Biography of Chester Harrington

Chester Harrington, a respected pioneer, had been a resident of Nachusa Township since 1837. A New York native, born to Rev. Ebenezer Harrington and Paulina Doolin, he came from a line of early American settlers. Chester followed in his family’s agricultural footsteps and became a successful farmer in Lee County, Illinois. He entered wild land and transformed it into a productive farm later operated by his children. Chester married Zerna Chamberlain, with whom he had three children, and was widowed in 1891. A veteran in local politics, he held various offices and was a firm Republican. Now living a retired life, Chester enjoyed the comfortable results of his lifelong labors.

Chester Harrington, who resides on section 13, Nachusa Township, is numbered among the honored pioneers of the county where he has made his home since 1837, or for a period of about fifty-five consecutive years. At the time of his arrival here, the county was but sparsely settled; in fact, it was an almost unbroken wilderness and gave little promise of the transformation and change which would occur and make it what it is today. He had come to Illinois from Chautauqua County, N.Y., but was a native of Washington County, that state, where his birth occurred on August 22, 1813. His father, Rev. Ebenezer Harrington, a prominent Baptist preacher and a well-known man in the Empire State, was born in the village of Adams, Mass.

The grandfather of our subject, Jeremiah Harrington, was also a native of the Bay State and was descended from English ancestors who came to America in Colonial days and were prominent in public affairs in Massachusetts during the earlier history of our country. Members of the family also aided the colonies in their struggle for independence. The grandfather wedded a Massachusetts lady, and when their son Ebenezer was nine years old, they removed to Warren County, N.Y., where they spent the remainder of their lives. By occupation, Mr. Harrington was a farmer, and in politics, he was a Whig. Ebenezer Harrington spent his boyhood days under the parental roof, and after attaining to mature years, entered the ministry of the Baptist Church. He married Paulina Doolin of Saratoga, N.Y., who was also born in the Empire State and came from a respected family among the early settlers of the Butternut Valley. Rev. Mr. Harrington died in Washington Grove, Ogle County, Ill., at the age of sixty-five years, having taken up his residence in that locality some years prior. He was a man of strong character, possessed superior intelligence, was gifted as a preacher, and his life’s work was one of good. His wife, who was also a consistent member of the Baptist Church, died at the age of sixty years while visiting in Ohio. There were eight children in their family, of whom two sisters are now living in Wisconsin.

The only other surviving member is Chester Harrington of this sketch. He was the fifth in order of birth. In his youth, he acquired a good education, and when he made the choice of a life work, he determined to follow the occupation to which he was reared, that of farming. When a young man, he started Westward and cast his lot with the pioneer settlers of Lee County, Ill., which has since been the scene of his labors. Before leaving New York, however, he had engaged for some four years in the lumber business and had also taught school for many years during the winter season. He followed the same profession for one term in Lee County, but his energies have mainly been devoted to agriculture. He entered land from the Government, which lies near the junction of Franklin Creek and Rock River and at once began its development. It was all wild prairie, not a furrow having been turned or an improvement made, but he plowed and planted it, and in the course of time, abundant harvests were garnered as the fruit of his labors. He now owns three hundred and twenty acres, most of which were improved by himself, but as he has laid aside business cares and is now living a retired life, his children operate the farm.

In this county, Mr. Harrington was united in marriage with Miss Zerna Chamberlain, who was born in Eva Township, Genesee County, N.Y., in 1821, and came West in 1836 with her parents, Silas and Pluma (Burton) Harrington. They were farming people and died in this locality, the father being eighty-one years of age at the time of his death. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Harrington were born three children, but Cyrus died when about twenty-one years of age. Inez I. resides in Ogle County, and Chester wedded Emma Brantigan of Dixon and operates the old homestead. The young couple has two children — Claude J. and Pearl E. The mother of this family was called to her final rest in March 1891, and left behind her many friends who sincerely mourned her loss.

In politics, Mr. Harrington and his son are staunch Republicans and inflexible adherents of the party principles. He has been honored with a number of local offices, having served as Supervisor, Assessor, Road Commissioner, etc. Every trust reposed in him has been faithfully executed, and in his official career, he won the commendation of all concerned. A self-made man, by his own efforts, he attained a handsome competence, and he is now spending his declining years in the enjoyment of a rest which he has so well earned and richly deserves.


Biographical Publishing Company, Portrait and biographical record of Lee County, Illinois, containing biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens, together with biographies of all the governors of the state, and of the presidents of the United States, Chicago: Biographical Publishing Co., 1892.

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