Chester's History

By:Ernie Wiggins


It’s been nearly 30 years since Holllywood came calling on the Olde En​glish District town of C​hester, originally the village of Chesterville.

Television producers brought lights, cameras and lots of action to Chester -- along with big name actors like Charlton Heston and Billy Dee Williams -- in 1983 to film the TV miniseries Chiefs.

Historian Ron Chepesiuk wrote in The South Carolina En​cyclopedia that the motion picture production boosted the local economy, which like many communities in the South was going through some tough times. The program, which centered on three generations of police chiefs investigating a series of murders in a southern town, was broadcast in November of that year and was later nominated for a few awards.

All of that TV limelight did not spoil Chester’s considerable charm, however. The quiet town is still a history buff’s dream -- from Monument Square, “the heart of the city,” at the top of the Hill to the business district down in the Valley. The Chester County Historical Society dates most of the structures downtown to between 1870 and 1900, description of which are included in the society’s walking tour booklet.

One of the city’s more interesting, or peculiar items in the Monument Square courtyard is the Aaron Burr Rock, the monument for which was erected in 1938. “After Aaron Burr’s arrest on the charge of treason for trying to found a Republic West of the Mississippi, he was brought as a prisoner through Chesterville in 1806. He briefly escaped his captors and here on the town hill and made a plea for help to the citizens of Chester as he stood on the rock,” according to the walking tour booklet.

The former vice president of the United States was returned to his horse and led out of town and eventually acquitted of the treason charges.

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