Chesak and Johnson Families in Cherry Valley

Martin Chesak, born in 1861, and his wife Anna, also born in 1861, moved to Cherry Valley from Trenton, Wisconsin, in 1895. They bought a farm that was part of John Brown’s broom corn farm and had three daughters: Mamie, Kathryn, and Rose. Martin died in 1941, and Anna in 1935. Mamie married Len Johnson in 1908, and they had six children. Len operated a lunch room and the creamery wagon service. Kathryn married Bill Oberg, running the Cricket confectionery, while Rose died young. Descendants of the Chesak family, including the Nymans and Lofquists, have continued to live and contribute to the Cherry Valley community.

by Mary Nyman Lofquist and Lloyd M. Johnson

Johnson Diner in Creek Valley
Johnson Diner in Creek Valley

Martin Chesak was born in 1861. His wife Anna was also born in 1861.

In 1895, Mr. & Mrs. Martin Chesak came to Cherry Valley from Trenton, Wisconsin. They bought the farm which had formerly been part of John Brown’s broom corn farm. The Chesaks had three daughters, Mamie, Kathryn and Rose. Anna Chesak died in 1935 and Martin died in 1941.

Mamie Chesak married Len Johnson in 1908. Len was born in 1880 and died in 1927. Their six children were all born in Cherry Valley. Grace, born in 1909, died in 1966. She was married to Leonard Nyman. Lloyd, born 1911, Martin, born 1914, and George, born 1918, are presently all living in the Rockford area. A brother, Elvin, born 1916, died in 1936. Doris, born 1920, Mrs. Dan Black, now lives in Arkansas.

The Johnson home was the large house which still stands directly south of the Masonic Hall on the southwest corner of Genoa and Cherry Streets. In the back was a small barn where Len kept a team of horses. He drove a creamery wagon daily to Rockford from the original Cherry Valley Creamery.

The Cricket in Creek Valley
The Cricket in Creek Valley

About 1912, Len started a lunch room next to the interurban station. Soon after that, he and Charlie Swatek had a new building erected. It is the one which still stands as the Post Office and Police Department with the Legion Hall above. There were silent movies shown in the hall on Saturday nights.

Kathryn Chesak who now lives in Rockford became Mrs. Bill Oberg. Around 1920 the Obergs owned and operated the lunch room and confectionery called the Cricket. They continued in this business until December, 1945, when the Charlie Robinsons bought and continued the confectionery until 1962. Beverly Oberg was the only child of this marriage. She is now Mrs. Harry Wray and they live in Decatur, Illinois.

The third Chesak daughter, Rose, died when she was in her early twenties.

Len Johnson’s sister Hannah was married to Oscar Bloom who built several of the older homes in Cherry Valley.

Mrs. Gerald Lofquist, the former Mary Nyman, is the great granddaughter of Martin Chesak. She and her family presently live on the Chesak farm on River Road. In June of 1974, Gerald and Mary Lofquist, (along with their daughters, Kris and Beth), left for the “jungle” in the eastern part of Ecuador to serve as Lay Missionary Assistants with the Wycliffe Bible Translators. Gerald served in the agricultural ministry at Limoncocha, the given name of the jungle base. Mary taught the children of other missionaries. They returned in June of 1975.

Four generations from one family all attended Cherry Valley School. They are Mamie Chesak Johnson, Grace Johnson Nyman, Mary Nyman Lofquist and her daughters, Kris and Beth. Beth still attends Cherry Valley School.

Mrs. Theodore Strawn (Alice Nyman) still lives on the next farm south of the Chesak farm. She is a sister of Leonard Nyman who died in 1967.

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