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OBITUARY OF JEHU CHASTAIN

From the Minutes of the Bentonville Baptist Association Held with Spring Creek Baptist, Bloomington, Post Office October 2nd, 1868

(Found in an old issue of the Benton County Pioneer)

Brother Chastain was born December the 30th 1801, joined the Baptist Church in the year 1823, commenced the great work of the Ministry the next October; was ordained while a minister of the Stechoey Church, Raburn County, Ga., by Umphrey Posey, Benjamin Stiles and Robert McMin (Presbytery). Brother Chastain labored long and with an untiring zeal as a Minister in Western North Carolina and Georgia. He was long Moderator of the Association to which he belonged; was several times chairman of the General Convention of North Carolina and was instrumental in the hands of God in bringing many to the knowledge of the Truth.  He was several times a correspondent from the General Convention of N. Carolina to the General Association of East Tennessee, and was instrumental in keeping that Union. He was also a messenger from the General Convention of North Carolina to the Great General Southern convention, which was composed of nearly all the Southern States. He was one of the primary instruments in building up and establishing the great Missionary enterprise. Brother Chastain came to this country in the year 1851, where he continued his untiring work in the Ministry up to the time of his death, with the exception of a few months spent in Texas. He departed this life on the 20th day of July 1862. He fell while engaged in a fight with a portion of the Northern army near the head of Flint creek, leaving a wife and several children, also many warm and devoted friends.

Resolved. That in the death of bro. John Chastain, this association has lost one of her strongest, ablest and most efficient Ministers; but we would say to his much esteemed widow and Orphans, not to sorrow as those without hope, but let us look forward to the time when we shall meet him in that General Association above, where congregations never break up and Sabbaths never end.

The Coburn Orchard

The Coburn Orchard (picture courtesy of Henny Johnson)

This picture is of the Coburn Orchard near Fairmount. It was sent by Henny Johnson with a note that it is probably 100 years old. What is really special about this picture is that all the names of the men were written on the back by Hazel Johnson.

Back row left to right: Mr. Rausher, don’t know, Walter Reynolds, J.M. Coburn, Herbert Loop and Alec Morris. Front row: Willie Johnson, Will Lott, O.B. Johnson (Hazel’s father) and Louis Reynolds.

I found a little information about J.M. Coburn and his orchard in the December 22, 1916 issue of the Gentry Journal Advance:

MAKING A SUCCESS OF APPLE GROWING

J.M. Coburn, who bought an 80 acre orchard near Felker and went to work on it three years ago, has made a great success of the business and this year harvested 14,000 bushels of apples from the place.

Most of these apples were good quality and brought good prices. His Ben Davis apples, 1200 barrels of which were in cold storage at Siloam Springs were sold recently for $3.75 per barrel.

Mr. Coburn was inexperienced in fruit growing when he started, but he had good judgment, faith in the country and was not afraid to invest his money in labor, fertilizer, spray, or anything which would improve the land and make his orchard better. He shipped a good many car loads of manure from the Kansas City stock yards and had it spread over the land where needed. This was a great help to the land and added greatly to the productiveness of the apple trees.

As Mr. Coburn lives in Kansas City and spends only a part of the time here, he naturally has to hire all of his labor. However, the receipts from the orchard has met all expenses for labor, material and improvements and left him a profit. Besides this, on account of the added improvements and increased productiveness of the land, the farm is easily worth twice as much money as it was when he took charge of it. Consequently it has been a good thing for Mr. Coburn, and we are sure his operations have been a help to the country not only by adding to the value and beauty of the place, but also by inspiring others to adopt similar methods, and put forth new efforts. This orchard is said to be as good as any in Benton County.

The Dear Gus Column

This newspaper clipping was sent to me by Faye Shields Roberts, who received it from Henny Johnson. Henny Johnson was married to the late  Bruce Johnson who grew up in the Fairmount Community. The clipping was of a column called “Dear Gus” which ran each week in the Gentry Newspaper back in the day. Gus said “Readers, if you have had an experience, a thought, or been handed down something that you would like to share with others because it helped you write Dear Gus…” Hazel Johnson mailed in this letter to Gus:

I grow lots of daffodils. And, often in the springtime, my friends drop by just to look at them. One friend who came this spring was Maggie Smith from Siloam Springs. Afterward, she wrote this delightful little poem which gave me so much pleasure that I wanted to share it with others.

A HAZELED SPRING

We walked into a Hazeled spring of golden daffodils

Beneath tall yard trees laced with green

And tied to time with years.

Abundant were the memories

“My nephew sent from Holland”

Or, “I brought this sweet gum tree back home

With wings each limb is garland”

Some daffodils she called by name,

Fragrant “Black Narcissa”.

Rowed up like school, or in rounded beds,

She picked from as we walked by.

Wordsworth’s heart went hill-dancing

With a thousand daffodils

While gentle Gentry’s Hazeled spring

“jonquiled” makes my heard thrill.

Thank you Maggie Smith.

Hazel Johnson (of the daffodilled yard)

Gus wrote, “Thanks for sharing something beautiful. This might have been more secure in the Poetry Column, but it’s greatly appreciated. You have shared because you care and that’s what this corner is all about,

Thanks, Gus

What a sweet thought and poem, I would have loved to see Hazel’s “daffodilled” yard!

Don’t forget next Sunday is the 150th Anniversary of Fairmount Cemetery. For more information contact  Teresa Allcorn 479-220-8326 or email allcorn@centurylink.net or Terrel Shields roxnoil@yahoo.com

 

 

Joseph Haynes Stockton was known as the “Bird Man” of Siloam Springs. Joe and wife Vivian (Kelchner) moved to Siloam Springs from Round Rock, TX when Joe retired in December 1977. The Stockton’s were charter members of the Wildlife Rescue in Austin, TX and pioneered Wildlife Rehabilitation in northwest Arkansas. Vi-Jo Haven Rehabilitation Center for Wildlife became a reality thanks to the aid of Northwest Arkansas Audubon Society and Dr. Kenneth Leach. Vi-Jo had facilities to care for all kinds of wild birds especially raptors like hawks and eagles, and small mammals. In addition Joe spent many hours traveling all over Benton County and northwest Arkansas speaking in schools and before clubs and civic groups regarding protection of our wild heritage. Live hawks and owls accompanied him.

Joe was born 25 January 1916 in Memphis, TN. He was the son of Francis Doughy Jr. and Edna (Chambers) Stockton. He joined the National Guard in September 1940 shortly after the beginning of World War II. He was stationed in England during the latter part of the War and was an Army Physical Training Rehabilitation Instructor in charge of remedial work in a five hospital complex. After the war, Joe became the Physical Director at the YMCA in Nashville, TN and then in Memphis. He became Executive Director of Memphis Boys Town in 1954 and later started a state-wide home for boys in Jackson, TN. The home is now Tennessee Sheriff’s Youth Town. In 1968, Joe and Vivian moved to Texas and completed their careers in child-care at the Texas Baptist Children’ Joes Home.

For a number of years the Stockton’s handled 250 plus birds a year. Each bird (or small mammal) was found and rescued by a person in the area. So the community was involved and interested in the rescues. Joe’s programs also introduced the public to the Tyson Red-Tailed Hawk, Easley Great Horned Owl, Napoleon Bonypart Barred Owl, Dorothy Short-eared Owl, Kay Screech Owl and Kewpie Quail.

In 1988, Joe’s health was deteriorating and he began to limit his activities. Joe died December 25, 2001, a fitting day to meet his precious Savior.

The James and Emma Kelchner Home

Joe was buried in Fairmount Cemetery within a short distance of the acreage that Vivian’s grandparents (James Sr. and Emma Kelchner) bought when they came to Arkansas. In March 1915, James and Emma bought 41 acres from J.M. and Leontine Krum and sold it to George and Jennie Reading  in 1942.

James Kelchner Jr. with the Bert Taylor Family

When Vivian began research on her family in the mid-eighties, Joe and Vivian came to Fairmount on Memorial Day and talked to some of the old-timers in the area. The amount of information available from people who actually knew the family was astonishing. Bert Taylor was Vivian’s father’s (James Sr.) best friend and Eva Taylor Barnett remembered s many things regarding life at Fairmount. James went to school with Hazel Johnson who later taught each of his 3 children at Gentry school. One lady had dated James. The Shields were a wealth of information too. James Jr.’s daughter, Maxine Kelchner Kostreva and granddaughter Karolyn Kostreva, are buried at the Cemetery and plots are reserved for other family members. Fairmount seems like “Home”.

Bert Taylor and James Kelchner Jr.

An old saying suggests that the winners write history.  Time seems to have a way of rewriting it.  June 2012 will mark 150 years since the death of Jehu Chastain, a missionary to the Cherokees.  Born in South Carolina and his early life in north Georgia, Jehu was sent to preach to the Cherokees and ended up following after them on the trail of tears.  He was possibly sent to northwest Arkansas as he was charged in 1836 with the task of preaching to the native Indians in the company of notable Cherokee preachers such as Jesse Bushyhead, widely respected tribal leader and missionary.

Since Elder Chastain was white, he didn’t venture into Indian Territory as a settler, but did settle on patent lands near the present day Fairmount Cemetery.  He was in the company of other Georgia settlers, including family and in-laws. I won’t attempt to name them all in fear of omitting one, but the early name of the community was the “Georgia Flats” and it later became known as “Fairmount” because so many of the immigrants were from Fairmount, GA.  Jehu was born December 30, 1801 and died July 20, 1862.  The date of death was between the Pea Ridge and Prairie Grove Battles.  At the time of his death, the Union was fighting a significant action near Fayetteville, Arkansas, which they eventually took under Federal control.

As Civil War broke out, the sympathy of the Chastain’s was with their native South, although I found no tradition that they were slaveholders.  Elder Chastain was more than 60 at the time of the war.  His youngest son was among families that were fighting for the South.  Jehu Thomas Chastain, the youngest son, fought with the Cherokee Rifles under Cherokee leader Stand Watie, as did many of the whites in western Benton County.  I have found no evidence that the elder Chastain was mustered into any formal units but local partisans often banded into Home Guards.  In any event, few people traveled alone openly.  And even when working the fields, residents keep a wary eye on anyone approaching.  Lawless bushwhackers and jay hawkers often masked themselves as informal soldiers but were little more than horse thieves and robbers.

Jehu Chastain was apparently part of a group of men who were attacked near Springtown, Arkansas, and all but Jehu escaped.  The circumstance of that gunfight and the outcome remain in doubt. But three versions, at least, have come to light, and the last one revealed in the past five years, is a startling departure from either of the other two histories of the event.  We will address each one as they appeared.

There is some lore that this story was told more than 100 years ago by a newspaper editor who called himself the “Old Fisherman.”  His version appeared in an early area newspaper.

Published in the Arkansas Historical Quarterly “Pioneer” Vol. 20 # four, Fall of 1975, page 123 is a story of the Battle of Springtown. The source was the author of a letter. He was Roy J. Taylor, brother of Ruth Wasson, who was the Springtown postmistress prior to the closing of that post office in the 1970s.  Roy stated that since the young men had gone off to battle, “The old men who were left behind banded themselves together in what is now knows as “guerilla warfare” and decided to fight back…” against Union soldiers plundering the livestock of the remaining families.

Roy then goes on to say “The next regiment through was a calvary unit…[the battle] took place approximately one mile west of Springtown. He describes this as “500 yards” south of the northwest corner of Sec. 7- Twp. 18N- Rge. 32 W, which places it at the intersection of Hwy. 12 and Fairmount Road.  Mr. Taylor then reports that “some six or eight Northern soldiers” were killed and buried 250 yards north of the battle. He claims there were “field stones marking the mass grave before the road went through.”  He finishes by saying, “There was one old man from Arkansas killed. His name was Rev. Chastain and he rode a mule into battle. He was buried some two miles south of the battle ground.”  That burial was the first burial in what is now Fairmount Cemetery.  According to one variation reported to me orally, some say the mule Jehu rode was white.

The second story was told by the grandfather of the author, Arthur Shields.  Arthur did not believe that they were engaged in a battle.  Rather the men banded together to go to the post office in Springtown, which was the closest mail post. They traveled for protection rather than attempting to fight.  According to his story, they had stopped to water the horses and mules.  Bushwhackers approached them and in attempting to mount his mule, Jehu was delayed as the mule balked or shied. This allowed the bushwhackers close enough to shoot Chastain, but he mounted his mule and made it home before dying.

When I started researching this, there was a suggestion that the attacking Union soldiers were cavalry from the Kansas 11th.  But in researching the Compendium of the Civil War, a huge multi-volume glossary of war correspondence in all theaters, I found no reference to a “battle” at Springtown.

The Compendium can be found at the Pea Ridge National Battlefield library. The work is sorted by date.  It contains the war correspondence between bonafide units and commanders including when anyone was killed or engaged in a pitched battle.  It became obvious that the Kansas 11th in July was an infantry unit and had not been deployed to Arkansas yet. They were converted to Cavalry in October, several months after Jehu’s death. But irregulars were common and often mustered and commanded in loosely regulated units.

Many Southern troops were stationed in Texas or Southeastern Oklahoma. Families fled this area and settled in Texas to avoid the bloodshed. Many stayed on in Texas.  In researching the other side of my family tree, I found a letter in the Stewart family website on Our American Families. Stewart had linked back to my previous article on the death of Jehu.  There was a letter from the daughter of one of my ancestors, who was married but remaining in Arkansas while her husband was stationed in Texas.  What she wrote sheds a whole new light on the death of Jehu Chastain. This is spelled as written.

The feds has been in here several times since you left home. They have been fired on many times. Several of them has been kiled. They was shot at one time and they surrounded the thicket where the men was and shot at them. Killed old man Chasteen. Shot him six times and after he was dead Esq. Wimpy stuck his boyonet throug him. The rest of the men got away.

-Amanda Lavina Maxwell nee Williams, letter dated Aug 9, 1862

If this was not the same “old man [Jehu?] Chasteen,” then who could it be?  There were no other Chastain families in the 1860 census, and the Chastains near Rogers supposedly came to the county well after the Civil War.  And the time line fits perfectly. This was only three weeks after the date of Jehu’s death. Were it before or several months later, then it would almost certainly have been someone else.

Clearly, if shot six times and stuck with a bayonet, it’s also unlikely he escaped only to die at home.  And where was he?  Amanda was the daughter of David Williams who lived south of Bentonville and slightly to the west and southeast of the Morning Star community building.  That’s a long way from Springtown. Did news travel that well, especially during such times?  Possibly.  Or it is possible that Amanda lived further south and west near the Osage Mills which is much closer to Springtown than Bentonville.

David Williams had to leave the area after being threatened with tar and feathers by the Nail and Farrar  families who were confederates.  Williams had refused to take sides and as a blacksmith, shod horses for either union or confederate sympathizers. He walked to Texas after fleeing in the night when warned of the plot. His wife was unable to follow in a wagon because of flooding rivers.  She and his daughters returned home and most of the livestock and horses were stolen to sell to the Union Army that was bivouacked almost in their front yard just off the old Butterfield Stage route.

Amanda’s letter also raises the question about Union soldiers dying.  The tone of the letter suggests that while six or eight soldiers may have died, it implies that they died one or two at a time in ambush at different times.  Nothing suggests they were killed at one event and were buried en masse.

There is a small cemetery called the Hall that is 250 yards north of Flint Creek. It is obliterated but the main stone contained three names. Alfred Twiggs moved the stone to Fairmount nearly 100 years ago. It contains the name of John Hall, his wife, and daughter.  Halls’ wife and daughter died in the 1860s.  It would seem unlikely that he would have buried them in a mass grave with soldiers, nor would be a mass grave normally been dug far from a camp.

Which story is closest to the truth?  I concluded that Mrs. Maxwell’s letter is likely describing the death of Jehu Chastain.  It seems probable that the event occurred near Springtown.  It is unlikely that Mr. Chastain made it home before dying. He almost certainly died on the spot.  I would also think that he was the only casualty of the event and that the “Union Soldiers” were possibly a scouting or foraging party from either troops stationed near Bentonville or near Maysville. It is possible that these soldiers were a local Unionist “home guard” who met up with another “home guard” from the Sesch (nickname of Secessionist.)  That would explain why no report on the event could be found in the Compendium.  And I find it unlikely that any such number of Union soldiers were buried near the site of the battle.

Despite these facts coming to light, it is still difficult not to imagine, that if I had been alive on July 20th, 1862 and standing where my home just north of Fairmount sits today, somewhere in my line of vision that I would have seen an old man slumped over his saddle trying to make it home and die in the arms of his grieving wife.  And that mule would be white.

Terrel Shields, May 2012

The Fairmount Cemetery Association invites you to the 150th Anniversary of the Fairmount Cemetery

Sunday May 27, 2012

Potluck Lunch at 12:30-Please bring a covered dish

Annual Business Meeting 1:00

Speaker–Mike Freels from the Benton County Cemetery Preservation Group

Special Music by the Flint Hill Ramblers

Bring your lawn chairs!

Come and join us as we share Fairmount Memories and Family History

Computer equipment will be available for sharing pictures and family history

For more infomration contact Teresa Allcorn 479-220-8326 or email allcorn@centurylink.net

or Terrel Shields email roxnoil@yahoo.com