Joseph Chesky

JOSEPH CHESKY has had his home in Kansas nearly forty years, and is one of the old time business men of Nickerson. Though retired from the mercantile field in which his activities were engaged for so many years, he is still a man of affairs in that community and is president of the Nickerson State Bank and is one of the largest land holders in Reno and adjoining counties.

In this outstanding figure of Nickerson is represented the Province of Posen, Prussia, Germany, where Mr. Chesky was born February 6, 1853. His father, John Chesky, spent his life in Posen, where he was born in 1816 and where he died in 1868. He was a meat dealer, and considering the somewhat circumscribed position of the private citizen in that country he was a man of more than average influence and ability. He served on the city council and on the school board of his home community. He was a member of the Catholic Church. The maiden name of his wife was Antonio Jaroch, who was born in Posen in 1818 and died there in 1886. Only two of their five children came to America. Cecilia is the wife of John W. Wocknetz, living at Ripon, Wisconsin, Mr. Wocknetz being a carpenter; Anastasia died in the old country; Anna still lives there; the fourth in the family is Joseph, and the youngest, Mary, is also a resident of Posen.

Joseph Chesky grew up in his native country, was educated in the common schools, and learned the meat business under his cousin, Joseph Adam. He was only fifteen years of age when in 1868 he immigrated to the United States and for some years worked in a meat market at Ripon, Wisconsin. In March, 1879, Mr. Chesky came to Kansas for the purpose of looking up a permanent location, and after traveling over a large part of Northern Kansas he established a meat market in Nickerson. He supplied the best quality of provisions for that town and a large surrounding country for over thirty years, his market on Main Street being one of the landmarks of the business district. In January, 1913, he sold this business, but still has many interests to require his time and energy. Mr. Chesky has for the past eight years been president of the Nickerson State Bank and is also a director of the Hutchinson Packing Company. Very early in his career he began investing his surplus in land, has developed much of what he owns, and is one of the larger land owners of the state. His farms in Reno County aggregate 960 acres, while in Pawnee County he has 320 acres and 480 acres in Grant County.

Mr. Chesky cast his first presidential vote in America for Tilden in 1876, and has been steadily a democrat ever since, in national affairs, though it is not unusual for him to split his ticket according to the dictates of his independent judgment. He has been much in the public life and affairs of Nickerson, having served on the council, and for seven consecutive years was a member of the school board until August, 1917. For one term he served the town as mayor, and while mayor he originated permanent sidewalk improvements, the first brick sidewalks of the city being laid at that time. Mr. Chesky was reared a Catholic but now affiliates with the Protestant Lutheran Church. For many years he has served as treasurer of Nickerson Lodge No. 43, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, belongs to Nickerson Camp, Modern Woodmen of America, and was for twenty-five years if not now a member of the Ancient Order of United Workmen.

In 1881, at Great Bend, Kansas, shortly after he came to the state, Mr. Chesky married Miss Amelia Arndt, daughter of William Arndt. Her father was a teacher in the Province of Posen and died there. Mr. and Mrs. Chesky have four children: Bertha, wife of Charles Ragland, living at Hutchinson, Kansas; V. E., of Halstead; E. J., of Hutchinson; and F. H., of Wichita.


A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written & compiled by William E. Connelley, 1918, transcribed by Michael Jones, student from USD 508, Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, May 2, 2000.

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