Monday, April 2, 2012

Woodley Williamson Chandler (1800-1854)

   After a brief break,  I return with another oddly named Chautauqua County resident/politician, Mr. Woodley Williamson Chandler. A Virginian by birth, Chandler died in Levant (located just outside of Falconer) 158 years ago today on April 2, 1854. He is honored by me on the anniversary of his death by being the newest addition to the blog! Although his political achievements are comparatively minor to some of the other individuals posted here, Chandler was nevertheless a prominent citizen of our county for many years.
   Woodley W. Chandler was born in Amelia County, Virginia on February 14, 1800, and during his adolescence resided in a number of different states, including Tennessee, Louisiana and Ohio. He resettled in Chautauqua County in 1823 and soon after arriving struck up a friendship with Elial Todd Foote (1791-1877), a prominent Jamestown resident, politician, and judge. Being the well known Chautauquan that he was, Foote soon helped Chandler find employment in the county, and within a short time Chandler had purchased land (once owned by Judge Foote) and established a "carding and cloth dressing" business. 
   In 1824 Woodley Chandler married Ms. Phebe Winsor and the couple eventually had six children, who are listed as follows: Martin (who later became a Sheriff in Minnesota), Nancy, Phebe, Winsor, John, and Williamson.
   In addition to his connections with local cloth manufacturing, Chandler is also listed as being instrumental in the surveying of streets and village lot designs in the eastern part of Jamestown. During his short life, Chandler was named to local public offices, serving at various times as the Town Supervisor of Poland (1843-1844) and Justice of the Peace. He is also mentioned as an early trustee for the Jamestown Academy. His obituary (featured in the Jamestown Evening Journal in 1854) mentions that Chandler filled these offices "with a conscientious fidelity, and to the satisfaction of the people."
   Woodley Chandler' s main inclusion here rests on his candidacy for the New York State Assembly in 1842. In that year, Chandler (along with fellow Chautauqua residents Elijah Miller and Erastus Holt) faced off against Adolphus Freeman Morrison (who was profiled a few days ago), Odin Benedict, and Emory Force Warren. As you can read for yourself in the snippet below, Chandler, Miller, and Holt ended up on the losing end of the campaign! This blurb on the election appeared in the 1845 work Sketches of the History of Chautauque County, and one should also note that the book was authored by one of the men who defeated Chandler, Emory Force Warren!!

   In the years preceding his legislative defeat, Chandler resettled in the Levant area outside of Falconer, where he eventually built a farm. During his residence here he had a hand in the building of the Levant schoolhouse, as well as the Levant Cemetery, which is located nearby. Woodley Williamson Chandler died at age 54 on April 2, 1854, and was buried in the aforementioned Levant Cemetery. A few days ago I made a trip to his resting place in order to seek out his gravestone. Here are some photos from the trip!

   The Chandler family stone is remarkably well preserved for being nearly 160 years old and contains the names of both Woodley, his wife Phebe, and all of their children. I also must venture a comment on the picture of Woodley located at the top of his article here. This portrait was discovered in Andrew Young's 1875 History of Chautauqua County and is very likely the only picture of him you will ever seeI was absolutely flabbergasted to find that a portrait of this man existed, and I wish I could say the same in regards to two other oddly named "faceless" local politicians (Adolphus F. Morrison and Waterman Ellsworth.)

 Woodley's wife Phebe survived him by a number of years, dying on April 4, 1876, at age 69. Two of the Chandler children also died young like their father. Phebe (the fourth eldest child) died at age 40 in 1865 and Winsor ( the fifth eldest child) died on April 4, 1863, at age 31. Dates of death for the remaining Chandler offspring could not be found.

 All of the children's names are on the side of the stone facing the road. If one decides to drive through the Levant area, one only need glance up the hill of the Levant Cemetery to see the Chandler monument, which is quite conspicuous by its sheer size!

  Woodley and Phebe are actually buried under these two stones, marked "Mother and Father". These stones haven't fared so well in regards to the years of wear. There are also two other stones embedded in the ground in the left of the above picture, one of which is marked "Chandler". No clue is given as to whom rests underneath these stones, but my guess is it may be one of the Chandler children.
 So there you have it (I never get tired of saying that!) Even more obscure Chautauqua history you may not have known about!


  1. Thanks for the information. Great story!

    Barry Jernigan
    Deputy Chairman, Genealogy Panel
    Chandler Family Association

  2. Thanks Andy, Woodley was my 2nd Great Grand father. I have found a picture of him and his wife. I would have never found them without your research.
    Best Regards................John W. Chandler

    1. Hello John!

      Glad to have been of help in your research! Woodley was a very prominent man in my home county of Chautauqua and as luck would have it he and his family are interred only a few miles a way from where I reside, and his burial marker is one of the largest at the Levant Cemetery, a testament to his notoriety back in the early 19th century! I do believe that Chandler Street in Jamestown is named after him. Thank you for your kind comments!----Andy

  3. Andy, thank you for your great info about Woodley. His father in law, Abraham Winsor, is my 4th great grandfather. May i copy your article and photos to
    Thanks.....John William Stewart

    1. Hello John,

      Glad to see you enjoyed reading about Woodley! Please go right ahead and use the article/photos for familysearch, a site which I've found useful for my own research. You can also like our Facebook page for more updates and info on some these folks.

      Thanks again!

  4. Andy, thank you for your great info about Woodley. His father in law, Abraham Winsor, is my 4th great grandfather. May i copy your article and photos to
    Thanks.....John William Stewart