Champion S. Chase

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Champion Spalding Chase
Born (1820-03-20)March 20, 1820
Cornish, New Hampshire, U.S.
Died November 3, 1899(1899-11-03)
Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.
Occupation Mayor of Omaha
Spouse(s) Mary Sophronia Butterfield (1827–1882)
Children Champion Clement Chase (1860–1922)
  • Deacon Clement Chase (father)
  • Olive Spalding (mother)
  • Olive Spaulding (Chase) Judson (sister)
  • Enice Dana Chase (sister)
  • Philemon Murry Chase (brother)

Champion Spalding Chase (March 20, 1820 – November 3, 1898) was a Nebraska politician.

Born in Cornish, New Hampshire as the son of Clement Chase (1776–1867) and his second wife, Olive Spalding (1790–1823), who was from Plainfield, NH., he was named after his mother's father, Champion Spalding. He grew up in Cornish and later attended the Kimball Union Academy in Meriden, NH. He started teaching in Cornish as an adolescent during the winter time and moved later in 1840 to continue his teaching in New York.

He went on to teach at an Academy in Amsterdam, New York from 1841–1842. By 1843 he had moved to the County of Otsego to be the vice principal of the West Hartwick Seminary. But he resided in New York until the end of the 1940s and studied law in Buffalo. In 1848 he was admitted to the bar at Canandaigua and then in 1849 he moved to Racine, Wisconsin. In Racine he married Mary Sophronia Butterfield (1827–1882) that same year. They had their only son, Champion Clement Chase, who would eventually become a well-known newspaper publisher in Omaha, after they had been married 15 years.

He got into politics after a few years in Wisconsin and served in the first ever Republican Nation Convention in 1856 as part of the delegation from Wisconsin which nominated John C. Fremont as a candidate for the presidency of the USA. The same year he was elected to the Wisconsin State Senate for two years, during which time he, as chairman of the judiciary committee, supervised the revision for the statutes of the state. He selected as the District Attorney in 1859 for the 2nd judicial district in Wisconsin. In 1862, just two years later, due to the influence of Salmon Portland Chase (1808–1873), who not only just happened to be his famous cousin but also happened to be the Secretary of the Treasury, he was appointed as paymaster in the Union Army.

He served four years in the Union Army starting with the rank of Major of Calvary and during this time he was on special duty in the West and Southwest; was at the sieges of Knoxville, Mobile, and Vicksburg and in the later part of the war he was headquartered at New Orleans for nearly two years and would receive a commission as Lieutenant Colonel from President Andrew Johnson late in 1865. He, at this time, was brevetted or promoted by a commission to a higher rank of lieutenant colonel without an increase of pay and with limited exercise of the higher rank, (often granted as an honor immediately before retirement) for his meritorious services in the Gulf Campaign. In January 1866 he was honorably discharged.

That same year he went to Omaha, Nebraska for the first time just one year before Nebraska was admitted to the Union as the 37th state and upon its admission, he became through election in 1867 the new state's first Attorney-General of the state of Nebraska. Starting in 1869, was appointed a regent of the State University of Nebraska, for six years until 1875. At the same time as these positions, Chase was one of the early incorporators of the Omaha Street Railway Co., which, starting in 1867, came into existence.

He served in the Wisconsin State Senate,[1] and the Racine, Wisconsin Board of Education. Chase served as a paymaster and was commissioned colonel during the American Civil War.[2][3]

Chase moved to Nebraska where he became the state's first attorney general, serving from 1867 to 1869. He was a member of the University of Nebraska board of regents from 1869 to 1875. Before he left the Board of Regents Champion Chase was elected as Mayor of Omaha. In 1875, he was elected for another term of two years. And reelected during 1879-1881 and 1883-1884 terms. Four times he held the position of mayor of Omaha, Nebraska. During these times in office it was recorded of him as having "favoured extensive public improvements" such as parks and boulevards, and direct and gravitational powered waterworks.

While being the mayor, Colonel Chase received, and officially entertained, a large number of distinguished people. Among them was the king of the islands in Hawaiian, the Brazilian emperor, Canada's governor-general, also President Hayes and Mrs. Hayes, General and Mrs. U.S. Grant, besides Generals Sherman, Sheridan, Custer and others.

In 1871, he was elected Grand Senior Warden in the Nebraska Commandary of Knights Templar (Freemasons).[4] He was generalissimo of the state comandery. In 1886, he was unanimously chosen president of the Nebraska State Humane Society. In 1884, his final term in office, impeachment hearings were directed toward Chase and he was removed form office on 30 June 1884 by a vote of the city council. They alleged him of being drunk, incompetent through being drunk, nervous system derangement and his duty being neglected. His wife Mary lost her life to cancer in 1882 and many think this may have contributed to his ill health and difficulties financially. Council member Patrick Murphy completed his term. But in spite of this quick removal of office, Chase launched "quo warrant proceedings" in 1887 stating that he had been illegally removed form office as well as having been deprived of the salary of the mayor. The jury rendered a verdict in his favor which gave him some measure of closure.

He was also identified as being past commander of the U.S. Grant Post of the G.A.R. (Grand Army) and the S.A.R. (Sons of the American Revolution). In 1891 he was an organiser of the Omaha Real Estate Owner's Association. He was selected as the chairman of the International Pan-Republic Congress on Plan and Scope in the mid 1890s which furthered his distinction. He was appointed a Collector of Customs for the Port of Omaha as one of his last public acts before he died in office as a result of a fall on November 3, 1898 at the age of 78. He was devoted to the memories of his native town, often expressed his loyalty and love for it. His wife had died earlier in 1882 and they are both now buried alongside each other at the Prospect Hills Cemetery in Omaha, Nebraska.

Chase County, Nebraska, and the unincorporated community of Champion in Chase County, are named after him[5] as a complimentary act on the part of the Legislature of Nebraska.


  1. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-12-09. Retrieved 2015-01-17. 
  2. ^ Thomas William Herringshaw, Herringshaw's Library of American Biography, pg. 599, 1909
  3. ^ The two Champion S. Chases listed here are the same man
  4. ^
  5. ^ Rosenberg, Gary H. "Champion S. Chase". Omaha Mayors. Douglas County Historical Society. Retrieved 26 October 2012. 

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Political offices
Preceded by
James S. Gibson (acting mayor)
Mayor of Omaha
1874 - 1877
Succeeded by
Reuben H. Wilbur
Preceded by
Reuben H. Wilbur
Mayor of Omaha
1879 - 1881
Succeeded by
James E. Boyd
Preceded by
James E. Boyd
Mayor of Omaha
1883 - 1884
Succeeded by
Patrick F. Murphy (acting mayor)