Lt. Col. George Foote Chester
53rd New York Infantry
by R.A. Lewis, New York
GEORGE FOOTE CHESTER
January 31, 1824 ~ December 19, 1889
From the 25th Anniversary publication
of the Yale College Class of 1846
~ Published 1871 ~
George Foote Chester was born January 28, 1828 in Lawrenceville, Gwinette Co.,
Georgia, the only son of Elisha Walworth Chester, attorney at law, and Harriett
(Bliss) Chester, who were originally from Groton, New London Co., Conn.
While yet a boy, his parents returned north.
From 1839 to 1868 his residence for the most part was in the city of New York,
where he fitted for college with Mr. Charles Wingate; was a part of a year a
member of the New York University, and entered Yale May, 1843. After
graduating, he spent a year reading law and other books. During most of the
year 1848 he taught a school in New London, Conn.; thence he returned to New
York, and was admitted to the bar March, 1849.
The winter of 1850 - 51, he spent in Minnesota; but, preferring the East as a
permanent home, returned to New York, and entered in a law partnership with his
father. In April, 1852, he wrote of a visit to New London, ten days previous: "Am
happy to state that I stayed just long enough to break my arm, on the 14th, by the
upsetting of a buggy." At the outbreak of the war, he went out as private in the 71st
Reg. N.Y. State Militia, for three months, sharing in the first battle of Bull Run.
Afterwards he was Captain and Lieut. Col. in the 53rd N.Y. Reg., and, still later,
Colonel of the 101st Reg. N.Y.V. He was "present at the first battle (Aug., 1862)
at Bristow's, three days at the second Bull Run, or Groverton, three days at
Fredericksburg." The regiment, greatly reduced in numbers, disbanded soon after
the Fredericksburg affair.
From 1863 to 1865 he was a dealer in petroleum at Titusville and in New York.
In 1868 removed to Titusville, where he still resides (1871).
An extract from a letter, overflowing with mirthfulness, to a classmate in 1851, is
too good to be lost, and reveals, in a characteristic way, the early and honorable
plans of his life: "The goal of my worldly ambition is comfort -- not a name and all
sorts of restless successes. If I can peg along without ever, by a selfish act or an
unkind word, permanently embittering a fellow traveler's happiness; if I can, with
all the means in my power, do good to those about me, quietly and unostentatiously;
if, in my case, to use Mr. Swiveller's happy phrase, 'the wing of friendship shall not
moult a feather, but shall ever be expanded and serene; -- if, added to all this, I
may dare to hope, through grace --
'To receive my part,
Of everlasting treasure,
In that just world, where each man's heart
Will be his only measure,' --
Why, then, to use the words of another good soul, 'I may, possibly, glide down to
the silent tomb with a gleam of joy.' But as for making a tempest in my teapot, doing
everything 'on the large,' in King Cambyses vein,' is not my way. I enjoy too keenly
the smoke and bubbling of other people's uncomfortable kettles."
Twenty years later, alluding to his early idea of "comfort," he says: "I trust that I have
attained to some truer views of life. I am finding comfort in Sunday school work."
A mission school, of which he is superintendent, was started by his Bible class, is
always full, and, as a result, a mission chapel is now building. He is a communicant of
St. James' (Episcopal) Church. He married Jane Parkin Winthrop at New London,
Conn., September 8, 1852. They have no children. P.O. address, Titusville, Penn.
From the 1910 DKE Catalogue
B.A., M.A., Yale College
Teacher, New London, Connecticut, 1848
New York Bar, 1849
Res., Minn., 1850 - 51
Married Jane Parkin Winthrop, New London, Connecticut, Sept. 8, 1852
Lawyer, New York, New York 1852 -
Private, 71st New York Infantry, U.S. Army, 3 months
Colonel, 101st New York Infantry, July 25, 1862 -
Mustered out December 24, 1862
Dealer in petroleum, Titusville, Pennsylvania, 1863 - 65
Resident of Titusville, Pennsylvania, 1868 -
Counsel, Standard Oil Co., Cleveland, Ohio, 1877 - 80
Deceased: December 19, 1889, San Mateo, Florida