Life & Career of John Foy Chidester

John Madison Chidester was the son of John Peck Chidester, born 22 Jan 1809 in Pompey, Onondaga Co., N.Y. Came to Utah in 1850.

Married Mary Parker in New York (daughter of Joshua Parker of New Haven, Conn.)  Their children were: John Peck, David, Eunice, Darwin, Joshua and Ester. Was a Walker Indian War Veteran. Carpenter and millwright. Died 30 Aug 1883, Washington Co., Utah.

John Peck Chidester, born 23 Dec 1831, Somerfield, Monroe Co., Mich. Came to Utah in 1850. Married Susan Foy 23 Oct 1851, at Salt Lake City, Utah (daughter of Thomas B. Foy and Catherine Fink, pioneers of 1851) She was born 4 Apr 1831, Wheatfield, Indiana Co., Pa. their chidlren were: John Foy, Susan Emma, Lodema, Elizabeth, Mary Catherine, Edgar, Emeline, Eveline, and Myron. Family home in Washington Co, Utah. Bishops counselor. Veteran Black Hawk Indian War. Carpenter and farmer. Died 10 Jan 1897.

JOHN FOY CHIDESTER was born at Spanish Fork, Utah Co., Utah 2 Feb 1853, but while yet very young the family moved to Washington Co., where he had experiences peculiar to the pioneer development of the state. He shared in the ahrdships and privations incident to the settlement of the frontier and attended the schools of the locality, but the school system had at that time been developed only to a limited degree. He used to walk to St. George and back everyday, getting there in time to make the fire as he was the janitor and kept the key to the school house.

His father being a carpenter made his own violin but was very particular about letting anybody else handle it, in fact he told the children not to touch it but John being very anxious to play this instrument and having two very willing accomplices — his mother and more especially his aunt — (whenever his father would go away from home) would assist him in getting the violin to practice on. This went on for some time until John could play every tune that his father could play. His aunt rejoicing in this knowledge approached the father with the word that Johnny could play every tune that he himself knew. He could hardly believe this so the two made arrangements for him to pretend to go off while she would have John get the violin out and play – the father to come back and listen. At the conclusion of his playing and while he yet had the violin in his hands, the father appeared in the doorway. Of course the son was very much disturbed imagining all kinds of dire calamities to be heaped upon his head, but not so with the father for he was so surprised and even more pleased that he gave John the violin right there and then and gave him lessons on it. John having learned only by ear.

He entered public life in Washington Co. as a constable and afterwards followed various avenues of endeavor until 1883, one of them being the leasing of a ranch in Nevada for about three years at the end of which he traded his crops for about fifty ponies taking them to Washington and trading them or selling them so that he was able to buy him a home. He then moved to Panguitch, Garfield, Utah and determined to make the practice of law his life work. He there pursued his reading of Kent, Blackstone and other commentaries and in 1885 was admitted practice before the Supreme bench of the state. He followed his profession for ten years prior to admission of the state into the Union and with the vital problems which came up for settlement concerning the transformation of Utah from a territory to a state he was closely, prominently and helpfully associated. He served as a member of the constitutional convention while a member of that body he made a determined fight for womans suffrage and other progressive measures. He was afterwards elected state senator from Garfield Co., to the first general assembly in 1896 and aided in the adjustment of public policy and interests of the new statehood. Before that, however, he was county clerk and recorder, also treasurer and city attorney two years when his term as senator had expired he was elected district attorney of the sixth judicial district which office he held for ten years. He was the first Republican chariman of Garfield Co., and also delivered the first Republican speech in the county after the division on national party lines. In 1902 he was appointed judge of the sixth judicial district to succeed W.M. McCarty who had been elected a member of the supreme court, and upon exiration of his appointive term he was elected and remained upon the bench for ten years. In 1911 he became the candidate of his party for member of congress but was defeated by a small vote. In 1912 he was appointed a member of the state land board and served until his death. Through out the entire period of his public service his course was marked by the most earnest devotion to duty – a devotion that manifested itself in close study of every vital situation or problem and unfaltering effort to bring about the best results for the commonwealth.

In his church work, too, the same energy and capacity were displayed as in the other fields in which he labored. He served as a missionary to the Southern States for two years; also as a M.I.A. missionary to the Sanpete and Sevier Stakes for six months. He was superintendent of the Panguitch ward.

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