Philander Chase



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In a long letter which appears to have been written over the course of many months, Chase elaborates upon the conditions which led to his leaving Gambier for Michigan and the reasons he cannot return. He also describes the means by which he and his family have made a home for themselves in Gilead. Finally, he mourns the death of G. W. Marriott.




Mr. Wilkes, Mary Caroline Ward, resignation, General Convention, Bishop Hobart, G. M. West, Kenyon College, St. Peter's Church, Bishop White, Bishop Kent, Bishop Cross, Bishop Ravenscroft, William Sparrow, B. P. Aydelotte, Gilead, farming, Sophia Chase, Samuel Chase, Bishop Griswold, Mary Chase, Philander Chase Jr., Dudley Chase, Henry Chase, James, Mrs. Boothe, Eliza Boothe, Mrs. Russell, Sarah Russell, Lord Kenyon, G. W. Marriott, Jeremiah Taylor


Gilead, Branch County

Michigan Territory Mar 15. 1833

To the Lord Bishop of

Sodor and Mann

My very Dear Lord and Best of Friends

I have not as you suppose overlooked the papers of Mr Wilkes and do not need to be awakened from any supposed “torpor” as that good Gentleman speaks. [No] - Even at the time when I was turned from my home and was wandering I knew not whither to find a place to lay my ailing head & broken heart I remembered my duty and complied with Mr Wilkes wishes in delivering [up] all & [every] paper to his appointed agent [Jho.] H. Reed [Segr] of Savannah. Read the inclosed paper in the handwriting of my beloved wife & signed by the initials of her name and be assured of this.

Your Lordship observes [not] the close of a short but to me very dear Letter that your Daughter had written about six weeks before a kind letter to me I know it. I know it: and my eyes fill with tears when I recall her goodness to my mind. Why then you will ask why she will say have I not answered it?? Simply because I knew not how to do so without giving her more pain than pleasure. And to to speak the truth this is the precise reason why I have been silent to the ten-thousand inquiries from the rest of my beloved Friends in dear dear old England. I would not find it in my heart to pain them by letting them know how my own country had healed me. I had rather they would think me criminally neglectful of my duty to them than tell the whole story of my sufferings. They supposed as your Lordship further mentions that I was to have a kind of trial at the Convention & “were waiting with great anxiety the result of it.” Alas how mistaken such expectations! The[r]e are some things that are as badly [s]ituated as to require: for the peace of God’s Church here below to be p[ropos]ed to the last and final audit in Heaven before they be disclosed.

To explain this remark I will state a few things which [for] the honor of the Church never can be made public other than this, the private channel of her best friends.

Your Lordship knows the cause from whence my troubles arose while in England. Bishop Hobart had determined that I never should have a Theological Seminary of the P.E. Church in Ohio: and to defeat me in this he pledged himself & all his splendid talents to this end, also he went to England, wh[i]ther I was going for that intent and according to his [threats] given to me in America if I dared to appear there also, he published hand bills bidding the Heads and friends of the Church of England to discredit my plan and defeat my designs. The Chief ground of his argument was: my plan was visionary; for the American Episcopal Church had already established a Genl. Theol. Seminary in New York and would countenance no other. He therefore would rather they would give to him as a Representative of the N. York Seminary and not to me who came from the insignificant Diocese of Ohio.

His objections, however, were overruled by the good sense and kind feelings of England. I came home [crowned] with success; while his subscription even when taken in conjunction with that for Washington College in Connecticut was but partially filled.

It is not to be supposed that a man of Bishop Hobarts temperament would submit in silence to a defeat of this nature from the influence of one so insignificant as myself in the opinion of those with whom till this period it was his boast to consider himself as preeminently popular. He created a secret prejudice against me and the Theological Seminary which I was founding of a deep and lasting character. As Hanibal [sic] with his son, so he with his spiritual children; there seemed a kind of oath imposed on their minds which was to last [when] himself should have been mingled the dust; that whatever was Theological, in the Institution: in other words whatever pretended to the right of educating young men for the ministry in Kenyon College should be the object of never ending enmity and opposition. This sentiment became hereditary with Bishop Hobarts [Policy]; and all who would be supposed attached to that policy & willing to be guided by its influence must drink deep of this stream of enmity to me.

The influence of Bishop Hobart in propogating this policy extended further than his own Diocese and immediate descendants: it reached the bosoms of a majority of the other Bishops of our Church [in] the U. States: and to convince your Lordship of this fact and to shew you that I am not erroneous in its origin I shall relate here the particulars of a scene in the great drama of our Church. Fancy then that you have before you a view of the Bishops of the P. E. Church at the triennial convention in session in the Vestry room of St. Peter’s Church Philadelphia [?] 1826

Present, Bishops: White of Philadelphia

Hobart of N. York

Kent of [Mary] [Conn.]

[Cross] of New Jersey

Chase of Ohio

Ravenscroft of N. Carolina


Absent, Griswold - Eastern Diocese

Moore - Virginia

Bowen - South Carolina

Brownell - Connecticut


Bishop Ravenscroft of North Carolina moved that a vote of aprobation [sic] should pass the House in relation to the Theological Seminary of the Diocese of Ohio commonly known by the name of Kenyon College: and to shew that such a vote would be no more than just in itself and in strict accordance with the principles of the Church as set forth in her discipline and Order, Bp. R. read sundry documents all of which shewed clearly how the Founder in all his proceedings had adhered to the primitive Constitution of God’s Church in his Episcopal Discipline and in reserving all questions in their ultimate appeal an unlimited [dictatorial] Character to the House of Bishops, both collectively & separately.

The remarks of the good Bishop, however, were not sufficient to overcome the influence of a deeply rooted prejudice but too vible [sic] in the countenance of Bishop Hobart [?] [of] such as implicitly followed his policy.

Bishop Ravenscroft had hardly finished the exordium of his speech before Bishops Hobart & Kent retired to a corner of the Room; where they remained in private convene till Bishop R. had ceased: when Bishop Kent came to me and spoke these words. “I never have had any thing to do with your Seminary; and never intend to have any thing to do with it.” !!!

Whether the other Bishops present heard these remarks I am not able to say: but the subject was dropped as if by mutual consent: the Chairman Bishop White getting up from his seat and walking about the room as if in mental [vacancy].

As to my own [?] on this trying [?] it was that of perfect silence the natural concommitant [sic] of deep and agonizing supplications of heart to God for grace to bear this what I deemed the most deadly wound my feelings had ever received.

I retired to my Diocese and by the sweat of my brow in the path of duty and tears of penitence for sins which the Just God had seen fit to visit by the infliction of such wounds as these thro’ the hands of my Episcopal Brethren, I endeavoured to forgive the past & hope for better things in future. For the space of more than four years I continued to labour and require the exertions of my family to build up the Institution of which God had made me the founder hoping that, as there were actually existing theological means of instructing candidates for the ministry besides those in New York and some of these had assumed the name and title of Theological Seminaries of the P. Episcopal Church as that (eq) at Alexandria in Virginia, which the Church had virtually countenanced by admitting men who were educated in the[m] to Holy Orders, the enmity to the Theological Seminary in Ohio might wear away from the minds of my Brother Bishops, and in its stead might be substituted a willingness not only to approve of it but to take its [vifitt]atorial power into their own hands as the words of the charter allow. But God had reserved for me still greater troubles and causes for still deeper affliction. My own Clergy, and the Diocese which I had been the unworthy means of creating and building up, turned their heel against me in this thing. I had procured of the Legislature of Ohio the power of confering [sic] degrees in common learning to be extended to the Preesident [sic] (the Bishop-ex. officio) and the Professors: I had appointed the teachers and given them their ample salaries. These were young men, (Alas I fear too young in the fear of God as well as in years) who seeing the unwillingness of the Bishops to acknowledge the Theological Character, and to take the [visittatoral] [charge] of the Seminary or guided by motives of ambition in their own selves or of envy to me for the reputation of being its sole founder determined at once to deprive the Institution of its Theological character and to rise on the ruins of its Founder. To this end they conducted all things in secret and conspiring against me held their private meetings among the Teachers and addressed the Scholars in artful speeches till some great evil was fancied to exist of which I knew nothing. The evil thus created at home spread itself abroad throughout the Diocese: and to persons of a certain party in the Church in the United States. I was shocked at insinuations [found] out of the Diocese predicated on pretended facts of which there was no shadow of existance [sic] and of which I never dreamed all of which had their origin in this conspiracy.

Things thus succeeded but too well. The members of our Convention are chosen by a majority of votes in our parishes and when every thing was put in active operation by a [desinging] party on a subject of which the other side of the party concerned knows nothing it is no difficult matter to conjecture the event. Men suited to their purpose were elected while others ignorant of their designs threw no obsticle [sic] in their way of conducting the affairs of the Convention all by Committees of their own selection. Myself the official President being providentialy [sic] lame & in great pain and thus unable to attend and the Senior Presbyter being a mere Tool the party did as they pleased: under the outward appearance of much Religion and seeking direction by prayer they produced an apparent union which for a time deceived even me whom it was the object of that union to ruin. On reflecting back upon the consumate [sic] art by which things were managed to make things appear abroad for what they were not in reality all under the Cloak of Religion and Piety my mind is at times astonished and needs the support of a firm and and [sic] implicit faith in Him who for wise purposes unknown to us suffereth the wicked to triumph over the innocent and hypocrisy to bear away the reward of sincere piety.

The two great moving causes of the evils above stated were, one in the College William Sparrow and the other a resident of the City of Cincinnati named B. P. Aydelotte both of whom seem to be in their sentiments what is known in your Lordships country by the name of the “Nine Lambeth Article Gentlemen” so conspicous [sic] in the time of the first [Chancel] who like Cromwell could pray with Fairfax with their tongues while their hearts were engaged in measures of murder and the greatest enmity to their superiours. The popular principle on which the Conspirators and those who were deceived with their views of things, was that the Theological Seminary was “merged” in the very being of the common College: that the Bishop should not be considered as a Bishop the P. E Church while he acted as President, that he should bring with him no part of his Episcopal authority when governing the Institution.

That his Presbyters and Deacons if there were any such in the College as teachers should be considered as his equals that no obedience should be [required] of them to their Bishop while they were attached to the College except such as the Trustees should by their laws from time to time require and that even the constitutional power given him in these express words by the grant of the Legislature (viz) that “The Bishop should have the immediate charge and superentendence [sic] of the Seminary”could be taken from him by the will of the Majority of the Trustees and given to another, to a faculty of their own creating or to an individual whom they might appoint.

And this principle and this mode of reasoning from it as its legitimate consequence they [?] to be adopted (it seems by committees artfully selected) in convention. So as to make the same an act of the Whole Diocese for whom I had laboured and of the Trustees whom under Providence I had created. In the sentiment theref[ore] which the evidence before me impressed on my mind there could be no mistake. The truth shocking as it was in its nature and consequences was written as with a sunbeam before me. The Institution was no longer the same. It was changed in its character and design and rather than be considered a[s] still wedded to a Partner thus false to my honour and faithless to my trust an Institution which to found to love & to cherish I had sacrificed so much but which had betrayed all into the hands of Non-Episcopacy and which would and will if managed on these principles destroy the character of our Primitive Church and level all with Congregational parity. I resigened [sic] committing my cause into the hands of him who hath said “vengeance is mine I will repay” I quited [sic] the scene of my ardious [sic] labour and with the remnant of my much impaired means like Abraham I went out from among my kindred into the wide world; into a land which I knew not. I set my face towards our wilds still further to the west “not knowing whither I went” Preaching every Sunday and performing divine service where ever I found persons sufficently [sic] intelligent to say “Amen to my giving of thanks,” according to the primitive liturgy of our Church. I travelled up the Lake Erie and across the country to this beautiful land of Gilead in the regions of St Joseph river, which I so named (being the first settler in it) because of the ‘[Calm]’ which God [?] it to afford to my wounded bosom. For with the little means which I had, the cheapness of the land at the government price $1,25 pr. acre enabled me to spread my title over a surface sufficent [sic] by the labour of myself and family to afford a competency and to have something wherewithal to glorify God in the building up of his Church. Eighty Acres of the state thus providentialy [sic] acquired I dedicate as a [Globe] for the maintenance of a Clergyman in the parish of Gilead, and for the erection of a Church I am now making all possible preparations. Never was there a finer soil nor can the world produce more elegant scenery or land better adapted for immediate fruition. No clearing is required where amidst the most majestic trees there a [sic] spaces left of many acres each (from 10 to 100) where nothing is wanting to the production of a luxuriant crop, but to fence and plough the feild [sic]. ~~~ I write at different times; therefore your Lordship will please to pardon anachronisms. It is now early in the month of July, 1833, and though I began this letter many months ago yet I have not said one tenth part of what I would wish to say to your Lordship. The truth is, I love dear old England because she has once loved me, (O’ that I could say that she still loves me!) and my affection pent up as it has been in my bosom by adversity for so long time when it finds vent as is now the case in answer to your Lordships letter and that of dear Lord Kenyon would fain pour forth most copiously. [M] [Mercy] then let me lay aside the trammels of ordinary forms and speak to your Lordship and Dear Mary Caroline as if present [graciously] listening to my disjointed lore and pardoning my epistolary excentricities [sic]. I have begun to tell you of the place where I now live. It is meet and right that your Lordship and the rest of my best friends in England should know more of it and the habits of life which I have adopted. The country round about me having even begun to be settled, about three or 4 years ago offers everywhere a wide feild [sic] of ministerial duty and altho the number of Espicopalians in proportion to other denominations is very small yet I endeavour to labour as the apostles did faithfully and freely asking nothing but the souls of men, to be saved in Christ as my reward. The extent of my circuit is only about 80 miles visiting the extremities every quarter of a year and the places within 10 an [sic] 15 miles of me, much oftener. I have as yet kept the festivals of Christmas Easter & Whitsuntide in my own parish at home in Gilead and to my own family & a few faithful & pious neighbors have always administered the Holy Eucharist. This I do in a room of my own house rudely [fitted] up for that purpose at the time being. As I said above nothing do we long for more than a decent Church and small as are our means yet my children and dear Wife join me in full determinations to [erect] me as soon as possible to this end (most providentially, having discovered a Mill-[seat] with the command of a copious water power not more than 1 ½ mile from our dwelling and secured the title to the land on which it is situated at the government price 1. dollar & a quarter per acre) we are now engaged in erecting a Sawmill to prepare the requisite lumber. So that in the course of the coming autumn & spring we hope to have it in our power to say that in the Collection of Materials, our Church is begun. I should deceive were I to leave your Lordship to suppose that my plans in coming into the Wilderness were to terminate with the erection of one Church and the establishment of one parish. At the call of duty my mind goes still farther. Having ample soil and of the best quality I see no impediment to the establishment of a Self Supporting School in which to train the ministers of our Lord & Saviour Jesus Christ to labour in the fields now and even as the Country settles so rapidly to the west “white unto harvest.” -Check me not here, I beseech your Lordship on the ground of my former failure. Taught by past experiment I hope to be more wise for the future. Never will I commit in to the hands of others the sword by which my own throat may be cut. That which I threw in the lap of others I shall retain in my own hands; and into the hands of faithful men will I commit it. The Father shall guide & the Children shall obey. But the full developement [sic] of this plan I reserve for a future letter.

Among the Teachers of the School at Gambier there was a young man (a namesake of mine distantly related to me) of uncommon talents and [sincere] [piety]. I had placed him at the head of the Grammar school where he acquited [sic] himself with much credit and great usefulness. This young man [detected] the conspiracy and kept aloof from it. He was absent on account of ill health from Gambier at the period of the last scene of treachery; as if God had so ordained that I should be left even without one earthly support when most in need. This young man (Samuel Chase by name author of the “Remarks [etc.]” which I sent you) will be admitted to Holy Order by Bp. Griswold this fall & immediately will come from the Eastern diocese where he has been completing his Theological studies to this place. From his letters I am assured of his willingness to enter into my plans & be my faithful Friend and Supporter.

If you ask why I do not ordain him? I answer it is my wish (altho’ there is nothing in our Canons to forbid it) to avoid every thing that may be construed in to the semblance of making a division in the Church. Not even one Episcopal act have I performed since I came to this place. When the time shall have arrived in which it may be said that God hath lifted [up] [my] head by his blessing on my endeavours to benefit his primitive Church here in the wilderness and shewed to the world the guilt of my Murderers, then I trust a true Statement of facts laid before the Convention of Our Church, which will make both my Enemies to mourn & my Friends to rejoice. Till then, here I am; “patient in tribulation - joyful thro hope & rooted in charity.” Yea, my Lord I add “charity” even in relation to the Bishops conduct towards me in the matter of the Theol. Seminary. For verily do I believe they did not know to what extent their treatment of me would reach. May God for Christ’s sake, forgive them! Your Lordship mentions something which seemed to suppose I would attend the Genl. Convention of our Church in New York last year (1832). Had all the reasons been made known the propriety of my neglecting to attend that assembly would I trust have been evident. I had no seat in their House of Bishops the Constitution having given a seat to those Bishops only who have Dioceses: and as for suing for a seat on the ground that I had no power to resign as some of my friends vainly hoped would be the case it was most foreign to my thoughts. I had the right & the power to resign & that right and power could be lawfully exercised whenever my diocese should place me in a condition wherein to stay would violate the dictates of my conscience.

But to return to the subject of my present situation and enjoyments as it be asked how, without a salary of any name or sort or any income from any fund or [pat]rimony, do I contrive to maintain my family of little ones keep up hospitality to all who having found out my retreat still visit me in considerable numbers and lay by something with which to build a church? I answer all this is done by labour and [?]. We all rise with the sun, we are at labour till Divine Service & Breakfast. We the resume our employments till noon; when two hours are spent at dinner and refreshment. [Thus] [over] to our work [again] till the evening shades no longer permit us the pleasure of pursuing our several tasks. At early candle lighting we all assemble, in the dining place, offer up our Evening Sacrifice to God the Author of all good & (having once more refreshed the body with supper) retire to rest. In this way we have by the blessings of Heaven our own exertions in one year secured the following

The growth of the cattle is supposed to pay for the wild [Hay] (that is, the making & gathering of it,) say one Hundred Tons and also discharge the debts incurred by the hiring of labourers other than my own family: So that were we to suppose a deduction of $335.75 from the above sum for the graining of my horses and the fattening of my meat we should have the balance of $500 dollars, this my first year of coming on to a new farm. This net sum will with the help of some fine sheep both clothe & feed my family and still leave a considerable sum to build the Church.

I have not mentioned the facilities we have in procuring fresh venison and fish from our Lakes and Rivers in abundance. No Table in the vicinity of a City was ever furnished in greater abundance of these articles than that of mine. With our own seine we have caught from the limpid bosom of Gilead Lake from 75 to 100 fishes at a draft: and our own men can scarcely go thro our wood resembling (in their want of underbrush & the rich grass which grows beneath,) the finest specimens of English Parks, without the opportunity of shooting a Buck or a fat Doe with her fawns. This is no romance may it please your Lordship, but the facts witnessed by all who visit us.

One thing we can not but feel as a great inconvenience is the want of comfortable building. That which sheltered us last winter was hastily erected and had it not been for the comfort of two excellent Stoves which I procured to be brought from Detroit we should have perished. --- But the erection of our Mill we trust will obviate all these inconveniences.

I wish your Lordship could see how busy we are, and ingenious in obviating all difficulties & making all our labour turn out to the best account, while the minds of our Children are by no means neglected: e.g. this day at the very time I am writing these words I will give your Lordship an acct. of each and every of my family. My eldest son Dudley is this moment engaged in copying some writing in my study at my left hand. My next Son Henry is assisting my hired boy James to plough or break up the stubborn turf of the Prarie [sic] in the field with five yoke ([or] 10) oxen. My two youngest, dear little Mary and Philander the latter of whom was born while I was in dear old England are gone on an errand riding on Papa’s two best horses to carry some green peas which they had gathered with their own hands as a present by their kind Mother to one of our Neighbours who did not arrive in the place to put in [?]ably a crop for this year of this delicious vegetable. Just before Mary mounted her horse to ride a way with her present to old Mrs Boothe ([?] name of our neighbour) I observed she ran into the garden and gathered one of the finest nosegays I had ever seen, with which I learned, to make her visit acceptable to Eliza Boothe the good old ladies daughter. My loved Niece Mrs Russell & her dear daughter Sarah are engaged in the culinary duties and my loved Wife is engaged busily at her needle. My chief Carpenter is making a machine essential to an American harvest but I believe unknown in your Lordship’s country, it is a cradle with which the wheat and other similar grain is cut at a stroke as with a scythe the common grass is mown but with which the grain & straw is gathered and laid in heaps the straw all straight & even fit for binding into Sheaves. For this purpose there are several pieces with the same curve of the scythe below standing in parralel [sic] order like fingers in the human hand, about one-half foot apart. This I say is called a ‘Cradle’ and with it one man can cut down & put in order for binding from three to 4 acres per day. This work we shall commence day after tomorrow.

My other man is busily employed this day in completing the Mill-dam the day labourers on which having retired home to prepare for entering the wheat harvest which is abundant with[in].

Tomorrow 7 of July we all go in our two wagons duly fitted up for the [purse] to English Prarie [sic] (so called from the number of English people settled on it) nine miles from this where, as by regular appointment I am to preach. Would that I could say that we could enjoy the benefit of a semblance of a Church! But as it is a log building is to serve that end - where homely as it is I trust the Lord will meet us with his blessing and this can make even the wild wood as with faithful Jacob - “the house of God & the gate of Heaven.”

As I learn by Lord Kenyons letter just received, dear, good G. W. Marriott has exchanged this for a better world. Never did I feel a greater assurance that God hath to him a faithful [spirit] into “Paradise” “Abrahams bosom” the state of the blessed than in this case of his solemn [visitation]. Mr Marriott was to me the means of some of my choicest blessings & greatest trial[s] yet he was as sincere no doubt in the latter as he was good in the former. ~ He was deceived by West the worst & [basest] of all deceivers. His deceptions deceived me and laid the foundation of all my troubles. Sparrow, I believe, secretly aided West, and through J. Taylor of New York sought my ruin. There will come a day when the hidden things of darkness shall see the light. But dear Marriott was innocent, and is now a blessed Saint. ~

But I have not said any thing that I intended to say about my dear Children. O that your Lordship could see how cheerful they are in our banishment: How they look up to Heaven for consolation & support to their aged Father and how they cherish every friendship I had formed when in Dear old England! If Mary Caroline could witness how often her dear name is mentioned in our Family she would most readily pardon the seeming neglect about answering her letters. Pray make our united and most affectionate love acceptable to her, & believe me as ever your [Ldp.] most faith[ful] Friend & Sert. P. Chase

Kind of Grain | No. of acres | Bushels per acre | Market price per Bl.| Amt.

Wheat | 40 | 20 | 10 [21] cents | 500.00

Oats | 20 | 30 | 25 | 150.00

Ind. Corn | 15 | 25 | 25 | 93.75

Buck Wheat | 4 | 30 | 25 | 30.00

Hay Seed | 10 | 5 | 2.00 | 100.00

Potatoes | 2 | 100 | 25 | 50



Copy of a Letter

from Bp Chase


Bp Ward

March 15th 1833

Letter to Rev. W. Ward



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