The Governing and Advisory Boards of Wethersfield Historical Society award a scholarship to a graduating High School Senior. To be eligible students must have volunteered at the historical society and/or any taken the Wethersfield High School’s Wethersfield Studies class. The recipient is then chosen on the basis of a short essay submitted to our committee. In 2014 the topic was “In your opinion, what person, place or event has made a significant contribution to the history of Wethersfield, past or present?” The subject the 2014 winning essay was Colonel John Chester and was written by Kassandrah Banks.
Each year at the Memorial Day parade in Old Wethersfield, one can hear the ancient sounds of fifes and drums resonating from the Col. John Chester Fife and Drum Corps. The corps represents Colonel John Chester, a local born January 18th, 1749. This historical figure graduated from Yale College and soon became lieutenant of the local militia. The fife and drum corps that honors him, the oldest junior ancient fife and drum corps, continues to perform in his name to this very day. This man did many things for his town and for the freedom of our country.
Col. John Chester is recognized for his success as a Lieutenant in the Connecticut Colony’s Militia in 1771. We commemorate him for his leadership qualities shown during the Revolutionary War. Chester brought a group of one hundred men up to Massachusetts, where they settled in Roxbury, and played an important part in the Battle of Bunker Hill. Chester was discharged from military obligation, but re-enlisted under George Washington’s request. He was major but was named colonel in 1776. We also note him for his work after his days on the battlefields. After his retirement in the military, he became a Justice of Peace and a judge of Hartford County Court. He also worked in the General Assembly and as a supervisor of the United States Department of Revenue for the District of Connecticut. John Chester, a resident of Wethersfield, made a significant impact to our success in the Revolutionary War and to our town of Wethersfield.
I joined the Col. John Chester Fife and Drum Corps when I was four years old and have played in the fife line for several years now. Over ten years ago I saw the corps marching through Old Wethersfield during the Memorial Day parade and I immediately wanted to be a part of the organization. Since then, I’ve performed in hundreds of events, such as parades and memorial services. The uniforms we wear today are adaptations of the real ones worn by the Wethersfield Company, and the music is mostly from colonial times. “We try to keep the music alive.” said director, Arthur Hutchinson.
This corps has been a significant part of my life and I have dedicated many hours to practicing every Wednesday night with the corps. I’ve made many great memories through this organization, but every once in a while we should be reminded of why we represent John Chester. Every year at the Memorial Day Parade our director brings all the members to Chester’s burial stone and talks about him and his astonishing achievements. It’s important for people such as John Chester to be recognized even hundreds of years after their time. I think the corps does an excellent job of representing not only John Chester, but also for representing colonial Wethersfield. Col. John Chester made a very significant contribution to the town of Wethersfield, and this corps has kept his name alive and has given him the praise he deserves.
“Col. John Chester’s Fight For American Independence.” Wethersfield Historical Society. N.p., n.d. 1 April 2014
Howard, Nora. Stories of Wethersfield. Wethersfield. White Publishing, LLC, 1997. Print.
Hutchinson, Arthur. Personal Interview. 2 April. 2014.
Wieder M., Lois. The Wethersfield Story. Stonington: The Pequot Press, Inc., 1996. Print.