In determining the salient features of any life history it cannot be denied that long and valiant service in the Civil war constitutes a chapter in that history of special prominence and one of which the possessor may well be proud. Mr. Chamberlin is numbered among the veterans of the war for the Union, and moreover is classed with the business men of enterprise in Paxton, where he is now associated with Colonel Charles Bogardus in the real-estate and loan business, while independently, he has a large clientage in fire insurance. He was born in Hamilton county, Ohio, August 20, 1840, his parents being Reuben and Susan (McClave) Chamberlin, natives of Vermont and New Hampshire respectively. His maternal grandfather, John McClave, was an officer in the American army in the war of 1812, while in the paternal line his great-grandfather Chamberlin served as a soldier of the Revolutionary war.
On leaving New England, Reuben Chamberlin became a resident of Ohio, settling near Cincinnati. For many years he was engaged in teaching and was afterward a prominent merchant of Hamilton county. He passed away a number of years ago and was for some time survived by his wife, who reached the advanced age of eighty-eight years.
Thomas W. Chamberlin, who is the only survivor in a family of five children, was educated in the district schools of Warren county, Ohio. In 1858 he left school and again engaged in farming and was thus occupied for about two years. During the opening year of hostilities between the north and the south \w enlisted in the United States army at Indianapolis on the 8th of October, 18G1, as a second-class musician in Lieutenant Oliver B. Lisher's baud of the Twelfth Regiment of Indiana Volunteer Infantry, Colonel William H. Link commanding. The regiment, which was organized May 11, 1861, left Indianapolis on the 11th of June for Evansville and on the 23rd of that month started for Baltimore, arriving there on the 27th of July. On the succeeding day they removed to Sandy Hook, Maryland, near Harper's Ferry, Virginia, and were assigned to Banks' army of the Shenandoah. From that point they moved with the army to Hyattstown, Maryland, as it was reported that the Confederate general, Joe Johnston, was on the opposite side of the Potomac river, the march of the Unionists being made to prevent his crossing. After many marches the regiment on the 1st of December, 1862, engaged the Confederate troops in battle at Dam No. 1 in Virginia and subsequently performed outpost duty until March, 1863, when they crossed the Potomac river and after a skirmish near Winchester, Virginia, entered that town, being the first regiment to enter after the rebels had evacuated. Mr. Chamberlin was commissioned as captain of Company B of the Second Ohio State Militia on the 4th of July, 1863, after his second enlistment. During the period between his two enlistments he had returned to Ohio and was engaged in farming in Warren county and also attended a commercial college in Cincinnati. From the 1st until the 26th of July, 1863, he was in pursuit of Morgan, who was making his raid through Indiana and Ohio, and in that connection rendered very important service but finally resigned from the militia in May, 1864, at Lebanon, Ohio. He is now a member of Seaver Post, No. 253, G. A. R., and thus continues in close and pleasant relations with his old army comrades. In the local post he has served as junior vice commander and as quartermaster.
Mr. Chamberlin arrived in Paxton in May, 1864, and for six years was employed by the American Express Company. He afterwards went to California, where he spent one year as chief clerk in the Calistoga Springs Hotel. Later he returned to Paxton and resumed his former position with the American Express Company but gradually broadened the scope of his labors. He, with Mr. McFerren established the McFerren & Chamberlin Bank at Hoopestown, Vermilion county, Illinois, in 1872, which institution still exists under the name of the First National Bank. In November, 1875, Mr. Chamberlin went to Rantoul, where he organized the Exchange Bank, which he successfully conducted until 1892. In that year he sold out and removed to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where for seven years he was engaged in the brokerage business. About 1890 he returned to Paxton, where he has since been associated with Colonel Charles Bogardus in the real-estate and loan business, while independently he has conducted an extensive fire insurance and brokerage business. His interests in these connections have already assumed an important character, bringing him substantial profit and he also derives a good income from his realty holdings, which include one hundred and sixty acres of land in South Dakota and over two hundred acres in Michigan.
On the 12th of December, 1887, Mr. Chamberlin was married to Miss Ella L. Bronson. of Swanton, Vermont, whose father was a prominent contractor and builder. Mr. Chamberlin is a member of the Congregational church, while his wife is a member of the Episcopal church, and they are active in church work and generous to the support of the church in which each worship. He is a Knight Templar and has been a Mason of high standing since 1866. His political allegiance is given to the republican party and while in Rantoul he was treasurer of the school board and also city treasurer but has never been a politician in the sense of office seeking. His interest in public affairs is that of a citizen who without desire for the rewards of office is concerned in public affairs which are of vital moment, with an earnest desire to promote public progress and development. He is a strong temperance man and has done effective work in checking the liquor element in this county. He stands for all that uplifts instead of pulls down his fellowmen and his own life has ever been guided by high and honorable principles.

Extracted 16 Oct 2016 by Norma Hass from History of Ford County, Illinois, From Its Earliest Settlement to 1908, author E. A. Gardner, Volume 2, pages 510-512.

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