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McLean County, Illinois
History and Genealogy


Leonard Chase

LEONARD CHASE, a wealthy farmer and stock-raiser of Belleflower Township, is also one of its most reliable and substantial citizens. He owns a beautiful homestead on section 9, which is finely improved, under a good state of cultivation, and well stocked with choice grades of cattle and other farm animals. Our subject is a native of Dearborn County, Ind., the date of his birth being Aug. 26, 1831. His father, Leonard Chase, Sr., and his grandfather, Anthony Chase, were natives of Massachusetts, the latter of English ancestry, and a descendant of one of three brothers, Thomas, William and Acquilla, who emigrated from England. The grandfather of our subject was a seafaring man and died in Yarmouth, Mass. His son, Leonard, the father of our subject, commenced life as a sailor with his father, who was commander of the vessel, and followed the sea until twenty-one years of age. At this time, during the War of 1812, he was taken prisoner by the British and released after six weeks. He then started West, stopping first at Cincinnati, which was then a small place, and engaged with a farmer by the name of John Ferris. While there he made the acquaintance of Miss Mary Lee, and they were married. He then went into Dearborn County, Ind., and entered Government land in what is now Lawrenceburg Township, five miles from the present town of that name. Here he built a log cabin, and commenced housekeeping. After a few years this was replaced by a larger dwelling, but built of logs and covered with clapboards rived by hand. In that house the subject of this sketch was born.

Leonard Chase, Sr., cleared a good farm, upon which he remained until his death, which occurred in October, 1841. His first wife, mother of our subject, was formerly Miss Mary Lee, and of this union there were born seven children: Reliance became the wife of Sherwood Blasdel, and died in Dearborn County, Ind.; Louisa became the second wife of Mr. Blasdel, and died in Champaign, Ill.; Catharine married Henry Blasdel, and lives in Dearborn County; Mary became the wife of Jedediah Scogin, and lives in Champaign County, Ill., which is also the residence of Maria, Mrs. William P. Sweet; Anthony died in Dearborn County, Ind., while on a visit from Champaign, Ill.; Leonard, our subject, was the youngest child. The second marriage of Leonard Chase, Sr., was Miss Sallie Blasdel, who died in 1878. Of this marriage there were born two children Jacob B., a resident of Belleflower Township, and Sallie, who married William Curtis, and lives in Dearborn County, Ind.

The subject of this history was a child of two years when his mother died and ten years old when his father died. He lived with his step-mother for a short time, and then became an inmate of the home of his sister Mary, for the following two years, when he started out for himself. He was employed at farm pursuits until twenty years of age, and then engaged on a flatboat and made two trips down the river as far as New Orleans. One of these was made on a coaster, which traded at different points along the Mississippi. He made his home in Dearborn County until January, 1855, and then started on horseback for Illinois. When near Indianapolis, the ground being covered with snow, he stopped and built a cutter, which he used in conveying him to Piatt County, this State. After two weeks spent there he went into La Salle County, and purchased a quarter section of land four miles north of Utica. He broke a few acres of the land, but in the fall sold out and returned to Dearborn County. In the spring of 1856 he purchased a lot of horses, which he drove to La Salle, and remained in that place until the following fall, thence returning to Dearborn County.

In the spring of 1857, accompanied by Enoch Nowlin, Mr. Chase went to Kansas, and they entered claims in Calhoun, which is now Jackson County. Our subject built a log house, and broke sixty acres and fenced the entire quarter section. In 1860 he went to Colorado with six pairs of oxen, and with goods for Central City 700 miles distant, the trip occupying forty-five days. He remained until the 10th of January following, then started back to Kansas, arriving in Omaha eighty days later. Soon afterward he fitted up another team, made a return trip to Colorado, and engaged in mining. He remained there until the fall of 1863, then started for Montana, where he engaged in mining until 1866, when he started eastward. The first 1,000 miles over the mountains and plains was made on horseback, 200 miles alone. He arrived in Dearborn County, Ind., in February, and engaged in farming with his brother on the old homestead. He then came to Illinois and traded his Kansas land for personal property. In the spring of 1868 he located on the farm of his brother-in-law in Champaign County, whence, after two years he came to Belleflower Township, in McLean County, where he farmed on rented land for two years and then purchased the farm which he now owns and occupies. This was wild prairie when it came into his possession, but he now has it all improved and enclosed, has planted fruit and shade trees, and erected a good set of frame buildings.

The marriage of Leonard Chase and Miss Jane E. Smith took place on the 25th of March, 1868. Mrs. C. was born in Dearborn County, Ind., and is the daughter of John and Catherine (Tucker) Smith, being one of eleven daughters and four sons born to her parents. The daughters are all living and with one exception married: Sarah, Mrs. William Shaw, lives at Moore's Hill, Ind.; Eliza, Mrs. Robert Haddock, lives in Harrison, Ohio; Jane E. is the wife of our subject; Matilda is unmarried and lives with her father; Mary, Mrs. Amos Liddie, lives in Dearborn County, Ind.; Adeline H. married Alonzo Jackson, and lives in Champaign County, this State; Albina E., the wife of Dr. John Spencer, lives at Moore's Hill, Ind., also Maria, the wife of Thomas Jennings; Ellen F., Mrs. Martin Ewbank, is a resident of DeWitt County, Ill.; Flora B., Mrs. Ezra Guard, lives in Hamilton County, Ohio; Eva B. married Charles Ward and lives in Dearborn County, Ind.; Mark, the only son now living, married Miss Anna Sutton, and resides on the old homestead in Indiana. Mrs. C., her parents and all her brothers and sisters, are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The male members of the family are Republican in politics, as is also our subject.

Portrait and biographical album of McLean County, Ill. : containing full page portraits and biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the county, together with portraits and biographies of all the governors of Illinois, and of the presidents of the United States. (Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887), 496. Transcribed and annotated by Judy Rosella Edwards.


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