Rev Samuel Poole Chandler
Rev. Chandler, wife Martha, and six of their seven (the one left behind in IL was their 15-year-old daughter, Abigail, who stayed behind to marry her schoolmaster, Daniel Davison) children moved into Goodhue Co. in 1853, in the midst of the “Yankee Exodus”, the early surge of settlement of the area by people from New England. The family with their Mayflower ancestry came from Maine, stopping for eight years preaching and farming in Illinois before coming to Minnesota Territory. They spent the first year and a half in Red Wing, operating the American Hotel, the four oldest children attended the first classes held at Hamline University which was founded in Red Wing in 1854. Chandler had chosen Minnesota at the urging of a college friend teaching at Hamline and promised him that Minnesota had abundant good water!
The following year Rev. Chandler moved inland to Belle Creek valley and built their stone house in the fall. Snow came before the roof was on, so they used the canvas from their “Prairie Schooner” for the shelter. The next spring, Martha died, hers being the first death recorded in Belle Creek Township. She is buried in the cemetery of St. Paul’s on the hill. By 1860 Rev. Chandler found himself out of harmony in his life long association with the Methodist Church, being a Democrat, but unwilling to address politics from the pulpit. He found sympathy in the local Episcopal Church and by 1865 was ordained Deacon by Bishop Henry Whipple and 1874 entered the said priesthood which he served until his death in 1888.
After Martha died in 1856 leaving him a young widow with a large family on the edge of the new frontier, he learned through friends of a fine young woman up in Canada who had just lost her husband in a cholera epidemic. They made contact, he went up to meet her and, as the family story goes, was delighted with her, but dismayed to discover she also had six children. He must have recovered from the shock for they were married and returned to Belle Creek making a family of 12 children, bride and groom. Eventually 7 more children were born to the family making a total of 19 children who lived at one time or another in that stone house! In later years, 2 of his Chandler girls married 2 of her Schweiger boys making for an even more interesting complicated family history.
In 1871 the cornerstone was laid for St. Paul’s Mission church on Chandler land and he had the building completed in two years. Father Chandler is also buried in its cemetery along with his two wives and some of the children.
Provided by Myron and LC Cook