Andrew Harrison Chambers was the last to settle on Mormon Row, after purchasing an open lot of land in 1912. Over the next four years he built a small log cabin and stable, cultivating 20 acres of land. In 1916 he received the patent for his land and constructed a two-story log house that still exists today. The Andy Chambers homestead is the best example of what the other thirty homesteads would have looked like up and down Mormon Row. The other homesteads on Mormon Row only retain a small portion of their original buildings, and most have disappeared completely. Even the sagebrush has begun to reclaim the flat acres of brome grass planted by the settlers for their livestock.
In 1918, Andy married Ida Kneedy, whose family would later perish in the 1927 Kelly flood. Ida was living on Mormon Row as their school teacher. Upon the advent of World War I, Andy was forced to leave the ranch in the capable hands of his new wife. Ida continued to cultivate 40 acres of land with the assistance of her neighbors. Sometime around 1917-1923, the Chambers purchased the adjacent Eggleston homestead and constructed a large two story wooden frame house. Ida ran the post office in their new home from 1923-1926 and again from 1928-1934. They also offered meals to travelers and housed a few overnight guests. In addition to the many chores of ranching, several families worked side jobs to bring in more cash. Running a post office often provided a good source of extra money, however small, and Andy soon obtained the Jackson to Moran mail contract from 1932-1940, with his homestead being the central stop to exchange mail. The small ranch became a gathering hub for valley residents.
Unfortunately, in 1936, the Chambers’ new home burned down and the family had to move back into their small log cabin, relinquishing the post office as a result. At this time they also purchased a home in the town of Jackson so that their children could attend high school. In 1945, more change would affect the Chambers family. With the death of Andy, his son Roy took over management of the ranch. Roy had graduated from high school in Jackson in 1943, a year late due to the school burning down the year before. He was quoted as saying that compared to life on the ranch, school was a blessing. He saw the importance of an education and encouraged his own children to pursue college degrees outside Jackson Hole.
Between 1945 and 1948, the Chambers also purchased the adjacent Luther Taylor homestead to increase their holdings for grazing cattle. Andy also purchased his neighbor Wallace Moulton’s property and moved his family into the wooden frame house originally built by Thomas Perry. Around this time Roy Chambers purchased a thrashing machine and provided the service for the entire valley. Soon Chambers and his neighbors on Mormon Row, John Moulton and Henry May, held a monopoly in the valley for threshing grain. In 1943, Chambers alone thrashed over 27,000 bushels.
In 1958, Roy and his wife Charlotte “Becky,” purchased the nearby Flying V Ranch along the Gros Ventre River, near the Sheep Mountain landslide site. Over the next ten years, as money allowed, they worked on the ranch in order to start hosting guests. In 1968, the Flying V Ranch was officially open for business. In 1987, the Chambers sold the ranch and retired in the town of Jackson. Today the ranch is known as the Gros Ventre River Ranch, which still hosts dudes.
1912: Andrew Harrison Chambers arrives in Jackson Hole and purchases a relinquished claim on Mormon Row. He begins construction on a log cabin and starts to clear and cultivate the land.
1916: Chambers receives the patent to his land.
1918: Chambers marries Ida Kneedy, who was the current school teacher on Mormon Row.
1919: Chambers returns from World War I to run his ranch full time. During his absence, Ida manages the ranch and continues to clear and cultivate the land with the help of neighbors.
1917-1923: The Chambers purchase the adjacent Eggleston homestead and build a two story wooden frame house.
1923-1926: Ida Chambers runs the Grovont post office.
1928-1934: Ida Chambers resumes her post as the Grovont postmaster.
1932-1940: Andy runs the Jackson-Moran mail contract, making his homestead the central stop in the valley.
1934-1936: The Chambers house burns down, forcing the family to live in the original log cabin. At this time the Chambers also purchase a house in town to allow the children to attend high school.
1945: Two years after son Roy graduates high school, his father Andy dies. Roy assumes management of the family ranch on Mormon Row. He brings in a threshing machine as a way to earn more cash.
1958: Roy and his wife Charlotte “Becky” purchase the Flying V Ranch in Kelly, WY. They work to restore the ranch for the next ten years.
1968: The Flying V Ranch opens for guests.
1987: The Chambers sell the Flying V Ranch and retire in the town of Jackson.
Text by Samantha Ford, Director of Historical Research and Outreach