In the late 1800s and early
1900s, travel of more that 5 or 10 miles was difficult and time consuming. Before
the coming of trains and the automobile, a trip from Chester Township to the city of Grand Rapids would take up an entire day, with over half of that time spent in traveling. Since Chester Township was a small, rural area, people looked for formal ways to get together, other than at church on Sundays. Many community leaders were instrumental in establishing local chapters of fraternal
and benevolent organizations. In addition to aiding in socializing, these organizations
usually helped out member families, neighbors and friends in times of hardship and need.
These groups built meeting halls and held such things as dinners and dances, which would bring the entire community
Between 1868 and 1910, six
local chapters of national organizations were established in Chester Township. Three additional organizations were established between
1948 and 1957. Of these nine organizations, only three are still in existence.
The table below lists the
Chester Township organizations in the order of their establishment. Each name in the table is a link to a page
with more information about that particular organization