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 Solomon Drake Chase

Solomon Drake Chase

Bristol, Addison County, Vermont, USA
Death 22 Feb 1891 (aged 72)
Springville, Utah County, Utah, USA
Burial Springville, Utah County, Utah, USA
Plot Blk. 3 Lot 4 Pos. 2
Memorial ID 84602 · View Source
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(Written by his daughter Mrs. Mary J. Chase Finley)

On the records of the first church of Roxbury, now called Boston, MA, in the handwriting of the Rev. John Elliot who was first pastor of that church, is the following entry:
"William Chase, he came with the first company which brought Gov. Winthrop in 1630, bringing with him his wife, Mary, and oldest son, William, who later went with a company who made a settlement at Yarmouth. Later two brothers came from England and helped to settle Hampton, New Hampshire."

They were men of large families and soon spread to adjoining colonies, some to New York and Vermont. Thus, through history and family records we can trace the connecting link through twelve generations of the Chase family.

We find the name among those who were foremost in the making of the early history of the United States: Signer of the Declaration of Independence, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and aide-de-camp to George Washington, in Lincoln's cabinet and other offices of national importance.

In the history of Utah's industrial development, no name is more deserving of honorable mention than that of Solomon Drake Chase, a descendant of these hardy pioneers.

He was born 10 April 1818 in Bristow, Addison, Vermont, near the Green Mountains. His father, Abner Chase, was a veteran of the War of 1812. His mother, Amy Scott, was the daughter of a Vermont farmer. Both parents were from sturdy and devout families. Courage and fortitude are two characteristics that have predominated in both lines in all recorded generations.

His father cleared the land for his farm, but left a large Maple Grove where they obtained maple syrup and sugar. The life was hard and the hours of toil were long, but they lived there many years.

His early education was obtained in the common school of his native city.

His father died when he was ten years old, leaving his mother with nine children, five sons and four daughters. The oldest son, Sisson was married and his mother went to make her home with him, leaving the homestead which still goes by the name of Chase Hollow and is located at the foot of Tater Hill. Sisson tilled the farm and tried to make a living for his family, his mother and sisters, the younger boys going to live with relatives.

Solomon lived with his mother's brother, Orrin Scott, and an Uncle Solomon Drake on whose farm he led a typical farm boy's life. He attended school in an one room country school house during the winter and did farm work during the summer. It was here, probably in the neighborhood of Bristow, upon one of the streams where sawmills were utilizing the waterpower, and from his reminiscing, it appears that some of his training was obtained in the home and mills of his Uncle Drake. When he was 18 he left the Drake home and went to Detroit, Mich., to the home of his sister, Melissa Chase Clark, and worked as an apprentice to his brother in law, Lucian Clark, in his fanning and threshing machine factory. He remained here until he had finished his trade as a carpenter and joiner and then went to Sparta, New York, where his uncle’s Ezra and Isaac Chase and their families lived. Here he laid aside the Quaker religion of his fathers and joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints, being converted by Peltiah Brown who also converted the whole family. A branch of the Church had been organized and meetings were held in Isaac Chase's home.

It was at a wedding reception of his cousin, Desdemona Chase, to John Gleason that he met Lydia Ann Thorn, the daughter of a well to do farmer. After the Sunday evening services at this home on 19 April 1840, Solomon D. Chase and Lydia Ann Thorn were married. Elder Isaac Chase performed the ceremony.

At this time the Chase and Thorn families were preparing to move to Nauvoo, Illinois. Lack of finances prevented my father and his wife from starting west with the others. They stayed in Sparta two years, then with baby Harriet went to Rochester, Ohio. Here he was employed by the Rochester Fanning Mill Co. for several years in the mechanical shops. After working in other communities in 1846, they, with their three children, Harriet, Charles, and Nancy, took the boat on the Mississippi River and landed at Southport, Wisconsin. When he finished his contract there, they went on to Racine, Wisconsin, where he was employed by the threshing machine and Fanning Mill Co.

My mother was so anxious to continue the journey westward that she learned to weave the sieves for the threshing machines, which were made by hand. After father had heated the wire in order to make it pliable and hung it in the frames, which were made at the factory, my mother wove the sieves and sold them by the piece. She was able to make quite a salary. Due to their economy, they accumulated enough money to buy a span of horses, a wagon and other necessities for their journey to Iowa where they arrived in 1850. They had been just ten years reaching their goal. Their joy was beyond measure upon meeting their relatives and friends who had been driven out of Nauvoo, Illinois, and on to Iowa.

At Iowa, preparations were made again for the journey to the Rocky Mountains. At this time, Grandmother Chase's son in law, Jacob Bigler, gave her twin calves, stating they were to bring her to the valleys. My father raised and broke the calves to work. When they were three years old they were yoked and hitched to a wagon my father had made for the purpose. And the three-year-old steers hauled Grandmother and her belongings to Salt Lake City.

While in Iowa, my father got out and seasoned the timber for two wagons, one for himself and one for his brother, Sisson. About the first of June, the little company of 20 wagons, 10 men and their families, all relatives, including two grandmothers, Mary Ann Thorn, and Amy Chase; Solomon D. and Sisson A. Chase; Richard, Ashel, and Joseph Thorn; besides several extra teamsters, left their temporary home at Kanesville, now Council Bluff, Iowa, and on the 7 June 1853, they crossed the Missouri River and made their final start to Utah.

A little company of horse and ox teams was well equipped for making the long journey. The wagons were loaded with the necessities for such a trip. The cattle were driven by the children walking in head of the train of wagons. The company was organized under the regulations of the LDS Church. Each male member performed his various duties. Joseph Thorn, Jr. and my father were the blacksmiths and wagon repairers. My father was also to look after the health of the group. Some of the men were organized for guard while others did the various camp duties. When the company came to a favorable spot where there was good water and the right kind of timber for making charcoal, they would stop long enough to burn a good supply to have in case of emergency. On these stops the women would wash, patch, darn their clothing, bake and churn, and make further preparations to continue their journey.

With but few exceptions, the trip was without incident. At one time while driving or swimming the cattle across the Platte River my father had to swim the river in order to keep them on the opposite bank. He was carried into an eddy, although he was an expert swimmer, and almost lost his life. Dan Bagley, who was one of Richard Thorn, Jr.'s teamsters, was seriously ill with Mountain Fever a number of weeks. But with my father's medical skill and his young bride's constant nursing, he regained his health.

After a trip full of interest, this little company arrived in Salt Lake City 10 September 1853. They were three months and three days making the trip after leaving the Missouri River.

My father settled in Salt Lake and engaged in mechanical operations. He has the distinction of being the first importer of material into Utah for making fanning mills, having brought the supply for this purpose. The following winter after his arrival he made three fanning mills, one for Brigham Young, one for John Deal of Springville and one for himself. He also worked on the first flourmill in the territory on his Uncle Isaac Chase’s farm. This uncle also claims the distinction of being the first importer of material to Utah for making flour mills in 1847; the material being brought from Nauvoo, Illinois.

After the old Chase mill had been dismantled, my father, with Lorenzo Johnson and others built the first saw mills in Cottonwood Canyon for the Church. While at work in the canyon, my father and the Johnson’s made our home in Cottonwood Ward of Salt Lake City.

In 1858, however, he moved to Springville. Among the useful pioneers whose career conferred pronounced benefit on the community in which they carried on active pursuits of life that of my father, Solomon D. Chase, occupies a front rank. After coming to Springville he followed the business of carpenter and contractor. In 1862 he built the first real cotton factory ever built in Utah at Springville, and well merited the reputation he acquired as mechanical genius. In 1861 he made the first threshing machine, including a separator, ever built in Utah and thereby conferred an inestimable boon to small grain growers. With only the crudest tools he constructed every part of the thresher and it did excellent work. In fact it vied with the accomplishments of the factory-made machines where he had worked in the eastern states. The iron and steel parts were made from iron and steel salvaged from parts of the military prairie schooners abandoned by the government here. Subsequently he built three other threshing machines, which were brought by residents in other parts of the territory. He also operated a threshing machine of his own in this section for many years.

My father was a skilled mechanic who conducted his building operations honorably and with fidelity to the trust reposed in him by his patrons. As a result his services were in demand. Among the buildings that display his handiwork are the White Meeting House, the first public school house, the city hall, Deal Bros. & Mendenhall business block, Co op store, Packard Bros. store and a large number of private homes including that of Nephi Packard on Main Street, Wm. Bringhurst's, William Kelsey's, and Milan Packard's, and the H. M. Dougall residence. (All these buildings are still standing in 1957)

In 1871, father and my brothers built the first sawmill with turbine wheel and circular saw. It was built in Wadsworth canyon in what is known as Chase Hollow. This mill was successfully operated for many years. Much of the lumber from this mill was used in many of the finest homes and barns in Springville. In 1879 my father and husband, A. W. Finley, contracted and built the first railroad bridges spanning Spanish Fork River.

His brilliant intellect, activity, and industry bestowed marked benefits on the community in which he was an important figure. Having acquired some knowledge of medicine and surgery in his Eastern home for many years, he was the only doctor and surgeon in this vicinity. Never once did he charge for these services. While he was not a graduate of medical school, he was closely associated with the leading doctor of the territory, Dr. Francis Lee. He assisted in the first general survey of the territory. He owned and often made use of his surveyor’s outfit.

One of the most useful and appreciated industries Father carried on was his undertaking establishment. For many years he was the only undertaker in Springville and performed the last rites for the dead. His ministrations over the departed dear ones won the grateful recognition of the people of the community. Father imported the wood for and manufactured the coffins and burial cases he used. He carried in stock a small variety of undertaking goods. In manufacturing coffins, Father was an expert and the ones he made could not be surpassed in appearance and finish.

My father filled many prominent civic positions. He was connected with the military service during the Black Hawk War. He was precinct judge, city judge, Bishop's counselor, Sunday School teacher and ward teacher, Alderman, city councilman, school board and school trustee.

In 1881, the government offered a prize for the largest amount of wheat grown from a sample of one pound supplied from the Department of Agriculture at Washington D. C. Solomon Chase applied for and received the sample of wheat, which Mother and he planted. Mother dropped the seeds in small furrows Father had made. The wheat yielded about sixty pounds of a superior quality. One dozen of the largest heads together with a certified statement of number of pounds raised from the sample were sent to Washington for which Father received the $50 prize. The wheat was carefully harvested and threshed by hand. The following year Father met with an accident which prevented him from planting the wheat, so he gave it to Richard Lowe with the understanding that he was to receive 1/2 the yield. From this beginning the Chase Dick Lowe wheat gained its reputation and became the most popular brand of seed wheat in Utah and Idaho.

In 1881, my father met with a serious accident while at work on Nephi Packard's house. He fell and broke his leg. He was immediately taken home where he remained under physician’s care for ten days. His leg was then amputated above the ankle. His illness was not only a source of regret to his family but to the whole community. And the best wishes of all went to him in hope of a speedy recovery. After his recovery he manufactured a limb with which he was able to return in a measure to his work of contracting and building.

My father was deeply religious. To the end of his days he was a loyal and patriotic citizen. He had a fine intellect and was unusually well read. He was a man of rare judgment. He was gentle and well balanced. I never saw him angry. He could become indignant at injustice and wrongdoing and did not hesitate to let it be known. He was a good neighbor, a kind and loving father, a devoted husband, and a friend to all.

In his home near the sight of the Old Fort, surrounded with domestic comfort and happiness, he enjoyed the recompense of an industrious and well spent life. There are few individuals, if any among the early pioneers, who were more useful to the early settlers, and few who in the evening of life, enjoyed such a wide measure of well-merited confidence and esteem as did this kind neighbor, honorable business man, and exemplary citizen.

Father died 22 February 1891 and was buried at Springville, 24 February. He would have passed his 73rd milestone on 10 April 1891.

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  • Maintained by: H. Bundy
  • Originally Created by: Utah State Historical Society
  • Added: 2 Feb 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 84602
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Solomon Drake Chase (10 Apr 1818–22 Feb 1891), Find A Grave Memorial no. 84602, citing Historic Springville Cemetery, Springville, Utah County, Utah, USA ; Maintained by H. Bundy (contributor 46837514) .