Oscar B. Chesley is one of the later settlers in Nez Perces County, but he is a pioneer in the place where he now resides, having come to Rock Creek and started the town of Chesley in 1899. He established a general merchandise store, got a post office located, and since that time has been doing a good business, and in addition to those industries mentioned he also operated a hotel. Mr. Chesley is a man of ability and enterprise, and has shown himself a valuable citizen. In political matters he is active, always taking part in the affairs of state. In his walk he is a man of integrity and has won the good will and esteem of all who have the pleasure of his acquaintance.

Oscar B. Chesley was born in Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, on March 15, 1864, being the son of Israel and Jemima (Hendricks) Chesley. The family dates back for many centuries and the family tree is without break in all this long time. The Chesleys were always noted in the military actions of their day and took a prominent part in the Indian and Colonial wars.

The original emigrant, Philip Chesley, came to America from Dover, England, and was among the founders of Dover, New Hampshire, in 1642. The descendants scattered from this point, and in 1758 Camuel Chesley, who joined the colonial forces, went to Halifax and the following year settled on a grant of land in Nova Scotia allowed for military services. The father of our subject descended from this branch of the family and was born at Granville, Nova Scotia, and later immigrated to Canada, finally settling on his new farm at Campbellsport, Wisconsin, in 1850, where he still resides. The mother of Oscar was a descendant of the early Pennsylvanians and was born in that state; later moved to Wisconsin, where she was married, lived and finally died, in 1900.

Oscar was educated in the Fond du Lac high school and then taught for several terms; in 1887 he came to the Black Hills country, South Dakota, and settled at Oelrichs, where he edited and published the Oelrich’s Times, a weekly newspaper. He also acquired title to over four hundred acres of land there, which he still owns. Mr. Chesley was elected clerk of courts of Fall River County, South Dakota, on the Republican ticket, and also served an unexpired term of another incumbent.
On May 30, 1898, near Omaha, Nebraska, Mr. Chesley married Miss Minnie J., daughter of Charles G. and Louisa (Roberts) Laing. The father came to the country where Omaha now stands when there were but two houses, and he fought the Indians several times. He was a native of Canada, of Scotch extraction. The mother of Mrs. Chesley was born in Illinois. Mrs. Chesley ‘s brothers and sisters are Prince C, Lizzie Graham, and Rose, Cyrus, Margaret, Lena, Kirk, at home, in Springfield, where Mrs. Chesley was born. Her uncle William and his three sons were killed near Oberlin, Kansas, by the Indians. Mr. Chesley has two brothers, Walter W. and Arthur D.

Mr. Chesley is a member of the M. W. A. and of the I. O. O. F., while he and his wife are Church people. He was admitted to the practice of land law in South Dakota. He had four uncles who fought for the Union, and two were killed in battle, one died before he came out of the war and one came home and died from the effects of his hardships. Mr. Chesley is one of the leading men of his section, and his ability in business matters, his careful management of the affairs of life entitles him justly to this position. In the fall of 1902 Mr. Chesley was nominated by the Republicans to the office of probate judge.

Back to: Nez Perce Biographies

Source: An Illustrated History of Northern Idaho, Embracing Nez Perce, Idaho, Latah, Kootenai and Shoshone Counties, Western Historical Publishing Company, 1903