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Warren Chase was born in 1813 to the unmarried Susanna Durgin in Pittsfield, New Hampshire. His father, Simon Chase, who was married to Huldah Peaslee, died during the War of 1812 before Warren was two years old. For giving birth out of wedlock, Susanna was criticized by the community and thrown out of the church.

Chase was sent to live with a Quaker family, and when his mother died, he became a ward of David Fogg at 10 years old. According to Chase, his time with the Fogg family was a dreadful experience. At the age of 14, unable to read or write, he ran away to his grandmother’s house. He was taken in by Nathaniel Chase and then by the Norris family with whom he remained until he was 21.

In 1834, Chase moved to Michigan and in 1838 to the Wisconsin Territory, settling in Kenosha. Throughout his life he had opposed organized Christianity. He became interested in the theories of Fourier and Spiritualism. The philosophy of Andrew Jackson Davis also made a deep impression on him, and he was a follower for over thirty years.

In 1843 and 1844, he led a discussion group that formed the Wisconsin Phalanx. In 1844, he moved with the Phalanx to Fond du Lac County to form a new Utopian community known as Ceresco.  About 180 people lived there at its peak, farming nearly 2,000 acres. The community dissolved in 1850, but Chase carried his reformist theories into politics, serving as a member of the constitutional conventions of 1846 and 1848. He was a Democratic member of the state senate from 1848 to 1849 and Free Soil candidate for governor in 1849.

Chase helped found Ripon College, supported the temperance, abolitionist, and Spiritualist movements, and wrote many books and articles. His Spiritualist experiences are represented in his Forty Years on the Spiritual Rostrum (1888) and his socialist activities in The Life Line of the Lone One, an Autobiography of the World’s Child (1857).

Of Spiritualism, Chase wrote:  “These scientific discoveries, and the facts of modern spiritualism, by which we have opened an intellectual correspondence between the two spheres of being, takes the whole subject of life after death out of the hands of priests and superstitious bigots as effectually as geology does creation, and astronomy the position, forms, and motions of worlds. Hereafter spirit life will be in the domain of science, and the continued existence of our friends after we put their bodies in the ground, a demonstrated fact, which the success or failure of some persons to communicate will not alter, since each case is subject to incidents, if not accidents, in which the will of both parties has a share, and the laws are such that many may not be able to comply.”

Chase moved to Michigan in 1853, then to Missouri, where he was elected as a Presidential elector in 1872.  In 1876 he moved to Santa Barbara, California and worked as editor of the Independent newspaper. He was elected to the state Senate and served from 1879 to 1882. For the rest of his life he was active in the abolitionist, feminist, and temperance movements. Warren Chase died in 1891 at his residence in Cobden, leaving behind a wife and two children.


Chase, Warren (1868). The Life-line of the Lone One: Or, Autobiography of the World’s Child. William White & Co.

Chase, Warren (1867) The Gist of Spiritualism: Viewed Scientifically, Philisophically, Religiously, Politically and Socially. Willia White and Company, Boston

Chase, Warren. (1888) Forty Years on the Spiritual Rostrum. Boston.

Tenney, H.A.; Atwood, David, eds. (1880). Memorial Record of the Fathers of Wisconsin. David Atwood. pp. 61–63.

https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/ef1746a088b0f1d559bb4f871100ada1?s=49&d=mm&r=gKarenSeptember 22, 2020Karen's Korner


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