The Tavern, North Chili, NY, where Chesbro started (Photo courtesy of Marston Memorial Historical Center)
In 1864, Free Methodist founder B.T. Roberts moved his family from Buffalo to Rochester, N.Y. His object in moving was to establish a school in the outskirts of Rochester, which is centrally located and easily accessible from all parts of the state.
Roberts hired Delia Jeffries to be the first teacher.
“He wrote me that he had purchased a place at North Chili, hoped to open a school, and wished me to consider that I had an application to become a teacher in the school,” Jeffries said. “In the fall of 1866, we opened a school in one of the rooms in the farm house.”
One of the first steps taken to ensure the welfare of the school [now Roberts Wesleyan College and Northeastern Seminary] was to secure the permanent closing of the tavern at North Chili. To do this, it was not only necessary to buy the building used for the tavern, but also the goodwill of the business.
It was thought the temperance people of the community would help to raise the $5,000 asked for the business. A large temperance meeting was planned and able speakers were procured. The Good Templars [a group advocating abstinence from alcohol] were out in force. The amount realized was about $25.
Realizing that from the professed lovers of temperance in the vicinity he was certain at least of profuse sympathy, he proceeded elsewhere to secure the funds necessary to close up the barroom that was making industrious men idlers, gamblers and drunkards. It was closed, and the blight of liquor was in a great measure removed from the community.
This article is a condensed excerpt from “Benjamin Titus Roberts: Late General Superintendent of the Free Methodist Church: A Biography,” published in 1900 by Roberts’ son, Benson Roberts.
Go to fmchr.ch/bensonroberts to read Benson Roberts’ full biography of his father.0