Monday, September 2, 2019

September 2, 1945, a day and a photographer to remember

Remembering Harold Ignatius “Buster” Campbell (1922-1966) and September 2, 1945

On September 2, 1945, aboard the Battleship Missouri anchored in Tokyo Bay, the Japanese surrendered ending the War in the Pacific and bringing to an end World War II.

The ship was crowded with official visitors and resident seamen. Following the ceremonies a photographer captured Admiral Halsey and Vice Admiral McCain (Senator John McCain’s father) in conversation. In the background in the open door of a turret can be seen an official Navy Photographer who is thought to be Harold Ignatius “Buster” Campbell (1922-1966).

From that vantage point a number of photographs of the official signing were taken including of General Yoshijiro Umezu, chief of the Japanese Army General Staff, with General McArthur looking on.

Buster Campbell was only a Baker’s Assistant aboard the Missouri, spending most of his working hours preparing donuts and other baked goods for consumption by the 2700 men on board. In his off hours he learned to be a photographer and became so proficient that on September 2 he was given the prestigious assignment of being one of the official photographers of the ceremonies. As he explained to his wife in a letter dated 1930 hours, Sunday September 2, in Tokyo Bay:

“ will no doubt be the greatest in my naval career. ...I was a ship’s photographer for the surrender ceremony and what a time I had. Took 63 shots from beginning to end. gee I was lucky. Pat developed half my stuff and he said they were very good. I sure hope so.

Here’s what happened Got up at 0530 and was at the photo lab at 0600. 0630 I was up in Turret #2…”[1]

Because the photographs taken by the official photographers at the time were not credited to individuals, it is not certain which ones were taken by Buster, but it is most likely to have included the view of General Umezu and several others of the signing taken from the perspective of turret #2.

This was not the first time that Baker’s Assistant Campbell impressed the photographic staff with his ability to use a camera. His best known photograph was the of the Kamikaze attack on the Missouri at the battle of Okinawa, although he did not get official credit for it until long after his death in 1966.[2]

When Buster’s son learned that another photographer had been given credit for the Kamikaze photograph, he corrected the record by sending of Buster’s diary documenting how he came to take the photograph along with other of his father’s memorabilia relating to his service. Included was an unmarked up copy of this photograph taken of Buster with his official Navy Graflex Camera.[3] When the Sun papers received this official photograph from the Navy, they cropped it and prepared it for publication in the Evening Sun of October 4, 1945, noting on the back “Sept 2nd 1945 Just after the surrender was signed.”[4]

Buster Campbell from the Baltimore Sun’s photo archive, private collection

Buster grew up at 1720 West Lombard Street in the parish of 14 Holy Martyrs. The church, which is still standing, is said to have been designed by George A. Friederick and built after 1870.[5] By 1964 its parishioners had moved away and the church was closed, reflecting the white flight to the suburbs and the racial strife confronting the city.

1720 West Lombard Street, (middle house, author’s image, 2016).

The John J. and Nora Campbell’s family acquired the house in 1925[6]

which was less than a block away from their church

and the parish school their children attended.

formerly Fourteen Holy Martyrs Roman Catholic Church,

now Praise Cathedral, South Mount and Lombard Streets


Buster was one of seven World War II servicemen who grew up at 1720 West Lombard, and are seen here celebrating Christmas in February 1946 when all were at last safe at home from the war:

From the Baltimore Sun, Tuesday, February 26, 1946[7]

When Buster entered the Navy he had been working as a sign painter, having graduated from the Maryland Institute night school class in lettering in 1940.[8] On his return Buster went to work for the Air Engineering firm and by 1959 was employed by the United Glazed Products of Baltimore whose headquarters were in Lansing Michigan. Buster died suddenly of an apparent heart attack in 1966 at the age of 43, just before boarding a plane in Lansing to fly to Baltimore to visit his family. In December 1965, he had been named general manager of the tile products company and was contemplating moving his wife and son to Lansing.[9]

Today Harold I. “Buster” Campbell and his wife Thelma, rest in Baltimore National Cemetery along with many of Baltimore’s veterans and their wives, including James and Hattie Carroll. If Buster represents how one high school graduate from Baltimore was able to make the most of his Naval service and then, after the war joined the white flight from the City to the suburbs and beyond,, along with the congregation in which he grew up, veteran James Carroll’s wife, through a ballad written by Bob Dylan, became the symbol of white oppression in a segregated city that Buster left behind. Today all four lie quietly in graves not far from each other.

Baltimore National Cemetery,

the graves of Harold and Thelma Campbell, and of James and Hattie Carroll

images from Findagrave

Much more could and should be written about Buster Campbell, his family, and his parish as well as the family and neighborhood of Hattie Carroll.

Buster’s is the story of an industrious German Catholic family in a long lost and forgotten neighborhood of Baltimore, whose life stories are not unlike a Barry Levinson film[10], while Hattie and her family’s equally important story is largely unknown, and even the memory of Bob Dylan’s ballad is fast fading from the public consciousness.

Today, however, we return to one of the most significant days in World History to celebrate the event Buster documented, and to mark his achievements as a skilled photographer who left behind an archive of visual images of a day we ought not to forget, September 2, 1945.

[1] on display on the Battleship Missouri as of 2019/08.

[2] an article in the February 25, 1945 edition of the Baltimore Sun noted “All the Campbell servicemen were in the Army except harold, 24, who was in the navy, assigned to the Missouri at the time of the surrender. His chief job was baking, but when called to his battle station, harold would hurry from his cakes and pies and take up a camera, ready for his other job-- assistant photographer of the ship. One of his shots, a view of aq kamikaze attack on the Missouri recently was shown in New York in an exhibit of “the 100 most famous pictures of the war.”

[3] according to Bruce Thomas, an authority on Graflex cameras (see:, Buste’s “camera would be a 4x5 Graflex RB (Revolving Back) Series D, equipped with a Bag Magazine on the rear for 12 exposures without reloading. It also appears to be a brand new 1945 model”.

[4] the cropped image does not appear in the online images of the Sun or the Evening Sun of October4, 1945 which are on although it may of appeared in a late edition of either paper which has not been preserved.

[5] The church was established in 1869 by the rector of St. Alphonsus Church. His goal was a new German Catholic Church to service the German Catholics in the west Baltimore area. The building was erected at the corner of Mount and Fulton Streets. In 1870 the upper part served as the church while the lower part served as the school. The corner stone was laid on July 10, 1870. The church was served by the Redemptorist fathers of St. Alphonsus for a short time, but in the spring of 1871 a secular priest took charge of the church. On the first of April, 1874, Rev. Meinard Jeggle of the Benedictine order was appointed pastor. A cornerstone is dated 1902. Fortunately the records of the Church and its parish have survived. They are available from the Maryland State Archives on microfilm (MSA SC 1190, SCM 2650-SCM 2651. Source:, text based on History of Baltimore City & County; John Thomas Scharf, 1881, J.B. Lippencott & Company, publishers, Philadelphia PA.

[6] BALTIMORE CITY SUPERIOR COURT (Land Records) 1925-1925 SCL 4507, pp. 0540-0543 [4 images] MSA CE 168-4515, from

[7] In an accompanying article about the family, Mrs. Campbell is quoted as resisting the desire of a younger brother, Jerome, to enlist, telling the reporter that “bringing up 14 children and seeing half of them successfully through the war is enough excitement for one family.”

[8] “213 receive Diplomas,” Baltimore Sun, January 2, 1940, courtesy of

[9] The Evening Sun Baltimore, Maryland, Friday, March 11, 1966 - Page 39, and The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore, Maryland, Saturday, March 12, 1966 - Page 13, courtesy of

[10] Diner was the first of four films set in the Baltimore of Levinson's youth. The other three were Tin Men (1987), a story of aluminum-siding salesmen in the 1960s starring Richard Dreyfuss and Danny DeVito; the immigrant family saga Avalon (1990) featuring Elijah Wood in one of his earliest screen appearances, and Liberty Heights (1999). See:

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

What to do with Family Archives: The family life of a forgotten ward boss, and public servant from Baltimore, Wesley Sanders Hanna (1865-1945)

The family life of a forgotten ward politician,

and public servant from Baltimore:

Wesley Sanders Hanna (1865/10/6-1945/05/4).

When Judge James F. Schneider and Susan M. Marzetta bought their house at 4510 Roland Avenue, it had been in the Hanna family since 1926. The previous owners had left a considerable amount of effects behind, some of which were sitting in the trash including a pile of water soaked negatives, some in their original paper envelopes from a drugstore at 223 Park Avenue.

From the envelopes and a search through city directories, genealogical databases online, and an online atlas of maps relating to the city, it was easily determined that they were produced by someone in the Wesley S. Hanna family (probably the son Charles and the father Wesley) sometime between 1907 and 1913.

Wesley Sanders Hanna, Helen Turner (Raborg) Hanna, Charles F. Hanna, Virginia T. Hanna, and Helen W. Hanna, on the white marble steps of their new home at 212 East 20th Street, Ward 12, Baltimore, Maryland, probably sometime in August, 1910.

The photographs salvaged by Judge Schneider are best dated mostly to the years 1906 to 1913 and are centered mostly on the third child, Helen W. Hanna who was three years old when the family moved to East 20th Street. The settings are the street of their 2201 North Charles address where they lived from at least 1900 with his mother-in-law’s family the Raborgs, until 1910, followed by street scenes of their new home at East 20th Street, vacations at Atlantic City, visits to the Druid Hill Park Zoo, and an outing to a related family estate/farm in Howard County owned by the Macy family, once part of a large slave plantation (Bushy Park) owned by the Hammond Family.

There is one damaged negative of what may be the interior of 2201 North Charles taken before their third child, Helen Wesley Hanna was born (1907) which probably dates from about 1906:

2201 Charles Street Parlor, ca. 1906?

In 1926 the Hanna family moved into a large Roland Park mansion at 4510 Roland Avenue, built in 1907 by the LeViness family, said to be a duplicate of a house in Salisbury Maryland. There the Wesley Sanders Hanna family remained until 1988 when the house was sold to the Schneiders. Wesley Sanders Hanna died at 4510 Roland Avenue in 1945, and it is from his obituary in the Baltimore Sun that we learn of his public career as a ward heeler in the 12th Ward for the Republican Party, Deputy Comptroller of the City of Baltimore, and State Insurance Commissioner under Governor Harry Whinna Nice.

Wesley Sanders Hanna’s obituary:


The Sun (1837-1993); May 5, 1945; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Baltimore Sun pg. 16


Old-Line GOP Leader Held Office Here Once

Wesley S. Hanna, old-line Republican political leader and for eighteen years deputy city comptroller, died last night at his home, 4510 Roland avenue. He had been in failing health for some time, Mr. Hanna resigned as deputy comptroller in 1935 to serve a four-year term as State insurance commissioner in the administration of Governor Nice.

Adherent Of Weller

For many years he was a member of the Republican City Committee and party executive of the Twelfth ward. He was a GOP factional adherent of former Senator O. E. Weller.

Mr. Hanna's great-grandfather, Major John Hanna, commanded the Fells Point Light Dragoons in the Battle of North Point during the War of 1812. His maternal great-grandfather, Jacob Small, was Mayor of Baltimore from 1826 to 1831.

His grandfather, William Hanna, was among the organizers of the Republican party when a split in the old Whig party gave birth to the new organization.

Funeral Monday

Mr. Hanna's father, Charles Fleetwood Hanna, was deputy collector of the Port of Baltimore for more than 50 years, retiring at the age of 83.

Mr. Hanna is survived by his wife, Mrs. Helen Turner Raborg Hanna; a son, Charles F. Hanna of W.; two daughters, Mrs. Marian B. Williamson and Mrs. Frederick C. Williamson; two sisters, Mrs. Arthur C. Macy and Miss Leila Hanna; a granddaughter, Mrs. Robley D. Bates, Jr., and a grandson, Frederick Williamson.

The funeral will be on Monday.

A Roman Catholic, Wesley Sanders Hanna (1865/10/6-1945/05/4) was buried in New Cathedral Cemetery and the memory of his public life has largely been forgotten.

The images of the private life of the Wesley Sanders Hanna Family not only illuminate the context and costumes of what might be deemed a nuclear family of the rising white middle class of Baltimore, but also glimpses of the physical world in which they lived and vacationed. For the most part they center around the third child, Helen Wesley Hanna who was three in August 1910 when the family moved to their own house at 212 East 20th Street.

Helen Wesley Hanna, age about 3 on the steps of 212 East 20th Street.

Helen visiting the Macy family farm at Glenwood, Maryland?, ca. 1910

Helen at the Macy farm, Glenwood Maryland, ca. 1910?

Cowboys (brother Charles) and Cowgirls (Helen) at the Macy farm, Glenwood, ca. 1910 preceded by a lesson on horseback, with an anxious mother to the side.

Out for a walk, August 1910, near 2201 Charles Street. Note the Streetcar conductor.

Hanna Family Vacation, ca. Summer of 1909, Atlantic City

Mother and father (Helen and Wesley) on the beach, Atlantic City, Summer of 1909?

A commercially available photograph of the site of the Hanna family visit to Atlantic City. The photographs of Helen and family were taken on the beach just off to the center right of this photograph. By the time of their visit the Bull Durham billboard had been added to the top of the buildings in the center right of the photograph.

There are a number of people and scenes in the negatives yet to be identified including this puzzle featuring Helen and her parents about 1910. It is of an unidentified church, possibly in the Glenwood area of Howard County. Its architecture is reminiscent of the Lutheran Evangelical Lutheran Church that was just a block away from the Hanna Home on East 20th Street. Perhaps it was built by the same Architect?

Where is this church? Look closely as it is Helen, her mother, brother and sister taken in what appears to be July or August 1910 (the Crepe Myrtle is in full bloom), probably taken by Wesley Sanders Hanna and from Helen’s appearance very near to the time of Helen’s walk on Charles and East 20th street in the images featured above.

Today the East 20th Street neighborhood of the Hanna’s is literally no more. The block of houses in which the Hanna’s purchased their first Baltimore home is now the basketball court of the Dallas F. Nicholas, Sr., Elementary School, but from 1910 to 1926 it was the home of the Deputy Comptroller of the City of Baltimore and State Republican Party Committeeman from the 12th Ward in which East 20th Street was located.

Boundaries of the 12th Ward of Baltimore City, 1901-36


Perhaps someday more will be written about Wesley Sanders Hanna, his family and his public world, as well as about the two white servants in the Raborg household at 2201 North Charles before 1910 who waited on them, Lucie Nickens and Lillie Cassell. At the new home East 20th Street, they had no servants, although it is probable that they hired daily help to cook, clean, and wash their clothes.

As to Helen Wesley Hanna (1906/o7/29-1990/05/07), the little girl featured in most of the negatives, she moved with the family to the Roland Park house in 1926, married Frederick C. Williamson (1900/05/17-1979/03) from Indiana who she brought to 4510 Roland Avenue, where she continued to live until two years before her death. Throughout her life except perhaps the years on East 20th Street (1910-1926) she lived within what might be called a family compound. For her first three years she lived with her parents, siblings, servants, and Raborg grandparents in the grandparents home on Charles Street. After 1926 she lived with her parents, her cousins families including one Raborg cousin who was born in Brazil, and her Williamson husband at 4510 Roland Avenue. Apart from the charming photos of a child of a middle class white urban household, and the scenes of the city and country around her, her story is unknown, yet by knowing what we do now, we have a significant new insight into the nature of a rising (economically) middle class urban family life that was not as nuclear as it might have been thought to be.

Apart from the historical interest and the stories to be derived from an appraisal of this nearly castaway family collection of photographic negatives, the moral of this account lies in the asking of what to do with the collections of family papers and memorabilia that often occurs on the removal to a retirement home, or death of the family member that was for whatever reason the custodian. The normal response is 1-800-got junk (or something similar) but it would benefit understanding of ourselves and enrich the stories about our private and public worlds if there were a helping hand to save and care for what has survived in a well-inventoried online environment and a safe and secure storage facility. This small collection and its online access will be at the Baltimore City Archives as BMS 48_21, the James F. Schneider Collection. Guidelines for what to and how to go about doing it can also be obtained from one of the volunteers at the Baltimore City Archives, including instructions on the basic procedures for ‘containerizing’ and inventorying the family archives. I am hoping there are a lot more Jim Schneiders and Ernie Dimlers out there who are willing to give or share what they have inherited or have collected.


Comments, additions and corrections are most welcome.

Monday, June 17, 2019

A Teacher Among Teachers: The Reverend Samuel Ward Chase (1805?-1867) of Baltimore

Samuel Ward Chase (1805?-1867)

©Dr. Edward C. Papenfuse, Maryland State Archivist, retired

On March 20, 1867, the Reverend Samuel Ward Chase died at his residence, No. 81 Leadenhall Street in South Baltimore. After the funeral at his residence, 100 carriages followed his coffin to Laurel Cemetery on Belair Road where he was buried “according to the solemn rites of the orders to which the deceased belonged.” The Baltimore Sun reported that “the sidewalks of the streets through which the funeral procession passed … were lined with colored people,” many of whom followed to the cemetery.[1]

Samuel Ward Chase was born free in Maryland about 1800. Nothing is known of his parentage, nor little of his life in Baltimore prior to the 1830s, although it is possible that he is the Samuel Chase who appears in the Baltimore city directories as a carpenter before 1831, a trade that included making coffins and acting as an undertaker, a profession for which Samuel Ward Chase, Jr., his son, became well known in the City and whose career, until his death in 1915, accounts for numerous burials at Laurel Cemetery. [2] He probably was a prize student of Reverend Levington at the St. James Episcopal school for Free Blacks on North Street. He would lead a largely hidden career as a respected teacher of the Black community, but it was not without its very public moments in which his talents and intellect were duly recognized.

On October 19, 1851, Reverend Chase gave the dedicatory prayer at the opening of the Laurel Cemetery, and just a few weeks before his death in 1867 lectured before the Asbury Sabbath School Society at the Asbury Church on East Street, Baltimore Old Town, on “The Destiny of the colored Race and Equality before the Law.”

Undoubtedly his talk encompassed remarks he made on the 19th of May, 1862, at Israel Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., which were published in the Washington Star and excerpted in the Christian Recorder:

God's dealings with the children of Ham, and their future prospects," was the topic of a lecture delivered last night in the Israel (colored) church, by Rev Samuel Chase , a colored divine of Baltimore. The speaker went back to the earliest ages, quoted largely from Bible history, and maintained that God made of one flesh all the nations of the earth. But nations, for crimes committed, have been degraded, and fallen from the high estate wherein the Creator had placed them; as in the case of the Jews, who were despised until a few years ago. The speaker argued that it was the providence of God that brought the negro here, and the colored race has been benefited thereby. The colored race here have been educated like the American family; have imbibed their political principles, but do not dare to utter them; have imbibed the same religious principles, and them they dare utter; and if the religion of the black man is wild enthusiasm, then so is that of those who taught him.

The speaker argued that the negro had the same natural faculties as the whites, and quoted examples to show that the pure, unadulterated African may become educated and respected. The black man, beyond doubt, has the same natural qualities from Mason's to Dixon's line, and from that to Sabine.

He argued that the Legislature of Maryland believed in the quality of natural intelligence, or they never would have desired to get the blacks out of the country by spending $10,00 a year for colonization.

We must elevate the negro character, and that must be done by education. The pulpit is the highest position we can attain, and we must blame our white brethren for not having a more educated ministry. The Methodist Episcopal Church (white) had been particularly backward in extending education to the colored. They told us that if the Lord called us to preach, he would put words in our mouths, ad we were told to look only to Heaven and get knowledge, while the white preachers were looking all the time in the book. The speaker did not "see the point" that an uneducated negro could draw inspiration direct from Heaven, while educated white men get it from the books.

Mr. Chase urged the necessity of an educated ministry for the colored people. "I am," said he, "a black man, and I want to see the blacks educated. I love all men, but I love the black man best, and will advance his interests first and all the time. If any colored man won't endorse this, the sooner he makes peace with God and dies, the better for him and his people." The negro could and would rise, if properly educated, and they had as much right to do so as the whites. The speaker said it would cheer his heart as much as that of the white man to see his son pleading at the bar, or his daughter taking a seat to play on the forty piany.

In conclusion, his audience were urged to liberally educate and sustain their ministers, as the surest mode of bringing the colored nation to a position of equality with the whites.[3]

Chase was best known in the National press for his meeting with President Lincoln at the White House on September 7, 1864, when he headed a delegation that presented the President with a Bible in recognition of the President’s support for emancipation.[4]

Bishop Wayman, who was also to be buried at Laurel Cemetery, was present at the presentation of the bible to President Lincoln:

On Wednesday morning, September 7th [1864], we visited Washington, D. C., accompanied by Rev. Samuel W. Chase and others, who had been appointed a committee to wait on President Lincoln, and present hima copy of thee bible which had been gotten up by the colored people of Baltimore, at a cost of $585.75. The presentation took place in the President’s room, in the presence of a large crowd of spectators. His reply to the address of Rev. S. W. Chase was plain, and much to the purpose. We then shook his hand and bade him adieu, wishing him great success in his office, and re-election for another four years.[5]

Reverend Chase’s remarks and the President’s reply appeared in the National Republican (Washington, DC), 7 September 1864, 2nd edition:

Mr. President, the loyal colored people of Baltimore have dedicated to us the authority to present this Bible, as a token of their appreciation of your humane part towards the people of our race. While all the nation are offering their tribute of respect, we cannot let the occasion pass by without tendering our respect. Since we have been incorporated in the American family we have been true aud loyal, and | we now stand by, ready to defend the country. We are ready to be armed and trained in military matters, in order to protest and defend the Star-spangled Banner. Our hearts will ever feel the most unbounded gratitude towards you. We come forward to present a copy of the Holy Scriptures as a token of respect to you for your active part in the cause of emancipation. This great event will be a matter of history. In future, when our son shall ask what mean these tokens, they will be told of your mighty acts, and rise up and call you blessed. The loyal colored people will remember your Excellency at the throne of Divine Grace. May the King Eternal, an all wise Providence, protect and keep you, and when you pass from this world, may you be borne to the bosom of your Saviour and God.

What is known of Samuel Ward Chase’s long and distinguished career as a teacher and minister in Baltimore begins in 1831 when he first appears as a teacher in the Baltimore City Directory living on Spring Street South of Pratt.

In 1834, instead of Peter Lively who the Portland, Maine congregation requested, the 4th Church Presbyterians, under the leadership of William Levington, Thomas Green and Robert J. Breckinridge (2nd Presbyterian), sent Samuel Ward Chase instead to Portland Maine at the instigation of Reuben Ruby of Portland, who despatched $20 to pay for Chase’s passage. In a letter addressed to William Levington care of Thomas Green, LIght Street, Ruby explained what he expected of Chase. Thomas Green was a Presbyterian and benefactor of the 4th Presbyterian Church, later to be known as Madison Street Presbyterian.

Ruby, who had sold the land to the Abyssinian Congregational Church of Portland retaining a hefty mortgage,and who,without authorization from the Congregation finished the interior, insisting that he be paid back, was a long time Black resident of Portland (designated a mulatto on the census records).

Ruby’s letter to Rev. William Levington is dated May 4th, 1834:

Dear Brother

I received your letter this morning and was sorry to hear that Brother Lively was not a cumming to Portland. But Believing That all things work together for good to Them that love god I feel Reconciled to the Dissappoyntment tho we ware daily Expecting Him. But Dear Brother you no what we want it if not so much a man for the school As for the ministry. if Brothe Chase is an Expearimental Preacher he is the man we Want for Religion if very low hear

If we can make out a serficient income? we should much drother he wood not keep [s]cool the first six months or a year then he Would have time to git well acquainted with The People. Brother our house has bin don for A long time. and it is to be dedicated on Thursday The 8th of May and we want for some one as soon as possilbe and if Brother Chas will Come I think he had bette make his arangement so to send for his famly if he likes hear. I shall Expect a letter soon unless he comes Immeaditly for we are now destitute. Give our love to your family and To Brother Lively, Yours in haste,

Reuben Ruby.

Chase did visit Portland, and returned home to his family at no. 5 Park Street “opposite the Engraver’s house,” to consult about moving to Portland. On September 27, 1834, Ruby wrote him directly:

Dear Brother

I receivd your letter of the 19th and was glad to hear that you And your family was all well. I have bin so much ingaged that I have Not bin able to writ before but noing You must be a waiting for a leter I now set down in hast to write you a few Lines and I inclose twenty dollars. And you had bettter take passage to Boston To avoyd all trouble. we shall expect you very soon to Portland.

Give our love to Brother Levington and Famly and our love to you wife, and Nancy and Elizabeth wishes to be remembered to you. I have not time to Say more.

Yours, obs

Reuben Ruby

Samuel Ward Chase’s church in Portland, Maine[6]

Shortly thereafter Chase did return to the Black community of Portland Maine to be their minister and chief fund-raiser to pay off the debt of the new church which is still standing today. He was successful at raising money for the church, going as far away as St. John’s in New Brunswick, Canada, where there was a significant community of prosperous former slaves, but he faced opposition from within the congregation in Portland, most likely because he preferred to teach and did not prove to be the dynamic preacher that Reuben Ruby and others in the Congregation had hoped or expected.

The opposition, led by Ruby, accused Chase unfairly in the newspapers of not representing the congregation, and keeping the money he raised for his own use.[7]

The accusations were repeated in William Lloyd Garrison’s The Liberator.Chase sued for libel and won his case in Cumberland County Maine’s Superior Court, when the arbiters, one of whom was Samuel Fessenden, whose son was about Chase’s age and later would serve in Lincoln’s cabinet, ruled in Chase’s favor awarding him $150 and court fees. In his opinion Fessenden wrote that he would have assessed the libeler’s more but that they could not afford it.[8]

The only known specimen of Samuel Ward Chase’s handwriting,

a note to his libelers accepting nothing less than

a full recantation, and remuneration of costs and damages

Source: Maine State Archives, Chase v. Ruby et. al., Cumberland County

Supreme Judicial Court Records, (November Term, 1837) original case files

No longer universally welcomed in Portland, Chase proceeded to New York where in May 1838 he was ordained as a Congregational minister on the same day (May 25) as James W. C. Pennington.[9] Pennington would marry Frederick Bailey (under the assumed name of Johnson, later changed to Douglass) to Anna Murray on September 15, 1838 in the home of David Ruggles, a prominent New York abolitionist. Chase was not present for the wedding of Anna and Frederick, as he returned to Baltimore following his ordination, but Pennington stayed on in New York and, after the Civil War, would be called to the same Abyssinian Congregational Church in Portland where he served for three years.

After Reverend Chase’s return to Baltimore in 1838, about the time that Frederick and Anna Douglass were on their way to New Bedford, he resumed teaching. He never left the city again except for brief trips to church sponsored meetings as far away as Toronto, and to meet with President Lincoln . While initially he did perform weddings, his primary occupation was as a teacher, although the location of where he taught is uncertain.[10]

By 1860, he was married with four children, and worth, according to the census of that year, three times ($1500) that of his son, Samuel Jr., the undertaker who was living in the household.[11] At that point the family resided at 180 South Howard Street.

By 1864, when Reverend Chase presented the bible to President Lincoln, he was living at his last place of residence on the corner of Leadenhall and Hamburg Street where he died March 20th, 1867. His obituary in the Baltimore Sun reflected the high esteem in which he was held by the whole community:

The Rev. Samuel W. Chase, who died at his residence, N0. 81 Leadenhall Street, on Wednesday last, was a Presbyterian minister, and had charge of a congregation in Baltimore. He was 67 years old [sic] and a past Grand Master of the colored Masonic Order and a high official in the colored Independent Order of Odd Fellows. The funeral ceremonies took place yesterday, March 31, 1867, at his late residence, and was numerously attended by nearly all the colored ministers of Baltimore, with portions of their flock. After the service at the house, a procession formed by the colored Masons and the Odd Fellows, who turned out in large numbers, in full regalia, to pay the last mark of respect to their deceased brother. Following them, were about 100 carriages, filled mainly with colored women. The procession proceeded to Laurel Cemetery, where the interment took place, according to the rites of the orders to which they belonged.

In his lifetime, he had a high reputation among his colored brethren and enjoyed the confidence of many white persons. The sidewalks of the streets, through which the procession passed, were lined with colored people, many of the male portion joined the procession, while numbers of women, also followed to the place of interment.

Sadly today there is no trace of his gravestone, nor is it known for certain where his remains are buried. The desecration of Laurel Cemetery in the 1950s and the removal of many tombstones and remains to Carroll County has not left a verifiable record of where Samuel Chase is to be found, while the only remaining Chase tombstone is of his undertaker son on which the year of his death is wrongly inscribed.

[1] Baltimore Sun, April 1, 1867.

[3]THE CHRISTIAN RECORDER, May 31, 1862, WASHINGTON, MAY 26, 1862, text provided by

[4] At 2:00 p.m. [on September 7, 1864], a group of "the loyal colored men of Baltimore, [Maryland]" meet in Lincoln's office, where they present "him with a . . . bible . . . as a token of respect and gratitude." A newspaper reports, "The book is . . . bound in royal purple velvet, inclosed in a black walnut case, 16 by 14 inches. On one side," an etching portrays "the President in the act of striking the shackles from the slaves." Lincoln remarks, "I can only say now . . . it has always been a sentiment with me that all mankind should be free." Daily National Republican (Washington, DC), 7 September 1864, 2d ed., 2:4; Evening Star (Washington, DC), 7 September 1864, 2:4; Sun (Baltimore, MD), 8 September 1864, 1:5; New York Daily Tribune, 8 September 1864, 1:5; Reply to Loyal Colored People of Baltimore upon Presentation of a Bible, 7 September 1864, CW, 7:542-43. While the Baltimore Sun reported the meeting in the September 8, 1864, edition, it did not quote Chase’s presentation remarks which did appear in the Daily National Republican. 276 women and 244 men contributed to the cost of the bible, all of whom are now the painstaking focus of biographical research.

Following the dedication of the Bible on July 4, 1864, the committee tried to obtain an audience with the President to make the presentation. They finally succeeded through the intervention of R. Stockett Matthews of Maryland, Although Stockett’s original request was for women donors to be present, in the end only the men were represented..

On July 6, 1864, R. Stockett Mathews of Baltimore wrote Lincoln asking him to name the day when he could receive the committee representing the loyal colored men of Baltimore who wished to present him with a Bible. No reply seems to have been made. On August 26, James W. Tyson wrote Lincoln further, and on August 31, Mathews wrote again: ``I have the honour of requesting you to refer to the letter which was addressed to you by myself at the instance of a Committee of Colored Men of this City, and to beg that you will give me an answer to it, at your earliest convenience. I have taken it for granted that your Excellency's multifarious and harassing engagements since July 7th ult. have caused you to overlook the fact, that the colored people are quite as eager to present to you the very handsome expression of their gratitude which they have prepared---as they were to get it up---and I also venture to suggest . . . that its early presentation will be productive of some good in a public sense---independently of the profound gratification which these grateful people will feel in knowing that their superb Bible is at last in the hands for which it was designed.'' (DLC-RTL Source: Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 7,;view=fulltext

[5] The Christian Recorder, October 15, 1864, “Bishop Wayman’s Visits during September.”

[6] source: Edney, Matthew H. “The Highpoint of the Booster Mapping.” Section 5 of “References to the Fore! Local Boosters, Historians, and Engineers Map Antebellum Portland, Maine.” Published online, 1 July 2017.

[7] Portland Weekly Advertiser, tuesday, June 6, 1837 and June 20, 1837.

[8] The letters quoted here with their original orthography and the details of the case are from the Maine State Archives, Chase v. Ruby et. al., Cumberland county Supreme Judicial Court Records, vol 11, ppp. 598-607 (November Term, 1837), and the original case files; Also see: Cumberland County Register of Deeds, Book 158, p. 183. I am most grateful to Randolph Dominic whose unpublished “Down from the Balcony” he very kindly allowed me to have copied for my personal use, and was the source of my being aware of the case in the first place. It is a study that deserves publication. Also I very much appreciate the assistance of Samuel Howes at the Maine State Archives who tracked down the original case papers and the recorded case, and sent me images.

[9] The American Quarterly Register, Vol. XI, 1839, p. 95.

[10] In 1839 he married Mr. Barney Burke to Mrs. Sarah Morse of Baltimore. In 1840 he married Mr. Charles Biays to Miss Catharine Boardley, both of Baltimore. In 1841 he married Mr. Charles C. Johnson to Miss Lucinda Davis, also both of Baltimore. All were recorded in the Sun (October 5, 1839, January 6, 1840, and November 27, 1841. No other marriages have been located to date (June 17, 2019). They were probably performed at the 4th Presbyterian Church which was located at Saratoga and Holliday streets. The 4th Presbyterian was a black congregation with initially white ministers including two friends of Reverend Samuel Ward Chase, Reverend Gibson and Reverend Guiteau, the former from Philadelphia and the latter from New York. The congregation met in a building that was apparently sold or rented to them by the Reformed Presbyterian Church in May of 1833 (Baltimore Sun, May 6, 1833) and is described as being 47 feet 6 inches front by 65 feet deep, containing 6 pews, nearly new and built of the best materials. In August of that year, Reverend Mr. John Gibson, Samuel Ward Chase’s sponsor and friend was preaching there. In 1835 Reverend Mr. Floyd led the congregation. Thomas Green, a prosperous Black Barber, left the congregation sufficient funds for it to build a new church which became the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church. It continued to have white ministers until 1859, when Reverend Galbraith petitions for the dissolution of the pastoral relations between himself and the Madison Street Church. He explained that his presence was entirely unnecessary. “Besides, it seemed to be the wishes of the congregation that they should be under the sole pastoral charge of one of their own color. They wish to be independent-- on the same footing as other African churches.” (Baltimore Daily Exchange, May 11, 1859). For a time Reverend Guiteau, another white minister friend of Chase’s, served as interim pastor until the church called Hiram Revels, a North Carolina native who later was the first Black United States Senator from Mississippi. It is possible that Reverend Chase taught school at the Saratoga and Holliday location, but it is more likely that he was associated with his friend Darius Stokes’ school which competed with schools run by Mr. Watkins and Mr. Fortie. See: “The Condition of the Coloured Population of the City of Baltimore” in Reverend Breckinridge;s The Baltimore Literary and Religious Magazine (1835-1841); Apr 1838; 4, 4., ff 138.

[11] 1860 Census Schedule for the 15th Ward of Baltimore City, taken on the 16th of July, 1860 (p. 51):

Samuel W Chase M 55 Maryland

Winey Chase F 40 Maryland

John Chase M 28 Maryland

Samul Chase M 25 Maryland

Henrietta Chase F 16 Maryland

Alex Chase M 3 Maryland

Robert Blackstone M 10 Maryland


"United States Census, 1860", database with images, FamilySearch ( : 12 December 2017), Samuel W Chase, 1860.

In 1850 the household consisted of six individuals, all born in Maryland and living on Eager Street, east of York Avenue.

Samuel W Chase Male 45 Maryland

Eliza Chase Female 40 Maryland

John J Chase Male 18 Maryland

Samuel Chase Male 15 Maryland

Mary Chase Female 7 Maryland

Henrietta Chase Female 5 Maryland

Source: "United States Census, 1850," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 12 April 2016), Samuel W Chase, Baltimore, ward 8, Baltimore, Maryland, United States; citing family 1104, NARA microfilm publication M432 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).