CHASTAIN-L ArchivesArchiver > CHASTAIN > 1999-03 > 0922517702
From: "Jim Chesteen" <>
Subject: RE: spelling variants
Date: Sat, 27 Mar 1999 00:55:02 -0600
In my South Carolina research, the surname prior to 1840/50 is almost always
rendered by legal clerks as something other than Chastain, especially for
those who were illiterate. It seems (and my understanding) that the correct
pronunciation for the last syllable for the surname should be "teen/tine"
rather than "tain/tane", thus when asked by census takers, etc., the name
was written as it sounded, Chas or Shas - teen!
Illiteracy and isolation seem to be the primary reason for a change in the
spelling. For instance, my g-g-g grandfather, Edmond Y. Chastain
(Chasteen/Chesteen) was illiterate and relocated from Anderson Co, SC to
Attala Co, MS in the early 1850's. Edmond, not being able to read or write
and not having any near relatives, friends, and any county officials who
were familiar with the Chastain family, had to depend on others to render a
spelling for his surname, again, as it sounded to them, never having seen it
put on paper. His children, the first generation of Chastains in this area,
were thus invariably taught in school to write the name as Chasteen or
Chesteen. Both variations were used interchangeably until the early 1900's
when (by tradition) a meeting of the cousins was called and the Chesteen
spelling decided on. Edmond died in 1899 and the spelling on his grave
marker is noted as Chasteen. Four of his five sons are buried in the same
cemetery and two have the spelling as Chasteen and two as Chesteen, however
from the third generation on down, the spelling is consistently Chesteen.
I know of only two other lines besides mine that use Chesteen, one in East
Tennessee and one in South Alabama. In both of these other instances the
use of this variation follows the same pattern, a single illiterate family
moving into an area isolated from their Chastain heritage and dependant on
others unfamiliar to spell the surname for them!
We have a member, who is not online, who uses the spelling DeChastain. I
believe I remember reading an article or query submitted by her in The
Chestnut Tree sometime back that her grandfather or great-grandfather
changed the spelling to his variation because he got in "a little trouble
with the law and headed to California where he changed the name"!! So,
there are probably many other interesting stories on how some of the
variations came to be.
As most of you know, I'm greatly interested in the "unplaced" lines that
originated in SC/NC prior to 1850 attached to Rev. James Chastain and any
known descendants of Stephen Chastain born 1762/63 Virginia and died 1830
Anderson Co, SC from any period!
From:Chastine, Cheryl Ann [mailto:]
Sent:Friday, March 26, 1999 2:23 PM
No backgrounds for people whose surnames are variants of
Chastain? Doesn't anybody who's a Chastine, Chasteen,
Chesteen, etc., have a lineage to share or know when their
spelling was changed from Chastain?
Cheryl A. Chastine
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