BRIGGS, Chester E.
Past and Present of the City of Rockford & Winnebago County, IL, C. A. Church. Chicago: Clarke, 1905, pp 270-271
Chester E. BRIGGS, deceased, was a representative of a pioneer family in Winnebago County and his business connections and personal qualifications insured him a place of prominence in the public regard, and made him a worthy citizen of Rockford. A native of VT, he was born in Jamaica, 19 Sep 1852, his parents being Joseph W. and Elizabeth (CRESSY) BRIGGS, who were also natives of VT, the father born in Dover, 29 May 1825, while the mother's birth occurred in Jamaica, 14 Apr 1820. The paternal grandparents were Calvin and Lucy (WASHBURN) BRIGGS, both natives of VT, where the grandfather carried on business as a tanner and farmer. He spent his entire life in VT, after which his widow came West to Rockford [Winnebago County, IL] on a visit to her son, C. C., and other children, and died in his home. Both Mr. and Mrs. Calvin BRIGGS were representatives of old New England families, and were relatives of Governor BRIGGS, of MA, and of Governor P. T. WASHBURN, of VT. Joseph W. BRIGGS is the only survivor of a family of nine children, and is now living a retired life in Rockford. He came to Winnebago County in Dec 1855, settling on a farm in Berry Township, where he resided for three years. He then removed to Milford Township for a short time, after which he purchased a farm in Cherry Valley Township, and continued the cultivation and improvement of that place for three years. On the expiration of that period he took up his abode in the city of Rockford, where he has since resided. His wife died here 24 Sep 1900, and he now resides at No. 917 Kishwaukee Street. He owns much valuable property in this city, having in former years made judicious investment of his capital in realty which now commands a high price. He was one of the early members of the First Congregational church here, and has lived an upright, honorable life, commending him to the goodwill, friendship, and confidence of those with whom he has been associated. Unto him and his wife were born a son and daughter, the latter being Maria E., now the wife of Elwin W. CHANDLER, of the firm of CHANDLER Brothers, publishers, of Rockford. They had one son, Cressy Elwin, who died 24 Mar 1897, at the age of 10 years, and they are now rearing an adopted son, Melvin Joseph, who was born 30 Nov 1892.
Chester E, BRIGGS acquired his early education in the district schools of Cherry Valley Township, having been brought to Winnebago County in his third year. He continued his education at Rockford High School. He was a youth of nine years when his parents removed from the farm to the city and while a student he devoted much of his leisure hours to mechanical work, seeming to possess much natural ingenuity in this direction. He was always making brackets or other devices, and after putting aside his textbooks he began learning the cabinet making's trade, securing a position with the Forest City Furniture Company of Rockford. He followed that pursuit for several years and then entered the employ of the bicycle works of this city, with which he continued for a brief period. He had saved his earnings and when the Cooperative Furniture Company of Rockford was established he became one of the stockholders, and was made secretary and treasurer of the company. He was thus engaged in business for himself for a few years, and then sold his interests, after which he returned to the Forest City Furniture Company, with which he remained for a few years or until his retirement from active business life. He was a skilled workman and in fact the company said that they never had a more efficient workman in their employ. He was very successful in his business dealings, and as he accumulated money he invested in property, erecting the residence which is now occupied by his widow and son. This is located at No. 905 Kishwaukee Street, and adjoins the home of Mr. Joseph BRIGGS. Mr. BRIGGS was also executor for the well known BRITTON estate for 13 years.
Chester E. BRIGGS was married twice. He first wedded Miss Ollie A. PRESTON, a native of Camden, NJ, who ws born 05 Jul 1857, and died in Rockford on 07 Mar 1892. There were two children by that marriage: Edwin C., who married Constance FRITZ and resides in Chicago, where he is an instructor in the Armour Institute; and Lewis P., who is at home with his stepmother and attends the Rockford Business College. In 1893 Mr. BRIGGS wedded Miss C. Elizabeth ALLEN, a native of Gun Plains, Allegan County, MI, and a daughter of William ALLEN, who was a farmer of that county throughout his active life. He died in Otsego, MI. The death of Mr. BRIGGS occurred 27 Feb 1903. Although never an aspirant for public office, he was a stanch advocate of republican principles, and both he and his wife were members of the First Congregational church of Rockford. He was a man whose business integrity was above question, and his life was manly, his actions sincere, and his manner unaffected. He lived in Winnebago County for [p 271] almost a half century, and many of his stanchest friends were also those who had known him from his boyhood days, a fact that indicates an honorable career, worthy of confidence and respect. [See also the Winnebago County, IL, biography of Charles C. BRIGGS, who is also a descendant of Calvin & Lucy BRIGGS.]
Submitted by Cathy Kubly.