Chester Cemetery District serves the communities of Chester and Prattville.
According to Ronald McClish, one of the original Chester Cemetery District Board of Directors, the cemetery was conceived in 1956. McClish told an editor of the Chester Progressive, Kristin Woods, that the need for a cemetery was raised by the newly formed Men’s Fellowship of the United Methodist Church.
Following the circulation of a petition supporting the idea a proposal was placed on the ballot and was accepted.
In the spring of 1957, McClish, Bob Folk and Bob Shaw were appointed as the first directors.
Collins Pine Company donated five acres of land near the junction of California State Highways 36 and 89. Roadway access was acquired, land was cleared and a fence was installed. By the end of 1959 Chester Cemetery was a reality.
McClish stated that Gretchen Brown was the first person buried in the new cemetery, February 1960. McClish retired in 1995 at the age of 81. Topsoil was brought in and an irrigation system was installed. In 1962 a special “Veterans of Foreign Wars” area was dedicated. This section included a memorial plaque and flagpole. Each year on Memorial Day there is a celebration and memorial is held at the flagpole. According to McClish Irvin Adams was the original caretaker and held that position for, “three or four years.”
Over the years many individuals have served the cemetery, Norman McIntire, Kink Gains, Al Mullen, Wes Rives and Frank Jenkins are some that McClish mentioned.
In the summer of 1963 an active women’s club established a memorial park surrounding the caretaker’s building. The women’s club disbanded around 1980. As recently as 1990 the American Legion Auxiliary took over the care and restoration of the memorial park.
There are special sections for Catholics, and Masons. There is a section near the entrance to the cemetery that is designated exclusively for infants.
The Greenville Record reported in their June 14th, 1962 that Pacific Gas and Electric Company deeded the Prattville Cemetery to the Chester Cemetery District. The Prattville Cemetery was moved by the Great Western Power Company to its present location when the Almanor Dam was built and Big Meadows, the original site, was flooded. There was no clear title to the present cemetery until recently when PG & E, the successor to the Great Western Power Company acquired the title.
There are two other cemeteries that were involved in this action. One of these is on the east side of Lake Almanor and one on Benner Creek.
The bylaws established in 1960 and revised from time to time are currently under revision. There are no raised headstones; only
markers that are flush with the lawn are permitted. This restriction allows an easily maintained lawn area.
The cemetery has been developed in sections, as more space was needed. Chester Cemetery was originally designed for about 2,600 plots. Today the cemetery has been expanded to hold 2734 burial sites.