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Published by Brink, McDonough & Co., Philadelphia 1879

Page 241

This gentleman, who has lived in Virden since 1856, and is now one of the oldest settlers of that town, is a native if Morris county, New Jersey, and was born on the 6th of February, 1829. His grandfather was Phineas Chedester, who was a mere boy enlisted in the colonial army, in the Revolutionary war, and fought with bravery and fortitude through the whole of the long and tedious struggle which resulted in the independence of the thirteen colonies. His father, J. B. Chedester, was a soldier in the war of 1812, and by trade an ornamental plasterer. His business was profitable, and he accumulated considerable means, and engaged also in farming. He lost a large amount of money in the same way in which many other worthy and good-hearted men have lost their fortunes. He went on the paper of friends as security, and was obliged to pay the amounts. Sarah Guerin was the name of Mr. Chedester's mother. The subject of this sketch was the youngest son; he had five sisters and two brothers, who grew to manhood and womanhood. He had good advantages for obtaining an education, an excellent school being within easy reach. He was working on a farm until he was eighteen years of age, and then went to Dover, New Jersey, where he began an apprenticeship to the carpenter's trade. After learning the trade he left Dover and went to Newark, where he lived two years, and then changed his residence to the city of Brooklyn, where he was employed at his trade till 1856, the year of his coming west.

He reached Virden the 15th of September, 1856, and at once established himself in business as a carpenter and builder. The town of Virden had been laid out four years previously, and when Mr. Chedester became a resident of the place it was in a state of rapid growth and progress. He erected several buildings in the town, among which was his own residence and that of John Bronaugh, for a time the two largest and best houses in Virden. In the year 1859 he became a partner with John Bronaugh in the lumber business, and was carrying that on at the time of the commencement of the war of the Rebellion. His grandfather had been a soldier in the Revolution, his father in the war of 1812, and Mr. Chedester felt that he would scarcely do credit to the patriotic blood of his ancestors, unless he, too, took a part, however humble, in the defense of his country in this last great war into which she had been plunged. In September, 1862, he enlisted in Co. G, of the 122d Illinois regiment. The history of this regiment was largely made up of volunteers from Macoupin county is well known to many of our citizens. He served in the Mississippi valley, from Kentucky to New Orleans, and as far west as Kansas. He was in the Division commanded by Gen. A. J. Smith, and took part in the battles of Trenton, Tennessee; Tupelo, Mississippi; Iuka, Spanish Fort, and Fort Blakely. At Trenton, Tennessee, he was taken prisoner by the rebels and was home on parole about a year. He was among the last prisoners paroled, the system of paroling prisoners, which had suffered considerable abuse, being suspended a short time afterwards. He returned again to the army, and participated in some of the important movements of the war. The storming of Fort Blakely, in which his regiment bore a conspicuous part, was the last important engagement which transpired during the war. Lee had surrendered in Virginia, the Confederacy was at its last gaps, and soon afterward he was permitted to return home.

He at once resumed the lumber business with John Bronaugh as partner. This partnership was dissolved in the year 1867, after which he carried on the business on his own account till 1872. At that time Virden was the nearest railroad town and central trading point for a large district of country. He carried on a large and profitable trade. Teams would meet in his yard, which had started from opposite points eighty miles apart - forty miles on either side of Virden. He frequently sold fifteen hundred or two thousand dollars worth of lumber in a single day, and he has paid the railroad agent at Virden as high as fifteen hundred dollars for one day's freight. He built up his business by his affable and genial manners, his knowledge of building and carpentering, which enabled him to inform his customers exactly what they wanted, and the liberal business principles which he adopted. Since 1875 he has been in the livery business, and for some years has been also engaged in raising fine stock and horses - an occupation which strongly coincides with his natural tastes and inclinations, and at which he has been successful. His first marriage occurred in September, 1865, to Martha Vail, who was a native of Basking Ridge, New Jersey, and the daughter of Dr. Israel Vail, who became a resident of Virden in 1857. She died in the month of February, 1868. His present wife, whom he married in June 1872, was formerly Miss Mary E. Ash. She was born at Coatesville, Pennsylvania. Her first husband was Frank Huntoon, who died in the army during the war. Mr. Chedester has three children living, all daughters; two by his first, and one by his second marriage. His father was a whig, and he has been a republican from the first organization of the party. From early boyhood his sentiments were strongly anti-slavery, and he has always believed the republican party to be the representative of the truest patriotism, and its principles best calculated to carry on the government, and perpetuate free institutions.

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