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:

Local history questions? Please contact Digital Librarian & Archivist, Elizabeth Morris, at


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