This letter was written by Charles Carroll Chase (1830-19xx) to his brother, Horace Gair Chase (1827-1913) — two of three sons born to probate judge Horace Chase (1788-1875) and Betsy Estabrook Blanchard (1789-1843) of Hopkinton, New Hampshire. Betsy died when the boys were young and his father remarried in June 1844. At the time this letter was written in May 1845, Horace was apprenticed to the mathematical and nautical instrument store of Samuel S. Thaxter & Son in Boston, then being managed by Samuel Thaxter Cushing (1821-1882). Horace remained for over a year, boarding with the Cushing family, until his health failed. Off duty hours found young Horace at the library, various church and temperance meetings, and occasionally at the theatre. His politics at this time were yet undecided and he attended Democrat and Whig meetings with equal enthusiasm. By 1847, Horace was back in Hopkinton working as a cobbler.
In 1852, Horace followed his brothers Samuel Blanchard Chase (1823-1896) and Charles C. to Chicago, where he became employed by real estate dealer James H. Rees, who with Edward Rucker originated the land abstract system in Chicago. In 1855, Horace and Samuel Chase joined fortunes with James Rees to form Rees, Chase & Co. Eventually, Mr. Rees was bought out, and the firm became Chase Brothers & Co. Over the next decade and a half, the fortunes of the firm improved, and Horace settled at 864 Prairie Avenue, and in 1869 at 924 Prairie Avenue. This latter address is now the 1900 block of that street, a neighborhood described in Mayer and Wade’s Chicago: Growth of a Metropolis as “the focus of fashionable living” in the 1860’s. The Chase home was a block away from the Marshall Field mansion erected in 1874 and three blocks from the Philip Armour home.
In 1870, brother Charles C. Chase joined Chase Brothers & Co.; the fourth partner being George H. Bailey, and the office located at 48 LaSalle Street. After the fire of 1871, in which the Cook County abstract records were destroyed, it was found that Chase Brothers & Co. and two other abstract firms (Shortall & Hoard and Jones & Seller) had each lost part of their indices, but together had a complete set, with some duplicates. The three firms therefore merged, and still later consolidated with Chicago Title and Trust. Immediately after the fire, Chase Brothers & Co. established its offices at 299 W. Washington Street. Horace maintained a separate loan business with John B. Adams as well.
This interesting letter provides a glimpse into the life of Charles C. Chase during a two-week period in May 1845, capturing his day-to-day activities logged as a journal.
Addressed to Horace G. Chase, Boston, Massachusetts
Hopkinton, New Hampshire
May 27, 1845
Dear Brother Horace,
I received your very welcome letter of the 25th yesterday noon for which accept my best thanks. A few weeks or days ago, Father received a paper from you asking him about getting you some clothes. He & mother think you had better get them made there and mother says you must charge the tailor to put in good linings, put in good drilling for the pockets, & good delicia for the other linings. She says she thinks you had better get them made there because you cannot be here to try them on &c.
I will now write what I have of the Journal &c., commencing with Wednesday, May 15. I started about nine o’clock with Katy & Bub for Concord. We got down there about ten, an hour and a half before the time for the cars to go out. We first went to Mrs. Curtis’ and staid there about half an hour & then I carried them down the Depot where we found Lizzy Lerned. I staid there until they started & then went up to the street & did a few errands and got started for home about one o’clock. It was very warm and I did not hurry home. I got home about half past two, tired enough with a tremendous headache.
Thursday, May 16. I staid in the office & Father went to Hillsboro to attend a reference. It rained a little in the morning and was very cold. They told Father at Hillsboro that Andrews had received an appointment in Boston as chief clerk in the Custom House under Gen. McNeal with a salary of fifteen hundred dollars, but the poor fellow was taken sick the day he was to have started for Boston. He died at his brother-in-law Parker’s & they told Father that his mother & sister were going to move up to Hillsboro & his brother was going to Boston to take his place. I believe Mr. Grimes’ folks told Father & I suppose it is true.
Friday, May 16. I went up to Warner in the forenoon. Mother was not very well & I went after Dr. Savory. I staid in the office in the afternoon. Mr. Harthorn was at our house to work, drawing out man____ &c.
Saturday, May 17. I staid in the office all day.
Sunday, May 18. I went to meeting all day at the church & to a third meeting at the Baptist vestry to hear a new minister they have got on trial.
Monday, May 19. I went down to Mr. Harthorn’s before breakfast. I staid in the office all day. Father received a letter from you & I received one from Sam & one from Charley Chase. Sam’s was dated the 11th inst. & he was then well & at the same business. He said he had expelled one “stewdent” (as Pref. Good calls them) for he said he was benevolent. He wanted to communicate to others the joys of expulsion which he himself had “tasted so largely.”
Tuesday, May 20. I staid in the office all day. It was training day and there was the usual number of company out (viz, two) — the Phalanx & the old String beans. They were both quite full & trained very well.
Wednesday, May 21. I staid in the office all day. After supper I went over to see if Capt. Spofford would come out to work for Father.
Thursday, May 22. I staid in the office all day. Capt. Spofford was to work at our house breaking up.
Friday, May 23. I staid in the office all day.
Saturday, May 24. I staid in the office in the forenoon & went up to Mr. Smiley’s in the afternoon to mill. Father sold Old Bill to Uncle Virgil & a man came down on the stage after him & started off with him in the afternoon. You can tell Josiah that the poor old lame horse (as he called him) has gone.
Sunday, May 25. Father & mother went up to Warner and I staid to home & kept house all alone, though I went to meeting all day.
Monday, May 26. I staid in the office all day. Wrote a long letter to Sam. Received your letter. Father went to Concord to attend Probate Court &c.
Now for things in general. About my coming to Boston, I don’t know. I do not think Father will go because it will be busy about haying time and he will want to be at home. I have not heard him say a word about it, & this is only what I suppose. I should like to come first rate & mean to if I can. Tim is going down the 4th of July & wants me to go with him very much, but I should rather come sometime when you can go round with me, but how so never if I don’t go we will have a good time when you get home. I think we had better get some percussion caps & try them, & if I come down we can see about it. I wish Wilder had caught Moss for I think he is a real scap. Father went to see his mother about that bill & she wouldn’t do anything about it.
You wrote that you wanted me to write how mother was. She is better now than she was last week but her health is not the best that ever was. She keeps about and works some for she can’t be contented without she is doing something. I reckon if she is careful, she will get along. I wish she would go to Boston for I think it would do her good & maybe she may go.
I have written considerable & must close. Excuse all mistakes, &c. Love from all & accept this from your affectionate brother, — Charles C. Chase