The Holt House, our Historic House Museum, houses the Blue Hill Historical Society’s collection of historic artifacts, including clothing, textiles, photographs, and furnishings from the 1800s. 

Roots and Branches: Honoring Mary Ellen Chase

Mary Ellen Chase (24 February 1887 – 28 July 1973) was an American educator, teacher, scholar, and author.
She is regarded as one of the most important regional literary figures of the early twentieth century.

The roots of the Chase family reach back into the earliest days of Blue Hill. Mary Ellen Chase is a product of her family history, which provided both the inspiration for her many books and the lens through which she saw her world. Those books, more than 30 in number, are the branches that reach out and touch us today.

Mary Ellen Chase was born in 1887, the second of eight children of Edward Everett Chase and Edith Mabel Lord. Both of her parents were well educated. After grammar school, her father attended the Classical Institute and Bowdoin College. He was then qualified to practice law. He maintained a law office in Ellsworth. Recently, the Blue Hill Historical Society received a collection of his legal papers that were discovered in the basement of the Pendleton House. This indicated that he may also have had an office in Blue Hill. Her mother graduated from the Blue Hill Academy, excelling in Latin, which she then taught at the Academy prior to her marriage.

In her book, “A Goodly Heritage”, Mary Ellen Chase tells the story of her paternal grandfather, Melatiah Kimball Chase, a sea captain, who began his career at sea as the only survivor of a shipwreck off the coast of Ireland. After his narrow escape, he returned home and married Eliza Ann Wescott. Eliza had trained as a midwife, then travelled to Bangor, where she studied to become a seamstress. Eliza sailed with her husband for fourteen years, making numerous voyages and visiting ports around the world.

The “Roots” of the exhibit will include a large framed portrait of Captain Melatiah Kimball Chase, gift of Wallace W. Hinckley. A sea captain’s liquor chest, believed to have been used by Capt. Chase, along with selected pieces of Rose Medallion china, collected by Eliza Ann Wescott on her many travels, also will be featured in the exhibit. We thank Janet Preston and family for donating the chest and the china.

The “Branches” portion of the exhibit includes a selection of the books Mary Ellen Chase wrote and selected excerpts. Other items in the Historical Society collection related to the Chase family will be on display throughout the Holt House.