1886 - 1958
1888 - 1964

Chester Jerome Mullen was born March 19, 1886, on the family ranch, south of Redding. He attended local schools, played in a band and participated in sports. Apparently he was about twenty when he became interested in photography; his earliest known pictures can be dated by the age of his subjects and were taken about 1908.

On September 16, 1917, when he was thirty-one, he married Bertha Williams, a widow two years younger than he. Chester could have helped build most of the eighteen houses on the 1200 block between Oregon and Court Streets during the 1930s. It is not known how many buildings Chester worked on, but someone said, "Chester helped build that Church, then he photographed it when it burned."

He broke his back in a fall while building the grandstand at Tiger Field and wore a brace for the rest of his life. He did not allow this to restrict his activities; his pictures are evidence of fishing and hiking trips.

Chester and Bertha led quiet lives, participating in church and community activities. They were surrounded by relatives; Uncle Tom Mullen's widow, Anna, lived across the street near Roy's house, Josie lived back of Anna's house on Court St. and his McNeil cousins lived in the next block on Court St. The McNeils left the County and Chester survived his siblings.

In 1939, Chester sold his property to Roy F. Brown for a furniture store and moved to Shasta home he and Roy had built. Chester died of valvular heart disease, May 16, 1958. Bertha sold all Chester's films and photography "junk" to Wanda Grooms and moved back to Redding, where she died January 26, 1964.

In 1977, Wanda Grooms Adams was leaving Shasta County and she gave most of this collection to Shasta Historical Society. Thirty-two thousand were in this collection. And two thousand, nine hundred have been catalogued by our volunteers.

Webster traces the word "avocation" to Latin roots meaning "to call away". Photogaphy was definitely an avocation for Chester; it called him away from other activities to provide us with a wonderful pictorial history of life in the first half of the twentieth century.

Source: Shasta Historical Society - February 1997

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