Digging for gold in Paradise

Last September on my trip to Salt Lake, aka Mecca, I was able to find the father of my paternal g-grandmother, Sophronia Chase Works Brooks. His name was Edward Chase and I learned quite a bit about him thanks to a poster on Ancestry and some additional research of my own. One of the most fascinating things about him, to me, was that he joined a group of people who moved west – all the way to the Sierra Nevada gold country in California, Butte County to be precise. I learned that he traveled from Wisconsin, where he had buried his daughter Sophronia and his wife, with three of his remaining daughters, and a son in law. Two daughters, one a widow and the other quite young, married after arriving in California and all three of the sons in law became quite prominent in the area. Although Edward gives his occupation as a miner, he doesn’t appear to have struck it rich. I learned a sad fact from his obituary, something not published elsewhere; he committed suicide. He was older, 86, but there was no mention of ill health.

Sophia Chase Pense

One of the reasons I was interested in visiting Paradise, Butte County, California, was to find out more about Edward Chase’s other daughter, Sophia Spaulding Chase Finn Pense. She was widowed before accompanying her father to California and met and married Manoah Pence there. She helped Manoah with his hotel and ranch and after his death became quite active as an advocate for women. At the Paradise Genealogical Society I found the mother lode, <grin> including pictures and numerous documents with information about the entire family, including the obituary for Edward mentioned above. A long time Society volunteer, Kathleen, was amazing. She knew just where to look for what I needed. Having knowledgeable local people saves so much time.

I’ll post a couple pictures I was able to copy and Edward’s obituary as it is so poignant and perhaps not commonly known how he died. I have a lot more information to share with family now. What a great experience – nothing is as exhilarating to me as finding information in the actual location where my ancestors lived.

Edward Chase Obituary from the Chico Semi-Weekly Enterprise transcription, Re-transcribed by Helen Gain Butte Co. Newspapers 1853-1883 PGS Library 979.404

1880 October 22

We are informed that Mr. Chase, an old man 89 years old, is said to be father-in-law of M. Pense committed suicide on Monday evening at Lovelocks by hanging. Our informant says that the old man went deliberately about the rash act by first adjusting the rope and then tied a handkerchief around his neck to keep the rope from hurting him, got up on  a box and when all was ready kicked the box from under him. He was the oldest voter in the Great Register.


About vistaqueen

still around somewhat past my pull date
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