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Chester, Texas

Chester is located in the northwestern part of Tyler County, 13 miles northwest of Woodville on US Highway 287 at the intersection of Farm Road 1745 (N & S).  The townsite is part of a five league grant made to Gavino Aranjo on the old Spanish Trail road from Nacogdoches to Liberty by the Mexican government in 1828.  The town was named after the 21st president of the United States, Chester A. Arthur, about 1883 at the time when the Trinity and Sabine Railway routed its western line from Colmesneil through the area.  Lots were sold near the railroad line and soon the Peach Tree post office (established in 1851) and the Mount Hope Masonic Lodge moved there (organized in 1851).  The first postmaster in Chester was A. B. Green.   W. B. Carnes had a mercantile business in town, Tom Seamans had a blacksmith shop, John Cobb ran a saloon, Jackson Riley had a hotel, and John Lowe was the constable; by 1890 Chester had a sawmill, a school, two gins, and two churches with a reported population of 176 in 1904.  The town grew to about 350 in the 1940’s but totaled only 265 in 2000.

The first inhabitants of this area were Indians from both the Alabama and the Coushatta tribes who by the early 1800’s lived in what was then called Peach Tree village. They moved south to their home on a reservation in Polk County in the 1840’s as settlers from the United States arrived.   Some of these early settlers were Anderson Barclay and Valentine Burch, both of whom fought at the Battle of San Jacinto in 1835; others were Peter Cauble (whose log home still stands), Hiram Watts, and William Seamans, county commissioner in 1854.  Other families coming prior to 1850 were:  Daniel R. Smith, Stephen P. Willson (a doctor), and James Barnes.  The combination of good soil, water, and climate allowed these early settlers to grow cotton, corn, sweet potatoes, peanuts, and sugar cane and to raise cattle and hogs plus harvest both pines and hardwoods.   John Henry Kirby grew up in Peach Tree and became one of the largest landowners and lumber manufacturer in the early 1900’s. 

Today, Chester has a post office, one bank, one service station and one feed store along with two churches, the Masonic Lodge, and a few other local businesses.  The 2013 census shows a population of 315; it is part of the Chester Independent School District which serves the area with about 170 students.  Chester encompasses 1.6 square miles and its elevation is 246 feet; its coordinates are:  30 degrees, 55’, 24” N, 94 degrees, 35’, 57” W.

 

References:  

“The Handbook of Texas Online:  Chester, TX”, Texas State Historical Association (www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hlc24)

“It’s Dogwood Time in Tyler County” 1963, 1967 (Woodville, TX)

“Pioneer Days of Tyler County” by Lou Ella Mosely, Fort Worth, Miran, 1975.

“East Texas:  Its History and its Makers” by Thomas Clarence Richardson, Lewis Historical Publishing, 1940.

WPA Writer’s Program “Texas:  A Guide” New York, Hastings House, 1940, rev. ed. 1969.

“Chester, Texas” from Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chester,_Texas)

Google Data and U. S. Census Bureau - http://tinyurl.com/nncaosu

David, Josh Willson. (2010, September 23 and September 30) "Tale of Chester" Tyler County Booster.

Tyler County Historical Commission
P.O. Box 777
Woodville, TX 75979

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