Benjamin F. Chamberlain, Randolph, NY

This location is Private property.

Benjamin Chamberlain, Jr. (1791-1868) was most likely the person who appeared twice in the Anti-Slavery Collection of the Foote papers, even though Chamberlain was a lifelong Democrat. He was one of five men signing a letter of 6 February 1845 from Ellicottville addressed to Hon. E. T.Foote, proposing to raise $100 toward the purchase of freedom for a woman and her son, who were held in slavery in Washington, D.C. Then, Foote’s response of 8 February 1845 was addressed to those five men, includingChamberlain.

He was born on 31 July 1791 in Mount Vernon ME to Benjamin Chamberlain and Tryphena Tibbetts (Kinney) Chamberlain. By 1801 they had moved to Belfast NY. In March 1807, Benjamin Chamberlain, Jr. made his way to Hamilton, now Olean NY, where he began working at the saw mill of Major Adam Hoops and did other lumbering jobs for some five years.

Chamberlain then began working on his own, putting up a saw mill in Great Valley. Soon after, it burned and he had to rebuild. In 1819 he married Lucy Hooker. After Cattaraugus County was organized, Chamberlain was appointed and later elected as sheriff, serving from 1820 to 1828. He was appointed First Judge in Cattaraugus County, serving from 1833 through 1841. He later became President of the Cuba Bank. He was an important contributor to the establishment of the Randolph Academy, later known as the Chamberlain Institute.

Chamberlain was a member of the Democratic Party, and as an elector in the presidential election of 1852, he voted for the anti-abolitionist candidate Franklin Pierce. However, in the memoirs of Eber M. Pettit, a well known Underground Railroad (UGRR) conductor and stationmaster, Pettit said about some Democrats, “There are now living … several men who were active agents on the UGRR, and voted the Democratic ticket up to 1860, and others who will believe themselves Democrats and dyed in the wool, but had been converted from five to twenty years earlier just by the simple process of ‘taking stock’ in this institution.”

Chamberlain and his family had settled in Randolph by the time of the 1850 census and his house may be seen on the 1856 Map of Cattaraugus County in Lot 7 of the Town of Randolph. He died in Ellicottville on 18 February 1868.

Source: the Foote papers


222-226 Main St
Randolph, NY 14772

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