By Jonathan K. T. Smith
Copyright, Jonathan K. T. Smith, 1996


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THE JACKSON SUN, April 1, 1923
"Judge Chester G. Bond The Portrait of An Early Settler of Madison County," Written by Eleanor Hays Stegall

            It is axiomatic that truth is stranger than fiction and therefore a natural corollary would be that truth is more readable than fiction. Facts in the lives of those we really know are made our own; inspiration, courage and pride become the keynote of our actions when we read of the disheartening struggles encountered and overcome by those who have really lived and too, we satisfy that little corner of natural curiosity abiding in the mind of everyone as to the details of our neighbor's life. This age that we call ours is such an age of today with scarcely a thought of the yesterday that it might prove gratifying to turn the leaves back to glimpse a little of the romance seen in the "struggle for existence" of men who lived in ante-bellum Jackson; those men whose hardships formed the very foundations of the super-structure known today as "our town."

            Forget for a while the slick and shining Jackson of the present and walk with us around the court house as it looked prior to the addition of 1890 when the north and south wings were added; across the street where the Second National Bank now is Malone's Drug Store held forth, owned and operated by the father of the present Mrs. Ike Hefley; the postoffice was at the corner where French's stands today, its destinies guided by Jim Hughes, postmaster and grandfather of T. G. Hughes of this city. Hammond's Grocery Store did business where Claude Allen has his barber shop and Hefley & Daniel's was the one-story law office of Mr. Morrell who was also schoolmaster. Howell E. Jackson, later U.S. senator and judge of the Supreme Court of the United States and his law office on the site now occupied by the Marlowe Theatre. White Drug Co. is on the site of the law office of Judge Tomlin and the block of business houses west of that looked very much as it does with the exception of the old First National /Bank/ building. The row of business houses that extended from Marks Bros. to the present site of the postoffice was burned by the Yankees during the war.

            And separating this same court house from the row of business houses across the way was a veritable sea of mud when it was not dust; a large well was on the east side, a rendezvous of town gallants and gentlemen of the old school, a place where Old Wives' Tales and friendly gossip were exchanged just as it is today. Near such a scene was born on Dec. 14th, 1846, CHESTER GEORGE BOND, son of Mary J. Chester Bond and George Bond, at Elmwood Place, the home of his grandfather, Robert I. Chester, this place being later known as the Herron farm on Chester's Levee road at the intersection of the road that leads to Bemis. His mother dying when he was ten days old, his father during his fourth year, the boy, Chester, was reared by his great aunt, Narcissa Hays, sister of General Samuel J. Rays and sister-in-law of General William E. Butler, at the old Butler home where the Holt house now stands on South Royal Street. The flower garden of this home stood where now is the home owned and formerly occupied by Mrs. S. T. Dancy, there being no houses then east of Royal nor south of Chester until just about the time of the war.

            Chester was like all other boys in that he liked to hunt and trap and fish; his "Aunt Nar" was a great fisher-woman and almost any afternoon of spring would see the two of them wending their way through the woods that separated their home from the Forked Deer River for an afternoon of fishing. And being a typical little boy, he liked to hunt June bugs too. But unlike most of the boys of today, he was deadly afraid of girls. He says he looked at them - yes - but only to place them and to calculate the greatest distance possible to put between the two points, boy and girl, in the shortest given time. He went to school at what was then known as Temperance Hall, then under the leadership of Mr. Morrell, the lawyer; the school was located in the same building now occupied by the Griffin undertaking establishment. Amibitious "Aunt Nar" forced him to go to dancing school which was conducted in a wooden two-story structure which gave way later to the Masonic Hall building and under the excellent tutelage of a French woman, Madame Crire. He recalls that he attended six months, emerging as blithely ignorant of the intricate steps of the art as when he entered and, doubtless, proud of it. Anent the timidity that was his and which still brings blushes to his cheek, he recalls his first Valentine, a lacy affair, suggestive of such horrors as Love and Sweetheartship, all wrapped in a box to the feminine accompaniment of ribbons and sachet-Powders! It was sent him by Miss Ada Talbot, Sister of the present James Talbot of Highland Avenue.

            Other boys teased him about girls just as they do today and many was the time when he threatened to "rock" the first girl who invaded neutral grounds, a gesture more of envy of the ease and nonchalance of the girl


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arrangement of other boys than one of defiance on his part. He hardly ever came to tovn, his energies and recreations being directed toward the blessed oblivion of the river.

            Among early friends were Clarence Skurlock /Scurlock/, Caruthers Snider (brother of Finley and B. O. Snider of East Main Street), Billy Gates (father of W. W. Gates), Pat Marks, the present official historian of early Jackson and the late Ernest Bullock.

            Ernest Bullock once had a young cousin of the feminine persuasion who came to visit Mrs. Brown and Billy Gates who was quite a "ladies man" persuaded Ches to accompany him on a call there. He told Ches that he would "treat" him to a drink to fortify him against an attack of the dread "girlphobia" which would be due on such an occasion and to give him confidence in his powers as an entertainer. Consequently they visited old Peter Kelly's saloon up by the M. & O. track and proceeded henceforth to the call. Instead of being brought into juxtaposition with the girl, he found himself in perilous proximity to Mrs. Brown. Billy Gates having drawn the girl to one side (it was considered disgraceful then to call on a girl after having had a drink) and the power of the drink was lost in the darkness of his throat, for he did not open his mouth the entire evening for fear Mrs. Brown would detect the whiskey. So he was just where he started and from that day to this he never entered a saloon again. But his fear of girls remained a constant quantity. A memory that is indelibly impressed on his mind is that of attendance at school up at the old West Tennessee College now known as Union University. Mr. Davy Cochran, an old Presbyterian preacher weighing 300 pounds, was the teacher and he required his pupils to answer roll call before daylight each morning. If anyone were late, he would not hesitate to use the rod, recommended in the Bible, to enforce this rule of "early to school" this, was responsible doubtless for the instillation of early rising habits still adhered to. The sun never finds Ches Bond in bed, a custom oft deplored by the writer when she lived across the street and he, and our mother would pass the time of day back and forth at five a.m.

            A picture that will always remain is one of daily recitation of Latin grammar before dawn, a somber light being shed on the scene from tallow candles stuck in each desk. The pupils were allowed to go home for breakfast, returning immediately to complete their studies. Another memory that time has preserved is of the first view of Yankee soldiers. He and his cousin, Robert I. Chester (now living on South Royal) were seated on a fence, whistling as boys did and do, when a column of Yankees hove into view. They were encamped in Jackson mainly on South Royal and used the old Institute, the West Tennessee College and the Methodist Church for hospitals. About this time his grandfather moved over into Shelby county, near Wythe Station and Chester went over for a visit. One day he was riding home on horseback when the Yankees accosted him and ordered him to accompany them. When he came to the lane that led to home, which never had looked so good before, he said that his way led along this road. But the northern officers failed to see his point of view. Riding along a little further, however, another officer suggested that owing to his youth they would release him which they did, saying as a parting "bon mot" that if they were attacked that night they would catch him and hang him. After he reached home, curiosity led him, boy-like, back near their camping ground just to "see what they were doing" and surely Providence watched over him for if they had caught him, they would have killed him for a spy. An incident which showed another victory for the north over the South and one that broke a boyish heart one day Chester was coming home from the blacksmith's shop, riding a spirited horse and sporting a pair of new brass spurs the pride and joy of his life. On meeting a company of Yankee soldiers, one called out, "That is my horse", another, "That is my saddle", and the third, "Those are my spurs." In true climax, for of the three, the latter were valued most. And as Fate would have it, they were the only booty the soldiers finally claimed.

            Another time that this same power seemed to be on his side was when he was in company with his aunt, Phie Chester, drove to Hickory Wythe to see his grandfather on business, their route leading them across the Hatchie river. During the visit there a heavy rain came, flooding the river and making return by that route impossible. They came back through Bolivar, which was occupied by northern troops. Everybody that came in and out of the town then was required to have a pass which was issued only after the oath of allegiance to the Union was taken. Knowledge of this rule gave the little rebel many an anxious moment; because of his great length of limb he saw that it would be impossible to hide under the buggy seat and someone suggested that he try to conceal himself on the train that ran from Bolivar to Jackson. Taking a long chance, he boarded the train and locked himself in the washroom on the coach, riding safely to Jackson. His aunt Phie made the trip by buggy alone which required a full day.

            Chester Bond in May 1864, at the age of 17, joined the Confederate army at Verona, Miss. riding through on horseback. He was a member of Forrest's cavalry and participated among other services, in a raid up in Middle Tennessee when Sherman was on his famous march to the sea. He remembers fording the Tennessee river at Colbert Shoals


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near Cherolcee, Ala. Forrest was under orders to cut out communications of Sherman's army, they tearing up railroads, telegraph lines, intercepting supplies and reinforcements but all the time fighting, fighting. Afterwards, he was in Capt. A. D. Hurt's company (father of Mrs. Baily Nelson, formerly of Jackson) and they were appointed Brigadier-General Bell's escort. He never remembers sleeping under a tent during his enlistment and recalls vividly the feel of sleet and snow on his face as he lay sleeping undernearth the stars. But he was changed from a sickly lad to a strapping soldier, weighing more under such spartan training than ever before. He received his discharge at Gainsville, Ala. and rode home upon his horse. His parole signed by Gen. U. S. R. Canby bears the inscription on the back "I certify that Chester Bond is the owner of one horse" (by Capt. W. W. McDowell who had become captain of the company in the reorganization). He also has in his possession a war-time newspaper printed on wall-paper. It was a common thing for women to tear wall-paper from the walls to get the muslin used under the plastering in order to make clothes for themselves. He recalls how people dug up the dirt in the smokehouses and boiled out the precious salt, the drippings from the cured meats. Coffee was made from sweet potatoes or meal. After the war, he resumed his studies at West Tennessee College, going from there to the University of Mississippi at Oxford where he studied under a Gen. Sears, a peg-legged Confederate soldier of whom he tells the following. It seems Ches was particularly good in mathematics. One day he worked a problem in geometry, finishing up with the necessary Q. E. D. General Sears asked him if he had ever worked that problem before and on having a reply in the negative said, "That's good. Now Chester, don't get too big for your breeches" and history fails to record that he never did. From Oxford, he returned for another period at West Tennessee College, afterwards going to Jackson a full-fledged lawyer.

            An anecdote of his bachelor days concerned a wedding in which he was a "waiter" as the groomsmen were called then. It was the wedding of his good friends, Ed Mallory and Miss Callie Parker, who lived then at the intersection of Main and Royal. He was waiting on the couple in company with Miss Carrie Pegues (later the wife of his friend Billy Gates). Miss Rebecca Hurt (now Mrs. W. T. Nelson) was also in the wedding and came in directly ahead of Ches. In the wedding and during a most solemn moment, the sound or ripping satin rent the air and to Ches's horrified consternation he looked down and realized that his feet and his alone were the source of the disaster. He says he never sees Miss Rebecca to this good day that he does not get hot around the collar in an agony of shame and embarrassment.

            After the degree at Lebanon, Ches entered the law office of his grandfather, Robert I. Chester, practicing under the name of Chester & Bond. He later affiliated with the late Robert W. Haynes, then the firm name became McCorry and Bond (father of the late Judge Tom McCorry); then for a while he practiced alone till he found the present partnership with his son R. H. Bond. At the age of twenty-five, he was married to Miss Kate Royster of near Henderson, N.C. whom he had met while she was on a visit here. She used laughingly to say that she never would have gotten him had it not been leap year (1872). One of his friends, Albert Stevens, came to see them with the expressed purpose of seeing what manner of woman had overcome the early fear of women Ches possessed. From this union five children were born, Phie (Mrs. Allen X. Campbell), Chester, Jr., Robert Harold Bond, Mary and Royster, the latter two dying in infancy. The young couple started house-keeping very humbly, the writer recalling most vividly hearing them tell how they ate from a dry goods box, saying that young couples nowadays were not content to start with less than their own fathers had. When they built the present Bond home on East Baltimore, they were able to finish only two rooms and their front porch was only two boards laid expeditiously from steps to door.

            One of Chester Bond's most prized possessions is a walking stick that was given his grandfather by Mrs. James K. Polk, widow of the president, who was an intimate friend of Mr. Chester's. This stick was originally a part of the lower scarf flagpole of the middlepiece of the stern of the frigate Constitution now known as Old Ironsides. This was presented the president by Capt. Isaac Hall, the first commander of the ship and after his death, Mrs. Polk presented it to Col. Chester. The original letter of presentation in Mrs. Polk's handwriting is in the possession of Chester Bond and very highly prized by him. The stick bears three silver bands, each denoting the change in ownership and giving the donor's name. . . . Many little pieces that fitted together would form the finished mosaic of his life are necessarily missing, but we see him today as Chester Bond, lawyer, Confederate veteran and gentleman.


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The Jackson Sun, February 22, 1928

Judge Chester Bond, Nestor Of Local Bar, Dies at 91 Years Age

        Judge Chester G. Bond, 91, nestor of the Jackson Bar and one of this section's most prominent citizens, died this morning at 11 o'clock at his residence, 403 East Baltimore.
        Judge Bond's Death followed a lengthy illness of more than a year, the past several weeks of which, his condition had been such as to cause grave apprehension on the part of his family and physicians. While his condition was weakened, his passing this morning came as a shock to his family.

Born in Madison

        Judge Bond was born and reared in Madison County, the son of the late George and Mary Chester Bond. His grandfather, Colonel R. I. Chester was a pioneer settler in this section and for many years a leading citizen of Jackson.
        After completing his scholastic training at Jackson which included work at Union University, where he became an S. A. E., he graduated from the Cumberland University Law School in 1870.
        Two years later me married Miss Katherine Jane Royster of Vance County, N.C. and had already made himself a name as an able attorney at a law partner of Colonel Chester.
        For many years the hundreds of admirers of Judge Bond marveled at his activeness in civic and religious affairs. He was more than six feet in height and was never seen wearing glasses in spite of his advanced years and his tremendous amount of legal work.
        Always ready and willing to talk of current affairs, Judge Bond, unlike many elderly persons, did not dwell upon the past, but one of his prized possessions was his parole from the Confederate army. He entered the army to fight for his beloved Southland when only 17.
        For more than 50 years Judge Bond served as a ruling elder of the Presbyterian Church and teacher of the Men's Bible Class in the Sunday school. He was constant in his religious duties and through many years he attended all services in the First Presbyterian Church. For many years he also served as a chairman of the board of the First National Bank.

Outstanding Attorney

        His record as an attorney is one of outstanding merit and for many years the firm of Bond and Bond has handled all matters of the Mobile and Ohio Railroad and Illinois Central Railroad in this section.
        Judge Bond was one of the group organizing the Settlers of '61 and took high interest in the annual outings. Through the years his love of sports continued and vacation trips to Reelfoot Lake with is sons and close friends were events for all concerned. His interest in school athletics was remarkable and he was a familiar figure at such contests in Jackson. The High School Golden Bears regarded Judge Bond as their No. 1 support.
        He was a favorite with young and old alike and was not regarded as an elderly person by the many younger persons associated with him. His views of all questions were sought and respected.
        Judge Bond is survived by three children, Colonel R. H. Bond, law partner of his father in the firm of Bond and Bond and commanding officer of the 117th Infantry, Tennessee National Guard, Chester G. Bond, Jr. and Mrs. Allen Campbell, all of this city.

Funeral Wednesday

        The Funeral will be held at 3:30 o'clock from the First Presbyterial Church by the minister, Dr. Samuel Stanworth and the interment will follow at Riverside cemetery.
        The following pallbearers are requested to meet at the Griffin Funeral Home at 3 o'clock:
        Honorary Entire bench and bar of Madison county; elders and deacons of Forst Presbyterian Church; members of the Men's Bible Class of First Presbyterian Church; officers of the First National Bank.
        Active W. A Caldwell, Dr. W. G. Saunders, Hugh Hicks, T. G. Hughes, Gabe E. Allen, Jr., Judge Hu C. Anderson, D. F. Rice, Judge R. B. Baptist, Judge S. J. Everett and ben Warlick. Griffin Funeral Home will be in charge of arrangements.

Drills Are Prepared

        All formations of the Tennessee National Guard scheduled for this evening are postponed until Wednesday and Thursday nights at that hour, it was announced by Capt. A. P. Reasonover of Company "L," Capt. Gur R. Windrom of Company "M," and Lt. Laurence Moffitt of the Third Battalion Headquarters Company.

Flag at Half Mast

        The United States flag at the post office was ordered at half mast today as a tribute to Judge Bond. This is the first time that this recognition has been given a private citizen in Jackson.
        By a recent ruling of the governmental department, postmasters are privileged to order the flag on federal buildings under their jurisdiction at half mast when a citizen of known worth and importance in a community passes away.
        This public tribute to the long, useful and eventful life of Judge Bond will find wide favor in this section.


The Jackson Sun, February 23, 1928

Judge C. G. Bond Is Laid To Rest in Riverside
Impressive Services Are held at First Presbyterian Church

        Judge Chester G Bond, 91, one of this section's most prominent citizens, who passed away Tuesday morning at his home here after a lengthy illness, was laid to rest this afternoon in the family lot in Riverside cemetery following impressive funeral rites at the First Presbyterian Church.
        Many beautiful flowers at the church and at the cemetery were ____ tributes to the life of Judge Bond who was born and reared in this county and made Jackson and Madison county his home throughout his life. A civil and religious leader of importance, Judge Bond's life touched many and today the church was thronged to hear the brief and formal service of his church as pronounced by the minister, Dr. Samuel Stanworth. The church choir sang favored hymns of the deceased.
        The commitment service at old Riverside was quite simple and the judge was laid to rest beside his wife, the former Katherine Jane Royster, who preceded him in death many years ago.
        Out of respect for the judge, courts of the county were adjourned at noon today and practically the entire personnel of the court house attended the rites.
        The entire bench and bar of Madison county served as honorary pallbearers with the elders and deacons of the First Presbyterian Church, members of the Men's Bible Class of the church, and officers of the First National Bank.
        Active pallbearers were W. A Caldwell, Dr. W. G. Saunders, Hugh Hicks, T. G. Hughes, Gabe E. Allen, Jr., Judge Hu C. Anderson, D. F. Rice, Judge R. B. Baptist, Judge S. J. Everett and ben Warlick. Griffin Funeral Home was in charge.


Buried in Riverside Cemetery, Jackson, Tennessee, with tombstones:

C. G. BOND, Dec. 14, 1846-Feb. 22, 1928

KATHERINE J. BOND, W/O C. G. BOND, June 24, 1851-Oct. 4, 1916

The death certificate of KATE JANE BOND indicates that she was born in North Carolina, June 24, 1851 and died Oct. 4, 1916, Jackson; a daughter of S. S. Royster, born in Gloucester Co., Virginia and Jane Robards Royster, born in North Carolina.


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