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Eli Chase and Olive Hills

Eli Chase (1808-1851)

Eli Chase was born 9 November 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 6 April 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 25 July 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 17 June 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 25 August 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 20 February 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.

See history of Stephen Chase and Orryanna Rowe

Olive Hills (1815-1897)

Olive Hills, the daughter of Eunice and Amasa Hills, was born 12 August 1815 in Brookfield, Madison, New York. Nothing is known of her youth, but at age twenty-five she married Eli Chase who had come to Madison County as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They were married on 25 July 1840 in East Hamilton, Madison, New York. It was there that Olive gave birth to their first child, a daughter named Harriet Louisa.

When the baby was four months old, Olive accompanied her husband back to Illinois. Her sister, Lydia, had also been converted to the Mormon faith and went to Illinois as well. By the time they arrived in Nauvoo, thousands of converts had gathered in the blossoming new town and hundreds of log homes, shops and brick buildings had been constructed. Records show Eli and Olive as tenants on the lot of Eli's father. In spite of the poor economic conditions of many of the people, work had begun on the Nauvoo Temple and all were expected to contribute what they could. Eli contributed physical labor and minimal amounts of cash. The women were asked to donate a penny a week for glass and nails and Olive made her contribution. When the temple neared completion, the Chases were able to participate in the blessings. Olive became a member of the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo on 28 April 1842, just a month after it was organized. The women helped provide food and clothing to the temple workers and gave aid to families in need.

Little is known of Olive's home life in Nauvoo, but a brief account indicates that an infant child was buried in October of 1842. Eli had gone through years of persecution in Missouri, but Olive experienced it for the first time while in Nauvoo. The influx of Mormons posed a threat to others in the area and resulted in continual harassment and mob violece. Plans were made to move west in an effort to find peace. Olive stayed in Nauvoo while her husband was gone for a month and a half, helping to start the exodus. When he returned, she made the difficult two-month trip across Iowa while pregnant. A few weeks after their arrival at Council Bluffs she gave birth to a daughter, also named Olive.

Three winters were spent in Iowa, growing crops and making preparations for the journey to the Rocky Mountains. By the time they were ready to leave, Olive was expecting another child. During the three-month journey across the plains, she gave birth to daughter Helen along the Platte River, somewhere in western Nebraska or eastern Wyoming.

The Chase family arrived in the Salt Lake Valley 25 August 1849. The challenges were far from over. Only a year and a half later, Eli died of consumption. Olive, with little means, was left with three young children and another on the way. On 5 July 1851, she gave birth to a son, named after the father he would never know.

A year after the loss of her husband, Olive became a plural wife of James G. Browning of Ogden. Two daughters, Mary Ann and Eveline, resulted from that union. She lived in Ogden for about ten years but at some point her marriage to Browning ended. On 1 July 1865 Olive became the wife of George Garner who ran a freighting business and a hotel in Payson, Utah. She had two connections to George. He was her brother-in-law, having married Lydia Hills in Illinois in 1843. He was also the father-in-law of Olive's daughter Helen, known as Ellen.

In 1877, Olive became widowed when George had a fatal accident with a run-away wagon. She lived for twenty more years in Payson, looked after by some of her children. After a paralytic stroke, Olive died 28 August 1897. She is buried in an unmarked grave in the Payson City Cemetery.

The Children

  1. Harriet Louisa Chase (1841-1927) md. James G. Browning and Charles B. Slosson
  2. Infant ( -1842)
  3. Olive Chase (1846-1913) md. Ammon Paul Pitkin
  4. See history of Ammon Paul Pitkin and Olive Chase

  5. Helen Frances Chase (1849-1932) md. Andrew J. Garner and Joseph Wands
  6. Eli Chase (1851-1934)

Autobiography of Eli Chase

Son of Stephen and Orryanna Chase was born November 9, 1808 at Ellisburgh, Jefferson County, New York. Stephen Chase was son of Barry and Phebe Chase, born in Fredrickstown, Dutchess county, New York. Orryanna Chase was daughter of David and Mary Rowe, born in Sharon, Dutchess County, New York June 1, 1784. Barry Chase was born in the year 1754 supposed to be in the state of New York. Phebe Chase was born in the year 1756 in the state of New York.

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 north west 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 same restless (?) and remorseless spirit of persecutuion 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 extermiation 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 8 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.]


For transcription of Eli's journal writings see Record of Eli Chase