Chandlers have English, New England heritage

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Chandler family heritage came into focus recently when Mrs. Mary Agnes (Chandler) Gatlin was honored on her 105th birthday. The staff at Savannah Terrace, a local assisted-living facility, staged a party to which her relatives and members of the community were invited. She received a number of gifts, proclamations and was greeted by several public officials. A special video greeting from the president of her alma mater, University of Montevallo, was played for the pleasure of her many guests. A report from Channel 8 News taped portions of the occasion and showed them on their evening show.

This event evoked a realization of a trend of longevity in Agnes’s Chandler family. In additional to her advanced age, Agnes’s own mother lived to be 99 years and 10 months old. Also, one sister lived to be 99, just shy of 100; another lived to be 98; and another lived to be 95. Of course, a significant part of this inheritance would have been coming from their mother’s Johns ancestry.

This writing will feature the Chandler family’s genealogy. There was a much earlier column, which reported on a different Chandler family, which resided primarily in the Rose Hill/Burnout community.

Those researching this family have reported the earliest Chandler ancestor to be identified is William Chandler Sr. He was a seaman and captain from Deptford, Dedford County, Kent, England, and sailed to America before 1700. Among his children was a son named William Chandler Jr.

William Chandler Jr. was born in Kittery, York County, Maine, where he died in 1748. He was married in 1714 in Massachusetts Bay Colony (present day Portsmouth, Maine) to Elizabeth Lucy, daughter of Thomas and Mary (Brookings) Lucy. William Jr. and Elizabeth had 10 children: William J., Benjamin, Mary, Lucy, Joseph, Thomas, Samuel, Alexander, Catherine and John.

The first son listed, William J. Chandler, was married to Mary Pope, and they reared at least two sons, Joseph and Eliphalet. William J. lived until 1756 and died in either Maine or New Hampshire.

William J.’s son, Joseph Chandler, who was born in 1747 in Kittery, York County, Maine, was called “Deacon.” He was married in 1774 to Margaret Gunnison, daughter of Samuel and Alice (Fernald) Gunnison, and he died in 1838 in Goshen, New Hampshire. They had the following 14 children: Benjamin, Olive, Mary, Joseph II, Nathaniel, Daniel, John, Alice, Sarah, Samuel, Mariann and Betsy. Margaret’s Gunnison family was of Swedish descent and very prominent. One family member went west, and the Town of Gunnison, Col., as well as the Gunnison River was named for him.

Joseph Chandler II was born in 1780 in Goshen, NH, and died there in 1835. He was married in 1803 to Mary Lain who was born in 1778 and died in 1846. They had 11 children: John Lain, Henry L., Joseph III, Mary C., Eliphalet, unnamed twins, Elizabeth, (twins) Samuel Gunnison and Sarah and Nathaniel.

Eliphalet Chandler was born in 1811 in New Hampshire and died in 1881 in Baldwin County, Ga., from typhoid fever. He was married first in 1844 to Elizabeth Hall who died in 1845. He was then married 1845/1847 to Mary Elizabeth “Mary Eliza” Harper (1811-1887), daughter of Benjamin Harper of Ga. Eliphalet and Elizabeth (Harper) had eight children: Joseph Benjamin, Mary A.E., Emily A., John William, Nathaniel Charles, Robert Harper, Mary Elizabeth and Caroline Ellen.

Eliphalet and his brother, Samuel Chandler, as well as a third brother were stonemasons who went to Georgia in 1833 to finish the granite work on the Old State Capitol. Upon completing the work in 1835, the third brother returned to New Hampshire, but Eliphalet and Samuel remained in Georgia.

Eliphalet’s son, John William Chandler, was born in 1854 in Milledgeville, Ga. He also died there at a young age in 1877 of what was called a slow fever. He was married the year before in 1876 to Laura Josephine Simpson (1856-1917), daughter of James J. and Patience (Goslin) Simpson. The young couple had one child, John William Eliphalet Chandler. Following John William’s death, Laura was married to John Samuel Harper, and they had eight children.

John William Eliphalet Chandler was born in 1878 in Milledgeville, Ga. It appears that he was about grown when he came to Covington County. In 1900, he was boarding in the household of James Dunn and later in the home of Elzebery Newton “Newt” Johns who would become his father-in-law. In 1904 John was married to Rebecca “Beckie” Johns (1883-1983), daughter of Elzebery Newton and Sara Etta (Jones) Johns. (Elzebery N. Johns was a Confederate Veteran who is buried in the historic Carter Cemetery, located near the Coldwater Church.)

John William was working on a logging crew when he met his future wife. He also engaged in various farming operations. When the couple married, they moved to Sanford with their few valuable possessions: a mule, Jersey wagon, two straight-back chairs and a small, dark brown churn filled with cured meat and lard. They later moved to an area near Dunn’s Bridge. After a time, they built a brick house, which later burned. They then moved to a rental house located next door to the Pat Johns’ place.

Some of the grandchildren shared a few memories of their grandparents and their life style. “Pop” Chandler was instrumental in the organizing and building of the Coldwater Congregational Church in the community that became known as Coldwater. He and “Granny” Beckie would later be buried in the adjacent cemetery. The family enjoyed the normal good eats of “country living” such as meats from the smoke house. They recalled “milking-time” and calling in the cows.

There was always much work to be done around a country home. Beckie is remembered as working right along side Pop. Even when expecting her children, she was doing such tasks as helping clear new land. On the day when her daughter, Rubie, was born, she had picked cotton all day.

John W. and Beckie Chandler reared the following six children: Oscar Lee, b. 1904, d. 1968, m. Marguerite Bozeman (1911-2000); Mary Agnes, b. 1906, m. Buford Lee Gatlin (1902-1946); Rubie Etta, b. 1908, d. 2007, m. Robert “Bob” Gantt (1902-1982); Mayme Estelle, b. 1910, d. 2010, m. Cancil Colvin (1908-2001); Vivian Amber, b. 1912, d. 2005, m. 1938, m. Raymond Thomas Garlington (1912-1998); and William Von, b. 1914, d. 1991, m. (1) Florence Faust Love (1918-2000) (2) Elinor Hopkins Certain (1914-2009/10).

Of special note for this family is that all of the children with the exception of the oldest son, Oscar Lee, earned college degrees. Oscar chose to remain near his home in Coldwater and farm. He and Marguerite, daughter of Hampton Daniel and Ophelia (Jordan) Bozeman, had three children: Warner Haynes, John Daniel “Dick,” and Sarah Jane “Sally” Gantt.

Mary Agnes and her husband, Buford Lee Gatlin, son of James Franklin and Sarah Francis (Fowler) Gatlin, had no children. Agnes began working with the Alabama Public Health Department as a director and retired as a director in Huntsville after 39 years of service.

Rubie Etta and her husband, Robert Gantt, son of Pollard and Emma Olene (Peacock) Gantt, resided in the Coldwater community. They reared one daughter, Rebecca Chandler Gantt, who currently resides in her parents’ house. Rubie taught science in Barbour County where she taught the future Governor George C. Wallace, and then she taught many years at Straughn High School in Covington County, where she taught the future Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives Seth Hammett.

Mayme Estelle, and her husband, Cancil Colvin, son of Jimmy Hanson and Mollie (Veasey) Colvin, reared two daughters: Diana Lynn and Catherine. Mayme worked in Montgomery for a lab that became the Center for Disease Control when it moved to Ga. She continued her research in Montgomery on viruses, which included herpes and psittacosis.

Vivian Amber and her husband, Raymond Thomas Garlington, son of Thomas Conway and Iona Elizabeth (Heard) Garlington, reared three children: Raymond Thomas Jr., John Edward and Robert Leonard. Vivian worked for the state health department, once at the Selma Branch Lab while Raymond was overseas during WWII.

William Von and his first wife, Florence F. Love, daughter of Duncan Kirkland and Edna Faust (Pierce) Love, had two children before they were divorced: Florence Elaine and William Von Jr.

William Von Sr. later married Elinor Hopkins Certain and had two children: Beverly Elise and William David. Von earned a master’s degree from Auburn University and then completed his Ph.D. He did research work at Penn State, North Carolina State, Ohio State and worked with George Washington Carver at Tuskeegee. Upon his retirement he moved to Florida and worked with the citrus growers for a time.

Sources for this writing were interviews with three descendants, Dick Chandler, Rebecca Gantt and Elaine Rogers and the family records of Elaine. Appreciation is expressed to them for efforts to preserve this family’s heritage.

Anyone who might have additional information on this family is requested to contact Curtis Thomasson at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-222-6467; or email: