Philander Chase



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Chase recounts the troubles and dangers he faced while traveling to Cincinnati: the roads were terrible, they were refused to stay at the first tavern they arrived at, and he lost much of his strength pulling the horses.




Cincinnati, OH


Mr. Osborne; Mr. Shaw; Salmon P. Chase; Edward; Dayton, OH; Lebanon, OH; William Sparrow; Mr. Stone; Mr. Jones; Allum Creek; Mr. Olmsted; Darby River; Franklinton; travel


Cincinnati Tuesday 18 Nov.

Dear Philander,

Nothing but my consciousness of your anxiety to hear from me impels me to write, being yet in a weak state of health and having every thing to do. Instead of providing a professor of Languages as they promised me on the secession of the Rev. Mr. O. they have put me into the place of one. And do you think I perform my duty? The midnight vil. and a certain vigour of determination to surmount all difficulties peculiar to our family, may answer this quickly. Mr. Sparrow has entered the Junior Class in College for the purpose of being acquainted with Mathematicks and Nat. Philosophy of which Professor Slack is an excellent teacher. Salmon has entered the fresh. I know he is too young: but what could we do? Except for his disposition of becoming too well acquainted with the City which I will repress of break his pate, he would do well enough. Poor boy! I fear from the [?] he has exhibited tonight in going out without leave he will cause me much trouble and perhaps compel me to send him back to his mother. Alas he knows not the privileges which thus he will forfeit. Edward has entered the grammar school with a view to fit for Col.

Your dear Mother has been through excessive fatigue and taking cold in bad weather while putting things to rights in our new dwelling, no small job, quite ill. She is now a little better. Mrs. R. and the children are tolerable health. The waggon had arrived and the things in good order ere we came.

You’ll ask how we sped on the way? - To answer this in full would require sheets. You must know that the road from about 9 or 10 miles from Frankn for about 6 miles further is the worst that can be named. The tavern at the commencement of this said bad road where we designed to lodge for the first night was preoccupied by by about 40 hog drivers accordingly we and our little ones were denied entrance. We plead hard with the landlord but he and his hog drivers are inexorable to our prayers. We moved on - 3 miles to the next cabin - the night dark and the roads every step grew worse. Not withg: my [?] of bark and wire my strength failed me so that I could hardly hold the lines. Mr. Spw Salmon and Edward on foot before as pioneers by a loud voice calling to me to [?] pointed out the way over gridiron bridges thro’ seas of mud and over [?]. Thro dread oversetting (the wheels [?] each side being so low down that the water and mud were nearly in upon us) I suffered ever unto agony. Alas my poor family! Said I - Alas my poor perishing self, must we pass the first night after issuing from my sick bed in this manner! The words were hardly out of my mouth when by stradling a stump our fore axle stuck and were brought up all standing. - In backing from the waggon - my knees refused to support me and I fell. What [?] can describe the feelings of that moment. The Hoses refused to back - Mr. S. unacquainted with such thing. Salmon, a poor shiftless boy and myself with hardly the strength of an infant. “Merciful God now assist us or we perish!” Here it was that little Edward by thinking of our Hatchet and felling a sapling for a [?] enabled the young folks by prying at the wheel to assist the horses while I was yanking them by the bridle to back the whole establishment. All were soon mounted the children’s cries were hushed and - Shall I proceed dear Philander? The house tho’ the meanest cabin that was sheltered a human family was yet a yet a half-mile off. We heard the dogs bark and the very sound seemed to dispel the darkness of the night. Tho no major stumps were [?] yet all that said ½ mile was as bad and worse than what had proceeded. The sparks from the mud chimney told us the wished for cabin was nigh. In descending I again fell but Mr. Sparrow supported me to the door. Oh how cheerful the fire! And how joyful the sound of human voice saying that we should not be again turned away! A poor log hut but 13 feet square with a sick man and woman and 8 children recd us 10 in number! Had I been in health this night lodging in this little cabin which children heaps upon heaps all in good spirits with Mrs. R: exulting at the pranks of Henry - with your loving Mother overruling all - and polite Mr. Sparrow now elbowed here and now there - could have been [?] for me. But alas it was otherwise - I kept up my spirits till about midnight when both Mrs. C. and Mrs. R. were obliged to attend to me alone. A Gloomy night we passed. Mrs. C. had thoughts of sending for E[?] from Franklinton. But the morning found me easier and full of resolution.

In starting, however, a new difficulty arose. Our Horses chafed in their collars refused to draw. [?] kicked and cut capers beyond all former example. Hunter the master of our cabin sick as he was came out to our assistance and being strong in his arms took charge of our refractory nags. By his assistance which the family walked the team was driven over the Big Darby; our host having fixed himself nearly on its banks. - Over the Darby there is a bridge impassable by horses but affording the family the privilege of crossing on foot. Had you seen our dear family walking on this with myself supported by our Dear Mr. Sparrow as my only staff how would it have affected you! But my courage did not fail. The horses were made to go and were up the hill on the opposite side. We soon were [?] and Hunter agreed to drive to the next house situated beyond the Little Darby.

It was passing on this road that we saw in full daylight the dangers we had overcome the night before. Never shall I forget what feats the horses, which being now warmed by action and fearing a chastisement for their ill conduct, performed in dragging us thro’ quilts of mud during this 3 or 4 miles to the little Darby. If Sorrel had not been a lion in strength and courage we should have been found dead outright. But thro’ the protecting hand of a kind providence we carried safe to Mr. Jones on little D. where we had all manner of comforts.

I had just agreed with Mr. Jones for a driver when who should come along with an empty waggon and going to Cincinnati but Mr. Olstead of Allan Creek with B[?] Bill his brother-in-law. The arrangement was soon made that Mr. Sparrow and Salmon should take a seat in the empty waggon with B[?] B. while Mr. Olstead should drive for us. This way thro’ a fine country and over pretty good roads we travelled to Dayton. Here Mr. O. left us for Lebanon having business that way; and we hired an extra pair of studs and the same day in which we arrived departed from Dayton for this our present home. The cause of this arrangement was that we learned in D. what we found to be more than true, that the roads thence hither were cut up by waggons as to be almost impassable. Our additional Horses with their drivers who sat on one of them fixed to the tongue with mire for [?] proved of infinite service. The whole 4 carried us thro’ every difficulty and we arrived on the Saturday after leaving (which was on Monday) in better time than from our disasters at the commencement, might have been expected.

We were received by Mr. Stone and family with great cordiality - and treated like princes. I have agreed to send you [?] by one of our Reps - Pray send by one of yours to have him sent from Columbus to Z. I can write no more: so farewell my dear, very dear Son.

May God [?] bless and keep you and your Mother and all the family send all love

Phil. Chase

Letter to Philander Chase Jr



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