Friday, August 16, 2013

Andsworth Hardaway Chambers (1851-1934)

 From Volume I of the History of the Pacific Northwest, 1889.

    A distinguished resident of Thurston County, Washington, Andsworth Hardway Chambers was the son of Washington territorial pioneers and went on to prominence in both business and politics, serving as the Mayor of Olympia, Washington for three terms. He was later a one-term representative in the Washington State Legislature and was for many years the proprietor of a successful butchery and meat packing company. Chambers' first name is also recorded as being spelled as "Answorth" in addition to the spelling given here.
   Andsworth H. Chambers was born in Thurston County, Washington on June 25, 1851, being the son of David J. and Elizabeth Harrison Chambers, both former residents of Missouri. Chambers is recorded by the Barton's Legislative Handbook and Manual of Washington as receiving his education in common schools and engaged in work upon the family farm during his youth. He spent his formative years herding cattle and continued in this line of work until deciding upon a career as a butcher. He married in Olympia on May 20, 1878, to Ms. Mary A. Connelly (1856-1937) and the couple would later have three daughters, including Hope Chambers O'Leary (1890-1925).
   Chambers' first venture into the meat packing and butchering business came at age nineteen, joining with his father to establish an Olympia based butchery. In 1881 the son bought out the father's interest in the business and in the succeeding years built it into the A.H. Chambers Meat Co., mentioned as being one of the most "extensive slaughtering and packing business in Olympia." In addition to this plant, he is mentioned in the 1905 work Olympia, the Capital City of Washington as operating a market, and "has an extensive jobbing trade in meats among the logging camps and towns of Southwestern Washington." This history of Olympia further notes that Chambers' plant "has a capacity of five cars of cattle per week". Chambers also held prominent positions in a number of other Olympia based businesses, including being a director of the First National Bank and had a "controlling interest" in the Olympia Gas and Electric Light Works. 
   Having carved a prominent place for himself in Olympia business circles, Chambers turned his attention to city political affairs beginning in the 1880s. He served as a city council member for a time and in 1886 was elected to the first of three terms as Mayor of Olympia. His three years in office saw the building of the Chambers Block in Olympia, now one of the oldest remaining business blocks in the city. Chambers continued his political ascent after leaving the mayors office, being nominated by the Democrats of Thurston County to be one of their representatives in the Washington State House of Representatives in 1890. He went on to win the election that November and during his one term in office (1891-1893) held a seat on the committees on the Hospital for the Insane, Indian Affairs, Medicine, Surgery and Pharmacy and Military Affairs. 

From an 1891 Washington State Legislature class portrait in the Washington State Archives.

  The remaining years of Chambers' life have proven to be difficult to research, with few sources mentioning what he may have been up to after his time in the legislature. It has been found that he served as a member of the Washington State Capital Commission from 1915 to 1921, and in 1925 suffered a personal loss with the death of his then 35-year-old daughter Hope C. O'Leary. Andsworth H. Chambers died shortly after his 83rd birthday on July 1, 1934 and was later interred at the Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Tumwater, Washington. Chambers' wife Mary survived him by three years and is interred at the same cemetery.

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