December 29, 1913: Death of Charles Chester, namesake of Chester Creek and Chester Park

On this day in 1913, Duluth pioneer Charles Chester died in Oakland, California. In September 1857, Chester purchased a large parcel of land along the creek that bears his name (most of Duluth’s creeks are named for the early pioneers who first established homes along their banks). Little is known of Chester during his time in Duluth outside of one or two brief references, including one from pioneer Sidney Luce, whose memoir of those days mentions “Charles Chester and reputed wife, afterwards the wife of James Edwards, of Superior.” It is thought that Chester left Duluth by 1860 in the wake of the Financial Panic of 1857 and moved to California to look for gold. The census data from 1870 and 1900 shows him living in Oakland. If this is the same Charles Chester that Luce wrote of, he was born in Illinois in 1829 and had an actual wife (presumably his second), Carrie, who he married in 1896. According to census records Chester was a widower by 1910 and died in Oakland on December 29, 1913. While we know very little about Charles Chester, for over one hundred years his name has remained firmly attached to the park and creek. In 1903 Duluth officially renamed Garfield Park, established along Chester Creek in 1889, as “Chester Park.” It was not an effort to honor the pioneer, who most Duluthians had never heard of, but to alleviate confusion, as residents near the park had long referred to the greenspace as Chester Park. Read the history of Chester Park here.

A Lithographic postcard of “The Glenn” within Chester park, ca. 1905. (Image: Zenith City Press)