Sunday, September 26, 2010

Eli Chase

  • Name: Eli Chase
  • Born: November 9, 1808 Ellisburg, New York
  • Died: February 20, 1851 Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Related through: Dan's grandfather Lynn Crookston

Eli Chase was born November 9, 1808 at Ellisburg, Jefferson, New York. He was the fifth of twelve children born to Stephen Chase and Orryanna Rowe. Eli's father fought in the War of 1812 and was rewarded with land in the Military Tract of Illinois. When Eli was twelve years old, the Chase family began the long journey to the frontier. They traveled by boat down the Allegheny and Ohio and up the Mississippi, Illinois and Spoon Rivers. Arriving in 1821, they were among the first settlers of Lewistown, Fulton, Illinois.

Ten years later, Eli and most of his family members joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In 1832, the Chase family moved to Jackson County, Missouri to join other church members who were gathering there. Eli was twenty-three. The family built a home in the Whitmer Settlement, but twenty months later, a mob attacked their home and forced the family to flee. Taking the shortest route out of the county, Eli went down to the South Grand River, in what is now Cass County, and built a cabin. It was not long before he was forced to leave. He went to Clay County, but persecution continued.

The Church was able to obtain land in the newly formed county of Caldwell. There the Mormons established the city of Far West and other communities. Eli arrived at Far West in the fall of 1836 and was soon appointed as a sergeant in the Caldwell County Militia. Trouble between the Mormons and antagonistic Missourians escalated until the Battle of Crooked River occurred in October of 1838. A few men were killed and Eli was shot in the leg. A few months later, the people were forced to abandon their homes and flee into Illinois.

In the town of Quincy in 1839, Eli joined many others in petitioning the government to compensate them for loss of property and for the religious persecution they suffered while being driven from place to place for seven years. Those losses were never recovered.

Eli was ordained a Seventy on April 6, 1839 and soon left on a two-year mission for the Church. He traveled up into Canada and back down to New York. While in Madison County, New York, the thirty-two-year-old bachelor met and fell in love with Olive Hills, who was seven years younger. They were married July 25, 1840 in East Hamilton where they resided until after the birth of their first child.

In July of 1841, Eli took his wife and child to Nauvoo, Illinois where he served as one of the presidents of the 27th Quorum of Seventies. During the Nauvoo period, the Mormons drained the wetlands and created an impressive city with a beautiful temple. Converts flocked there from the East and from Europe until it was one of the largest cities in Illinois. Perhaps due to the influx, persecution and mob violence escalated until leader Joseph Smith was murdered. Under the leadership of Brigham Young, the people prepared to go west.

The exodus from Nauvoo took place in stages. In February of 1846, people began crossing the Mississippi River and established a camp on the Iowa side at Sugar Creek. An advance company was sent ahead to improve roads and bridges and locate campsites. Apparently, Eli had a teamster assignment with this advance group. Leaving his wife and child in Nauvoo, he set out on a 45 day journey to help get the exodus started. He was released at the Chariton River and returned to get his family.

After more than two months of travel across Iowa, the family arrived at Council Bluffs on June 17, 1846. A few weeks later, a second daughter, Olive, was born there. Because the land around Winter Quarters (Omaha) would not support all the people arriving, they were encouraged to spread out. It appears from the writings of Eli that the Chase families spent the winter in what became Fremont County, Iowa. Hundreds of the pioneers died that winter, including Eli's father. In the spring, Eli moved his widowed mother and other family members closer to Council Bluffs where they stayed two more winters in a cabin that was given to them.

After much preparation, the Chase family made the trip across the plains, arriving at the Great Salt Lake on August 25, 1849. In the group were Eli, his wife Olive, daughters Harriet and Olive, a baby girl, Helen (born along the way), his mother, a brother and a sister. Eli moved his family into a little adobe house on Block 17 that he purchased for $60.00. Life in Utah Territory was short for Eli. He died of consumption February 20, 1851 at the age of forty-two. He was buried in Bishop Edward Hunter's family plot in the Salt Lake City Cemetery, but there is no marker for him.

Autobiography of Eli Chase

In the year 1820 I accompanied my father, mother and family when they emigrated from the state of New York to Fulton County, Illinois, about 2000 miles journey and formed the town of Lewistown where we resided till the year 1831. In February 1831 I was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints by Elder Sumner. In April 1831, we started for Jackson Co., Missouri, and settled 12 miles northwest of Independence, where we lived until the hand of persecution drove the Saints out of Jackson County in November 1833. We then settled in the County of Clay until the same restless and remorseless spirit of persecution drove us into the county of Caldwell in the fall of 1836. And we stayed there until 18 January 1839 being banished by the State, through the extermination order of Governor Lilburn W. Boggs, having with the rest of my family undergone the horrors of the persecution of the Saints in that state.

In the morning of November 1838 I received a rifle ball in the lower part of my left thigh which entirely disabled me from doing any kind of work thru that winter. I was in company when David W. Patten, Patterson O. Banion and Jared Carter were killed. I caught D.W. Patten in my arms when he was shot, and he said "let me down for I am shot all to pieces". I replied "I have just received a flesh wound in my thigh". I was placed upon a horse, my brother Darwin held my leg from the saddle to prevent its rubbing the saddle. We travelled to Log Creek where all the wounded were left. A wagon was sent to my assistance and I was taken to Far West. On 18 January 1839 we started for Quincey, Illinois.

On 12 January 1839 I was ordained an Elder in Caldwell, under the hands of Joseph Smith, Sen. and Brigham Young, and on April 6, 1839 I was ordained one of the Seventies by the direction of President Joseph Young in the 1st Quorum of the Seventies and on May 27, 1839 I took my first mission, preaching by the way into Canada, from thence into the State of New York and returned to Nauvoo July 3, 1841 being absent more than two years, having traveled upward of 3000 miles. Preached sermons and baptized eight persons. On the 15 June 1845 I was called from the 3rd Quorum and ordained one of Presidents of 27th Quorum under the hands of Pres. Joseph Young and J.D. Lee.

I married Olive Hill July 25, 1840 in East Hamilton, New York and by her have one child named Harriet L. Chase.

[Source: Seventies Record, 27th Quorum, p. 11 (Nauvoo, Illinois 1845), LDS Church Archives, FHL Film 25,555; Transcribed from microfilmed original 27 February 2006 by Colleen Helquist. Paragraphs added for clarity. No other changes.] Thank you to Colleen Helquist who provided this history on her RootsWeb page.

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