CHASE, Alexander Welles

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CHASE, Alexander Welles (1843-1888) Ohio-born artist and adventurer who migrated overland to California in 1861 at age 18. May to August, Chase kept a journal of his trip by covered wagon from Iowa, elaborately illustrated with pencil sketches and 43 watercolors done enroute. He was a California resident by 1862 when he was hired as an aid of the first U.S. Coast Survey. From 1862-1868 he was aid to assistant A. F. Rodgers (in turn an assistant to superintendent, George Davidson) on the California coast.

Chase participated in the expedition to Santa Barbara Island in February 1871, and produced a map of the island’s topography.

Chase = [1874] Isabel Frances Dickerson

  • Bertha Griffith Chase
  • Alexandra Welles Chase [Prentiss] (1876-1955)

In 1878, Chase became a controversial Survey employee and was threatened with dismissal. On May 7, 1878 Chase wrote a letter to President R. B. Hayes protesting his treatment and requesting a “fair trial.” The same week, Chase's family had “taken out a warrant for his arrest on the ground of insanity.” The order for his dismissal was withdrawn, and on September 30, 1878 Chase resigned.

Chase died in November 1888 of cancer of the larynx. He was less than two months past his 45th birthday. Chase is buried in the Topeka Cemetery, Kansas. His illustrated overland journal is at U. C. Irvine, Special Collections.