Hon. Chester Pike, a prominent citizen of Sullivan County, New Hampshire, residing in Cornish, his native town, was born July 30, 1829, son of Ebenezer and Judith (Bryant) Pike. On both his father’s and his mother’s side he is descended from distinguished ancestry, and from families that have been conspicuous, not only in the history of New Hampshire, but in the history of the nation. His grandfather Pike was born in Newbury, Mass., and came to Cornish in early manhood, the first of the name to settle here. He bought a farm and a mill on Blow-me-down Brook, and devoted himself to farming and to carrying on the mill. He married Mary Marcy, of Hartland, Vt.; and they had three children-Ebenezer, Chester (first), and Pliny. Chester, first, who never married, died in Northumberland when about thirty-five years of age. Pliny Pike was a farmer of Cornish, and died in that town at the age of seventy years.
Ebenezer, father of the subject of this sketch, was born in Cornish in 1788, and died in 1862. After completing his studies at school, he purchased and carried on one of the largest stock-raising farms in the county, raising thoroughbred horses for the Boston market. With the exception of Mr. Wainwright, of Vermont, no one else of his time Mr. Ebenezer Pike was always alert to make a good bargain. He traded horses then as well as jack-knives and other boyish knickknacks, and this natural business ability was the foundation of his success in life. In politics he was a Whig, but was not ambitious for political honors, and did not meddle in public affairs, his large business interests being sufficient to absorb his entire time. His wife, Judith, daughter of Captain Sylvanus and Sarah Chase Bryant, of Cornish, bore him two children-Chester and John B.
The younger son, John B. Pike, was born in February, 1830, and was educated in the common schools of Cornish, in Hartland, Vt., at Kimball Union Academy, and at Norwich University, Vermont. He then went West, and was engaged for a while as a civil engineer. Afterward he kept a hotel in Cincinnati, Ohio, and later in Chelsea, Vt. In 1863 he was appointed Deputy Provost Marshal, and after the war he was for many years a mail route agent between St. Albans, Vt., and Boston. He next went into the insurance business, in which he has since continued. He married Louise Parker, of Plainfield, and is the father of two children-Chester J. and Luther Henry Pike. Chester J. Pike is living in Boston, and is general selling agent for a large rubber company. He is one of the chief promoters of one of the largest combines in New England, and was a short time ago written about as one of the five young men of this period to draw the largest salaries in New England. He married and has two children. Luther Henry Pike lives in Boston, and is a member of the well-known rubber firm of Converse & Pike. He has one child.
On his maternal side Mr. Chester Pike is descended from the Chases and Bryants, early settlers of Cornish. Three brothers-Samuel, Moses, and Caleb Chase – came from Newbury, Mass., and were the first settlers in the township of Cornish. They landed at the mouth of Blow-me-down Brook; and there Moses, great-grandfather of Mr. Chester Pike, built the first house ever erected in the town of Cornish. The homestead is now owned by the Hon. Charles C. Beaman, a wealthy New York lawyer, son-in-law of the Hon. William E. Evarts and partner in the firm of Evarts, Beaman & Choate. Mr. Beaman makes this his summer home; and he has expended a fortune on beautifying the estate, in which he takes great pride on account of its historic associations. Caleb Chase, the youngest of the three brothers, had a daughter, who became Mrs. Sarah Chase Kimball. It was she who founded the famous Kimball Union Academy which has fitted so many New Hampshire men and women to hold notable positions in life. Mrs. Kimball was a greataunt of Mr. Pike. Other distinguished members of his family, were: General Jonathan Chase, Bishop Philander Chase, and Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase.
Chester Pike received his education in the schools of Cornish and of Hartland, Vt., at Kimball Union Academy, and at Plainfield; and after his school days were over he worked on his father’s farm for a number of years. For several winters he taught school, and at the age of twenty-one he became an agriculturist and a dealer in horses. He still has some very valuable stock on his farm, which occupies one of the best sites in New England, on the banks of the Blow-me-down Brook and adjoining the estate of the Hon. Mr. Beaman. Beautiful Blow-me-down Brook has its source in the cloud-curtained hills of New Hampshire and its outlet in the stately Connecticut River. The origin of its name is unknown. The estate, comprising some Mr. Pike had become the owner of this magnificent property by the exercise of his native business talents and by courteous and honorable dealing in all transactions. He has been largely interested in wool, and was a member of the firm of Dudley & Pike, having a market in Boston.
Although having these extensive business interests, he has found time to devote to the general affairs of his native town, and has brought to bear upon questions of public welfare the same sagacity and keenness of intellect that he has applied to his personal affairs.
His fellow-townsmen have appreciated the value of his sound judgment and practical ability, and almost every office of trust and responsibility in the gift of the town has been tendered him. He was for several years Selectman; in 1859-62 he was County Commissioner for Sullivan County; in 1862-63 he was sent to represent the town in the legislature, and was on the Committee on Manufactures the first year, and Chairman of the Committee on Banks the second; in 1887 and 1888 he was again elected to the House of Representatives, and was Chairman of the Committee on Railroads. He was appointed United States Provost Marshal in 1863, to serve during the most trying days the country has ever seen; and the able and successful manner in which this difficult position was filled gained for Mr. Pike the gratitude of all his constituents. The Commissioner was the Hon. F. A. Faulkner, of Keene; and the Surgeon, Professor Dixi Crosby, of Hanover. In 1866 Mr. Pike received the nomination for Councillor of the Fourth District, but declined to accept. He was subsequently appointed United States Collector of Internal Revenue, and held this appointment until the districts were consolidated. In 1883 and 1884 he was a member of the New Hampshire Senate, and also in 1885 and 1886, when he was President of the Senate. He has been a Director in the Claremont National Bank for twenty-five years, and has been a member and officer of the Sullivan County, the Connecticut River, the New Hampshire State, and the New England Agricultural Societies.
In 1862 Mr. Pike married Amanda F., daughter of the Hon. Levi Chamberlin Fay, of Windsor, Vt. She has borne him four children, only one of whom, Chester Fay Pike, is living. He was born in Cornish, May 11, 1869. After acquiring his education he went into mercantile business with his uncle, Edmund S. Fay, in Portsmouth, N.H., where he remained for two years. He then went to Boston, and was travelling salesman for a rubber company for two years; and at the end of that time he was with the firm of Converse & Pike. After much persuasion on the part of his parents he was induced to return to Cornish, where he has resided for the past year.
Mrs. Pike was born at Reading, Vt., in 1833. Her father was much interested in military affairs, and won the title of Major. She is a direct descendant on her father’s side of Governor Lincoln, of Massachusetts, and on her mother’s side is connected with the celebrated Sherman family, which numbers among its members by blood or marriage General Sherman, Secretary of State John Sherman, ex-Senator Evarts, Senator Hoar, of Massachusetts, and the late Judge Rockwood Hoar.