James Garvin Chastain


Missionary * Genealogist * Author * Centenarian

James Garvin ChastainJames Garvin Chastain, Sr. was born in Mississippi in 1853. He was ordained as a Baptist minister in 1875 at age 21. Upon graduating seminary, James went to Mexico as a missionary and served there for 25 years.

James Garvin wrote two very significant books. The first is 30 Years in Mexico, (1929), dealing with the Baptist mission. The second is a seminal genealogical work, A Brief History of the Huguenots and Three Family Trees: Chastain, Lockridge, and Stockton, (1932), which he wrote at 80 years old. He died in 1954 two months past his centennial birthday. You may submit content or suggestions on James Garvin with the submit content form.


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Early Years
Missionary to Mexico
Other James Garvin Chastains
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James Garvin Chastain

Early Years
James Garvin Chastain, Sr.

James Garvin Chastain, Sr. was born in Mississippi on December 18, 1853. His parents were Edward Jordan and Susan Lockridge Chastain.

Edward Jordan Chastain was born in North Carolina just west of Ashville on August 9, 1820. In the spring of 1821, at eight months old, he moved with his parents to North Georgia during the Chastain migration of the 1820s. There was little public education available, but Edward won an award for being the best speller in school. Edward Jordan had an intense desire for education. As he was approaching manhood, he bought an entire set of school books and studied them at home on his own for a year, using the roots of a big shade tree as his schoolhouse. Later, he bought a horse and traveled west, teaching at schools here and there. His typical salary was fifty cents a day or ten dollars month. One such school was in Marion County, Alabama, where one of his students was Susan Lockridge. Edward and Susan were married December 31, 1847. They moved a few miles further west, across the state line, to Itawamba County, Mississippi, where they settled. Education continued to be important in his family. Many of Edward Jordan's descendants have been professionals. Two of his sons were medical doctors.

James Garvin attended elementary schools in his community, such as they were, and when a school opened at Jacinto in nearby Alcorn County, James enrolled. He began classes at Jacinto on September 1, 1873. A few weeks later, a Methodist Church in Jacinto held a protracted meeting. This is similar to what some call a revival meeting. James Garvin was converted at the protracted meeting. Upon his return home for Christmas, he joined the Baptist Church and was baptized in Briar Creek on December 21st. He felt called into the ministry almost immediately, so four months after he was baptized he was licensed to preach. He was ordained as a Baptist minister on June 17, 1875 at age 21.

On September 27, 1877 he entered the preparatory department of Mississippi College at Clinton with no money. He worked himself through school with odd jobs for five years and graduated with a B.A. degree, and he was valedictorian of his class. Under sponsorship of the State Mission Board and the Home Mission Board, James spent the summer months helping his fellow student, T. S. Powell, who was building a church in Columbia in southern Mississippi. He assisted at protracted meetings with good success at Poplar Springs, Williamsburg, Salem, and Bunker Hill. Then, he spent a year studying English at the University of Mississippi. While there, he wrote the following letter to Powell:

Oxford, Miss.

Rev. T. S. Powell, Whitesand, Miss.

Dear Bro.: By this you will be reassured that I have not forgotten you. I am now attending the University at Oxford, studying English under Professor Johnson. I am highly pleased. I regret to hear of your sad bereavements. Surely the Lord is dealing very sorely with you; yet He knows best. How are you pleased with your field? What does it pay? Do you ever think of going to the Seminary? I think of preaching a year before I go. I need rest. I may go right on; however, I think I would like a country pastorate. Should you wish to go to the Seminary I might take your field, if agreeable arrangements could be made. There are plenty of fields, but I would prefer a country pastorate. Bro Anding is preparing to go to the Seminary. He means to go to Louisville in February. I wish you every success Please write me at Oxford, I am


J. G. Chastain.

After his year at the University, James Garvin was assigned to Columbia by the State Missions Board. His two years there were very productive, and membership of the Columbia church doubled.

In October, 1885, James Garvin entered Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and he graduated May 31, 1888. In 1897, he received an honorary Doctor of Divinity from Mississippi College.

Missionary to Mexico

During his time in seminary, James felt a call to the pagan and Catholic people of Mexico. Upon graduating, James Garvin applied to the Foreign Mission Board and was assigned as a missionary to Mexico on June 6, 1888. Lillian Wright ChastainShortly after his graduation, James met Ms Lillian Wright of Norfolk, Virginia. She had graduated from Hollins, had been a prominent teacher in her native state, and had decided to spend her life as a foreign missionary to Mexico. They were married on November 20, 1888. They labored in Mexico for the next twenty-five years. Among the places they worked were Matahuala, Doctor Arroyo, Morelia, Guadalajara, and Durango.

In 1864, James Hickey organized the Monterrey Baptist Church, the first evangelical church in Mexico. He died two years later, but the church remained strong. In 1880, the Southern Baptists began their work in Mexico by sponsoring John Westrup as missionary. When the Chastains arrived in 1888, there were about 11 missionaries in the field under the leadership of W.D. Powell, but the mission was still in its infancy. They were assigned to the isolated region of Matahuala. James Garvin was almost 35.

By May, 1890 James Garvin Chastain had six churches and a number of preaching stations. San Rafael Church had 126 members; the other churches ranged in membership from 10 to 26.

The missions in Mexico were reorganized in 1892, and a number of missionaries were relocated. The Chastains went from Matahuala to Doctor Arroyo. In 1896, James had two organized churches. The Dr. Arroyo Church had 26 members and a primary girls school with 16 students. The Galeana Church had gone through considerable internal strife and was being reorganized without the "unconverted material" with about 10 members. Both churches owned their own buildings.

By 1895, the work in Mexico had so progressed that conditions seemed ripe for a great soul-winning campaign, so a series of interdenominational conferences were organized in Toluca on April 3, 4, and 5. The main speaker was Dwight Moody, who preached each day. Ira Sankey accompanied him.

In 1898, most of the missionaries resigned and left Mexico due to an unexplained issue. This loss of veterans undoubtedly thrust James Garvin Chastain, who remained, into more of a leadership role. The Chastains moved from Dr. Arroyo to Morelia. The Chastains transferred from Morelia to Guadalajara in 1901.

National Baptist Convention 1910In 1903, James Garvin was instrumental in organizing the National Baptist Convention in Mexico on September 13. It consisted of churches of both the Southern Baptist Board and the Northern Baptist Board. This was a tremendous step forward for the Baptist churches of Mexico. When Dr. P.I. Lipsey published a challenging article dealing with the need and the importance of a Baptist Hospital in Mississippi, James was the very first to respond by sending a check for $10.00.

James Garvin Chastain, Sr.James traveled over Mexico preaching, teaching, and holding conferences. He wrote letters for the religious papers in the United States, and occasionally visited churches, associations, and conventions in the United States to promote the mission work. He also wrote two books while in Mexico: Breve Estudio Sobre El Pentateuco and Comentario Al Evangelio de Lucas. From 1904 to 1908, he was editor of El Expositor Biblico, the Sunday school paper. It had been a monthly, but James made it a quarterly and doubled its size. He also started a children's paper in 1905, Nuestros Ninos. Thirty Years in Mexico

In 1913, James and Lillian had to leave Mexico due to the revolution. James spent four years doing enrollment work in the United States, participating in thirty campaigns. In 1917, he was appointed as missionary to Cuba, where he served three years. After that, he spent seven years supervising the Spanish work in Tampa before retiring from missions work. In 1929, James Garvin wrote Thirty Years in Mexico, which dealt with the Baptist missionary work in that country.

All four Chastain children were born in Mexico, and three of them had church careers. The fourth, James Garvin Chastain, Jr., was an educator in Mississippi. Both sons are graduates of Mississippi College and both daughters are graduates from Blue Mountain College. All four completed additional education.


When he was 80 years old, living in the home of his son, Judson, James Garvin Chastain wrote a seminal genealogical work, A Brief History of the Huguenots and Three Family Trees: Chastain, Lockridge, and Stockton, (1932). His research is a rich resource for subsequent genealogists. He was one of the pioneer Chastain genealogists. To our knowledge only Benjamin Kincaid did Chastain research prior to James Garvin.

In the first part of the book, James Garvin deals extensively with the history of the Huguenots. In the second part, he provides history and genealogy on three family trees. James begins with Pierre, who was part of the Huguenot settlement at Manikintown, Virginia. This is James' paternal lineage. Lockridge is his mother's lineage, and Stockton is his maternal grandmother's lineage. We are concerned only with the Chastain line.

The plan of the descendants chart is not comprehensive. Rather, James begins with Pierre, the Immigrant and follows it down his own lineage through Jean (as he supposed), Rev. John, Edward, Rainey, and Edward Jordan. However, he brings some collateral lines down to current time. Along the way, he focuses on significant Chastains closely related to this direct line, such as Peter, Jr.; Peter, son of Rene; Rev. Rene; and Elijah Webb Chastain. James Garvin's father was first cousin to Elijah Webb and his brothers and knew them personally.

Much of his contribution is bringing certain Chastain lines down to his time. James uses some published material, some of the information is his personal knowledge, but much more results from his correspondence with Chastains all over the United States.

The genealogy begins with the spurious list of Chastains that goes back to 1084 AD, which James received from Benjamin Kincaid. He cannot be faulted in accepting this list. Though we now know it is not genuine, it was published by genealogists up to Avilla Farnsworth-Milligan in 1981, who reproduced the list from James Garvin's book.

As a pioneer genealogist, James made other errors, as might be expected for one who is exploring a new field.

In two other items of interest:

Estienne Chastain came to America on the same ship as Pierre. Genealogist Avilla Farnsworth-Milligan states that Estienne had daughters only, and therefore did not pass on the Chastain name. James Garvin on the other hand says, "Sons were evidently born to Dr. Stephen Chastain and wife later, since his Chastain descendants now reside in the State of Missouri, and trace their ancestral line easily back to Dr. Stephen Chastain of Manakintowne, Va." We would certainly like to know more about these Missouri Chastains.

Rev. John Chastain is listed as a son of Jean Chastain, rather than of his brother, Peter Chastain, Jr., as is indicated in Pierre Chastain and His Descendants. There have been differing opinions regarding this over the years, as there is no direct evidence establishing who was the father of Rev. John. The consensus now seems to be that circumstantial evidence strongly favors Peter as John's father.

At 97, James Garvin took his first plane flight to attend a missionary convention where he was guest of honor. He died February 20, 1954 two months past his centennial birthday. Lillian Wright Chastain died earlier on March 28, 1927 in Tampa. James Garvin was a seventh generation Chastain. His descent from Pierre is:

  1. Pierre Chastain
  2. Peter Chastain, Jr.
  3. John "Ten Shilling Bell" Chastain
  4. Edward Brigand
  5. Rainey
  6. Edward Jordan
  7. James Garvin

See writings in Chastain Authors

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Other James Garvin Chastains

James Garvin Chastain, Jr.James Garvin Chastain, Jr. (Educator) April 18, 1892-1936. James Garvin was Jackson Public Schools superintendent and namesake of Chastain Middle School, Jackson, Mississippi. James Garvin, Jr., was the son of James Garvin, Sr., Baptist missionary to Mexico and Cuba. He was born in Matehuala, Mexico and spent his first 16 years there. He attended Mississippi Heights Academy at Blue Mountain. After graduating from Mississippi College in 1915, he became superintendent of the high school in Derma. After World War I, he went to Eupora as superintendent and later became superintendent of Leland Consolidated School. In 1933, he completed his A.M. degree at Peabody College, Nashville, Tennessee, and that same year became Jackson Public Schools superintendent. During his administration, the Jackson Municipal Boys' Band was organized and the Reserve Officer Training Corps was established at Central. Chastain Middle School was named in his honor. --Primarily from Jackson Public Schools: School Namesakes; Bio with Picture.

James Garvin Chastain, III (Navy) October 25, 1922- . James Garvin Chastain, III attended Millsaps College. James married Jo Weimer on July 21, 1955. They had five children. James Garvin, III retired from the U. S. Navy in 1972.

James Garvin Chastain, Jr.James Garvin Chastain, IV Known as Bo, James Garvin Chastain, IV was born in Jackson, Mississippi in 1960. He has been director of the Mississippi State Hospital at Whitfield, Mississippi since 1993. He joined the hospital in 1990 as assistant director of communications then transferred to the hospital’s Jaquith Nursing Home where he worked as an administrator. In May 1991, Bo was promoted to personnel director at the Department of Mental Health facility East Mississippi State Hospital in Meridian, a position he held until his appointment as director of MSH.

Bo Chastain holds a Diplomate status in the American College of Healthcare Executives, demonstrating a commitment to professional excellence. He is working toward Fellow status. He is a very active member of the Mississippi Hospital Association (MHA), currently serving as president of MHA’s Society of Behavioral Health Services, and as a member of MHA’s Finance Committee. In 2002, he ws named to the Mississippi Hospital Association board of governors, and in 2007 he became chairman-elect of the board for 2007-08. He also serves on the Southern States Psychiatric Hospital Association Board of Directors and the Mental Health Association of the Capital Area Board of Directors. Bo is a member of the American Hospital Association Section for Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Services Governing Council.

Mississippi State Hospital is the largest hospital in Mississippi and the largest psychiatric facility in the United States. The hospital serves an average of 1,600 patients, residents, and consumers per day through psychiatric, forensic, child/adolescent and chemical dependency services, the 479-bed Jaquith Nursing Home, and Community Services programs in Jackson.

Bo Chastain has a bachelor's degree in business administration from Mississippi State University and an M.B.A. from the Else School of Management at Millsaps College. He and his wife, Connie, have two children, Charlie and Anna Claire. They attend St. Richard’s Catholic Church in Jackson. Significant Source

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