Mary Chase was born the daughter of Daniel and Mary Fay of Bethel,
While still very young, her family moved to Vermont, where, in 1796 at age
sixteen, she met Philander Chase and they soon married.
This early marriage, before [Philander’s] ordination, was no doubt
considered by his elders most unwise and imprudent; and so it was in
some respects, but after all it nerved his heart and hand to do all in
his power to win the battle of life worthily, especially as the girl he
had chosen was well-born and well-bred and, as tradition declares, was a
bright, and lovely girl (Smith, 41).
A year after their marriage, Mary gave birth to the couple’s first child, a
son, George. Mary and Philander would have five children together, 2 of whom
died before their first birthdays. Due to her husband’s evangelical work, Mary
moved from Bethel to Poughkeepsie, New York, when Philander took his position as
minister of the Christ Church located there.
Mary soon fell ill with tuberculosis, so her husband decided to help
establish the first Episcopal church in New Orleans in the hope that the warm
climate might help her health. The couple had left their children behind, and
since Mary’s health only declined, the two moved back to Hartford,
Connecticut. Philander soon decided to preach in the unconquered West, and he,
Mary, and their three surviving sons move to the "pioneer community"
of Worthington, Ohio. One year later, their fifth child, and only daughter,
Mary, was born. Unfortunately, baby Mary died within a few months of her birth,
and her mother followed not long after. She was buried in Worthington and the
following tablet was dedicated to her years later:
TO THE MEMORY OF MARY CHASE
FIRST WIFE OF THE FIRST BISHOP OF OHIO
PHILANDER CHASE, SEN. D.D.
AND DAUGHTER OF DANIEL AND MARY FAY
BORN AT BETHEL, VERMONT, 1779
MARRIED JULY 19TH, 1796
DIED MAY 5TH, 1818
IN THE FAITH OF ATONEMENT
BY THIS FAITH SHE LIVED THE LIFE OF THE
IN DEATH SHE HAD THE HOPE OF
THE BLESSED RESURRECTION TO ETERNAL LIFE.
THIS TABLET INSCRIBED BY THOSE WHO
KNEW HER MANY VIRTUES AND WHO HOPE
BY FOLLOWING HER EXAMPLE TO MEET
HER IN ANOTHER AND BETTER WORLD.
St. John's Episcopal Church
Many of Mary’s experiences in first coming to Ohio were
similar to the experiences of other women who came to the unsettled land. She
had left her friends and family behind; she had never been very far from home,
and especially in such a primitive environment; and she worked hard to establish
her family’s home and ensure their well-being. She was a most religious woman;
otherwise she may have never survived as long as she did on the Ohio frontier.
At every unlucky turn, she professed her faith ever stronger. She knew that in
her support and work, her husband found his strength for his missionary work,
and that in this way, she directly served God.
Though Mary was very ill the last part of her life, she
continued to care for her family with exactly the same dedication as before. Her
suffering was doubled by the frequent absences of her husband, but she remained
strong so as not to burden her family nor let her husband think her to be
unsuited for frontier life. Undoubtedly, the New England settlers of Worthington
provided some comfort and support for the ailing Mary, but at the times when she
was well enough to write, she made it clear that she missed her friends, and
that her illness was worse than she disclosed to her family and new friends.
My DEAR MRS. TUDOR: It is not because I have forgotten my good friends in Hartford,
or my promise to you in particular, that I have delayed, thus long, making you acquainted
with my situation and the events that have occurred since I saw you. Indeed, so rapid, so
unexpected, and so evidently directed by Infinite wisdom, are the late scenes of my life,
that I have had no time but to wonder and be grateful...
I and my family proceeded in a covered wagon to Canton -- distance about sixty miles
from Cleveland -- where we waited five days for Mr. Chase.
He having joined us, we again set forward, passing through Kendal, &c., to Wooster --distant thirty-five miles from Canton, and over the worst roads that can be imagined.
From Wooster to Frederick -- forty miles -- the roads are good and the country delightful.
Indeed, when I passed over this part of the country, I forgave those writers, who, in
describing this new world, appear rather to be speaking of a world of imagination than one
that had any real existence. The country is alternate plain and upland, and you have only to loosen the reins of imagination to convert the prairies into highly cultivated meadows, adorned with a variety of the most beautiful and fragrant wild flowers, and skirted with an intermixture of the wild plum and crab-apple.
The uplands are gently ascending and thinly covered with the most beautiful forest trees.
Here you may imagine some gentleman of taste has fixed his residence; and in adorning the lands around his habitation, has so artfully disposed of his vines and trees as to be
mistaken for nature's rival. Were it not for the certainty that this beautiful and highly
picturesque country is inhabited, in its first outset, only by persons not famous for their
neatness, taste, or civilization, one would be almost tempted to go in search of some
castle, or palace, or some gentleman's villa, which one might imagine must be found
amid scenery so delightful.
From Frederick to this place the soil is rich, but the country is new, yet everywhere
affording abundance where man is not sparing of his labor. On the first day of July, we
arrived in this place...
Worthington, the place of our present residence, is pleasantly situated on the left banks
of the Whetstone, one of the branches of the Scioto river, and about nine miles from
Columbus, the present seat of government. It is but thirteen years the coming Christmas
since the first family moved into the place, then an entire wilderness. The inhabitants, or
'settlers,' as they are called here, are most of them from New England, and of a sober,
industrious disposition. There are also erected a large brick academy and
a number of handsome brick dwelling-houses, together with a manufacturing establishment; and the
coming summer they contemplate building a church and a cotton establishment. Mr.
Chase is appointed the principal of the academy, an office at present merely nominal, as
the foundation of its future fame and usefulness is yet to be laid.
Mr. Chase has purchased a small farm about three fourths of a mile from this village, on
which he is now building a house, intended hereafter for a farm-house, but which must
shelter his family the coming winter from the winds and storms. This, together with the
care of five parishes and occasional parochial duty during the week, so completely fills up
his time, that his face is seldom seen at home except at table. But his health is good...
I endured the fatigue of my journey to this country much better than could have been
imagined, but my health since I have been here has not been as good as usual. Dear
little Dudley too, has not been well since our arrival. He is very thin and pale, and requires
more care and attention than when six months old. I trust, however, that it is his teeth
that occasions his present indisposition. Cyrus and Almira are well...
Among those whom I knew in Hartford, I know of no one I am likely to forget. I beg you
will not punish me with a three months' silence. My illness, and that of my family, ought to
be an apology for the delay of my promises. Even now I am obliged to write with my boy
at one elbow, talking or crying, while at the other is the daily provision for my family.
Ever your most affectionate friend,