By Press Reports
Kevin Null, Attorney at Law, of Ackerman was the guest speaker for the February 24 meeting of the Choctaw County Historical & Genealogical Society. He spoke of his hometown Chester – named after Chester County, SC.
Null stated that Mr. William Wood donated the land for Chester in 1875 and in 1877 the town had approximately 19 businesses. They consisted of several dry good stores, general merchandise, saloons, boarding houses, livery stable, post office, tin shop, blacksmith shop, law office, shoe shop and drug store. He said in the center of the town square was the courthouse that burned in 1928 and was replaced by the Chester School. The county records stored there were all lost.
With the coming of railroads to Choctaw County, Chester was somehow left out. He railroads went through the nearby town of Ackerman. About this same time Chester slowly lost many of its businesses to Ackerman. In 1922 with 85% voter approval the county seat was moved from Chester to Ackerman.
The 1st-12th grade school existed until 1950, when the high school was consolidated with some students attending Ackerman High and others to Weir High. Later in the 1950’s the 1st-8th grade were consolidated with Ackerman and Weir Elementary schools. The old Chester School building stood for many years, but was torn down in the late 1970’s or early ‘80s. A new community center was built and is used for community activities.
The post office closed in 1959. In the 1960’s four small stores still existed in Chester. In 1973 the last store, Hodges’ Store, was sold. He building itself was moved, less than a mile away, and was operated for several years by Mrs. Denton Jenkins. Even though the store later closed, the store building still stands by Jenkins’ house.
Several of the homes in Chester were damaged by the tornado that went though in 2010. Some were never repaired. Today, other than the Chester Community Center, Chester Baptist Church is the busiest place in Chester.