Who Was Ben Chambers? History of the Founder

In the early 18th century, many settlers from Ireland and Scotland were drawn to the promise of the New World, seeking opportunity and a better life for their families. Among them was Ben Chambers, a figure instrumental in the founding of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. Born on November 17, 1707, in Castlefin, County Donegal, Ireland, Ben was the son of James Chambers and Eleanor McKean, both of Scots-Irish descent.

In 1726, the Chambers family embarked on a journey across the Atlantic Ocean, eventually settling in the Province of Pennsylvania. They were part of a larger wave of Scots-Irish immigrants who played a significant role in shaping the early history of the United States. The family initially settled in Chester County, where Ben’s father, James, became a prosperous landowner and community leader.

Ben Chambers inherited his father’s entrepreneurial spirit and gradually established himself as a successful businessman. In 1734, he married Jane Scott, and together they had five children. Ben’s growing success allowed him to acquire land in what is now Franklin County, Pennsylvania.

In 1736, Ben Chambers built a gristmill on the banks of the Conococheague Creek, a strategic location that became the nucleus of what would eventually become Chambersburg. As a skilled millwright, Ben capitalized on the growing demand for grain processing in the region. The mill became a crucial hub for the local economy, attracting settlers and businesses to the area.

By the 1750s, the settlement around Ben’s mill had grown substantially. Recognizing the potential for further growth, Ben officially laid out the town of Chambersburg in 1764. He donated land for public use, including areas for a courthouse, a market, and churches, demonstrating his commitment to the development of a thriving community.

Throughout his life, Ben Chambers remained an active and influential figure in the region. He served as a justice of the peace and a member of the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly. In addition, he played a crucial role in the local militia during the French and Indian War.

Ben Chambers passed away on October 17, 1788, leaving behind a lasting legacy in the form of Chambersburg. Today, the town stands as a testament to his vision and determination, a thriving community that continues to contribute to the rich tapestry of American history.