Appalachian Trails
The Jerry Chase Mansion House
By Nancy Clark Brown

This article appeared the in the Coalfield Progress, 1977

Located about four miles south of Pound, on route 23, in the Indian Creek Community where I was raised, there presently stands as attractive, well kept residence owned by Mr. and Mrs. W. P. Ison. The Ison's, who are old and dear friends of my parents, Mr. and Mrs. Elliott Clark, have received many pleasing compliments on the beauty and appearance of their lovely, stone constructed home of contemporary design. I am certain that many people in passing have remarked how attractive and appealing that this particular residence seems to be; but I wonder how many of these interested on-lookers are aware of the historical significance associated with the Ison Estate?

Although the present residence is stately in composition, and certainly lovely to behold, its predecessor on that particular site, the Jerry Chase Mansion House, was itself a very impressive and revered attraction in its day. Even in a state of deterioration, just prior to its destruction in the late 1940's, the old mansion maintained an air of fascination and excitement to all of us who looked upon it. 

The Jerry Chase House stood on what was an original 3,500 acre tract of land first owned by Benjamin Warder, who in turn, sold the land to Isham Hall. Alexander Hall, the son of Isham Hall, heired the property in 1842, and shortly thereafter built the two-story hewn log house that stood on the original site for more than a hundred years.

Jeremiah T Chase, the grandson of Samuel Chase, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, bought the house and land from Alexander Hall around 1846, and it was from Mr. Chase's connection with the property that the house garnered so much fame and attention down through the years.

While Jerry Chase owned the house, it was considered to be the elite structure of its day in this part of the country. As previously stated, the house was two-story log complex with a large brick chimney, which afforded the residence a distinct air of dignity. In a place and time when one was lucky to have even the roughest form of a "flu-assembly" from field stone or creek rocks, a home that exhibited a brick fireplace and accompanying chimney of equal stature was considered elegant indeed!

The front of the house was a attired with a full length porch, covered by a roof that was supported by evenly rounded oak columns, and the back part of the building was accentuated by the presence of a shed type addition, commonly called a "lean-to" kitchen. The second story was reached by means of an interior stairway which fashioned hand-carved bannisters, unusual for that period in time and that remote section when most upper levels were ascended by a "ship's ladder", or some exterior entry of sorts.

My grandmother once reiterated that the Chases owned the first cookstove of a manufactured variety in this area, and the story goes that people came from miles around to glimpse this marvelous invention of such wonderous magnitude in the early pioneer days of our county.

The grounds of the immediate Mansion House were punctuated with a well groomed assortment of apple trees, and a variety of beautiful flowers. The outward appearance of the Chase Mansion, as well as the menial house-hold chores, were handled by the Chase servants, Tom and Lucy, during that pre-Civil War period, and this stately, well kept Mansion clearly established the affluence of its owners to all early settlers of Wise County.

Jeremiah T Chase, the gentleman who responsible for the zenith period of this old estate, was a man of prominent social and civic influence in the early years of Wise County. He was born in Sullivan County, Tennessee in 1824, and migrated to the Indian Creek community, then a part of Russell County, Va. about 1846, at which time he acquired the property known as the Jerry Chase Estate.

Jerry married Sarah Bond, of the Big Laurel section of Wise County, in April of 1851, and they spent the next 40 years of their lives in the old Chase Mansion House on Indian Creek, where they raised their children and played an integral part in the development of Wise County.

Jerry purchased a store building about this time from a man named Childress, and he not only earned a good living by shrewd management of the rural Emporium, but he serviced the needs of the entire community for many years. The store was located just across the road from the Chase house, about where the Ray Shortt residence is presently located, and an interesting note here is that today that particular section of the Indian Creek community is still known as "Store-House Branch".

Jerry Chase was one of the principal negotiators in the early movements to form Wise County. He, along with several of his contemporaries of the time, felt that there was an urgent need to have a county court and county officers close than the Russell County court. Their feelings were that the people of this remote mountain were willing and certainly capable of governing themselves, and the ideal was to have the county government close enough to serve the populous without so much delay. When the county was finally formed in 1856, Jerry Chase was one of the top ranking officers in the county government, serving in the official capacity of Judge of the Court, something akin to a present day Supervisor. During the Civil War, Chase managed the financial affairs of the county, and on several occasions he loaned the new government enough money to provide relief to the war-stricken families in the depressed rural areas. It has been related that he would often travel as far as North Carolina to obtain food and other pertinent supplies at his own personal expense to keep the early pioneers of this county from succumbing to adversities of the terrors of that Civil conflict.

Jerry later became a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, and he once suffered harmful injuries to his person when the floor of the Capitol building collapsed while the State Legislature was in session.

During all the time Jerry Chase resided at the Mansion House on Indian Creek, and is evidenced by the old records of this county, and the historical accounts of his life, his home was no doubt a haven of rest and comfort to many weary travelers. It is said that he once entertained President Garfield in the stately old mansion where Mr. Garfield, as a Union Army officer, traveled through the county during the Civil War.

Jerry Chase sold his house and land around 1890 when the mining industry initiated its dealings in area land holdings. The South-West Virginia Mineral Land Company, a forerunner of Clinchfield Coal Corporation, purchased the property for $14,000.00 an astronomical sun for that time. Jerry then moved to Montgomery County, Kentucky where he spent the remainder of his days. He lived to be almost a hundred years old.

The old Chase House was occupied by various tenants for the following few years, and was finally abandoned until it was razed in the late 1940's to make way for the present residence.

I have always regretted that some of the historical groups of our area were unable to acquire the old Chase Mansion House. It would have been nice to have seen it restored as a lasting monument to one of the most enterprising and energetic pioneers of Wise County,Jeremiah T Chase!

submitted by Nancy Clark Brown ©2001

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