Indiana Chastains


Indiana State FlagPierre Chastain settled in Virginia Colony in 1700, and for much of the next century Virginia was home to most American Chastains. About the time of the American Revolution, the Chastain families began migrating, and by 1840 there were only two families left in Virginia.

They did not spread themselves evenly among the states. Georgia, Indiana, and South Carolina were important Chastain states early on. After the initial migration, Indiana contained the second largest concentration of Chastains after Georgia.

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The Migration
The Brothers (and Sisters)
The Baptists
Chastain or Shasteen?
Indiana's Ranking
Indiana Chastains in the Civil War
Indiana Chastain Crime Fighters
Notable Indiana Chastains

The Migration

The starting point for the study of Indiana Chastains is Claude Cook's Little Otter to Lost River. Cook focuses on the Chastains who moved from Franklin County, Virginia to Henry County and Shelby County, Kentucky, and from there went on to settle along the Lost River in Washington County, Indiana. However, he also mentions other Chastains who settled in Indiana before 1840. By that year, one in five Chastain families in America lived in Indiana. Indiana County Map
Map Courtesy of Digital Map Store.

Chastains began to relocate from Franklin County, Virginia to Henry County, in north central Kentucky around the turn of the century. Rene was the first to go there, following his in-laws, but Barnett arrived soon after. Valentine Chastain settled in adjacent Shelby County, Kentucky and attended the same church as his Henry County relatives. George Chastain, the last family of the group left Virginia for Henry County in 1803.

Both of the main centers of Chastain population in Indiana were founded by six brothers. Barnett, Rene, and George settled in Washington County, and John, Valentine, and Robert Ransom settled in nearby Scott and Jefferson Counties. It was not a particularly long move from Henry County, Kentucky to Washington County, Indiana - perhaps a hundred miles or so.

According to Pierre Chastain and His Descendents (PCD), the father of these six brothers was William Chastain, very likely the son of Pierre Chastain, Jr., who was the son of Pierre the immigrant, though William's connection to Pierre, Jr. has not been proven conclusively due to loss of records.

The Chastains of Washington County

Barnett was the first to move from Kentucky to Washington County, Indiana about 1814. Rene followed close behind. By 1817, this entire group had moved to southern Indiana, except for brother George, who did not relocate until 1830.

All the Chastain brothers had large families. Cook points out that Chastains continued to be numerous in Washington County. As of 1967, Chastain was still the most numerous name in the Washington County phone book (page iii).

Barnett, Rene, and George were joined by other Chastains, John and Isaac, thought to be sons of Robert Ransom Chastain who moved into the Scott County area in 1817, but later relocated to Washington County to be with his sons. Robert apparently died in Washington County, but John and Isaac joined with other Washington County Chastains in moving to nearby Martin County, Indiana in the 1840s to establish a Chastain population center there. Martin county was also the genesis of the large population of Chastains in Laclede County, Missouri.

Washington County, Indiana is in the extreme southern portion of the state (in green on this map), and Washington County Chastains spread into other southern Indiana counties, Orange, Lawrence, Dubois, Clay, and Sullivan, as well as Tipton in central Indiana. Washington County Chastains also moved to other states such as Illinois and Oregon.

The Chasteens of Scott and Jefferson Counties

The Chasteens of Scott County descend from the same ancestor as the Washington County Chastains. By 1817, Valentine, Robert Ransom, and John Chastain settled in Scott and Jefferson Counties, which are the counties just east of Washington. A group of more distantly related Chastains came to Jefferson County as early as 1812. They were descended from Samuel Chastain, who was born in Tennessee in 1788. With their large families, the Chasteens of Scott County spread to other southern counties, Jefferson, Clark, Jennings, and Bartholomew, so that from the two original groups, there is a considerable block of contiguous southern Indiana counties with Chastains/Chasteens.

The Chastains of Putnam County

Putnam County is considerably northwest of Washington and Scott Counties. The Putnam County Chastains descended from pioneer Baptist minister Rev. Rene Chastain, Jr., grandson of Pierre through Rene Chastain, Sr. Rene, Sr. was the only second generation Chastain to leave Virginia. He moved with some of his children to Abbeville County, South Carolina, where he died. Some of his grandchildren went on to establish the important Chastain population center in Thomas County in south Georgia. The Putnam County Chastains moved first to what is now Bath County, Kentucky, a few counties east of Henry County, and from there to Putnam County, Indiana.

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The Chastain Brothers (and Sisters)

George Chastain was born about 1766 probably in Buckingham County, Virginia and died 1854 in Vernon Township, Washington County, Indiana. He married Rebecca Jane Staton in 1791 in Franklin County, Virginia. They had ten children.

Valentine Chastain was born about 1768, probably in Buckingham County, Virginia and died 1843 in Scott County, Indiana. He married Mary Robbins in 1791 in Franklin County, Virginia. They had eight children.

Robert Ransom Chastain was born about 1770, probably in Buckingham County, Virginia and died 1840-1841 in Washington County, Indiana. He married Magdalene/Magdelin Moore in 1791 in Franklin County, Virginia. They had nine children.

Barnette Chastain was born about 1774 probably in Buckingham County, Virginia and died 1857 in Washington County, Indiana. He married Sarah Ann Hixon in 1795 in Franklin County, Virginia. They had nine children.

Rene Chastain was born about 1776 probably in Buckingham County, Virginia and died 1860 in Vernon Township, Washington County, Indiana. He married Martha "Massy" Robbins in 1795 in Franklin County, Virginia. They had eight children.

John Chastain was born about 1781 probably in Buckingham County, Virginia and died after 1818 in Scott County, Indiana. He married Anner Robbins in 1803 in Shelby County, Kentucky. They had ten children.

Elizabeth Chastain was born about 1778 probably in Buckingham County, Virginia and died date and place unknown. She married first James Manning (they had eleven children), and after Manning's death she married a Mr. Coleman by 1833 (no known children). James and Elizabeth Chastain Manning accompanied the Chastain brothers to Kentucky and Indiana.

Malinda "Linny" Chastain was born about 1780 probably in Buckingham County, Virginia and died 1855 in Martin County, Indiana. She married Edmund Toney in 1795 in Franklin County, Virginia. They had seven children. The Statons accompanied the Chastain brothers to Indiana.

George, Valentine, Rene, and Linny were married in Franklin County by pioneer Baptist minister and pastor of Pigg River Baptist Church, Rev. Randolph Hall. Barnett was married by Rev. Robert Jones, who preached for Pig River Baptist Church.

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The Baptists

Before the Revolutionary War, there was tremendous growth among Baptists in Virginia. Some Chastains were among the pioneer Baptist ministers such as Rev. Rene Chastain and Rev. John Chastain. Both George and Valentine Chastain were members of the Pigg River Baptist Church in Franklin County, Virginia, as was their father, William. Pigg River began as a Separate Baptist Church, but is now Primitive Baptist.

Though George Chastain and Valentine Chastain became Baptists while still in Virginia, many Indiana Chastains did not join the Baptists until the move to Kentucky. At Henry County, Kentucky, they were associated with the East Fork Baptist Church, which bordered George Chastain's property. Many church business meetings were held at George's home. George was appointed a deacon in 1805, and Valentine was authorized to preach in 1811. It was here that many of the Chastains became Baptist.

Union Baptist Church in Washington County, Indiana was organized in 1816, two years after Bartlett and Rene Chastain moved into the county. Church records are lost, but one historian reports that George, Barnett, and Rene Chastain were all leaders in the early days of the church. This was a Regular Baptist Church. Before Union Baptist was organized, Chastains may have been members of the Sinking Springs Baptist Church. It is certain that when Union Baptist disbanded in 1864 Chastains joined Sinking Springs. In 1872, sixteen Chastain members of Sinking Springs Baptist were released to establish Lost River Primitive Baptist Church. A fourth Baptist church in Washington County was Lost River Baptist Church at Claysville. It had some Chastain members.

According to Cook, the Scaffold Lick Baptist Church in Jefferson County, Indiana, was organized on September 20, 1816 in the home of Valentine and Mary Chastain. In addition to Valentine and Mary, other charter members included Robert Ransom and Magdalene Chastain, and John and Anna Chastain. Valentine was licensed to preach in 1826 and was a messenger to the Association every year until he died in 1843. In 1832, he gave two acres for the church and cemetery. Genealogist Lowell B. Chastain, in Virginia Chastains, page 2, states that Scaffold Lick settlement comprised mostly settlers from Virginia, North Carolina, and Kentucky. Some of them were part of White River Church eight miles away, but wanted a church in their own community. He gives the Scaffold Lick Baptist Church date of organization as October 14, 1818, and writes that Valentine Chastain was the first pastor. Lowell indicates that Valentine was licensed to preach in 1823 and George Chasteen was licensed to preach in 1856.

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Chastain or Shasteen?

Early public records often recorded Chastains as Shasteen, Shateen, Shattine, and similar spellings as census takers and other public scribes often wrote down what they heard rather than confirming correct spelling. This was true of many early Chastains indicating that they pronounced their names with a lingering French touch. However, this was especially prevalent among the Chastains who were to settle southern Indiana. Indeed, it seems that the French pronunciation persisted into recent times. In a telephone conversation, General Richard Chastain (retired) of Washington County, Indiana shared with me that the received pronunciation from his family was Shasteen, though the written form was Chastain. He only adopted the Chastain pronunciation when he entered the military in order to conform with the spelling.

The Chastains of Scott County eventually adopted the spelling Chasteen, even though they were closely related to the Chastains of Washington County. This further confirms the French influence in pronunciation.

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Chastain Families Ranked by State

Chart #1 is based on data provided by's Family Distribution Maps, taken from the censuses of 1840, 1880, and 1920. Chastain Central compiled state totals by adding together the four most common spellings and misspellings (Chastain, Chasteen, Chastine, and Chesteen). The chart shows state rankings in total number of families (not individuals) after the four spellings have been combined. All states with 2% or more of Chastain families are shown. By 1840, Georgia and Indiana had become the strongest Chastain states and maintained their ranks of first and second place through the 1920 census. See more analysis at Top Chastain States.

Chart #1 Ranking of States by Number and Percentage of Chastain Families
Rank 1840 1880 1920
3South Carolina16 17.98%Arkansas2139.22%Oklahoma1227.56%
5Illinois66.74%South Carolina1275.50%Missouri1056.51%
6Tennessee33.37%Illinois1154.98%South Carolina845.20%
11------------------North Carolina682.94%Florida422.60%

Back to Index ~ Back to Text ~ Chart 2

Chastain Families Ranked by Civil War Service

The Civil War occurred almost exactly between the 1840 and 1880 censuses. A count of Chastain soldiers serving in the Civil War will provide insight independent of the census records. However, we should not expect the military records to be as accurate as the census in determining the distribution of Chastains among the states for a number of reasons. Some individuals are duplicated with different spellings; some served in more than one state during the war; the percentage of the population enlisted in the military may have varied from state to state; and so forth. Even so, results should resemble the state lists from the 1840 and 1880 censuses, and Chart 2 shows that they do. However, there are some surprises. South Carolina is much higher on the list than expected, and Indiana is much lower. Perhaps this reflects a difference in fervor in these two states, or in accuracy of state records. Cook notes (page iii) that "The Chastain men of Washington County showed very little enthusiasm for joining the Union Army during the Civil War." Compare this with the Union activity of certain Alabama Chastains. Despite the variances in rank, the states are the same ones predominating on the censuses, and the Civil War list more closely resembles the 1880 census than the 1840.

Chart #2 Ranking by Civil War Service
South Carolina5413.04%
North Carolina256.04%
Total414 names

Back to Index ~ Back to Text ~ Back to Chart 1
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Indiana Chastains in the Civil War

All Indiana Chastains who participated in the Civil War were Union. The following list includes names which may have been misspellings, but who may or may not have been Chastains. See more at Chastains in the Military.

It does not include nine Chastains from Washington County who served for nine days in Company G, 113th Indiana Infantry to pursue the confederate Morgan after Morgan's raid through Salem and southern Indiana. They began service on July 9, 1863 at Campbellsburg. The men were Andrew J, Barnett, Barnette G., Calvin, Ed, Francis M., Henry, J.H., and Silas (Cook, page iii).

Castain, Thomas J.
Casteen, William B
Casten, David
Castin, Abraham
Castin, John
Chastain, Bernard
Chastain, David
Chastain, Davud B. W.
Chastain, John A. F.
Chastain, John A. T.
Chastain, Levi
Chastain, Robert R.

Chastain, Thomas J.
Chastane, David B.
Chasteen, Charles B.
Chasteen, Charles V.
Chasteen, Edmond
Chasteen, John E.
Chasteen, Jonathan C.
Chasteen, Joseph D.
Chasteen, Matthew
Chasteen, Nathaniel C.
Chasteen, Peter
Chasteen, Samuel C.

Chasteen, William
Chasteen, William B.
Chasten, William
Chastian, David B.
Chastien, Charles
Chastien, Samuel C.
Chastine, Daniel
Chastine, L. M.
Chestine, Peter
Shasteen, Joseph D.
Shasteen, Pleasant E.

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Indiana Chastain Crime Fighters

Barry Chastain, Police Chief, Paoli, Indiana
Brian Chasteen, Police Officer, Indianapolis Police Department
Butch Chastain, Police Chief, Mitchell, Indiana
Hollace Chastain, State Trooper, Norman, Indiana
Michael Chastain, Deputy Marshall, Long Beach, Indiana
Scott Chasteen, Fire Chief, Indiana
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Notable Indiana Chastains

Burrell Chastain, restaurateur
David Chasteen, military
Chalmer Chastain, medical doctor
Rev. Gordon Chastain, Episcopal priest
Hollace Chastain, police officer and UFO sighter
Hollace A. Chastain, restaurateur
Jacob Chastain, church musician
Judy K. Chastain, mayor of Salem, Indiana
Katie Chastain, musician and recording artist
Lowell Burrell Chastain, genealogist
Morris "Butch" Chastain, mayor of Mitchell, Indiana
Nellotie Chastain, author
Gen. Richard Chastain, Major General
Terry Lee Chasteen, murder victim
Tom Chastain, racing enthusiast
Claude Cook, genealogist
Chastain Businesses
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