American Pioneer Chronicles: Southern Women, The Sweat and Soul of our Nation

A brave, enslaved woman, first name unknown, called here Mrs. Chasteen, would persevere through enslavement in Jefferson County, Georgia. Born just after 1800, she worked day and night in the fields and still found time and energy to raise her children: Nathan, Mercer, Isaac, Jesse, Virgil, and Susan. Although her original owner is unknown, there was a William Chasteen who ran a farm with enslaved persons in neighboring Washington County, where her family would end up. Mrs. and Mr. Chasteen would not see the Civil War end, but their children would have been given emancipation and then begin their fight for their rights thanks to her caring, support, education, and love. Vircus arrived into an enslaved family, just after the turn of the nineteenth century in Washington County, Georgia. Although her owner is unknown, even during amongst the oppressive, never-ending work, she wed local Brinson Tomlin and had children, David, Sarah, Betty, and Jamie. Vircus died shortly after the Civil War ended, but Brinson would carry on another three decades, ensuring that their children would see emancipation and fight through Reconstruction for a better life. Her daughter Sarah, commonly called Sallie, would go on to marry Mercer, the son of Mrs. Chasteen. Jefferson County, Georgia was exceedingly harsh in 1843 for this newborn named Sallie, brought up being prepared to help the elders who were already working the farms for the settlers. Mercer was born nearby a decade earlier. In addition to William Chasteen, the other local Slave owners were named Thomas Brown; John Sr, John Sr & Henry Watkins; Emmitt, Russell & Herschel Johnson. Sallie and Mercer quite possible were controlled by the same family and grew up toiling next to one another. Just as the Civil War was ending, Sallie and Mercer would marry and have five children. Mercer registered to vote, and although Sallie could not, she set about taking care of her children, house, and land in Bethany near Wadley. Mercer was worked as a farm laborer as Sallie tried to navigate the newly freed but still oppressed Reconstruction era. She would move her family to nearby Davisboro, only to see Mercer died about 1886, prompting Sallie moved into her son James’ home and worked for a family as a home servant. As her family was growing day by day, she began educating and caring for her grandbabes. Born enslaved and living through the Sectional Controversy and the ever-burdening Southern Reconstruction, Sallie raised her children during the preparing them to fight against Jim Crow. Her family pushed onward through tremendously challenging and arduous times and came out stronger than before, handing opportunity to their kin!

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