Benjamin D. Lester
Contributed by Anne Lester Voorhis Cole, great granddaughter
Murfreesboro, TN and her brother, Remsen Sheldon Voorhis II
Benjamin Domidick Lester was a private in the 'Burke Guards' Company A Third Georgia Volunteer Infantry. He was a student at Alexander Academy (location unknown) when he joined the regiment as a gentleman private on June 13,1861. Thirteen was a very lucky number for him as he surrendered at Appomattox, VA April 9, 1865. He was the only man in the county who came back whole apart from a bullet that stayed lodged in his cheek for the rest of his life. There is little information about his war service. In family letters he related that he witnessed first hand Generals Lee and Grant arrive for their meeting at Appomattox. He told of how grand Lee looked and always made a point of saying that Grant was 'slovenly' in appearance. When Grant dismounted he heard Grant say, "See that the boys in the back have something to eat and drink."
On December 19, 1865 he married Martha (Mattie) Catherine Pemble of Warrenton, Georgia. They set up housekeeping at the home of his wife's aunt Emma Mariah Saint Auburn Service at 408 Ellis ST, Augusta, Georgia. They lived there for the rest of their lives. They had two sons, Benjamin Ely and William Service, and two daughters. His daughters had very remarkable careers in their own right. They both were college graduates. Julia Lester Dillon became a teacher, noted landscape architect and author. Emma Service Lester Chase went to China as a Methodist missionary where she taught the young Soong Mei-ling (or Soong May-ling) who became Madame Chiang Kai-shek. They remained very close for the rest of her life.
He had a reputation as a notably gentle generous person. A characteristic habit of giving nickels and pennies to small children endeared him to his grand daughter Florence Lester. Her little hoard of coins hidden under a rug in her mother's room was a telling testament to a man who had beaten terrible odds to ultimately enjoy a long fruitful life.
Benjamin & Mattie Lester at the time of their marriage in 1865.
B. D. Lester with his wife and daughters, ca 1900.