Founding Families | The Lesters

Welcome to “Founding Families”, a local history series that highlights and features a founding family of Bensenville through ancestry, photos, and more. Stay tuned for more Founding Families to be featured on our website and as a part of our “Flashback Friday” series on Facebook. In the meantime, be sure to browse the Bensenville Historical Collection on the Illinois Digital Archives for more local history information.

Frederick E. Lester, son of Edward Lester, was born July 3, 1828, in Clinton County, New York. Edward’s third son John, made a claim at what is now Irving Park Rd and Salt Creek in 1834, at the northern end of  Dunklee’s Grove. In 1835, his father Edward brought the rest of their family to the DuPage County claim, arriving November 1st. The Lester family were parents Edward and Hannah, five boys and two girls. Louis, Marshall, John, Daniel, Frederick, Julie, and Acinthia.

Their first shanty was 14×16, which served as living quarters through their first winter. A 30×40 block house was erected in the spring of 1836. Oldest daughter Julie ran the first Addison Township school in 1836, housed in a log cabin. 

Frederick Lester was the youngest son and went on a threshing tours up the Fox River for eight seasons, until his leg was crushed and amputated when he was 18. After recovering, he began driving cattle, and was married to Julia A. Dunklee, daughter of one of the first settlers, Ebenezer Dunklee, in 1854. Frederick and Julia had four boys and four girls.

In 1873 Frederick Lester gave the Chicago & Pacific Rail Road right of way and ground for a new station (in present day Wood Dale), paying for much of the construction after the single line railroad from Chicago to Elgin was completed. Soon after, Frederick Lester and Frederick Heuer built the first industry in the area, a cheese and butter factory next to the station.

A post office was established in Salt Creek in 1874, with Frederick Lester being appointed postmaster by Gen. U.S. Grant, President. Frederick Lester died shortly after the station he helped build, was moved for a new general store and saloon, in 1891.

Our Digital Librarian & Archivist has been reorganizing and preserving the Library’s physical local history collection and digitizing resources for the Illinois Digital Archive. To start browsing the Bensenville Historical Collection on the Illinois Digital Archives, please visit: benlib.org/local-history-online.

Local history questions? Please contact Digital Librarian & Archivist, Elizabeth Morris, at emorris@benlib.org.

Sources:

  • 1874 Atlas & History of DuPage County, Illinois
  • DuPage County Historical Society Website, Wood Dale History, by Mary Lou Mittel

Founding Families | The Fischers

Welcome to “Founding Families”, a local history series that highlights and features a founding family of Bensenville through ancestry, photos, and more. Stay tuned for more Founding Families to be featured on our website and as a part of our “Flashback Friday” series on Facebook. In the meantime, be sure to browse the Bensenville Historical Collection on the Illinois Digital Archives for more local history information.

Christian Fischer and his brother Conrad’s oldest child, Henry Deitrich Fischer, both from the Kingdom of Hanover in Germany, arrived in Illinois separately in 1833 and 1834. Christian was one of the first three Bensenville settlers and made a 1000-acre claim, near Grand Avenue and Church Rd. The settlers found plentiful timber and water, and flat prairie without stones. Henry worked carrying ashes for soap-making in the frontier town of Chicago, and also worked in a sawmill up north in Green Bay, Wisconsin. 

Christian’s brother Conrad Fischer and his wife Louisa arrived with their five children in 1836. They had sailed across the Atlantic to New York city, and lost one of their daughters to drowning while taking a boat up the Hudson River. They then traveled west on the Erie Canal and by ship across the Great Lakes. Henry walked to Chicago from Green Bay, to reunite with mother, father and siblings.

Christian met his brothers family in Chicago, and they walked to their land claim in northeast DuPage county, where they cut down trees from Dunklee’s Grove and built their new home. 

Henry married Anna Franzen, from Prussia, in 1837, and they had eight children. The Fischer family prospered as farmers and leaders in the township. Conrad and Louisa Fischer donated land for a schoolhouse which his brother Henry Fischer built in 1851. The school taught English language to German immigrant children. Henry was an elected supervisor, and was Justice of the Peace from 1854 until his death in 1868, at the age of only 53 years.

The construction of the Fischer windmill, on Grand Avenue in front of Mount Emblem Cemetery, was begun in 1847. A well known cabinet maker, Henry Korthauer, helped build the mechanism, while men from Holland assisted with the three year construction period. The mill ground corn and wheat until 1916, and housed the Edward Ehlers family, after the Fischers sold the mill and moved to Oregon. 

Our Digital Librarian & Archivist has been reorganizing and preserving the Library’s physical local history collection and digitizing resources for the Illinois Digital Archive. To start browsing the Bensenville Historical Collection on the Illinois Digital Archives, please visit: benlib.org/local-history-online.

Local history questions? Please contact Digital Librarian & Archivist, Elizabeth Morris, at emorris@benlib.org.

Documents and photographs obtained from: Find A Grave and Ancestry.Com and 1874 Atlas & History of DuPage County, Illinois (DuPage County Historical Society).

History from Books, DuPage at 150 (Moore & Bray), Bensenville (Sebastian), 1874 Atlas & History of DuPage County, Illinois (DuPage County Historical Society), and Kenneth Ritzert, History of Bensenville, (DuPage County Historical Society website).