Part of an old map of the San Jacinto area from the Texas Revolution

Veteran Bio

Texian Location:  Harrisburg

The Kemp Sketch

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CHAMBERLIN, WILLARD - The compiler is responsible for Mr. Chamberlin’s name being omitted from the bronze plaque in the San Jacinto memorial monument on which are inscribed the names of the Texans who were detailed to guard the baggage at the camp opposite Harrisburg, April 21, 1836. The name should be added to the list.

Mr. Chamberlin’s name is not shown on the San Jacinto rolls printed in 1836 but it appears on page 36 of the San Jacinto rolls in the General Land Office as a member of Captain William W. Hill’s Company. Captain Hill and many of his men were sick with the measles and were left at the camp at the home of Charles Donohoo in what is now Waller County. Recovering sufficiently to travel they sent out to join the main army, arriving at Harrisburg they were unable to proceed to San Jacinto on April 21st due to the fact that General Cos with an army of five hundred was between them and Houston’s command. The testimony of Dr. William P. Smith, and others has definitely convinced the compiler that Captain Hill and others thus separated from the army arrived at San Jacinto after the battle on April 21st.

On page 36 of the San Jacinto rolls in the General Land Office Mr. Chamberlin is listed as a member of Captain William W. Hill’s Company. Seven men whose names appear on this roll and which were omitted from the San Jacinto rolls printed in 1836 received donation certificates for land for having been detailed to guard the baggage at the camp opposite Harrisburg April 21, 1836. These certificates were issued on the following dates: Nicholas Whitehead, May 18, 1838; James Hugh, June 6, 1838: Jacob Castleman, September 28, 1838: James Hollingsworth, May 3, 1839; Benjamin F. Swoap, May 4, 1839, Jeremiah W. Simpson, January 6, 1840: and Sion W. Perry, January 17, 1851.

As early as the year 1840 men known to have been left at the camp at Harrisburg, or at Donohoo’s were issued donation certificates for land for having participated in the Battle of San Jacinto and in later years the terms “having participated in the Battle of San Jacinto, “and “having been detailed to guard the baggage” became synonymous.

On page 14 of the San Jacinto rolls printed in 1836 and on page 35 of the San Jacinto rolls in the General Land office it is shown that Captain Hill was sick and that his company was commanded at San Jacinto by R. Stevenson. Yet on January 9, 1840 Captain Hill was issued Donation Certificate No. 993 for 640 acres of land for having participated in the Battle of San Jacinto. The compiler does not list him as a San Jacinto participant.

The compiler believes, but cannot prove, that Mr. Chamberlin was with Captain Hill. If Mr. Chamberlin was at San Jacinto he was entitled to receive a donation certificate for having participated in the battle. If he was with Captain Hill he could have received a donation certificate for having been detailed to guard the baggage at the camp opposite Harrisburg. He decided to ask for neither of the two but instead applied for and received on May 11, 1838 Donation Certificate No. 89 for 640 acres of land for having participated in the Storming and Capture of Bexar, December 5 to 10, 1835. He was not entitled to receive but one donation certificate and by making the choice that he did make it difficult for posterity to properly record the services he performed in the army in 1836.

The probable reason for the names of so many of Captain Hill’s company being omitted from the rolls of those who were detailed to guard the baggage at the camp opposite Harrisburg, April 21, 1836 is explained by Dr. William P. Smith in a letter written by him July 20, 1858 from his home in Fayetteville, Texas, to Richardson and company and published in the Texas Almanac of1859. Dr. Hill received Donation Certificate No. 1161 for 640 acres of land August 15, 1841 for having been detailed to guard the baggage at the Harrisburg Camp, yet in his letter he speaks of it as “my San Jacinto donation,” adding evidence to the statement made that the terms “having participated in the battle”, and “having been detailed to guard the baggage”, in time became synonymous.

Following is a copy of Dr. Smith’s letter;

“Messrs. Richardson & Co. -- In your notice of your Almanac, for 1859,

I see you contemplate publishing the names of those who were in the battle of San Jacinto. In Gen. Houston’s published account of that battle he does not say one word about those who were really connected with the army, yet on detached service by his own order. This is certainly not doing them justice. For instance, Major McNutt was appointed to the command of the guard over the sick, the baggage, etc, at the upper encampment. I, as one of the surgeons of the army, was left at (Charles Donahoo’s, in what is now Waller County) in charge of some sixty sick with the measles, being the sick of both regiments. So soon as I got them in condition so that some could go on to the settlements, to regain their health, Captain Hill of Washington County and myself, took those who were able to join the main army before the battle. When we arrived on the 20th of April, 1836, at the upper encampment, the end was knocked out of the ferry-boat, and while some workmen were repairing it, Cos’ division came on, fired on the workmen, and wounded one. Then, as Cos’ division was between us and the main army, we could not arrive there until the battle was over, and then we hastened to the scene as quickly as possible. I was there in time to aid in attending to the sick and wounded. I was acting under a commission, as Regimental Surgeon, and the appointment of David G. Burnet, President ad interim, and Thomas J. Rusk, Secretary of War. I was reguarly discharged by M. B. Lamar, then Secretary of War, some two months after the battle. I have obtained my 640 acres San Jacinto donation, and think that myself, with others similarly situated, who were at our post doing detailed service by order of the Commander-in-chief, are entitled to some public consideration. Would it not be well, in your coming issue to make some honorable mention of those on detached service?”

Thus it is shown that many not detailed to guard the camp opposite Harrisburg were at the camp on April 20, 1836, whose names were not included on the rolls.

Mr. Chamberlin was born in Lunenburg, Vermont, August 17, 1808, the second son of Moses Chamberlin. As a young man he moved to Mississippi where he was living at the beginning of the revolution in Texas. He went to New Orleans and there joined the New Orleans Greys, arriving in Texas with that organization, October 25, 1835. He received Bounty Certificate No. 3098 for 320 acres of land for serving in the army from October 22, 1835, to January 20, 1836. On an original muster roll of Captain William W. Hill’s company at muster April 11, 1836, Mr. Chamberlin is shown as a member, having been enlisted by Captain Lynch, March 2, 1836. He was issued Bounty Certificate No. 110 on November 9, 1837, for 640 acres of land, for his services in the army from April 1 to October 1, 1836. The enlistment date March 2, as shown on Captain Hill’s original roll, is accepted as being correct. Mr. Chamberlin was described as being 5 feet, 11 inches in height; of fair complexion; with grey eyes and sandy hair.

Returning to Warren County, Mississippi, Mr. Chamberlin was married to Emily Marshall, daughter of Reuben Marxhall, and granddaughter of John Marshall, December 15, 1836. The couple moved to Washington County, Texas, but later returned to Mississippi where they raised a family. In 1873 they moved to Erath County, Texas, and remained there until their deaths. They are buried on land near Duffau now belonging to a grandson, Willard Chamberlin Sellman.

Children of Mr. and Mrs. Chamberlin were (1) Simon, (2) Caroline Lane, (3) Laura Texana, (4) Wilbur Fisk, (5) Reuben Marshall, (6) Charles Henry, (7) Martha Abigail, (8) Henrietta Frances, (9) Willard, (10) Emily Rachel, and (11) Maggie Marshall Chamberlin.

(1) Simon Chamberin was born September 29, 1837 and died October 4, 1837.

(2) Caroline Lane Chamberlin was born May 9, 1839 and died June 30, 1840.

(3) Laura Texanna Chamberlin was born July 24, 1842 and died July 13, 1920. She was married to Thomas Tucker.

(4) Wilbur Fisk Chamberlin was born December 27, 1843 and died while in the Confederate Army, July 6, 1862.

(5) Reuben Marshall Chamberlin was born February 19, 1846, and died in the Federal prison at Camp Chase, Ohio, November 8, 1865, while serving in the Confederate Army.

(6) Charles Henry Chamberlin was born September 10 and died October 6, 1848.

(7) Martha Abigail Chamberlin was born July 26, 1850 and died at Stephenville, Texas, August 28, 1880. She was the wife of Thomas L. Nugent.

(8) Henrietta Frances Chamberlin was born September 26, 1852 and died at Hico, Texas, August 12, 1934. She was never married

(9) Willard Chamberlin was born September 19, 1854 and lives at Arlington, Texas.

(10) Emily Rachel Chamberlin was born May 26, 1857 and lives at Hico, Texas. She is the wife of Thomas Sellman.

(11) Maggie Marshall Chamberlin was born July 14, 1859 and died (date not recorded) at Vicksburg, Mississippi. She was married to Lawson, Tucker.

Following are living grandchildren of Willard Chamberlin, the veteran: Willard Chamberlin, III, 3416 Drexel Drive, Dallas: Cecil Chamberlin, Frederick, Oklahoma; Mrs. H. B. Chamberlin, Hico, Texas; Willard Chamberlin Sellman, R. F. D., Hico, Texas; Mrs. Sam Williamson, Vicksburg, Mississippi; Mrs. Albert Biedenharm, San Antonio, Texas, and Mrs. Emmett Henry, Oak Ridge, Mississippi.

Written by Louis W. Kemp, between 1930 and 1952. Please note that typographical and factual errors have not been corrected from the original sketches. The biographies have been scanned from the original typescripts, a process that sometimes allows for mistakes in the new text. Researchers should verify the accuracy of the texts' contents through other sources before quoting in publications. Additional information on the veteran may be available in the Herzstein Library.

Battle Statistics

  • Died in Battle: No
  • Company: Capt. William W. Hill

Personal Statistics

  • Alternate Names: Chamberlain; Chamberland
  • Date of Birth: 1808 Aug 17
  • Birthplace: Vermont, Lunenburg
  • Origin: Mississippi
  • Came to Texas: 1835 Oct 25
  • Burial Place: Erath Co., Texas
  • Other Battles: Bexar
  • Bounty Certificate: 110
  • Wife: Emily Marshall
  • Children: Simon; Caroline Lane; Laura Texana Chamberlin Tucker; Wilbur Fisk; Reuben Marshall; Charles Henry; Martha Abigail Chamberlin Nugent; Henrietta Frances Chamberlin; Willard; Emily Rachel Chamberlin Sellman; Maggie Marshall Chamberlin Lawson