Ohio Biographies

Kate Chase

July 31, 1899, a new century would soon be born, but Kate Chase who had been the "Belle of Washington Society" during the turburlet days of the Civil War, the women who presidents and princes asked political advice, was dead.  Just like her home at Edgewood, she was broken down and died almost forgotten.  Her name was once again on the pages of the papers that was spoke of her brilliance and beauty in her days when what Miss Chase was wearing was decribed in minute detail.

The Washington Star wrote on the event of her death, "The most brilliant women of her day. None outshone her." The New York Times recalled that "the homage of the most eminment men in the country were hers."

In The Providence Journal she was decribed as "one of the most remarkable women ever known to Washington Society." The New York Tribune observed, "No name could possibly be spoken in this city among the older residents that would evoke reminiscences that always stated by the mention of Kate Chase. No woman so young ever held here the prominent and controlling position as leader that came to her as mistress of her father's household, nor has the most critical observer failed in according to her an exceptional personal brilliance....When thus brought so prominently before the world Miss Chase was only sixteen years of age, and but a few years older when her father, taking the Treasury portfolio under President Lincoln again needed her help as mistress of his Washington home...Miss Chase held a court of her own and her reputation spread far and wide as the most brilliant woman of her day. The popular verdict declared to her to be at the same time one of the most beautiful."

The Cincinnati Enquirer declared that: "No Queen has ever reigned under the Stars and Stripes. But this remarkable women came closer to being Queen than any other American has."

"Her face is a study, an enchanting and dangerous study to most men, who are pretty certain to fall in love with it. It has been compared with that of the famous portrait of Mona Lisa." A writer for the The Boston Herald had once decribed her on its pages.

"The child is pronounced pretty. I think it quite otherwise."Salmon P. Chase wrote in his diary at the event of the birth of his second daughter by his second wife, Eliza Ann Smith of Cincinnati, Ohio. Then he recorded: "Catherine Jane Chase, second daughter of S.P.C. and E.A.C. born on August
13, 1840."

The girl Chase thought was less than pretty would be the most talked about hostess in Washington when at seventeen she became social hostess for her widowed father, the Secretary of the Treasury. First Lady Mary Lincoln realized that she had a powerful social rival in Miss Chase. Her proud bearing, her creamy skin and hazel eyes, her bronzed red hair, her intelligence and her graceful manners made her a distinctive figure in the smartest circles. Others saw Miss Kate Chase of Ohio as a lady of quality. Secretary of State William Seward's wife was ill leaving Kate the premier Cabinet hostess. A role she cherished to the hilt. Kate entertained the diplomats and visiting celebrities from abroad in lavish little get togethers. She had a triple endowment of beauty, style and intelligence.

Kate's ambition to put her father in the White House was not a secret. The thought of being the white house hostess for her three time widowed father drove her more so than her father's desires to be president. Kate ran his fourth try at the political convention.

In 1864 she was married to the richest man in North America, William Sprague of Rhode Island. The second Sprague to be a Governor and Senator from RI, the cotton manufacturer soon found out the prize he thought he had won in Miss Chase was a very expensive one, as her father noted many times in his diaries.