In 1837, George W. Chase moved from Portland, Maine, to Dixon, Ill. By 1840 he was a clerk in the Lee County Circuit Court, and later served as the first County Recorder. Chase's papers, consisting mostly of letters, concern legislative matters in Springfield. In addition, several personal letters relate to properties owned by Chase. By 1846, however, there is evidence of a severe drinking problem that culminated in Chase's return to Maine. In 1851, he was issued a document calling for his appearance in Probate Court in Portland, to judge whether the court needed to appoint a guardian to monitor his drinking.
The collection was acquired in 1954.