Mary and Martha (Robbins) Chastain and Their Families

As these two daughters of Jacob and Mary Robbins didn’t have descendants in Decatur County and because I haven’t personally done much research on them, I wasn’t going to write a post about Mary and Martha at first.  But then I decided, for completeness, I could not leave them out and should at least provide what little information I have about them.

The first thing to know about Mary and Martha is that they married probable brothers, named Chastain, and the Chastain family has had lots of genealogical research done and even has a family association that has been in existence for a long time:  The Pierre Chastain Family Association.  This association is so well organized that when they have had family reunions in the past they’ve sent out flyers to just about every library in the country (I’ve received them at my library on the Oregon coast!).

Many years ago I acquired the book, Little Otter to Lost River: A History of the Chastain Family of Washington County, Indiana, by Claude E. Cook (1976).  Most of my knowledge of the Chastains comes from this resource, as does the specific names, dates, and locations I write about here.  If interested, you can obtain a copy of the book, along with other publications, from the Chastain Family Association’s publication page.  Cook admits that some of the information in his book is based on his own research with some speculation.

There are some Robbins-Chastain ties among descendants of William, Absalom, James, Jacob, and Margaret Robbins, but they are too convoluted to go into here.  However, some of us do have DNA matches with descendants of the various Chastain cousins.  Note that the name Chastain is sometimes spelled Chasteen, Chastine, Shastine, Shasteen, and many other alternatives. 

Mary (Robbins) Chastain

Mary Robbins was born about 1774 in Guilford (now Randolph) County, North Carolina, the eldest daughter of Jacob and Mary Robbins.

She was married to Valentine Chastain on 24 September 1791 in Franklin County, Virginia, with Valentine and her brother William Robbins as bondsmen.  Jacob and Mary Robbins and William and Sary Chastain gave consent for their children to marry, which was witnessed by Mary’s brothers William and Absalom Robbins. 

Valentine Chastain was supposedly born about 1768 (though as his parents gave consent for his marriage I’d suggest a birthdate closer to 1770).  The Chastains were likely of French Huguenot origin.  He was a taxpayer in Franklin County, Virginia, up to 1802 whereupon he moved to Shelby County, Kentucky, and then on to Henry County.  The Robbins and Chastain families seemed to have traveled the same path from Franklin County, Virginia, to Kentucky and then on to southern Indiana, though they separated in their final destinations.

According to author Claude Cook, Valentine Chastain entered land in Scott County, then part of Jefferson County, Indiana, in 1816.  In 1818 the Scaffold Lick Baptist Church was organized at his and Mary’s home (about one mile west of the village of Blocher in Scott County) and I was provided copies of some of these early church records a number of years ago (it would be nice to have such records for the Decatur County churches!).  Valentine was also involved in setting up the Coffee Creek Baptist Church in next-door Jennings County in 1822.

Cook discusses the death dates for both Valentine and Mary and I will include his conclusions here:

“Chambers, in his “History of the Scaffold Lick Church,” gives a death date of October 9, 1843, for Valentine Chastain; however, two entries in the Minutes of the Records of the Church give the date as October 6, 1843.  These Church Minutes were written by Nathaniel Robbins, a son-in-law of Valentine Chastain and it is felt by me that they should be considered the more accurate  The first entry (1843 in the context of the records) reads as follows:  “Be it remembered that on the 6th day of October 1843 our beloved Father Valentine Chasteen departed this life, aged 74 years.”  The second entry (1844 in the context of the records) reads:  “Be it remembered on the 6th day of October 1843 that our beloved father Valentine Chastain departed this life at three P.M. aged 75 years and also Mary his wife died the 16th day of July at 10 o’clock aged 73 years.”  It is my opinion that Mary died in 1844.”

In an article in the Spring/Summer 2013 issue of Connections:  The Hoosier Genealogist, author Timothy Mohon lists death notices from the Coffee Creek Baptist Church, which notes about Valentine:  “He was a man of great piety and goodness of heart.”

In listing the children of Valentine and Mary (Robbins) Chastain, I only include spouses where they have married Robbins’:

  • Rebecca Chastain (c1794-c1870) – married a Richard Robbins and lived in Scott County, Indiana.
  • Martin Chastain (c1795-1845) – lived in Scott County, Indiana.
  • Frances (“Franky”) Chastain (c1796-c1845) – possible daughter.
  • Harmon Chastain (c1798-c1877) – married a Lovila (“Vila”) Robbins and lived in Scott County, Indiana.
  • Elizabeth Chastain (c1801-1878) – married a Nathaniel Robbins and lived in Scott County, Indiana.
  • Sary Chastain (c1800-1805-c1847) – possible daughter.
  • Mary Chastain (b. c1806-c1838/39) – lived in Scott County, Indiana.
  • Valentine Chastain, Jr. (1808-c1866) – married a Martha “Massey” Robbins and lived in Scott County, Indiana.

Martha (“Massey”) (Robbins) Chastain

Martha Robbins, referred to as “Massey” or “Massy” in records and in this post, was born about 1779 in Randolph County, North Carolina.  Randolph County was formed that same year out of Guilford County, so depending on Massey’s actual birthdate, officially she could be listed as being born in either location.

Massey Robbins married Rene Chastain, sometimes spelled as “Renny”, on 17 September 1795 in Franklin County, Virginia.  Rene and Massey’s brother William were bondsmen, with Jacob and Mary Robbins giving consent for her to marry, witnessed by William again and Rene’s brother Valentine Chastain.  The marriage was performed by Randolph Hall, preacher for the Pigg River Baptist Church.  Interestingly, Hall has been named as the minister officiating at William Robbins and Bethiah Vickery’s marriage in North Carolina but I’ve never found any documentation to support this.  Perhaps Hall was also following the same North Carolina to Virginia path as the Robbins family.

Rene Chastain was born about 1776 in Virginia.  After his marriage Rene appears on the Franklin county tax lists for 1796 and 1797 but owned no land there.  He first appears in Shelby county, Kentucky, in 1806, then moved on to Henry county, appearing in the tax lists there until 1814.  Claude Cook first found Rene in Washington county, Indiana, in 1820 when he purchased land next to Lost River.

As there is no record of a will for Rene or Mary, nor any probate records, Cook identified their possible children through quit claim deeds, as Rene divided his land into eight parts.  In the list of their probable children below, I have only included spouses where they married Robbins’:

  • Absalom Chastain (1797-1853) – lived in Washington county, Indiana, and then moved to Clay county, Illinois.
  • Elizabeth (“Betsy”) Chastain (c1802-c1865/70) – lived in Washington county, Indiana.
  • Margaret Chastain (c1804-?) – lived in Washington county, Indiana.
  • Rene Chastain Jr. (1806-1898) – lived in Washington county, Indiana.
  • Valentine Chastain (1809-1893) – lived in Washington county, Indiana.
  • Hannah C. Chastain (c1810/1811-1876) – married a Valentine Robbins and lived in Washington county, Indiana.
  • Abner Chastain (c1812/1813-1898) – lived in Washington county, Indiana.
  • James Chastain (c1818-?) – lived in Washington county, Indiana.

The two Robbins-Chastain sisters lived in Washington and Scott Counties, Indiana, to the south and southwest of Decatur and Jennings Counties. For reference, here is a map showing the relative locations of those counties.

Washington and Scott Counties, relative to Decatur and Jennings

[Jacob Robbins-Mary and Martha Robbins]

3 thoughts on “Mary and Martha (Robbins) Chastain and Their Families

  1. ?Thank you!! I’ve been subscribed and following Robbins Roots for a while. It took me a few months of my genealogy research to figure how I tied into this group but I did (DNA helped.). I remember reading that you weren’t doing Mary and Martha because they married Chastain brothers. Well, I hadn’t looked into that line of my genealogy either. I’m so happy to read this and learn about my 6th GG Mary (Robbins) Chastain. That is my family line! I have several generations of Robbins, Chastains, and Blochers from Scott County. One of my 8 great-grandparents was a Blocher. So I hadn’t done much research on the Robbins and Chastains, but knew others had for me to tap into sometime. There was not as much on my Blocher line, so I’ve spent much more time there (Plus we have a town named Blocher which I always thought was cool.) So, thank you so much for this issue!

    BTW, I didn’t know if coming from Mary’s line if we were invited to the Robbins family reunion since we’re not from Decatur County. Jacob and Mary (Wells) Robbins are still my 7th great-grandparents though lol.

    Rae Ann Chumbley ________________________________

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    • Rae Ann, first, you are most certainly invited to the reunion! Would love for you and anyone else interested to come. Second, I’m really happy that the blog has helped out. I always felt rather overmatched with all the Chastain genealogists out there (or maybe just because they had such a strong family association) and so hadn’t done much original research myself. But – there are so many Chastain – Robbins connections we probably should all coordinate eventually. Feel free to email me anytime at “mittge @ yahoo.com”. Kevin

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  2. Thank you so much for doing this! I am descended from Mary’s line. I did not have all this valuable information. Robbin’s Roots has been a great resource for me.

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