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Old Chester, PA: Biographical Sketches
Hon. Robert Chadwick
(A biographical sketch from the Chester Times, Tuesday April 22, 1902 )
Contributed by Louise Reynolds
Chester Times, Chester, PA, Tuesday, April 22, 1902
Robert Chadwick was born in Rochdale, England, on Saturday, November 23, 1833. His parents came to America in 1847 and located in Upland. His mother died on August 8, 1852, and eight days later his father was accidentally drowned in Chester creek.
Until he was 17 years of age Robert attended the public school in Upland and then went to Frankford, where he learned the wheelwright trade. At that place he was married on Wednesday, September 9, 1857, to
Louisa J. Gardner, daughter of Henry G. Gardner, of Frankford, and brought his little family to this city in 1866. He immediately established himself in business at Third and Fulton Streets and speedily became and continued to be up to the hour of his death the leading wheelwright and blacksmith in this section.
In the fall of 1880 he was elected to a seat in the lower branch of the Legislature and by virtue of repeated re-elections remained a member for eight consecutive years, serving his constituents with marked faithfulness and superior ability. He never posed as an orator and made no attempt to distinguish himself upon the floor of the House in set speeches, but he enjoyed the warmest regard and complete confidence of all his colleagues, irrespective of party affiliations, and was always able to secure support for any measure that he advocated. For two years he was one of the Board of Trustees of the Soldiers’ Home at Erie, this State.
Mr. Chadwick is the first postmaster of Chester to die since the incorporation of the city in 1866. The men who have filled the office since the granting of the city charter are: Major J. R. T. Coates, William G. Price,
William H. Martin, two terms; John A. Wallace, H. G. Ashmead, Robert Chadwick, J. Lentz Garrett and the present incumbent, Thomas H. Higgins.
Other organizations with which Mr. Chadwick was identified were: Chester Lodge, No. 236 F. & A. M., of which he was a Past Master; Chester Chapter, No. 258 Royal Arch Masons; and St. John Commandery, No. 4 Knights Templar, of Philadelphia.
Mr. Chadwick is survived by his wife and four of the six children that were born to them. These are: Henry G. Chadwick, the coal dealer; Dr. John G. Chadwick, who is practicing medicine in Chicago; Susie A. the wife of Letter Carrier Charles S. Worrell; and Sarah Louise, the wife of Druggist John H. Kirk, of Seventh and Concord Avenue.
Mr. Chadwick was a principal in some of the most noted political struggles this county has ever seen. He did not keep his seat in the lower house at Harrisburg without some royal battles for the place. It was impossible that a man fill an important position without exciting some antagonisms and it was so with Mr. Chadwick, but he had the people with him in the struggles, for he always appealed to his record in the House and asked the voters to investigate and if they were not satisfied with that, then to vote against him.
Those who knew Mr. Chadwick intimately found him a very congenial companion and many good stories of his early life and of the scenes in the Legislature were told. He once related to a party of young men who were talking of marriage that after he had paid the minister $2.00 for the marriage fee, he did not have more than $5.00 left and with that he and his bride began life. In this incident he paid a high tribute to his wife and told the young men to get a good woman for a life partner, assuring them that there was no investment so good for a young man as marriage. “Your wife will stick to you through thick and thin,” he said, “and if you do the right thing you will find the girl of your choice to help you out.”
Chester Times, April 22, 1902
Mr. Chadwick was honored by his fellow citizens with public office, first as a member of the Council, then as an Assemblyman and it can be said that in all duties he was faithful and while never assuming to do anything of a brilliant character, he did better by doing all that he attempted with a degree of faithfulness that won even the admiration of his political enemies. That he filled the office of a member of the Assembly for several terms is the best tribute to his faithfulness in the discharge of his duties as a legislator. Later he was appointed to administer the business of the Chester post office, and there, as in all other places, he proved a good public servant.
Mr. Chadwick was a good soldier and was one of the many men to give his services to the Union when it needed defenders against a foe and his record in the army is well-known. He did not shirk duty and came back after an honorable service.
The most marked fact in the life of this man, this well-known and honored citizen, is that he began with no capital except good mechanical knowledge and a determination to get the best out of life – to win success if hard work would get him to the goal. His life shows what pluck and integrity of character will do when harnessed in the race of life.
Chester Times, Chester PA
Among the throng that participated in the sad rites were a number of men, some among them with whitening hair and beard, who in the long ago were apprentices in Robert Chadwick’s blacksmith and wheelwright shop at Third and Fulton streets. Some of them are still engaged in this pursuit, while others are following other callings. Those persons who gazed for the last time upon the placid features of their former employer were: Valentine M. Ingram, John Worthington, Richard Booth, Kirk Miller, C. T. Humes, Harry G. Ingram, Fred Woodington, William Seth.
In the gathering were also recognized men who were associated with Mr. Chadwick in the City Council, in the Legislature and in the post office. Hon. Isaac Garrett, who was a fellow member of the General Assembly and is now postmaster at Lansdowne was in attendance, as were ex-Postmasters William H. Martin, H. G. Ashmead and J. Lentz Garrett; Postmaster Thomas H. Higgins and the full corps of letter carriers, and John W. Armstrong, postmaster at Eddystone.
The services at the house were conducted by Rev. J. M. T. Childrey, pastor of the
First Baptist Church. The pall bearers were: Dr. R. P. Mercer, William J. McClure, Robert Singleton, and Harry S. Riley, representing the Masonic fraternity and Charles S. Randall and Benjamin Propert representing the surviving war comrades.
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© 2006 John A. Bullock III.
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