Monday, May 3, 2010

No More Bad Days for Henry Chester

(Click on image to enlarge)
From the Rev. T.H. Ball's Encyclopedia of Genealogy and Biography of Lake County, Indiana.

The improvement in Henry's health did not last. Less than a month after the death of his youngest daughter, he followed her. It was 1:15 a.m. on Saturday, April 9, 1910, and he was 75 years, 5 months and 24 days old.

The Gazette gave him the treatment it reserved for the most prominent members of the local community. His obituary included his photograph (above) and much of the text of his profile from the Rev. T.H. Ball's Encyclopedia of Genealogy and Biography of Lake County, Indiana.

I can do no better for Henry than to reproduce that profile here:
Henry Chester, of section 17, Ross township, is one of the well known old settlers and prominent agriculturists of Lake county, having spent over a half century in his one township. He spent his youthful days among the rather crude and primitive conditions of that time, and has ever since been identified with the progress and advancement that have raised Lake county from an unprofitable wilderness to one of the banner sections of the state. He recalls many of the interesting experiences of that early day. His opportunities for literary accomplishment were meager, and as he had to work during the daylight hours he did his reading by the light of a rag dipped in a saucer of grease or by the flickering firelight of the old-fashioned hearth and chimney. And when he clad himself in his best and went forth to attend one of the balls of the countryside, he and his best girl rode in a wagon drawn by an ox team. From this primitive conveyance to the modern automobile graphically represents the progress of Lake county and the world in general since Mr. Chester was a carefree boy on his father's Lake county farm.

Mr. Chester was born in Columbia county, Pennsylvania, October 15, 1834. His grandfather, John Chester, was a native of England, whence he came at an early day to Pennsylvania, and for seven years fought in the ranks of the patriots in the Revolutionary war, becoming an officer in the Continental army. He saw and talked with General Washington and was a prominent man. His son Charles, father of Henry, was born in Pennsylvania, and came out to Lake county, Indiana, as a pioneer in 1847, living here until his death in 1874. He married Mary E. Price, a native of Pennsylvania and of German descent, and they were the parents of two daughters and one son that reached maturity.

Mr. Henry Chester was about twelve years old when he came to Lake county with his parents, and his subsequent rearing and early training was in Ross township, where, indeed, he has spent the rest of his life. When the [Civil War] came he enlisted on September 10, 1861, in Company G, Ninth Illinois Cavalry, and served until his honorable discharge, October 31, 1865, after giving four years and three months of his youth and strength to the defense of the Union cause. From choice he remained a private through all this time. He was in many battles in Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, and the various campaigns of the middle west. He returned home to engage in the farming pursuits which have ever since employed him so profitably. He operates over a thousand acres of as fine land as lies in Lake county, and his agricultural enterprises mark him as one of the most progressive and successful farmers of his vicinity. He has also taken part in local affairs, and is well known throughout the county as a representative and public-spirited citizen.

Mr. Chester was first married, in 1859, to Miss Harriet Perry, who was born in Porter county, Indiana, a daughter of Ezekiel Perry. They had one child, Mary, wife of Henry Merchant. Mr. Chester's second wife was Harriet L. Hanks, of New York state, and at her death she left five children: Ella, wife of Charles Olson; Lovisa, wife of Charles Nelson; Carrie, wife of William Raschka, a merchant of Ainsworth, Indiana; and Charles E. and James H. Mr. Chester married for his present wife Mary E. Baird, and they have three children: Jerome, John and Daisy. The children have received good and practical educations, and Miss Daisy has taken instruction in music….

Mr. Chester is a member of Earl Lodge No. 333, [Independent Order of Odd Fellows], at Hobart, and his wife belongs to the Rebekahs at the same place. Mr. and Mrs. Chester are both church members, their respective denominations being the Methodist Episcopal and the Baptist.

From this brief review of the main facts of his career, is indicated the prominent position that Mr. Chester holds in his community and in Lake county. His individual enterprise and success and his strength of character are marked in still bolder outlines when it is remembered how he has been the architect of his own fortunes, and is a truly self-made man. At the beginning of his active career he worked for wages, receiving only thirteen dollars a month. Yet with this seemingly scant hold on prosperity's coign of vantage he continued to climb higher to success, and during his useful career has accumulated a large estate and made his life a factor for good throughout Lake county.
His funeral took place in the Chester home on the afternoon of April 12, and then Henry was laid to rest in the Chester cemetery. (At that time, it was known as the Ainsworth cemetery, or the "cemetery south of Ainsworth.") By autumn his widow had marked his grave with a large granite monument, which cost $500 in 1910.



He lies beside his second wife.


And so Ainsworth became a little less colorful. I am going to miss Henry.

(To be continued)

♦ "Ainsworth Pick-Ups." Hobart Gazette 7 Oct. 1910.
♦ "Henry Chester Passes Away." Hobart Gazette 15 Apr. 1910.
Lake County Encyclopedia.

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