Thomas Mather Historical Marker Unveiling and Dedication
The St. Nicholas Brewing Co. and the Illinois State Historical Society cordially invite you to the unveiling and dedication of an historical marker honoring Thomas Mather, an early Chester and Illinois business and political leader.
Thomas Mather was born in Sainsbury, Connecticut in 1795. His father, William Mather, fought in the Revolutionary War and was related to Cotton Mather, the New England minister associated with the Salem Witch Trials. Thomas Mather migrated to the village of Kaskaskia in 1818 and quickly became a business and political leader, advocating for the building of a steamboat landing at the confluence of the Kaskaskia and Mississippi rivers. Smith’s Landing, later renamed Chester, grew and thrived. Mather served 4 terms in the Illinois House of Representatives, two terms in the Illinois Senate, and one term as Speaker of the House. A strident abolitionist, Mather participated in public debates over Illinois’ “free-state” constitution, and helped keep slavery out of Illinois.
Mather’s many commercial ventures included building a warehouse on this site in 1830, the foundation of which remains. Mather moved to Springfield in 1830 and built a home on what became known as “Mather Hill.” Here he entertained dignitaries such as Dorothea Dix, the mental health reformer who lobbied for a state asylum in the 1840s, and Cassius M. Clay, the Kentucky abolitionist who gave an anti-slavery speech on the site heard by Abraham Lincoln. When Lincoln died in 1865, Springfield leaders picked Mather Hill as the site for the proposed Lincoln tomb. Mary Lincoln overruled them and chose pastoral Oak Ridge Cemetery instead. Nevertheless, Mather Hill was chosen as the site to build the new Illinois statehouse in 1876.
This event is free and open to the public.
The St. Nicholas Landmark
111 Ferry Street
Chester, Illinois (Map)