The history of Chesterfield, Indiana differs from other towns in Madison County, although each is tied by a common bond.
Union Township, where Chesterfield is located, was organized in 1830. It is the smallest township in the county, consisting of only 19.5 square miles.
The first settler was William Dilts in 1821. He settled on the east side of Mill Creek for about three years. The place he had selected was entered out from under him by a name named Joshua Baxter. This act upset Dilts, and he moved up the way into Delaware County.
A few years later he came back and entered 160 acres just east of where he had first settled. Here he built a log house which he opened as the first hotel in that part of the county. Next he built a brick house, the first of its kind in the township near the log house.
Not long after Dilts had settled in 1821, Frederick Bronnenberg came through on his way to Illinois with his ox team. One of the oxen gave out near the Dilts place, and Bronnenberg asked for help. Dilts told him that the roads west were worse than the ones he had traveled so far, so the family decided to stay. One of their children, who was ill at the time, died. The Bronnenbergs moved into an abandoned cabin of an Indian trader named McChester.
In 1822, Amasa Makepeace and his family came to settle in Chesterfield. These three men, Dilts, Bronnenberg, and Makepeace helped to shape the destiny of the Union Township and the whole county with their industriousness.
Makepeace built a mill on Mill Creek under the condition that the neighbors would construct a race for the water to run. Before that time people had to take their meal several miles away to Pendleton, Ind., to get it ground.
Bronnenberg built a sawmill on White River soon after. Burrs for grinding both corn and wheat were added later. Before long a carding mill made Chesterfield a self-sufficient little community.
Makepeace and Bronnenberg owned most of the land in the township. West Union or Chesterfield was laid out by Makepeace in 1830. The commissioners changed the name to Chesterfield in 1834. The town was not incorporated until March 11, 1858.
There was much activity in Chesterfield in 1862 and was known for being more lively than the county seat. The first lodge in Madison County of Free and Accepted Masons was held in the upper story of a two-story building in Chesterfield.
No one seems to know why or how Chesterfield lost its early prestige. The businessmen invested in other parts of the county during the gas boom years in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and left Chesterfield to the ambitious farmers.
Frederick Bronnenberg owned the land where Mounds State Park is located. He stipulated in his will that whoever bought the land should not disturb the Native American ancient mound works there. His wish was honored and many have enjoyed his beneficence in the quiet beauty of the park.
In 1890, the State Spiritualist Association purchased 30 acres of land north of Chesterfield for a campground. A large auditorium was built with seating for 500. The grounds were used during the group’s annual meeting in August.
Chesterfield today is not as industrial as it once was. But, it still has many of the same things that made it so convenient. A shopping center has replaced the mills and the Anderson Airport is just outside of town. State Road 32 divides the town on one side and the bypass on the other. Chesterfield is easily accessible to I-69 which goes south to Indianapolis and north to Fort Wayne.