Luther Cleveland Chastain was born October 21, 1884 in Boston, Georgia to James Jackson Chastain and Sarah Webb Aldredge. He married Mary Effie Harrell in Boston on July 4, 1915. She was 14 yrs, three months; he was 30. He died on December 24, 1940 of a heart attack and is buried in Laurel Hill Cemetery in Thomasville, Georgia. L.C. was raised in Thomas County, Georgia. This photo was taken around 1909, when L.C. was 25 years old.
Born within five miles of Thomasville, Georgia, L.C. had to drop out of school in order to help work on the farm and support the family with its twelve children. Nevertheless, education and learning were important to him. He bought a speller and a dictionary, and read them every night. Next he bought a set of how-to books and read every one of them. Then came a complete set of encyclopedias. And that was only the beginning of L.C.'s library. Because he was so well-read, others would seek him out for advice, even those who were far better educated formally than he was. He wrote several poems and even received $50 for one that was used commercially.
For a number of years after leaving the family farm, he was engaged in various kinds of work in Georgia, Alabama, and Florida, and in 1911 moved back to Boston in Thomas County, Georgia, where he opened a bicycle sales and repair business.
In 1918 he moved to Thomasville and opened a bicycle sales and repair business there. In 1921, he added a new business -- Chastain Transfer Line. His wife was in charge of the book-keeping department and the general supervision of the bicycle and transfer business during his absence.
The Chastain Transfer Line started with just one small truck, but grew to an entire fleet of trucks, ranging from small half-ton capacity to more than three and a half tons, with accessory equipment such as giant ten-ton wenches on a big white truck, and monster extension trailers.
A special feature of his equipment was enclosed moving vans in which entire households of furniture were moved, at times across several states, and because of his special facilities for packing furniture he guaranteed delivery with not even a scratch.
A second transfer line was established a few miles away in Tallahassee, Florida. This ad is from Thomasville Times Enterprises, February 13, 1932. Later he founded the Southern Sand Company.
L.C. was a deeply religious man-a Primitive Baptist. He felt that no one could look at even a small blade of grass and NOT believe in God. He was a small, quiet man, weighing only 135 pounds. He was very kind toward others, though whenever confronted in conflict, he never backed down, but would stand tall and look the confronter their eyes, sometimes even policemen, and always won the battle.
It seemed as if all his relatives, while visiting in Thomasville, would make the house of Mr. and Mrs. L.C. Chastain their meeting place. There were often relatives sleeping all over the floor and in cars, as they seemed to prefer those sleeping arrangements at L.C.'s house over a bed at someone else's house. In addition, his mother often came and stayed with them for months at a time, and his sisters and their children as well. Several of them lived with him for a few years and were always welcome in his home.
Even though the races were quite segregated during his time, L.C. realized that Blacks were also people made by God. He often helped those he knew who were in need. He kept many of these things he did to himself, rather than boasting, because he considered his acts simply the right thing to do.
L.C. knew a widow who had several small children. She had no money, no job. For as long as the lady needed it, L.C. had his wife take a basket of groceries to her every week and would accept no money for it.
December 3, 1932 was a tragic day for the Chastains when their four-year-old, Teddy died from an accident. About dark the previous day, Teddy was crushed at home under the wheels of a big truck driven by his father. L.C. was attempting to connect one of his large trucks to a big moving van. Some of his children were playing in the yard, and they attempted to jump on the running board of the truck. They were told to return to their play area, but Teddy attempted to get on the running board and fell underneath the back wheels. One of the wheels ran across his chest and breast. He was taken to the hospital and lingered until 3:40 o'clock the next morning. The loss was devastating to L.C.
On December 24, 1940, Luther Cleveland Chastain's friends and acquaintances were shocked by L.C.'s sudden, unexpected death at home from a heart attack. He was 56. Funeral services were held at the Primitive Baptist Church.
"Teve" and his family were moving into a 'new' house, one that had wooden floors with cracks between the boards. Little Teve used his imagination and managed to make the cracks useful, as he later boasted of being the FIRST person to use the cracks --- as a place to relieve his bladder!
Once L.C. was called on to use his big white truck and winch to pull a large truck out of the ditch that was lying on its side. He was told that the man had already called every wrecker in town, and that they could not pull the truck out, as their equipment was too small. L.C. accommodated the man. Then Shorty Arnold, the person in charge of licenses, made a court case against him for doing business without a license. The judge asked Mr. Chastain what he had to say for himself. L.C. replied that it was his practice to help anyone in need, and then added, "even you, Shorty Arnold, if you were in the ditch, I would pull you out." The judge smiled and said "Case dismissed".
An example of his standing up to others was one day when L.C. had taken his wife and a few of the children to the river looking for the best place to pump sand. There was an unfriendly man, a Mr. Hurst, that owned land near the river. When Mr. Hurst saw the Chastains near his property, he marched right up to them, his shotgun barrel aimed right at L.C. The children were so frightened they did not move. Mary Effie started crying. Mr. Hurst bellowed, "Teve Chastain! Don't you dare take one step onto my property or I'll blow your brains out!" L.C. walked quietly closer to Mr. Hurst, looking him square in the eye, and simply stated, "You S-O-B, you ain't got the guts." Mr. Hurst put his gun down, turned away, and walked off.
Mary Effie Harrell was born on April 27, 1901 to Lee Roy Harrell and his wife Willie Alma Massey in Mitchell County, Georgia, somewhere between Vada and Pelham. Because her father was in the turpentine business, the family moved around to follow his trade. So Mary Effie lived in Hortense, Georgia, Shellman, Georgia, Monticello, Florida, and Boston, Georgia. When Mary Effie began to notice boys, it caused problems between her and her father, who felt she was too young. Then one day, her cousin A.B. Harrell came over with a friend. This friend was L.C. Chastain. Despite her father's opposition, the two of them managed to get together and to write secret notes to each other. While taking a walk through the streets of Boston, L.C. proposed. She replied, "Oh no! My daddy would kill me!" Eventually Mary Effie said "Yes!", but she thought they should run away and get married in order to avoid her father's intervention. L.C. thought that the most respectable way for a young man to marry was with the permission of the girl's father. Lee Roy Harrell consented, and they were married in her father's house on the July Fourth, 1915.
When L.C. started the sand company in Thomasville, Mary Effie insisted he let her help in the office. Mary Effie Chastain was 39 years old when L.C. died. She worked with her business, kept the books, tracked down accounts, pumped sand, drove dump trucks, supervised drivers, and never slowed down for 30 years. Being a woman in a man's business did not hold her back. At 74 years old, she took a course at the vocational school in Thomasville to be a medical technician. From then on, she helped care for sick people. She was baptized at First Baptist Church in Thomasville on April 23, 1944 and was an active member there.
1. Sara Eileen Chastain, b. January 2, 1917, Boston, Georgia; m. Robert Hilton Dupree January 25, 1939
2. Billy Woodrow Chastain, b. December 16, 1918, Thomasville, Georgia; m. Beth Camille Redfern June 7, 1936; d. July 12, 1987, Jacksonville, Florida
3. Luther Cleveland Chastain, Jr., b. March 10, 1921, Thomasville, Georgia; m. Eloise Vera Brinson June 26, 1948; d. March 28, 2003 Thomasville, Georgia
4. Alma Oresa Chastain, b. March 19, 1923, Thomasville, Georgia; m. Lee Willis Dupree December 6, 1941
5. Patrick Marvin Chastain, b. May 24, 1924, Thomasville, Georgia; m. Gloria Muriel Miller May 4, 1946; d. August 11, 1989
6. Teddy Marconi Chastain, b. December 27, 1927, Thomasville, Georgia; d. December 3, 1932, Thomasville, Georgia
7. Kenrad Chastain, b. November 29, 1933, Thomasville, Georgia; m.(1) Matilda Bishop, August 24, 1952; m.(2) Margaret Mullis Gaines December 13, 1974