Chastangs and Chestangs in the United States trace their beginnings to two French brothers who settled in the Mobile, Alabama area around 1760. They were Joseph Pierre Chastang and his younger brother Jean Baptiste Chastang.
According to Ancestry.com World Tree 43203, Joseph (1736-1815), Jean Baptiste (1739-1813), and an older sister, Marie Elizabeth (b. 1733), were all born in New Orleans. Their parents were Francois Annibal Chastang and Marie Elizabeth Dauvergne Chastang. He was born in France and she in French Louisiana; they were married in New Orleans about 1730, and both died in New Orleans.
The World Tree Genealogy says the "marriage record states that Francois Chastang was 'inspector of the Company of the Indies, son of Francois Chastang, Secretary-in-Chief of the Presidial and Seneschal of Nimmes and deceased Jeanne Charot.' Elizabeth Dauvergne was a 'daughter of deceased Nicolas Dauvergne, bourgeois of Paris, and Catherine Richer, native of the parish of St. Roche'. Francois is further mentioned in New Orleans Gensis records as being a merchant and an attorney during the period 1735-1745." Francois' parents, Francois and Jeane, were married in New Orleans about 1700.
Damon Heningburg supplies additional, but somewhat conflicting, information in an AfriGeneas Post, agreeing that the brothers were born in New Orleans, but stating that their father, Francois Annabel Chastang was born there as well. Heningburg further states that the first Chastang immigrant was Francois (apparently Francois Annibal's father), who was born in Brezon, France, the son of Francois Annabel Chastang (Francois Annibal's grandfather).
Heningburg says that Francois was sent by King Louis XIV as an accountant for the New Orleans parish and that he also worked for the West Indies Trading Company. Heningburg says there is a Chastang castle and lake in Brezon, France in the Congac region. Chastain Central has sent to Heningburg for sources and more information, but has not yet received a response.
The World Tree genealogy notes that "The events surrounding Marie's death in 1765 and the division of her estate was recorded in a series of New Orleans filings termed 'The Chastang Succession'. The documents identified the heirs as being Marie Elizabeth, Joseph, and Jean -- her husband, Francois, had died some years previously. The heirs were represented primarily by Marie Elizabeth's husband, Dr. Jacques Rignier, as the two sons were attending to business on their plantations above Mobile."
The following excerpt is taken from the excellent notes of World Tree 43203:
One of the first documented mentions of Joseph was his appearance as a witness at the January 30, 1759 marriage of Louis Valentin Dubroca to Marie Fievre, as recorded at the Catholic Archives in Mobile. His own marriage, in 1760, was also recorded in the Archives, as were the baptisms of his many children. He normally signed his name as "Chastang, l'aine", meaning "the older".
The Spanish census of 1786 listed Joseph Chastang and his wife as being 50 and 47 years old respectively. The 1805 Washington Co., AL Tax Rolls listed Joseph as having 640 acres of land on the west side of the Mobile River, with eight cabins -- the property was assessed a total of $4380.
Joseph became a very prominent citizen of the Mobile area, being mentioned in such books as "Colonial Mobile" by Peter Hamilton. He owned sizeable property, including 800 acres on the bluffs above the Tensaw River as well as on the Tombigbee River, and was identified as a land claimant during the Spanish period and at the American Land Claims in 1809. He also had lots on St. Charles, Government, and Royal Sts. in Mobile. His primary residence was at the St. Louis Plantation, on the west side of the Mobile River, about three miles north of Mobile; he would retreat to his home in the City of Mobile when Indian troubles arose. The inventory of his estate, in 1815, included slaves, 50 horned cattle, horses, half of the St. Louis Plantation, and a house on St. Peter Street in Mobile.
Joseph took an Oath of Loyalty to the Britain during the British period in Florida (1763-1783). In 1824, after the area came into American hands, the U.S. Congress confirmed the claims of Joseph's heirs to his lands. In 2004, the United States Board on Geographic Names considered the establishment of the name Chastangs Bay for a lake at the north end of Mobile Bay. It was formerly known at Justins Bay or Gustain Bay, which are thought to be corruptions of the name of Joseph Chastang.
The better known of the two brothers is Jean, usually referred to as Dr. John Chastang. Dr John Chastang was a surgeon, settler, and prominent land owner in the Mobile, Alabama area, having received a large land grant in 1756. John was born in 1739, so he was almost the same age as the Virginia brothers, Reverend James Chastain (1740) and Reverend John Chastain (1743). The brothers Chastain were also third-generation immigrants, grandsons of Frenchman Pierre Chastain, who arrived in Virginia in 1700. The names Chastang and Chastain both derive from the Chataignier Tree.
John's brother, Joseph, purchased a slave named Louison, with whom Dr. John fell in love. In 1780 Joseph sold Louison to John and John freed her the same year. They were companions for 20 years until John's death. They had 10 children together. According to an AfriGeneas Posting by Anne Chestang Rajasingam, they were Auguste, Edward Z., Marguerite, Bazile, Eugene, Pierre Zeno, Isabella, Philip; Louisa, and John Baptiste.
Nordmann's list reads Bazile, Philip, Zeno, Eugene, Auguste, Edward, Marguerite, John Baptiste, Isabella, and Louise (p. 6). Bazile (1775-1830) is sometimes listed as Basil or Baxille, and Auguste (1785-1850) is sometimes listed as Ogive. See also the World Tree Genealogy.
The Chastangs became one of the largest and most prominent families within the growing Creole culture of Mobile. Creoles were not considered black by the government or by the white Mobile community. Instead, they were recognized as of French or Spanish descent. Nor did the Creoles consider themselves black. They had an identity separate from both whites and other free blacks and were regarded as responsible citizens and productive members of the community. In fact, Nordmann states that, "Creoles of color were the only free nonwhites in Alabama who could legally sell liquor, attend school, and assemble with slaves." (p. 216)
The families of Dr. John Chastang and fellow settler Simon Andry formed the nucleus of a Creole Catholic Community that still exists in the small town of Chastang, Mobile County, Alabama 27 miles north of Mobile. Some of Dr. John's descendants still live there. The town and the nearby Chastang Bluff on the Mobile River were both named for Dr. John. Across the county line is the little town of Chestang, Washington County, Alabama. It is also associated with the family of Dr. John, but Chastain Central is unsure of the precise connection. Chestang is 15 miles from Chastang and 34 miles from Mobile Airport. See MAP from Chastang to Chestang. Chastang and Chestang are also connected by railroad.
Ten roads in southwest Alabama are named Chastang or Chestang. Mobile has Chastang Avenue and Chastang Street, and there is Chastang Lane and Chestang Drive in Citronelle, just west of Chastang. North of Chastang on Highway 43 is LeRoy Chestang Circle and Little Chestang Road in McIntosh and Chestang Quarters in Jackson. East of Chastang, across the Mobile River, Bay Minette has Chastang Road, T. A. Chastang Road, and Chastang Lake Road.
At least four of Dr. John's sons served in the War of 1812. According to World Tree Genealogy #43203, Eugene, Zeno, and Edward were privates in the 14th Regiment, Mississippi Militia, under Capt. Benjamin Dubroca. Another source states that brother Auguste also served with the 14th regiment (McBoy's) of the Mississippi Militia.
When Dr. John died in 1813, his 1805 will left everything to his "Negros and mulattos," the mulattos being his children. According to Nordmann, Dr. John left to Louison, "All his real estate and dwellings 'lying on the opposite side of the river Mobile,'" and "a lot in the town of Mobile, a family of four slaves, cattle, silverware, furniture, his corn crop, and other unnamed provisions." (p. 7) Nordmann also mentions another son in the will, Francoise, whose mother was Catherine.
Not every Black or Creole Chastang is necessarily descended from Dr. John. Nordmann states that Simon Chastang, a descendent of Joseph Chastang, produced at least five children with Anastasia Andry of the Creole Andry family (pp. 10-11.) And Sidoine Chastang, another descendent of Joseph, had children by Isabella Collins, a Creole granddaughter of Dr. John Chastang (p. 24).
In addition, there was Pierre Chastang of Mobile, apparently unrelated by blood to the Chastang family. Pierre (1779-1848) was a slave owned by Dr. John Chastang, who sold him around 1810. During the War of 1812, Pierre Chastang provided extraordinary services to the American troops under Andrew Jackson. In addition, Pierre provided important services during the yellow fever epidemic of 1819. In appreciation for his brave civic contributions, the residents of Mobile took up a subscription to free Pierre. He continued to receive acclaim as a solid citizen of the city.
At this time, Chastain Central does not know whether Pierre Chastang left children with the Chastang name or whether any current Chastangs are descended from him.
In May of 1809, a number of territorial citizens petitioned the Untied States government for a division of the Mississippi Territory in order for their area to have better representation. The petition read in part:
That your petitioners reside nearly in the centre, but far remote from the Seat o Government of a Territory exceeding in extent any one of the United States,--and probably containing upwards of one hundred thousand squares miles--That although the leading expences [sic] of the Territorial Government are paid by the United States, your Petitioners are Subjected to enormous taxes for the support of the same Government, whilst enjoying scarcely any advantages from the expenditure of the public money--that a large preponderance of wealth, of population and of personal influenc[e] in the Inhabitants of the Mississippi Settlements, renders your petitioners (though respectable by numbers and yeilding [sic] to none in patriotism, an pure, Republican principles)--but mere cyphers in the Territory Government:--that the remoteness of their situation, and the total dissimilarity of their channels of Trade, give the people of the Mobile and its adjacent waters, no common interest with thos of the Mississippi,--That a wilderness of from Two to three thousand miles between the Settlements East and West of the Pearl River, deprives us of everything but a merely nominal representation in Congress...
Your petitions therefore humbly pray for a Division of the Mississippi Territory, and that a new Government be erected, to be bound on the West by the Pearl River, on the East by the State of Georgia, on the North by the State of Tennessee, and on the South by the National Boundary, dividing the Territory o the United States, from the dominions of the King of Spain. and that such provisions may be made for a speedy representation of the people thereof in general assembly as may appear advisable to the wisdom of Congress. May 1809
Signatories include Edouard Chastang, Baptiste Chastang, Trenon Chastang, and Auguste Chastang. Adjacent to these names are Chastang Jeune and Romeo Andry. Andry is another prominent Creole family of Mobile County.
Chastang Jeune means "Chastang the Younger" and was a designation frequently used by Dr. John to distinguish himself from his older brother. Edward could have been the fourteen year old grandson of Joseph Chastang, but it is much more likely that Edward is one of three brothers--sons of Dr. John: Auguste (24), Edward (20), and John Baptiste (16). Trenon is unidentified.
Dr. John's Creole sons and daughters built upon their inheritance to become significant farmers and land owners in the Mobile area. Bazile formed a partnership for raising cattle in 1804, acquired substantial property (Nordmann, p. 126), and became one of the wealthiest free blacks in Alabama. About 1826, Bazile petitioned the Alabama Legislature to allow him to free a family of slaves whom he owned--Nancy and her four children, Gertrude, Francois, Catherine, and Fostin. These were Bazile's children with Nancy.
His petition was approved on January 11, 1827 in conjunction with a group of emancipations by Mobile Creoles Auguste Lacoste, Jane Dubroca, and William Mitchell preambled by,
"Whereas it is represented to the General Assembly by the memorial of a large number of respectable inhabitants of Mobile, that sundry persons of color, residing below the thirty first degree of north latitude, and descendants of the ancient Creole population of Florida, whose owners have emancipated them from the bonds of slavery, are honest, industrious, and well-disposed people and that their being emancipated would not tend to the injury of the community, but would be beneficial to the individual concerned: And whereas it also appears to the General Assembly that this description of persons would have been entitled to this privilege under the Spanish government, of which they were native subjects..."
Bazile had previously married Rosa Desiree Laurent in 1802 and had two children with her. Bazile died in 1830.
The state of Alabama established Africatown State Park on part of Bazile's land, and a large portion of the 1100 acre Chickasabogue Park was formed from Bazile's land. Both parks are near the town of Prichard, Alabama.
Bazile's younger brother, Zeno, was perhaps even more successful than Bazile.
C. A. Nordmann includes in his book, Free Negroes in Mobile County Alabama, a series of very helpful compilations from the 1850 and 1860 census. His 1860 census lists report assets of 40 Creole farmers of the Mobile area. Several, Zeno Chastang among them, were very productive.
Including Zeno, there are 12 Chastangs on the 1860 lists. Some are apparent Sons of Zeno. In the comparisons below, the first column is the list of sons from Zeno's will , and the second column is Chastang farmers from the 1860 census lists.
In 1860, Zeno owned 1310 acres, third to Maximmilian Collins (1408) and Edward Parker (2000), but 80 acres were improved. This is twice the improved acreage of anyone else on the list. His corn production was 1200 bushels, which is twice that of the second ranking farm. Zeno, Jr. was fourth with 500 bushels. Four of the top eight corn producers were Chastangs. Nordmann notes that the average for all Mobile County farms, including white owned, was 140 bushels (P 137).
However, in livestock value, the top position went to Zeno's son, Zeno, Jr. The younger Zeno's livestock value of $3200 was more than twice that of second place, Sidomi Chastang, at $1500. The third highest value was $1000. Nordmann suggests that Zeno, Sr. had distributed much of his livestock to his sons, since his value dropped significantly to $800 from $2450 in 1850 and his sons' values grew. This seems apparent in the cattle count. Zeno, Sr. had 350 head of cattle in 1850, but only 45 in 1860, while his son's numbers all increased dramatically. Zeno, Jr. held 160 head of cattle in 1860, almost three times as many as the second ranking J. Z. Chastang at 60.
In addition to the farms, many Chastangs owned property in the city of Mobile, and they frequently rented out or leased property. Sometimes their renters were prominent white citizens. Free black farmers owned slaves, as did their white counterparts. Zeno, Sr. owned 27 slaves in 1850, and in 1860 he owned 29. (Nordmann, p. 145)
Zeno died in 1860.
1860 saw the beginning of the civil war, and a number of Chastangs served in the conflict. Cyrus, Henry, R. B., Rufus, and W. H. served in the Alabama 2nd Artillery Battalion of the Confederate Army. Cyrus, William H., and William Rufus Chestang are also listed with the Alabama 2nd Artillery Battalion.
According to the Index to Alabama Civil War Soldiers, "The 2nd Alabama Artillery Battalion, was formed at Mobile in January 1862, with five companies later reduced to three. It was attached to the Department of the Gulf, and after January, 1864, the Department of Alabama, Mississippi, and East Louisiana. The unit was stationed at or near Mobile throughout the war and participated in the conflicts at Forts Gaines and Morgan, Spanish Fort, and Fort Blakely. With 64 officers and men, it surrendered on 4 May 1865."
Harrison Chastang and Harrison Chestang are listed as serving in the 8th Infantry Regiment, and R. Chastang in the 3rd Cavalry Regiment.
Amazingly, there are few candidates in the Chastang genealogy to match the various names listed, though there are gaps in the genealogy that allow for potential unknown candidates. Civil War rosters often include duplicate names with different spellings, so based on a search of the Chastang genealogy it is very possible that the names listed can be reduced to five:
No matches were found for William Rufus.
The National Park Service Civil War Soldier List contains names not found on the Alabama List. Click on Research On-Line; scroll down the left column and click on Colorado; click on Soldier List; enter last name and hit Submit Query.
Raymond Chastang, and August and Raymond Chestang, served in the 32nd Regiment, Alabama Infantry. The 32nd Infantry Regiment was assembled at Mobile, Alabama, in April 1862. Raymond is unknown among both Joseph's and Dr. John's descendants. There are 10 Augustus' or Augustins in the fist six generations, six in Joseph's lineage and four in Dr. John's. However based on birth and death dates only three are likely candidates.
Born 1833 (3) John (2) Joseph Eugene (1) Joseph Pierre
Born 1842 (4) Augustin (3) Sidoine (2) Joseph Eugene (1) Joseph Pierre
Born 1842 (3) Catherine (2) Bazile (1) Dr. John
Of these three, the most likely is Augustin born in 1833. The descendant of Dr. John through Bazile would have been a Creole and, due to the changed social situation by the 1860s, it is not likely he would have served in the Confederate military unless he could pass for white. The same is true of the 1842 descendant of Joseph because he was also a Creole descendant of Dr. John. His lineage from Dr. John is (4) Augustin (3) Isabella [married Sidoine] (2) Marguerite (1) Dr. John.
The list also shows two Union soldiers--John B. and Zedo Chestang of the 96th Regiment, United States Colored Infantry. Dr. John's middle name was Baptiste, but there is no John B. Chastang among his known descendants during the appropriate time period. However, there is one John (born 1834), and he is son of John Baptiste, Jr., so there is good reason to think he may have been John Baptiste, III. There is also one John during this period in Joseph's line, born in 1828.
No Zedo is found in either genealogy, but if this is a misprint for Zeno, there are numerous children and grandchildren of Dr. John's son, Pierre Zeno, Sr., who carry the name Zeno or the initial Z in their names.
The most complete Chastang genealogical information discovered by Chastain Central is World Tree 43203 hosted by Ancestry.com. Another Genealogy follows the line of Josephine, daughter of Auguste Chastang, to 21st Century descendants. However, it is incorrectly attached to Auguste, son of Dr. John. A comparison of names and dates show that it should be Auguste, son of Pierre Joseph, Dr. John's nephew.
Carol Chastang (Writer and Small Business Administration Spokesman). Born and raised in Los Angeles, Carol Chastang is a writer now living in Bowie, Maryland. She has written for the Los Angeles Times, Modern Maturity magazine, and The World Tribune, and she is theatre and dance critic for Seeing Black. See her biography from the Seeing Black website and a list of Articles. If you are a business or home owner affected by disaster, Carol Chastang is the person to call, because she is also a spokesperson for the U.S. Small Business Administration, Office of Disaster Assistance. Some of the disasters to which she has responded are 9-11, tropical storm Allison, and the Florida Hurricanes of 2004.
KPOO is the only African American owned and operated non-commercial radio station west of the Mississippi and the first Black station in the country to be on-line. KPOO specializes in jazz, reggae, salsa, blues, gospel, hip hop as well as prime time news and public affairs programs highlighting concerns of San Francisco's African American, Asian, Gay and poor communities. KPOO serves the Bay Area's Latin community with four bilingual programs a week, and also produces programs concerning Irish Americans, women issues and Native American concerns.
Harrison can be heard on the dial at 89.5 FM, or hear him live on-line at mms://188.8.131.52:8080. In addition to the news on Wednesday through Friday from 5:30-6:00 p.m., Harrison hosts Jazz and Commentary on Tuesdays 6-8 p.m., a Jazz show on Saturdays 7-10 p.m., and a monthly computer show. Harrison also writes extensively with articles in many publications and is often quoted in articles by others.
Article Against Hosting Political Conventions in San Francisco
Jeffrey Chastang (Playwright). Jeffrey Chastang, who was born in Inkster, Michigan and grew up in Detroit, is an actor and an award winning playwright--a rising star with four plays on Black experience to his credit.
Full Circle, set in 1990 Detroit, is about an African-American family who suffers the tragic suicide of a son. Full Circle received second prize in the 1999 Kennedy Center Forum for New American Plays. Continued Warm, about the 1943 Detroit race riots, earned Chastang a finalist position for a coveted residency at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center in Connecticut. Both plays were performed in Detroit's Plowshares Theatre.
When Wild Swan Theater wanted to develop Along the Tracks: Michigan and the Underground Railroad, they approached Chastang because of the success of his first two plays, and he wrote the story of three adolescent runaway slaves who are separated from their parents while journeying to Canada and freedom. It was such a success that Chastang followed with Along the Tracks Part Two.
Full Circle article with picture of Chastang.
Dr. John Chastang (Creole Patriarch). See entry above.
Johnell Laverne Chastang (Viet Nam War Casualty). October 4, 1952-May 9, 1971. PFC Johnell Chastang was born in Calvert, Alabama and served as an Aircraft Maintenance Apprentice in the US Army. He drowned when his helicopter crashed into the water from engine failure in Quang Tri, South Vietnam. He was the door gunner. His three crew members and a passenger survived. He was 18 years old and unmarried. See his memorial on the Virtual Wall.
Joseph Chastang (French Pioneer) 1736-1815. Joseph Pierre Chastang was one of two brothers who settled around 1760 in the Mobile area of what later became Alabama. He was born in French New Orleans and became a land owner and prominent citizen of Mobile. See more detailed article above.
Larry Chastang is co-founding and managing shareholder of Chastang, Ferrell, Sims & Eiserman, L.L.C. Prior to establishing the firm, he worked with Price Waterhouse (now Price WaterhouseCoopers) where he was a manager in charge of the tax department. He is acknowledged as one of Florida's leading experts in international business and taxation and is fluent in Spanish and French.
Mr. Chastang is widely involved in the community's international business organizations. He serves on the board of directors of the Metro Orlando International Affairs Commission, Australian American Chamber of Commerce and International Visitors Council of Central Florida and is a past board member of the British American and French American chamber of commerce. Mr. Chastang is a member of the Central Florida International Tax Roundtable, as well as the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants. In addition, he has served on the board of directors of Crimeline of Central Florida. Mr. Chastang also serves on the accounting advisory boards for the University of Central Florida (UCF) and Valencia Community College. Mr. Chastang is a graduate of the University of Central Florida and a recipient of the Outstanding Alumnus Award for UCF's School of Accounting.
Besides the activity listed in his corporate biography, Larry Chastang is on the Board of Directors of Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission and was co-founder of the Orlando Area Committee on Foreign Relations in January 2002.
Leon W. Chestang, PhD (Dean of Social Work, Wayne State University). Dr. Chestang began his academic career as a member of the faculty at the University of Chicago, then was professor at the University of Alabama School of Social Work, but for 19 years he was Dean of Social Work, Wayne State University, School of Social Work. Chestang joined the Wayne State faculty as dean and professor in 1981. In January of 2000, Dr Chestang stepped down as Dean, but continued as a faculty member as he pursued other research and scholarly interests. He began his career as a child welfare caseworker, later becoming supervisor with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. He has also worked with the Chicago Association for Retarded Children, the Illinois Department of Public Aid and has been Director of Casework Services for Child and Family Services of Chicago. For 10 years, Professor Chestang counseled individuals and families in private
Dr. Chestang received the Distinguished Alumni Awards from Washington University and from Blackburn College, the Distinguished Service Award from the Michigan State Social Workers Association, the Distinguished Visiting Commonwealth Professorship at Virginia Commonwealth University, and the Distinguished Visiting Lydia Rappaport Professorship from the Smith College School of Social Work. In recognition of his contributions to the advancement of social work scholarship and education, the Wayne State University Board of Governors bestowed upon Leon W. Chestang the rank of Distinguished Professor. Dr. Chestang’s PhD in Social Service Administration is from the University of Chicago, and he holds a Masters in Social Work from Washington University, St. Louis.
Linda Earley Chastang (NAFEO). Linda is Senior Vice President and General Counsel to the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, which champions the interests of historically and predominantly black colleges and universities. Linda attended law school at Howard University and was admitted to the Georgia Bar on June 25, 1987. She served as Press Secretary for Congressman John Lewis of Atlanta, Georgia. Congressman Lewis is well known as a major figure in the civil rights movement of the 1960s and beyond. Linda is married to Mark John Chastang, Sr., and they have two children, Rebecca Earley Chastang and Mark John Chastang, Jr. Her parents are Charles Edward Earley, Jr. and LaVerne Mason Earley. NAFEO Website
Mark J Chastang (Hospital Director). Mark has more than 25 years in health-care administration. His career includes Assistant Director at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta; COO and then Executive Director of District of Columbia General Hospital; President and CEO of East Orange, New Jersey General Hospital; President of Essex Valley Healthcare, Inc.; Administrator of the Hospital Center of Orange; and VP at Cathedral Healthcare System, Inc. Mark is currently VP and Executive Director of the Medical College of Ohio Hospitals. He joined MCO in 2004. Medical College of Ohio Hospitals biography with photo.
Nicole M. Chestang (Senior VP and COO, Graduate Management Admission Council). Nicole joined GMAC (Graduate Management Admission Council) as Director of Services in 1994. In 2002, she became COO, responsible for leading in the areas of GMAT operations, industry relations, marketing, and research. Before coming to GMAC, Nicole worked for Unisys Corporation and Fisher Controls in human resources management. She was also director of diversity programs for AACSB International. Nicole has always had a special interest in increasing educational and business career opportunities for African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans. She has received a number of honors: Outstanding Alumni Award (Washington University & Wayne State University), 1997 Outstanding MBA of the Year (National Black MBA Association), and was recognized as one of the "Next Generation of Minority Business Leaders" by Minority MBA magazine. Nicole earned her bachelor's degree in psychology from Wayne State University, her MBA from the John M. Olin School of Business at Washington University in St. Louis, and is pursuing a doctorate in human resource development at George Washington University. Nicole serves on the board of directors of the Friends for the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Washington University Article Spring, 2002. GMAC biography
Pierre Chastang (Patriot and Freedman), of Mobile, Alabama. Pierre Chastang is known from a number of brief references in historical writings. The following comprehensive account is copyrighted by researcher Christopher Nordmann and is used here with his permission:
Also known as Major Pierre, this slave does not appear to have been part of the Chastangs de couleur who were manumitted for familial reasons. Born in Mobile in 1779, Pierre was the slave of John Chastang until 1810 or 1811 when Regis Bernody, a free man of color, apparently purchased him.
According to the Alabama Planter,
During the Indian war and at the time Gen[eral Andrew] Jackson was in the command of troops in the city, Pierre, then known to the citizens as a brave, honest, trustworthy man, was appointed by Jackson patroon or captain of a Government transport to carry provisions to the troops stationed at Fort Montgomery, or Fort Mims, and to those in camp near the present site of Mount Vernon.
Although the task was dangerous, Pierre successfully supplied the troops with provisions.
Chastang’s civic contributions extended well past this incident. According to the Alabama Planter, “in 1819 during the ravages of the yellow fever, Pierre rendered essential service to the city, by taking care of the sick and protecting the property of the citizens.” He is also said to have “daily opened the stores for the purpose of ventilation and securing the goods from damage.” After merchants returned to the city and found everything in order, they took up a subscription for his freedom; and, to insure that he could earn a living, they also purchased a horse and dray. The press further reported, “since that period his avocation as a drayman has enabled him to support his family quite handsomely, and at the same time amass a snug little property.”
Other sources verify the newspaper report of Chastang’s remarkable success in acquiring “a snug little property.” In 1836, for example, at the age of fifty-seven, Chastang purchased a lot in the city of Mobile on the east side of Lawrence Street between St. Francis and Dauphin Streets. Three of his neighbors were white. He also owned another house and lot on the north side of St. Michael Street between Joachim and Jackson, and together both lots were assessed in 1846 at $2,700. In 1845 Chastang’s success as a drayman allowed him to purchase a slave for $475. When he executed his will three years later, Pierre owned two slaves. The appraisal of his estate, which was filed in 1849, included real estate now worth $1750, but only one slave at $500.
Father Chalon, a Catholic priest of Mobile, performed the funeral rites of the Church upon Pierre Chastang who died in August 1848. A newspaper praised Chastang, commenting that “no person in this community, white or black, was ever more highly esteemed and respected, and no one in his sphere has been a more conspicuous, honest, benevolent and upright man. He always acted upon the golden rule of doing unto others as would be done by. --Nordmann, Christopher Andrew, Free Negroes in Mobile County Alabama, A Dissertation, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 1990, pp. 44-47.
Chastain Central does not yet know whether this Pierre Chastang left descendants with the Chastang name, and has not been able to check the sources of ALABAMA: The History of a Deep South State by William Warren Rogers, Robert David Ward, Leah Rawls Atkins, Wayne Flynn (The University of Alabama Press. 1994), pp. 110-112 quoted by the AfriGeneas Post of August 8, 2003 that:
Mobile County had a large population of free blacks, many of whom were mulatto descendants of the Spanish and French. These Creole Negroes were well educated due to special provisions of Mobile law. They were prosperous merchants, barbers, blacksmiths, carpenters, draymen, and coachmen. Many were descendants of Pierre Chastang who carried supplies for Andrew Jackson's troops during the War of 1812 and, when yellow fever spread in Mobile in 1819, cared for the sick and buried the dead.
Though this post may be accurate, it may also confuse Freedman Pierre Chastang with Dr. John or his son Pierre Zeno Chastang. Chastain Central has not encountered other sources linking Freedman Pierre Chastang to the Creole community.
Pierre Chestang (Station Manager). Pierre is Station Manager and Program Director for the Moody Broadcasting Network station WKES in St Petersburg, Florida, a Christian radio station. Pierre was converted at 10 years old. His home town is Chicago, and his favorite books are Knowing God, by J. I. Packer and The Knowledge of the Holy, by A. W. Tozer.
American Chastangs may have been named for a French town. There are two such towns, some twenty miles apart, in Limousin, France--Le Chastang (map) and Gros-chastang (map). See also a map for directions from one to the other. Today, not far from these towns, is Chastang Dam. It is one of five major hydro-electric dams on the Dordogne River and generates the most electricity of the five. Chastang Dam was commissioned in 1951 and modernized in 2001 to increase output by 22%. See picture.
Chastang, Mobile County, Alabama
Chastang is just east of Hwy 13/US 43 near the intersection of St. Peter Parish School Road and Chastang Bluff about 27 miles north of Mobile. Chastang Bluff road continues to the east toward the Mobile River and forms a loop to the bluff at the river and then comes back to meet itself. In 1856, a school was established for White and Creole children at Chastang Bluff. Two sons of Zeno Chastang, Zeno, Jr., and Francis, served as trustees for the school. (Nordmann, pp. 208-209). Chastang and the nearby Chastang Bluff are named for Dr. John Chastain, a settler and large land owner. Some of his Creole descendents still live in the area and belong to the historic Catholic Church in Chastang. Map.
Chestang, Washington County, Alabama
Across the Mobile County line from Chastang, Alabama is the little town of Chestang in Washington County, Alabama. Both towns are associated with the family of Dr. John. Chestang is 15 miles from Chastang and 34 miles from Mobile Airport. See MAP from Chastang to Chestang. Chastang and Chestang are also connected by railroad.
Chastang Middle School, Mobile County, Alabama
Chastang Middle School in Mobile, Alabama is named for Elizabeth S. Chastang. It comprises grades 6-8 and has 775 students. The student body is predominantly Black and poor. 741 students are Black, 31 are white, two Hispanic, and one Asian. 690 students are on the free lunch program, and an additional 42 receive reduced price lunches. The school address is 2800 Berkley Street, Mobile, Alabama. Map. Chastang Middle is also used as a voting station during elections.
The following links lead to specific details at Melissa Data, an excellent resource for streets in America.
Chastang, Bay Minette, Citronella, and Mobile, AL.
Chestang, Citronelle, Jackson, and McIntosh, AL.
Chestang, Washington County, AL
Nordmann, Christopher Andrew, Free Negroes in Mobile County Alabama, A Dissertation, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 1990.
Ancestry.com World Tree 43203
Transcriptions of the wills of Zeno and Philip Chastang.
The Josephites and the African-American Community: 100 Years, The Josephites, 1130 N. Calvert Street, Baltimore, MD 21202
Chastang, Richard, Saint Peter The Apostle Catholic Church From The Origin Of Saint Paul's Chapel To The Departure Of Father Sabino Grossi, S.S.J; Early Chastang Creoles.