Philander Chase



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Philander Chase justifies his reasons for settling in Robins Nest, details his experience of building a house for his family, and lays out his financial plans for the seminary.




Philander Chase, Illinois, Robins Nest, seminary


Robins Nest Peoria County Ill;


Dear Brother

You heard from us, doubtless, thro’ my dear Daughter-inlaw Eliza. I wrote to her and my sweet Grand Daughters when Mrs. Chase Henry and myself were at Chicago. Since that time my journeyings have been so long and tedious; & we have had so much trouble and sickness that I thought my letters, if I should write any w’d afford you but little pleasurel and if I told you all, create in your sympathetic bosom many painful sensations. Thanks to a kind & gracious Providence I am at length enables to give you good tidings. Sickness is now nearly removed from our family, and the prospects for the future seem more [cheering]. All our family hitherto much [scattered] are now, except Henry who has gone back to Chicago for our goods [?] together in one place which for the winter at least we call our Home. It consists, as the name indicates, of mud and sticks but is rendered by much care and pains quite comfortable. Being 50 feet long and 18 feet wide you may suppose we have room at lease to turn round in and some to share for a friend. We hope yet to have time before the winter sets in to make some additions for a study and a bedroom or two for the accommodations of our dear Relatives Samuel and Sarah who we hope will spend the winter with and teach our dear Children Henry, Mary, & Philander.

If you ask why we have passed thro’ our Cities and Villages and chosen to set ourselves down here in the wilderness even on the frontier of the settlements I can give you two substantial reasons. In the first place: a home even to put our heads in could not be had for love or money much less any such place as the number and behests of my large establishment required. Besides what [am] I to do with Towns when none of them desired me but for the money I should spend in them?

My 2nd reason is that I wish to be on the spot which would probably be the site of my Episcopal and Diocesan School. With this view I have chosen my present residence. It is on the beautiful waters of the Kicapoo Rover nearly at their fountain head: & a more charming fertile county I never saw. The above Township 10. North & Range 6 East [on the south east quarter of which I am now placed] consists of part patented soldier lands and part Congress lands not now in market. Of the latter it is the opinion and wish of all that I shall get pre-emption right granted me the next session of our National Legislature and perhaps the Donation of a part. Of the Patented land we bust obtain such parts as may fall providentially within our search. On the whole I think my prospects are pretty good. All the Inhabitants of the County are anxious that I shall succeed and will join in a petition to that effect. I have mentioned as the integral part of the prayer of the Petition that the Squatters on the lands of which character there is a respectable number shall be [compensated] for their labour and expense at the discretion of Commissioners to be named in the act of doing this. These Commissioners will probably be the Judges of the Court for the time being. When it is considered that the Congress lands which the petition will embrace amount to above 20,000 acres and that this land will rise form the Congress prices by reason of the Creation of the Seminary to ten or 15 dollars per acre, there will appear [?] for pursuing this place which I ought [?] to despise. The location of myself for the [property] is made on the strength of purchasing a tax title of some patented lands & a claim each a quarter section for a few hundred dollars only from my own private funds: the improvements also are made from the same source. Of the funds raised for the Seminary I have used not a Dollar. They are all as yet at an interest of 6 per cent per [ann].

My time is spent in doing my sacred duties in Sundays and in hard labour for the comfort of my (till lately) shelterless family on the week days. Would that I had someone to assist me! But hitherto in this wish I have ben disappointed. My best love to Sister Olivia and all dear friends. Your loving Brother P. Chase

Letter to Dudley Chase



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