top of page


William Albert


9 Jun 1853


Near Brownsville, Michigan

Date of Death:

Place of Death:



Properties Owned:


According to John Wiley's book History of Monrovia, W.A.  Chess, after a public school education, clerked in his father's general  store.  At that time, he was 17 years old, but he soon decided he wanted  to continue his education in commercial law and business at Clinton,  Iowa.  He then returned to Michigan and worked in Cassopolis, Michigan.   On November 22, 1888, he married Mary (Minnie) B. Smith.

He and  his wife moved to western Kansas to work in the sheep business.  He was  joined there by his brother Edward.  In 1885, the brothers started a new  enterprise, an animal feed store in Garden City, Kansas.

Based on  the good news about Monrovia from a younger brother, Frank, the Chess  family closed out their feed business, packed up, and came to Monrovia  in 1887.

W.A. Chess worked as a bookkeeper at the First National  Bank and then later as a cashier when the back consolidated with the  Security Trust and Savings Bank in 1924.  After 35 years of banking,  Chess retired in 1925.   William was not only very adept at finance, but  also a poet and  essayist.  He assembled some of his work in a book, Fireside Fragments.

Chess  also served as Monrovia's deputy assessor, compiling the towns first  assessment.  Additionally, he served as town treasurer from 1894 to  1896.  He was also involved in civic groups and served on the library  and park commissions.

William and Minnie Chess had two children:  Claude Smith, who had a radio business in the early years of the last  century, and Edna A. who taught art at Monrovia High School.  Claude  married Kathleen Berry, and they had one child, Robert William.  Claude  Chess lived almost all his life in Monrovia, dying on July 30, 1960.

Edna Anita Chess never married and died in 1952.

His  first house was on Ivy Avenue, his second at 301 W. White Oak (now  Foothill) Avenue, where the Aztec Hotel stands today.  He was encouraged  by the city to move to a house at 153 Highland Place because it was  felt the city needed another hotel.  He lived in the Highland Place  house until his death in 1937.

Minnie continued to live in the house for some years after William's death.  She died in 1944.

bottom of page