Chester is a city located on the bluffs of the Mississippi River Valley in Randolph County, Illinois, United States. The population was 8,400 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Randolph County and is located 63 miles (101 km) south of St. Louis, Missouri.
Samuel Smith built the first home in Chester, established a ferry system, and began the construction of a mill in 1829. He is said to be the town's founder. It was his wife Jane Thomas, a native of Chester, England, who gave Chester its name as a tribute to her home town. The first business in Chester was a general store that opened in 1830 along with a castor oil press established by R. B. Servant, who furnished farmers with seed and growing methods to later buy the beans they produced for oil extraction. This was a flourishing business until the petroleum industry made it obsolete. The first wedding in the town of Chester was held on February 4, 1834. Content Walker, the bride and Amzi Andrews, the groom held their wedding in a 16 feet square log cabin. It was attended by the entire town. In 1839 the H.C.Cole Milling Company began.
The Cole Milling Company was founded by Nathan Cole in 1839. It started out as a small sawmill with a corn-grinding attachment which encouraged the towns people to plant grains and in a short time the first Cole flour mill was built. The mill still exists in Chester but it is now known as Con Agra Inc. Nathan Cole also brought the first electric generator to Chester and used the surplus of power from the mill to operate street lights. This was a modern convenience that was not even available in Chicago at that point. The generator is now on display at the Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.