The Papers of Philander Chase
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The Papers of Philander Chase

Slide 3

Worthington plat map
Drawn by James Kilbourne in 1804
(image from

It wasn’t long before Chase felt the pull west. He had enjoyed his time traveling throughout western New York; and he felt that there was still much missionary work to be done on the western frontier. In 1817, he packed up his growing family and moved to a small farm in Worthington, Ohio. 

Worthington was then a small frontier community which had been established in 1803 by fellow New Englanders. Mary Chase, in a letter to a New England friend, describes early Worthington:

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,




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Last updated 15 January 2001