Aquila Chase Tablet
The Aquila Chase Tablet: A Tale of Lost and Found
In 1924 John Carroll Chase erected a memorial tablet in memory of his ancestor Aquila Chase, one of the early settlers of Newbury. It graced the entryway of the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) in Boston for many years.
In 1964, the Society relocated its headquarters from Ashburton Place to Newbury Street, and with that move there was no longer wall space to display the Chase tablet and others like it. The Caen stone* tablet then vanished from the public eye. Many feared that it had been stolen, lost, or destroyed. The tablet, however, had actually been carefully crated and placed in a warehouse in Brighton. There it stayed from 1964 until about 1989, when it was finally offered to any Chase descendant who expressed interest in it.
Dean Crawford Smith, a Chase descendant and trustee of the NEHGS, took possession of the tablet, storing it at his house in Portsmouth, NH. A year later, before moving to California, he gave the tablet to another Chase descendant, George F. Sanborn, Jr. Mr. Sanborn had no place to display the tablet so he kept it carefully crated.
In 2004 Sanborn, who was on the NEHGS staff for nearly 23 years, announced that he had acquired the tablet and had it safe in storage at his New Hampshire home. He expressed his desire to pass the tablet along to another Chase descendant, and also that the tablet be displayed somewhere that the public could enjoy it. Bob Stone, then registrar of the First Settlers, heard of Mr. Sanborn's desire and proposed that the First Settlers acquire the tablet and display it somewhere in the Newburyport area as part of the First Settlers' Collection.
The First Settlers’ Board of Directors then voted to place this grand genealogical piece in the Newburyport Public Library. Mrs. Dorothy La France, director of the Newburyport Library and Dr. William F. Watts, President of the First Settlers decided that the entrance to the Archival Center of the library would be an excellent display location. Installed in December of 2005, the tablet now proudly watches over those who enjoy genealogy with its substantial stone presence.
Below the wooden-framed tablet is a sign which reads:
Hampton NH 1640
Newbury Mass 1646
By old repute the first Pilot
at the mouth of the
Erected by his descendant
JOHN CARROLL CHASE1924
AQUILA CHASE TABLET
ERECTED BY JOHN CARROLL CHASE, 1924
DESIGNED IN CAEN STONE BY STRICKLAND, BLOODGETT & LAW
DONATED BY GEORGE F. SANBORN, JR.
Past Director of Library Operations, New England Historic Genealogical Society
ON LOAN FROM THE COLLECTION OF
“THE SONS & DAUGHTERS OF THE FIRST SETTLERS
OF NEWBURY, MASSACHUSETTS”
WILLIAM F. WATTS, O.D., President
Sons and Daughters of the First Settlers of Newbury
December 1, 2005
* True Caen (pronounced "kay-en") stone is a creamy-yellow Jurassic limestone quarried around Caen, France. It was used primarily for building cathedrals in France and England as early as the late 11th century. The most famous structure built of Caen stone is the Tower of London.
In the U.S., Caen stone generally refers to the technique of modifying plaster to appear as limestone. It was popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and the most well-known example is perhaps in New York's Grand Central Station, where the interior walls of Vanderbilt Hall are of (U.S.) Caen stone.
The Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry lists a recipe for Caen stone in the November 1912 issue of the "Architect and the Engineer."
Mix 5 parts plastering Keene's cement,
5 parts Manti Utah stone
and 1-2 parts mixture of white and gray (probably Portland) cement