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Alonzo Chesbrough (1817-1887)
Born in Dorset, VT, long-time resident of Toledo, OH., investor in Bay City, MI.

Biography. (Added Nov., 2009)

History of Northwest Ohio, Vol. II (1917)


Probably no industry brought out the elemental strength and virtues of hardy manhood to greater advantage than lumbering as carried on in the palmy days of that industry, before it was made a matter of machinery and technical organization. The old time lumbermen have been described as present to the world a picture of complete adequacy, such as it would be difficult to match in any other walk of life.

It was with lumbering as a trade requiring all the virile qualities of manhood that the late Alonzo Chesbrough began his career, and for a great many years he was actively identified with the lumber business particularly in Northwest Ohio and in Michigan. By his enterprise he helped to make Toledo a great transportation and business center.

He was born in Dorset, Vermont, in 1817, and was about seventy years of age when he passed away at his home in Toledo January 30, 1887. When about twenty years of age he left his Vermont home among the Green Mountains and started out into the world to seek his fortune. His only capital was an unusually sturdy physique and an ability to work hard and a determination to succeed. On arriving at Lockpart, New York, he sought employment with Cameron & Moody, manufacturers of and dealers in lumber. The firm needed no help just at that time, but young Chesbrough was not satisfied with this curt explanation. He asked permission to work for nothing until he could demonstrate what he could do. Such as request could not reasonably be refused. Accordingly the young man was sent out with a gang of choppers, and in a few hours his work had won such admiration that on the following day he was put on the payroll at the highest rate of wages paid to men of his occupation. From that time for upwards of twenty years until 1855, Mr. Chesbrough remained with the firm of Cameron & Moody and beginning as a chopper he went through all the grades of service and responsibility until he managed the great and extensive lumber interests of the firm. He had by this time accumulated sufficient capital to justify him in starting a business of his own, and his study of conditions and his usually keen foresight brought him to Toledo, where he was ever afterwards a citizen. He came to that city a thoroughly experienced lumberman in all the details of the industry, and he soon had a large and flourishing business.

Few local business men were more widely and favorably known over Northwestern Ohio than the late Alonzo Chesbrough. He became acquainted with farmers and laborers as well as business men on his own plane, and everywhere was known for the high probity and strict integrity of his character. He was of the type of man now almost old fashioned whose verbal promise was just as good as a written note. To such character he united untiring energy, and therefore his success came as a matter of course. With the extension of his local business he acquired a large tract in the timber regions of Michigan, as well as in Ohio. For the last twenty-five years of his life his business headquarters were with the old firm of Bell, Emerson & Company, wholesale grocers, at the corner of Madison and Summit streets, this company being subsequently known as Emerson & Company. For more than thirty years prior to his death Mr. Chesbrough had his home in East Toledo. Besides his vast timber interests he was connected with other financial enterprises, and had served as vice president both of the Second National Bank of Bay City, Michigan, and of the Exchange Bank of Lockport, New York. Mr. Chesbrough proved invaluable to both these institutions.

Like many of the old time lumbermen Mr. Chesbrough had an almost infallible knowledge of human nature, and it is said that he was rarely deceived in men. In the flourishing days of the old lumber industry it was necessary for a man, in order to succeed, to assemble about him a small army of daring, hardy and efficient employes, and the judicious selection of such a staff of workmen was really of greater importance than capital and no doubt it was the faculty of judgment so thoroughly trained and so accurate in Mr. Chesbrough that enabled him to conquer success in spite of any natural difficulties.

In 1855 at Niagara Falls, New York, Alonzo Chesbrough married Miss Sarah J. Tufford. She was born at Niagara October 13, 1825, her father a native of New Jersey and her mother of Vermont. In 1874 Mrs. Chesbrough joined her husband in Toledo and here she became well known in social circles and a woman of many fine characteristics. After the death of her husband she lived with her son Aaron until she passed away May 17, 1893, at the age of sixty-eight.

The four surviving sons of the late Alonzo Chesbrough are: Fremont B. of Boston, Massachusetts; Frank P. of Detroit, Michigan; Abram M. of Toledo; and Aaron of Toledo.

Chesbrough Bros. - Added July, 2011.

History of Saginaw and Bay Counties, Michigan 1892.


This firm consists of F. P., of Bay City, A. M. and Aaron, of Toledo, Ohio. They some years ago, about 1878-79 and '80, had milling and lumber interests in Bay City, established by the father, A. Chesbrough. They sold this place in 1881 and the firm went to the Upper Peninsula in Chippewa County, where they have large mills and a tract of pine land.

F. P. Chesbrough resides in this city with his office here but the business is mainly conducted in the north. He came here with his parents in 1869, and in 1881 went north and looked after the interests of the firm and there remained until 1886, when he came to this city again and has made a permanent home here. He was married to Miss Addie McCormick, a daughter of W. R. McCormick, one of the oldest settlers of this place and whose sketch will be found in another part of this volume. The Chesbrough Bros. deserve the credit of opening up the lumber business at Emerson, Chippewa County. They had to clear the timber away so as to erect their mill, the first on on White Fish Bay. There was not even a settler there on their locating in that region and now quite a town has sprung up. The firm has a fine mill with a capacity of one hundred thousand feet per day. They also conduct good stores and it is on account of the milling operations that the town is what it is to-day. The mill is connected with the railroad and has telephone accommodations and the prospects are that their beginning will make quite a settled country. They own a tract of pine land sufficient to last for eight years to come.

  • F. P. is Frank P. Chesbrough. His marriage to Addy L. McCormick was on April 25, 1883. He was 20 years old, and she was age 18.
  • Frank's brother, Fredmont B. married Addy's sister, Matilda W. McCormick on July 7, 1880.
  • See bio of William R. McCormick for additional genealogy.

    Alonzo, who resided in Toledo, Ohio, never set up residence in Bay City, but was part owner and an officer of the Second National Bank, of Bay City. He had made his wealth in lumbering, which led him to investments other investments here as well. He set up his sons in the lumber business in Michigan, which they carried on at various locations around the state. His son, Fremont B., was living in Bay City, is believed to have handled the family's lumber interests here. Perhaps the most signicant attachment he had locally was lumber from his mill in Bay City that was used for the frame in building the Iron-clad Monitor, at the beginning of the Civil War.

    Additional Notes.

      Chesebrough Genealogy @ Rootsweb.

    • Alonzo Chesbrough (1817-1887), parents were Abraham Chesbrough, (1784-1827), born in Taunton, Bristol Co., MA, and Asenath Stevens (abt. 1876-?), born in Doreset, Bennington Co., VT.
      -- Children: Isaac C., Joanna, Abram M., Alonzo, Thermuthus, Eliza, Aaron C., Mary P.
    • Alonzo's "first marriage" was about 1837, in Vermont, to Thirza Campbell, (b. Feb. 10, 1819 in Tinmouth, Rutland Co., VT) .
      -- Children: Thirza, Sylvester, Samuel, Phrania, Adelia, Anna, Mary, Alonzo, Jr.

      1870 - History of Bay County, Michigan. (1905)

    • Page 47 The Rifle Boom Company was organized in 1870. The present officers are: -- A. Chesbrough, president; E. T. Carrington, secretary; John Heath, treasurer.

      1879 - History of Bay County, Mich., 1883.

    • GEORGE C. MEYERS MILL. - In 1851, the firm of Watrous, Soutworth & Co. built a mill on the site of the present Meyer Mill, corner of Thirty-eighth and Water streets. The old mill was torn down in 1878 and rebuilt by Mr. A. Chesbrough, who sold it to its present propiertors in 1881. The mill employes about twenty men, and cut last year 6,250,000 feet of lumber.

      1883 Directory, Bay City, Mich.

    • Cheesebrough, Alonzo vice-pres Second National Bank, res Toledo, O.
    • Chesbrough, Fremont B. - lumberman, res n s 23d e of Wilson.
    • Second National Bank Southwest corner of Center and Washington. Incorporated and organized May 1874. Capital and surplus, $250,000. , President; A. Chesbrough, Vice-President; Orrin Bump, Cashier; M. M. Andrews, Assistant Cashier.

      1887 - Death.

    • Alonzo is buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in Toledo, Ohio.

    Viewer contributions:

    Dec. 31, 2011 - By Andrea Kolodzinski, descendant.

      1906 wedding of my g-grandparents Frederick Kramer Handy and Helen Jane Chesbrough.

      Names: (1) Hazel Wenthworth (2) Marie Cantor (3) Wm. J. Chesbrough (4) Grace Chesbrough (5) Helen Jane Chesbrough bride, daughter of Frank P. Chesbrough) (6) Agnes Chapman (7) Frederick K. Handy (groom, son of George W. Handy) (8) Merrel Coit (9) Alis Stone (10) Florine Handy (11) Anna Kramer Handy (12) Addie McCormick Chesbrough (wife of Frank Chesbrough) (13) Robert Rose (14) Frank P. Chesbrough (son of Alonzo) (15) George W. Handy (brother of Thomas Handy) (16) Sid Knox (17) Eugene Smith (18) Bronie Morgan.

      1940s wedding reception of my grandparents Frank P. Handy and Mildred Isabel Switzer.

      Names (left-right): Chesbrough (Cheb) Handy (son of Helen and Frederick Handy), Frederick Handy Jr. (brother), Unknown Huebner (wife of Robert Huebner); bride & grome - Mildred Isabel Switzer and Frank P. Handy (son of Fred and Helen Handy).
  • Related Pages/Notes

    Alonzo Chesbrough

    Fremont B. Chesbrough son
    Sketch 1907

    Related Pages:
    Handy, Thomas L.
    McCormick, Wm. R.
    Chesbrough Mill
    Ironclad Monitor
    Ridotto Building
    People Referenced
    Andrews, M.M.
    Bump, Orrin
    Campbell, Thirza (1-wife)
    Carrington, E.T.
    Chesbrough, Aaron C. (bro.)
    Chesbrough, Aaron M. (son)
    Chesbrough, Abraham (father)
    Chesbrough, Abram M. (bro)
    Chesbrough, Adelia (dau.)
    Chesbrough, Alonzo (subject)
    Chesbrough, Alonzo, Jr. (son)
    Chesbrough, Anna (dau.)
    Chesbrough, Eliza (sis.)
    Chesbrough, Frank P. (son)
    Chesbrough, Fremont B. (son)
    Chesbrough, Isaac C. (bro.)
    Chesbrough, Johanna (sis.)
    Chesbrough, Mary (dau.)
    Chesbrough, Mary P. (sis)
    Chesbrough, Phrania (dau.)
    Chesbrough, Samuel (son)
    Chesbrough, Sylvester (son)
    Chesbrough, Thermuthus (sis.)
    Chesbrough, Thirza (dau.)
    Heath, John
    McCormick, Addy L.
    McCormick, William R.
    Meyer, George C.
    Stevens, Asenath (mother)
    Tufford, Sarah J. (2-wife)
    Subjects Referenced
    Bay City, MI
    Bell, Emerson & Co.
    Boston, MA
    Cameron & Moody
    Detroit, MI
    Dorset, VT
    Emerson & Co.
    Exchange Bank
    Lockport, NY
    Myers Mill
    Niagara Falls, NY
    Second National Bank
    Tinmouth, Rutland, VT
    Toledo, OH
    Watrous, Southworth Co.
    Woodlawn Cemetery
    Related Images

    Frank P. Chesbrough

    Wife, Addie McCormick
    Internet Resources
    [--] The Story of Wilwin (Mich.) Chesbrough family history associated with lumbering in Michigan.
    WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.