Biography of Lucas Chester


Chester, Lucas, Buffalo, the oldest dyer in the State west of Rochester, is the son of John and Elizabeth Walsham (Lucas) Chester, and was born in Boston, Lincolnshire, England, December 21, 1832. In 1833 the family came to America and settled in Buffalo, where father and son have ever since been the leading dyers. On arriving in Buffalo John Chester established a dye house on Main street, where the store of J. N. Adam & Co. now stands. Later he removed to a site adjoining the old Trinity church property on Washington street, and in 1848 he purchased a lot and built a three story dye house on the corner of Broadway and Blossom (then Batavia) street, where he was succeeded by his son Lucas in January, 1851. Mr. Chester was a prominent member of the Asbury M. E. church, being one of its founders, a class leader and a distinguished local preacher and was long superintendent of the Sunday school. He was also a prominent abolitionist, his house being a noted station of the “underground railroad,” and he was likewise an active member of the old volunteer fire department, being connected with Washington Engine Co. No. 5. He died August 16, 1871, aged sixty-five years. His wife’s death occured in 1848. Of their nine children six are living: Charles and Lucas of Buffalo, and Rebecca (Mrs. Robert Turner), John, Elizabeth (Mrs. George Turner) and Frederick, all of California. Lucas Chester attended the public schools and the Genesee Wesleyan Seminary at Lima, and since the age of nine has been continuously connected with the dyeing and cleaning business. He spent two years in the study of chemistry under Professor Hadley at the University of Buffalo, and another two years as foreman of the Rensselaer Dye Works of Aaron Hall at Troy, N. Y., and then returned to Buffalo. Soon afterward, in January, 1851, he purchased his father’s establishment, and in 1864 moved the business to 479, 481 and 483 Main street, where he had erected a commodious building for the purpose. In 1883 this was burnt and at once rebuilt. Mr. Chester, like his father, is one who has honored his calling, and to-day is one of the leading as well as one of the oldest dyers in this State. Starting in the business when nine years old he has mastered every detail, even to the chemical departments. His father originated the sign “I Dye to Live; I Live to Dye,” which has been adopted by other dyers throughout the country. Mr. Chester was an ardent abolitionist, has always been an active Republican, and is a member of Washington Lodge No. 240, F. & A. M., and Keystone Chapter No. 163, R. A. M. In 1860 he enlisted in Co. D, 74th N. Y. militia, became first lieutenant, and assisted in reorganizing Co. D into an independent company, which secured a charter from the State, and of this he was president for several years and is now one of the few life members. December 9, 1850, he married Mary J., daughter of Osman G. Wheeler of Skaneateles, N. Y., and they had six children: William Lucas, Charles Osman, Harris Wheeler, Frederick Winthrop, Lucy and one deceased. Mrs. Chester died in December, 1883, and in September, 1892, he married for his second wife Mrs. Lydia C. Grant, daughter of Lester Day of Buffalo.

Our County and its people
A descriptive work on Erie County, New York
Edited by: Truman C. White
The Boston History Company, Publishes 1898


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