Chase, Nancy Russell Sever
Collection of incoming Correspondence to Nancy Russell Sever Chase, of Kingston, Massachusetts, wife of Congregationalist clergyman Rev. Henry L. Chase, with incoming letters to her niece’s husband, Chauncey Wells Brownell, Jr., businessman and politician of Burlington, Vermont, 1870-1892

42 letters, 204 handwritten pages, with envelopes, dated 5 April 1870 to 20 February 1892, and a couple of newspaper clippings; correspondence informs of the social history of the families, sickness, deaths, work, people moving about, keeping in touch with family who moved away, etc., there are a couple of letters dealing with women’s medical issues. *Quotes from the letters can be emailed on request.

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Nancy Russell Sever Chase (1835-1908) and husband Rev. Henry L. Chase (1832-1905)


Henry L. Chase was born on 9 September 1832 in Westford, Vermont. He was the youngest of five children born to farmer Truman Chase (1790-1871) and Laura Ballard (1794-1872) of Westford. In 1865 Chase was living in Carver, Massachusetts, where he was listed as a clergyman. Online searches show Chase to have been a Congregational minister who served in Carver, Massachusetts (1865); Dyersville (1867-1870) and Green Mountain (1870-1882), both in Iowa, then later, in 1885, he was appointed to a church in Hutchinson, Minnesota.


On 22 June 1869, he married Nancy Russell Sever (1835-), in Kingston, Massachusetts, she was the daughter of James N. Sever and his wife Mercy, of Kingston. The couple were married by two ministers, one being the Rev. Winslow R. Sever, presumably a relative of Nancy R. Sever. At the time of their marriage, Rev. Chase was living in Derryville, Iowa, where he was stationed, and his wife was at her home in Kingston, Massachusetts.


When the 1870 Census was taken, the Chases were living in Maquoketa, Jackson Co., Iowa, with a Hattie Chase, presumably a relative who was also from Vermont. By the time the 1880 Census was taken, the couple had moved to Marion, in Marshall Co., Iowa. The Minnesota Census of 1895 shows Rev. Chase listed as enumerated at Minneapolis and when the 1900 federal census was taken, he was still living in that city and listed as a Congregational clergyman. His wife was listed as having had no children, even though at this point the couple had been married for 31 years. The couple had a 22-year-old Swedish-American live-in servant by the name of Nellie Goranson to help with their housework and cooking.


Rev. Chase died on 1 March 1905 at Clifton Springs, New York; his wife Nancy died three years later in 1908.


Rev. Chase’s sister was Laura Marie Chase (1822-1906). She married  Baxter Brigham(1816-1856)  of Bakersfield, Vermont in 1846 Together the couple had at least two children: Dorr Baxter Brigham (1847-1856) who died young, and Elva Mabel Brigham (1850-1920) who married Chauncey Wells Brownell, Jr. (1847-1938), son of Chauncey Wells Brownell, Sr. (1811-1892), of whom further:


Chauncey Wells Brownell, Sr. (1811-1892)


Chauncey Wells Brownell was born 13 September 1811, son of Samuel Brownell and Zeruah Forbes. His paternal and maternal grandfathers were both Revolutionary soldiers. Samuel, the father of Chauncey Wells Brownell, Sr., came with his parents from Connecticut to Williston, Vermont and purchased land in the northeast corner of the original town of Burlington, now Williston.


Chauncey was educated in the district schools. In 1840 he purchased a large farm in the southwestern corner of Williston, on which he continued to reside during life. He set out large orchards and grew all varieties of fruit that the climate would permit. He added to his real estate from time to time. Notwithstanding conveyances to his children, he owned more than one thousand acres. He gave much time and thought to the improvement of stock, and bred and owned some of the best horses, cattle and sheep in the state.


Strongly attached to the principles of the Republican party, Brownell was a useful public-spirited citizen, and was called to nearly all the duties entrusted to town officials. An uncompromising believer in protection for American industries, he was quickly out of patience with those who advocated a free trade policy. He represented Williston in the Legislature of 1860-1861 and was chosen a member of the state Senate from Chittenden County for the first biennial term in 1870.


On 4 March 1841, Brownell married his first wife Laura C. Higbee, daughter of Isaac Higbee and his wife Laura Chapin, from whom the following children were born: Samuel A. Brownell, of Essex, Vermont; Zeruah F. Brownell, wife of William F. Whitney, of Williston; Chauncey W. Brownell, Jr., lawyer, of Burlington, Vermont (more below); Laura A. Brownell, wife of John A. Collier, of Brooklyn;  Eliza Brownell, died in 1862.


Laura, Brownell’s first wife, died in November 1852, and in May 1854, Brownell married a second time to Martha M. Van Sicklen, daughter of Hon. John Van Sicklen, of South Burlington, Vermont. Brownell’s children with his second wife Martha were: Sarah V. Brownell; Mary A. Brownell; Mrs. E. H. Thorp, of Middlebury, Vermont; and Grove L. Brownell, of Essex, VT; one, John Lester Brownell died in 1885. Brownell’s second wife Laurie died on 5 January 1891. Chauncey Wells Brownell, Sr. died on 4 June 1892.


Chauncey Wells Brownell, Jr. (1847-1938)


Chauncey Wells Brownell, Jr. was born 7 October 1847 in Williston, Vermont, the son of Chauncey Wells Brownell, Sr. and his first wife Laura Higbee. He was educated at Williston and Alburgh Springs academies and graduated from University of Vermont in 1870; received the degree of A. M. 1873; and attended Albany Law School graduating with degree LL. B. He was admitted to the Vermont Bar in 1872; and in 1873 started to practice law in Burlington.


Brownell, Jr. was interested in agriculture and fruit growing and served in many capacities in business and politics. Over the years he became a director and clerk at the Burlington Traction Company, and the Military Post Street Railway Company; a trustee and vice president of the Home Savings Bank; a director Burlington Building and Loan Association, being one of the original incorporators; a promoter and president of the Burlington Mutual Fire Insurance Company since its organization in 1907; and a member of Vergennes Power Company, which was developed to furnish electrical power to operate street railways in and about Burlington.


In 1875 he Brownell, Jr. married Elva Maria Brigham (1850-1920) of Westford, Vermont, daughter of Laura Chase, who was the sister of the Rev. Henry L. Chase mentioned above. Together they had at least four children, Carl Brigham Brownell (1877-1972), Elva Mabel Brownell (1879-1971), Chauncey Sherman Brownell (1880-1952), and Henry Chase Brownell (1887-1970).


Chauncy Wells Brownell, Jr. was a Republican; an Assistant Secretary of the Vermont Senate from 1874 to 1880; a Secretary of Senate from 1880 to 1890; and the Vermont Secretary of State from 1890 to 1898. He was also an insurance commissioner for eight years; a member Burlington board of aldermen from 1900 to 1903; and for four years city grand juror and prosecuting attorney. He was also a one-time states attorney for Chittenden County from 1884 to 1886; a state senator from Chittenden County in 1902 and was unanimously chosen president pro tempore (1902-1904).


Brownell died in Williston on February 4, 1938. He was buried at Lakeview Cemetery in Burlington.