Biography of Chester Garfield Reynolds

Chester Garfield Reynolds is one of the enterprising young farmers of Harwood Township, his well cultivated and managed farm being in section 11 of that township, not far from the Village of Gifford.

Mr. Reynolds was born in that township in 1881, the next to the youngest of the fifteen children of Hanford and Antoinette (Roberts) Reynolds. Two of the children died in infancy.

A conspicuous factor in the early days of Illinois was Father Hanford Reynolds, who was born in Westchester County, New York. He was a surveyor by profession and followed that calling in the early days, laying out the City of Geneseo, Illinois. Before the war he also sold fruit trees in Missouri. He had a varied and active experience throughout the Middle West and came to Champaign County about 1866. In his early travels in Missouri he would come upon what was called a grocery store at every cross roads. Whiskey was one of the chief commodities sold in such stores. When he came to Champaign County the nearest railroad to his home was Ludlow. The land was all prairie, and deer and wild game of all kinds abounded. He hauled lumber from Ludlow to build a small house and moved in before the roof was completed. There were so many ducks, geese and brant in the country that he had to hire men to shoot them in order to keep the birds from eating his crops.

Chester G. Reynolds attended the Pleasant Vale Schoolhouse, also sometimes called the Reynolds School. The name Pleasant Vale was given to the school by his mother.

Success attended the industrious labors of ‘Hanford Reynolds and wife, and they built a fine two-story brick house to replace the humble home in which they had first lived. They also planted many shade trees and in course of time had one of the most attractive places in the county. Hanford Reynolds was in this county early enough to buy an entire section of land at $10 an acre. This land did not have a tree or bush, and it was his planting, continued over a course of many years, that gave the land its present pleasant aspect.

Hanford Reynolds also bought 1,400 acres in Sunflower County, Mississippi, about 1905, at $12 an acre. One of the conspicuous features of this land was a grand cypress tree twenty-seven feet in circumference. There were many oaks six feet in diameter. One large tree had all the bark peeled off by bears. Mr. Reynolds conducted a sawmill, and the logs were so large that a groove had to be cut in some of them in order to make them pass the saw six feet in diameter. It was in the same territory where Roosevelt did his bear hunting. The canebrakes were twenty feet high and so thick that a man could hardly get through them. Hanford Reynolds took his wife and son Chester to that locality and remained nearly two years. The climate did not agree with the family and they were finally obliged to leave. Mr. Chester Reynolds says that he did not enjoy living where chill tonics were sitting around on the shelves in every house. On that southern plantation they tried raising cotton and cleared up considerable land, burning timber that would be exceedingly valuable today. While there Hanford Reynolds organized the Christian Church, and some of the hardest characters in the neighborhood were converted, and the church stands as a monument to his high character and public spirit.

Mrs. Hanford Reynolds died at Rantoul in 1910, on her return from Mississippi. She was a noble woman, and exemplified the best virtues of the home maker and the kindly neighbor.

For a number of years Chester G. Reynolds has looked after the management of the old home estate known as Cloverdale. He has a tenant on the farm and this family keeps house for him. He gives active supervision to the 120 acres, and the well tilled fields show the care bestowed upon them. Mr. Reynolds has also taken great pains to keep up the home place, and has cultivated and cared for the flowers which his mother so much loved. He has also carried out many of the ideas published in the bulletins of the Illinois State University on beautifying country homes. His home is surrounded by generous plantings of such ornamental shrubs as witch hazel, golden elder, sumacs, butterfly bush, snowberry, etc.

Mr. Reynolds is a man of broad views, was reared a Republican, and in the main gives his support to the candidates and principles of that party. His parents were active members of the Christian Church known as Mount Olivet in Ford County.



Stewart, J. R. A Standard History of Champaign County Illinois. The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York. 1918.

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