acres.  Mrs. HARRIS died in 1864. 

            Alexander CHAMBERS, the father of the subject of this sketch, son of George and Mary PRESTON CHAMBERS, was born in Philadelphia, June 4, 1808.  On March 25, 1835, he married Frances WAYNE, daughter of Caleb Parry and Mary STOKES WAYNE.  Caleb Parry WAYNE was great-grandson of Captain Anthony WAYNE, and a cousin of General Anthony WAYNE, of Revolutionary fame, also grandson of Captain David PARRY, and a nephew of Colonel Caleb PARRY, who fell in the battle of Long Island in 1776.  They had two sons, Thomas P. and Frances Wayne CHAMBERS.  Mr. CHAMBERS was engaged in the mercantile business in Philadelphia until 1841, when with his family he moved to Newtown and purchased the farm of his mother, and became a prominent and active man in this community.  He and his family attended the Protestant Episcopal Church at Newtown, where he was a vestryman until is death.

            Alexander CHAMBERS, son of Thomas P. and Hannah H. (BARNSLEY) CHAMBERS, was born in Newtown, October 20, 1865.  He was educated at the schools of Newtown, at Swarthmore College and Lehigh University, but failing health prevented his graduation from the latter institution in the class of 1887.  He was engaged in the oil business with the Tidewater Oil Company of New York, until 1894, when he purchased the Agricultural Machine Works at Newtown, which he operated for several years in connection with the manufacture and sale of other machinery.  He is general manager and treasurer of the Newtown Electric Street Railway Company, and actively associated with its management.  For the past several years much of his time has been spent in Honduras, where he is associated with his father and brother John in the management of the Ulua Commercial Company, and is the Olancho Mineral Company.  He is a member of Newtown Lodge, No. 427, F. and A. M., and a well known young business man of Newtown.


Test taken from page 507-508 of:

Davis, William W. H., A.M., History of Bucks County, Pennsylvania [New York-Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1905] Volume III

Transcribed December 2004 by Joan Lollis of IN. as part of the Bucks Co., Pa., Early Family Project, www.rootsweb.com/~pabucks/bucksindex.html

Published January 2005 on the Bucks County, Pa., USGenWeb pages at www.rootsweb.com/~pabucks/

    Page last updated:Saturday November 15, 2008


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