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Hon. Robert Chadwick



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
Front page, above the fold

Hon. Robert Chadwick Passes Away Suddenly

End of Life Story of Upland Boy Who Began at the Bottom Of the Ladder and Climbed to Success.

Mechanic, Business Man, and Legislator

Wagon builder at Third and Fulton Streets, a Soldier of the Civil War,
Member of City Council, for Years a Representative at Harrisburg,
Member of State Commissions, Postmaster of Chester and One of
The Sturdy Men Who Helped to Develop the City.

The community was shocked shortly after the noon hour yesterday to learn of the death of Robert Chadwick, although the event was anticipated for some time by his family and nearest friends because of his enfeebled physical condition due to the effects of a severe illness several months ago and the subsequent affliction of Bright’s disease of the kidneys. He had been noticeably failing as the days progressed, but his phenomenal vitality and indomitable pluck kept him upon his feet and he was a daily visitor to his place of business, which he gave his personal attention until the last. He was at his shop yesterday morning and returned to his home at 220 West Seventh Street at 11:20 a.m. At 12:20 he breathed his last. The funeral will take place at 2 o’clock Thursday afternoon, from his late home, interment to be made in Chester Rural cemetery

Mr. Chadwick was one of the best known men in Delaware County, having represented this city in Council and the county in the House of Representatives at Harrisburg. He was also postmaster in this city.

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.

Throughout his life Mr. Chadwick was a stalwart Republican and was notably honored by his party to which he never swerved in fealty nor violated a trust reposed in him by his fellow citizens. He was elected a member of City Council from the old South ward in 1877 and re-elected in 1880, serving two continuous terms of three years each.

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.

In December, 1889, President Harrison appointed Mr. Chadwick Postmaster in this city, which office he filled with the same faithfulness and careful attention to detail that characterized all his transactions in his private business and public life.

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.

Deceased was also a veteran of the Civil War. On August 5, 1863, he enlisted as a private in Company I, 114th Pennsylvania Volunteers, which became celebrated as the Collis Zouaves, and was honorably discharged at Arlington, VA, on May 29, 1865. He was a comrade of Wilde Post, No. 25 Grand Army of the Republic, and of the Union Veteran Legion.

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 one of the factors in the development of the city from its period of swaddling clothes to its present condition and he did a great deal of work in the movement that brought Chester from the old borough to a thriving city. He not only contributed by his industry to effect this end, but as a member of the City Council gave much of his time to the labor, a labor that is often permitted to pass in this city with no thought on the past of the people of the great service that is being rendered, though much time must be given to the duties of the position of a member of the law making body of the municipality.

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.

The Chadwick-Lees campaign will never be forgotten by the men who took part in it, for it was one of the most vigorous of the many fights that have stirred the voters of the county to action. Mr. Chadwick was not a speech-maker in the ordinary acceptance of that term, yet he appeared on the stump in that canvass and one of the notable addresses of the campaign was delivered in the old City Hall, which then was the meeting place of the citizens of Chester. At that meeting he challenged any man to show that he had taken a dollar wrongfully at any time in his career. He won the fight, though the party was split in twain.

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

Hon. Robert Chadwick

Hon. Robert Chadwick, whose death is recorded by the Times to-day, is one of the many illustrations of the opportunities that lie in the path of every American boy. He came of plain and unostentatious stock, was educated in the public schools, learned a trade, then with the world before him started out to make a living and to acquire more than a living if hard work and attention to business would bring such results. He was a good mechanic, for what he did he did well, so that the young wagon builder soon acquired a reputation for ability and honesty and his career as a business man in Chester began with a rock bottom of honest dealing. What he acquired, he acquired by hard labor – it was the honest product of his brain and muscle.

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 
Friday April 25, 1902

Front page, above the fold


Soldier Comrades and Fellow Citizens at the Bier.


Members of the Grand Army, Business Men, Manufacturers and Those Associated in the Fellowship of the Fraternal Lodge Room Follow the Casket to the Silent City of the Dead.

Several hundred persons, representing all sections of the county and State, assembled yesterday afternoon at the bier of Robert Chadwick in tribute of love and esteem. The dead brave soldier, faithful public official, progressive business man, upright citizen and affectionate husband and father presented a peaceful appearance as he reclined within the casket surrounded by beautiful flowers and floral emblems placed by loving hands and as tokens of highest regard. Sixty-nine magnificent white and pink roses, one for each year of his earthly pilgrimage, were deposited upon the foot of the coffin by the attaches of the post office, while all about were other like evidences of the loving remembrance of relatives and friends.

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. 

As one of the brave defenders of his country’s flag in the days of ’61-’65 deceased was identified with the 114th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, and several of his surviving comrades followed the remains to their final resting place in Chester Rural cemetery. They were: Charles S. Randall and William Grew, of Frankford; Alfred M. Lance and Benjamin Propert, of Philadelphia; James Waugh, of Chester. There was also a large delegation from Wilde Post, No. 25, Grand Army of the Republic, of which deceased was at one time a member.

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. 

Chester Lodge, No. 236, F. & A. M., and Chester Chapter, Royal Arch Masons attended in a body and the beautiful and impressive Masonic burial service was read at the grave by Edward Nothnagle and other officers of the lodge and chapter.

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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