Aldrich History Project

Chapter LII

John Mitchell Chase

CHASE, JOHN MITCHELLThe subject of this sketch was born in Cuyahoga county, Ohio, on the 11th day of March, in the year 1820. Of the children born to Benjamin and Eliza (Swan) Chase, he was the fourth, there being three older and one younger than he.  In the year 1823 the family left Ohio, and took up their residence in Broome county, N. Y., where, in the next year, the father died, leaving to the mother the care of the children, and with no means for their support, save alone that acquired by the labor of her own hands.  At the age of seven years John M. was placed under the care of strangers, and performed such work as could be done by a child on a farm, In this manner, living about, he passed about six years, when, with an uncle, John Swan, father of "Squire" Henry Swan, of Ansonville, he came to Pennsylvania and stayed about three years, working on Mr. Swan's farm and elsewhere. After this he returned to Broome county, traveling the entire distance on foot; in fact he thrice made this journey, a distance of nearly two hundred and fifty miles between these points.  After working in various places about Binghamton for about two years, and boating on the old Chenango and Erie Canals, rendering his mother and step-father (his mother having remarried) such assistance as lay in his power, young Chase returned to this county.  He made a purchase of a parcel of land and commenced an improvement, but through disappointment, not discouragement, for the latter was foreign to his nature, he gave up this land, and thereafter worked around for about two years.   He next bought a piece of land on Little Clearfield Creek, and built thereon a small cabin in which he lived.  This cabin, or shanty, was a rudely constructed affair, having a small opening for means of entrance, and before which he rolled a log to prevent intrusion by wild animals which infested the locality.   Having enlarged the building and made it a fit habitation, he sent for his parents, and for the remainder of their days upon earth this son was their main stay, comfort and support.

On the 18th day of September, in the year 1845, then being twenty-five years of age, John M. Chase united in marriage with Tobitha, daughter of William Williams. Of this marriage eleven children have been born, nine of whom are still living.

Being possessed of indomitable courage, and good, sound judgment, Mr. Chase successfully overcame the poverty, trials and hardships incident to pioneer life, and happily and deservedly acquired a home in the county, bordering on Clearfield Creek, but, in 1852, moved over into the northwest part of Woodward township, where he made a comfortable home, and where he has ever since resided.  His chief occupation in life has been lumbering, and it is a well and authenticated fact, that in this pursuit, he has been eminently successful, and acquired vast tracts of land, aggregating about seven thousand acres in extent, and on these tracts there still stands some of the best timber in the county; moreover, large areas of the land are known to be underlaid with coal deposits, but the latter have not been developed to any considerable extent. 

On the 14th day of August, 1862, in pursuance of what he believed to be a plain duty, Mr. Chase enlisted in Company B, One Hundred and Forty-ninth Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, and, at the organization of the company he was elected to a lieutenancy, but Governor Curtain, whose personal friend he was, soon after appointed him to the position of regimental quartermaster.  Mr. Chase remained in the service about nineteen months, when, having lost the use of his limbs, he was discharged upon the surgeon's certificate of disability.

No less noticeable and no less eventful than his life as a man of business, has been the life of John M. Chase as a Christian gentlemen. In early life he was, in a measure, under the teachings and influences of Universalism, to which, for a time, he had strong inclinations; but, having been brought into frequent residence with families whose faith and tendencies was more orthodox, and where daily prayer was observed, he gradually changed his views, and, as a result of earnest thought and deep conviction, he became converted.  Later in life he was led under the influences of the Baptist Church, of which he became a member, and still later, a minister.  He was regularly ordained in the year 1870, and for a period of nine years, officiated in various localities in the county, but his health failing, he was advised by physicians to retire from active ministerial labor.

Although he has never been an aspirant for political preferment, Mr. Chase has been an active thinker and worker in such causes as he believed to be for the general well-fare.  He was before the war, a thorough and proclaimed abolitionist, and as such "shouldered a gun."  He afterward held to the principles of the Republican party, but finally became an outspoken advocate of prohibition, working zealously in that cause.

Source: Pages 695-695, History of Clearfield County, Pennsylvania, edited by Lewis Cass Aldrich, Syracuse, NY: D. Mason & Co., Publishers, 1887.
Transcribed August 1999 by Elizabeth Westfall Johnson for the Clearfield County Aldrich Project
Published 1999 by the Clearfield County Genealogy Project

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