The First Chastain in America

A Huguenot Church in South Carolina
A Huguenot Church in South Carolina

There was another Huguenot Chastain family that escaped to America, via Switzerland, Holland, and England, between the years 1696 and 1700. Led by their patriarch, Pierre (Peter) Chastain, they settled in Virginia, and their descendants quickly spread throughout the South. This is not my direct line, but I believe Pierre did have some brothers and uncles (so perhaps cousins?). It’s my pet theory that our lines are connected somehow, but I have no evidence for this yet. It may just be wishful thinking on my part since this is the Chastain line with by far the most information available. (Update December 2016: It is extremely unlikely that our branches are connected. Chastain arose as a surname independently throughout France. There was not one original Chastain from whom all Chastains are descended.)

James Garvin Chastain published a book in 1933 titled A Brief History of the Huguenots and Three Family Trees: Chastain, Lochridge, Stockton. I’m waiting for my copy to come in from the library (I had to request it from the inter-library loan system), but this book mainly covers the family tree of the above mentioned Pierre Chastain (a.k.a Pierre the Immigrant), the first Chastain in America.

One thing of note regarding the Chastain family tree that James Garvin Chastain uses in this book – it has some spurious ancestry. He received some information from a supposed genealogist who traced Pierre’s direct line back to 1084 (almost a thousand years ago!). Subsequent research by other genealogists has debunked these bogus claims as documented in this article.

The furthest back I’ve seen this particular line go is 1598 with the birth of Pierre’s grandfather, Jacques. These Chastains lived in Charost, France throughout the 17th century before fleeing to America. They may not be my direct ancestors, but at this point I’d like to acquire as much information as possible. There may be some connection that I stumble upon later because of it. (Update December 2016: There is no connection.)

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