Elizabeth M. Chambers

Honored by:Eleaner Larson Blakely
Brick location:C:27  map

I wish to honor my great-grandmother Elizabeth Mathilda (Roland) Prather Chambers. Unfortunately, our lives overlapped for only two and a half years so I do not remember her. As I piece together things I have heard and read about her, she comes forth as a strong, self-reliant pioneer woman. I wish I had known her.

Elizabeth Mathilda Roland, daughter of James and Eliza Jane (Arnold) Roland, born 18 July 1833 near Putnamville Putnam County, Indiana; migrated in a covered wagon to Iowa with her parents in 1847; married Jonathan C. Prather 13 October 1850 in newly organized Lucas County Iowa.

She became a young widow with an infant daughter and unborn son in October 1852 when Mr. Prather died; shemarried for the second time on 10 June 1860 to Joseph Chambers, a young widower with an infant son. She became caretaker of the land and their four children in 1862 when Joesph enlisted in 36th Iowa Infantry for service in Civil war. She received no word from Joseph during the year he was held in Camp Ford, a Confederate prisoner of war camp in Texas, but welcomed her husband home in June 1865 after he was mustered out of the 36th suffering from chronic diarrhea contracted while at Camp Ford. She gave birth to five more children during the next ten years, during which she mourned the death of a six-months-old daughter. She sustained Joseph when he subcontracted to build a section of railroad and was left without funds to pay off the workers when the main contractor went bankrupt, she helped accumulate money to pay off the debt by selling her land as well as his, but it was not enough so they moved to Rooks County, Kansas in 1879 hoping to improve Joseph's health with a change of climate.

She became a widow for the second time at the age of forty-seven years with five underage children to support when Joseph died on 25 September 1880. Her and her children lived in extreme poverty as the family stayed on the land for another year in order to prove up their Soldiers Homestead Claim and gain title to the land in which they later sold the land and moved to Harrison County, Iowa where both her mother and son from her first marriage lived. She was able to purchase land in Harrison County using Joseph's lump-sum retroactive disability pension that was approved after his death.

She provided a home on the farm for her children while they grew to adulthood and was assisted in the farm work by her sons as they became old enough to help. She paid the final hundred dollars owed to the railroad workers in Lucas County sometime after her return to Iowa and gave up farming in 1898 and sold her farm. She bought a house in Missouri Valley and moved to town. She died at the home of her son Francis in Calhoun Township Harrison County on 28 December 1925.

So ended the life of a courageous pioneer woman.