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This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Chamberlain, Joseph Redington

by Maurice S. Toler, 1979

22 Sept. 1861–26 Apr. 1926

Joseph Redington Chamberlain, industrialist, was born in Steuben County, N.Y., the eldest son of Jesse M. and Ervilla Ingham Chamberlain. His grandfather and namesake, Joseph Chamberlain, migrated from Vermont to upstate New York early in the nineteenth century. His father, Jesse, lured by the prospect of adventure and riches, joined the rush to the California gold fields in 1849. In spite of his success there, he became homesick and returned to Steuben County to purchase his brothers' interest in the family farm. Young Joseph attended the district school and the Hareveling Free Academy at Bath, N. Y. He won a scholarship to Cornell and enrolled there in 1884 to pursue studies in science and agriculture.

Soon after receiving his B.S. degree in June 1888, Chamberlain accepted a position as agriculturist with the North Carolina Agricultural Experiment Station in Raleigh. In June 1889 he was the first faculty member appointed by the trustees of the North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts. He served as professor of agriculture, live stock, and dairying at the college until 1892, when he resigned to take a position with the Caraleigh Phosphate and Fertilizer Works in Raleigh. He rose rapidly in the company and by 1896 had become president.

Chamberlain was an officer and principal stockholder in a number of other companies. He was president of the Farmers' Cotton Oil Company of Wilson, the Farmers' Guano Company of Norfolk, Va., and the Caraleigh Cotton Mills. He was vice-president of the Raleigh Cotton Mills, vice-president and one of the founders of the Capudine Chemical Company, founder of the Wake Seed Company, and a director of the Raleigh Banking and Trust Company.

Chamberlain was married in 1891 to Hope Summerell of Salisbury, daughter of Dr. J. T. Summerell and the granddaughter of Professor Elisha Mitchell, for whom Mount Mitchell was named. Chamberlain died suddenly and was buried in the Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh. He was survived by his widow and four children: Mary M. Chamberlain Moore, Joseph R., Jr., Jesse M., and John S.


Samuel A. Ashe, ed., Cyclopedia of Eminent and Representative Men of the Carolinas of the Nineteenth Century, vol. 2 (1892).

A. M. Fountain, Place-Names on State College Campus (1956).

A. O. Goodwin, Who's Who in Raleigh, 1916.

Raleigh News and Observer, 27 and 28 Apr. 1926.

C. L. Van Noppen Papers (Manuscript Department, Library, Duke University, Durham), for MS sketch of Chamberlain by Samuel A. Ashe.

Additional Resources:

Ashe, Samuel A'Court. Cyclopedia of Eminent and Representative Men of the Carolinas of the Nineteenth Century, Volume 2. Brant & Fuller, 1892. (accessed June 5, 2013).

Goodwin, Adolph Oettinger. Who's who in Raleigh; a collection of personal cartoons and biographical sketches of the staunch "trees" that make the "Oak city,". Raleigh, N.C., Printed by Commercial Printing Co. 1916. (accessed June 5, 2013).

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