The Schwabendorf Book of Families

A map of Schwabendorf’s town center in 1732. If you look halfway down the left-hand side, you can see what looks like “Chastangs”. This is the Chastain residence. In 1732 it would have consisted of the newly widowed Anne Marie Chastain and her two sons, Pierre and Alexandre.

The Schwabendorf Book of Families finally made its way across the Atlantic and into my eager little hands. This book, published by a historical society in Schwabendorf, Germany, contains details on all of the families that lived in Schwabendorf from 1687 until 1925. I can now fully trace my ancestry back nine generations to Pierre Chastain, the last Chastain of France and the first Chastain in Germany. Here are all of my ancestors and the details about their families starting with Pierre.

Pierre was first recorded in Germany in 1687 (he came from the Dauphiné Province of France). I don’t have his exact whereabouts until he became the schoolmaster in Louisendorf from 1692 until 1715 (he was also a doctor). Then, in 1717, he moved to Schwabendorf and married Anne Marie Gautier on February 18th. Anne was born on March 3, 1701. They had two children, Pierre, born on December 29, 1718, and Alexandre, born on January 27, 1727.  Pierre the Elder, being much older than Anne, died in February of 1731. Anne died on April 11, 1755. Anne’s paternal grandfather’s name was Alexandre. I’m guessing that Alexandre Chastain was named after him. This is most likely when it first became a popular name within the family.

Alexandre Chastain, a farmer and hatmaker, married Anne Marie Grisail on June 5, 1750. Anne was born in November, 1730. They had six children – Anne Marie, Jean Pierre, Gaspard Adolphe, Suzanne, Catherine Elisabeth, and another Anne Marie. Alexandre died on March 7, 1793. Anne died in 1792.

Jean Pierre, Alexandre’s second child, was born in 1754. He was a farmer and hatmaker like his father. He married Christine Aillaud in September of 1781. Christine was born on June 30, 1757. They had eight children – Alexandre, Anna Maria, Gaspard Adolph, Jean Pierre, Christian, Pierre, another Pierre, and another Jean Pierre. Jean Pierre died on May 6, 1822. Christine died on November 11, 1816.

Christian, a farmer, was Jean Pierre and Christine’s fifth child and was born on October 17, 1792. He married Catherine Elisabeth Sprenger on October 9, 1819 (Sprenger isn’t French! It took the Chastains over a hundred years to start marrying the native Germans). Catherine was born on May 25, 1793. They had ten children – Pierre, Wilhelm, Adolf, Conrad, another Adolf, Catherine, N.N. (not sure what this stands for), Peter, Françon, and Henrich. Of the ten children, only Pierre and Conrad lived past the age of sixteen. In 1845, when Conrad was 20, he emigrated to America. Christian died on April 8, 1849. Catherine died on June 8, 1848.

Pierre Chastain, Christian and Catherine’s firstborn, was born on August 9, 1820. This is Peter Alexander Chastain I, my great-great-great grandfather and my first ancestor to come to America. He married Catherine Doersch on September 22, 1844. Catherine was born on February 3, 1820. They had four children – Conrad, Françon, Peter (Peter Alexander Chastain II), and Heinrich. They emigrated to America in 1860.

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