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Papers of Alice Bowdoin (Bradlee) Chase (1846-1925)

Description

Alice Chase received letters from Belgian and French soldiers, both hospitalized and prisoners of war. In this she seems to have had similar interests with her female Codman in-laws. There are several postcards from these soldiers as well, primarily on stationery stock of "La Fayette Fund" in New York City, an agency which channeled correspondence to American sponsors of French war victims. Mary May Bradlee Gaillard is a frequent correspondent, writing mostly of family matters, the war, and her husband's war duties. Jenny Lind thanks Alice in one letter for a portrait Alice sent her of a Mr. Webster. John Quincy Adams is also represented by a letter in which he congratulates Alice on her marriage to Theodore Chase, Jr., with whom, according to the letter, Adams was quite close. Alice in turn saved a few letters to both Mary Gaillard and her sister-in-law, Katherine Chase. Alice's dinner book contains menus for special events, none of which she prepared herself but which she apparently considered noteworthy enough to record for posterity. Her knitting book was probably kept for making clothes for the French soldiers and war victims. Her financial records provide a rather complete view of her financial affairs, and include various fiduciary reports on her father's estate settlement, Theodore Chase Jr.'s estate settlement, and what was apparently a wedding dowry by Chase for her benefit. The letters in this series concern the fiduciary reports. William Minot, Jr. had been appointed trustee for Alice by James Bowdoin Bradlee, and the declaration of trust is included in the papers. It should be noted that Bradlee distributed his fortune among his children essentially according to their needs. Alice received a proportionately smaller share than some of her other sisters. The draft of her will itemizes jewelry and furniture, some of which ended up, as did her portrait and that of her husband, at the estate in Lincoln. Alice was a gifted artist judging from the sketches of women's fashions which have survived. These may have been done while Alice was living in France. It seems certain, at any rate, that the sketches are in her own hand, and their quality is quite professional.

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Details

Collection Name
Codman family papers
Collection Code
MS001
Dates
1868-1923, undated
Collection Type
Manuscripts
Description Level
Series
GUSN
293736
Reference Code
MS001.05

Historical/Biographical Note

Alice Bowdoin Bradlee Chase was born in Boston on 18 August 1846, the fourth daughter of James Bowdoin Bradlee and Mary Perrin May Bradlee. Alice married Theodore Chase, Jr. on 17 December 1868 at King's Chapel and moved into 168 Marlborough Street, in the newly developed Back Bay. Alice's sister, Katherine Bradlee Crowninshield, wife of Benjamin W. Crowninshield, lived nearby at 164 Marlborough Street, and Alice enjoyed a close relationship with her nephew, Benjamin W. Crowninshield II. The Chases spent a great deal of time traveling throughout Europe. They were in Paris at the time of the French Commune in 1871, but this did not prevent Alice from strolling along the Parisian boulevards to admire the bonnets of the ladies. When they were in the United States, Theodore and Alice summered both at Bar Harbor, Maine, and in Marblehead, Massachusetts. When Theodore Chase, Jr. died in 1894, Alice's sister Sarah Bradlee Codman invited her to come to Dinard, France, for the winter. Alice's charms were not lost on Sarah's husband, Ogden Codman, Sr. Even before Theodore Chase, Jr.'s, death in 1895, Ogden was appreciative of Alice's warm affection toward him. It was in Dinard that the two began an affair which was to last until Ogden's death in 1904. After 1895, with Sarah Codman back in Dinard for the winter and seemingly resigned to the situation, Alice Chase and Ogden traveled together throughout the United States. They lived together during his final years at her home on Peaches Point in Marblehead. It was there that Alice died on 30 September 1925.

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