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Chase, Capt. John F.

Author: The History of Florida:  Past & Present, The Lewis Publishing Co., 1923,  Vol. III  pg.316

Capt. John F. Chase CHASE, Capt. JOHN F. Enshrined in the hearts of those who knew him in
the memory of the late Capt. JOHN F. CHASE, who sacrificed his young manhood
on the altar of patriotism during the war between the states, and later,
handicapped by disabilities which were the result of the war’s insatiable
demands, fought a valiant fight in the winning of a livelihood and the respect
of his fellow-men. Captain Chase was known to the citizens of St. Petersburg,
principally as a highly honored, retired resident. His name and the qualities
which made him an heroic figure have been kept alive by his two daughters, the
Misses BEULAH C. and LENA M. CHASE, president and secretary, respectively, of
the Willson Chase Company, and whose remarkable business abilities have built
up one of the city’s leading commercial enterprises.
Capt. JOHN F. CHASE was born at Chelsea, Maine, in 1842, and received a
public school education. At the outbreak of the war between the North and
South he enlisted in the Third Marine Regiment and later became a cannonier of
the Fifth Maine Battery. His entire service scintillated with acts of
bravery, and for heroic services rendered at the battle of Chancellorsville,
May 3, 1863, he received a medal of honor by Act of Congress. On this
occasion, after the remainder of the battery had been destroyed, he and a
comrade continued working their gun in the face of the rapidly advancing
enemy. At the battle of Gettysburg, July 2, 1863, by the bursting of a shell,
he received forty-eight wounds, including the loss of his right arm and the
blowing out of one of his eyes. He lay on the field in this condition two
days before it was discovered that he was alive, and he was then removed to
the hospital. Erysipelas appeared in all his wounds, and the surgeon stated
that there was no hope for him. He was accordingly placed in a tent alone
outside the hospital to die, as it was thought, but a remarkable constitution
pulled him through, and his first words upon regaining consciousness
were: "Did we win the battle?” A song with those words as the title has been
written, and for many years was a favorite, and another favorite in former
years was a poem, “Chancellorsville and Its Artillery Hero,” relating the
incident set above.
When he had recovered sufficiently to travel, Captain Chase went to
Augusta, Maine, where he became an inventor. He invented among other objects
an air-cooling disc still for the purification of water; a revolving harrow; a
machine for labeling cans, and an automatic mop-wringer. He never completed a
flying machine, but his general ideas are being used in France at this time.
At Augusta he made friends among many prominent men, including several of the
governors and mayors, and was highly respected by all. In 1895 he removed
with his family to St. Petersburg, where he became the owner of valuable
property and lived a retired life until claimed by death November 27, 1914.
He was always public-spirited and a booster of everything pertaining to the
welfare of his adopted community. Fraternally he was affiliated with the Odd
Fellows and Knights of Pythias and prominent in the G. A. R. He was one of
the originators of the state societies, the first of which was the New England
Society. His religious belief was that of the Methodist Church
Captain Chase married Miss MARIA MERRILL, who was born at Freeport,
Maine, and died at St. Petersburg in August, 1921. They became the parents of
nine children, of whom the following are living: The Misses LENA M. and
BEULAH C., Mrs. MAUD AIKIN, J. FRANK, of Oklahoma City, and RALPH M., also of
that place. In 1905 Miss Beulah C. CHASE opened a modest remnant store in a
small wooden building on Central Avenue. Hard work and intelligent management
resulted in the making of a little capital during the next two years, and in
1907 her sister, Miss LENA M. CHASE, came into the store, the firm name
becoming B. & L. Chase. The enterprise continued to prosper, and in 1909 the
company was incorporated as the Willson Chase Company, of which Miss BEULAH C.
CHASE is president; Miss LENA M. CHASE, secretary; E. B. WILLSON, treasurer
and manager, and L. B. IRWIN, vice president. This has always been a woman’s
store, and the same policy of “Money Back with a Smile if Not Satisfied,” is
carried out in its conduct. In 1914 the company erected a handsome five-story
building, complete in every department and particular, one of the finest of
St. Petersburg’s business buildings.
The Misses Chase have been prominent in all civic movements and in club
life, and hold membership in the Young Women’s Christian Association, the
Woman’s Club, the Audubon Society and the Yacht Club. Their religious
connection is with the Episcopal Church, in the work of which they take an
active and helpful part.


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