Back to Group 4

Thomas the Younger, from whom Group 4 matches Ben and Bill descend, is not identified in any available document as the son of Thomas the Elder. The tax records that note the passing of land from the estate of Thomas the Elder to his other sons make no mention of him. Yet, substantial evidence of the convergence of the two Thomases and their descendants, as set forth below, supports the conclusion that they were father and son. Now, more tellingly, the near-exact DNA match among Robert, descendant of William, and Ben and Bill, descendants of Thomas the Younger, would seem to have dispelled the slight uneasiness that otherwise was bound to linger from the weakness in the documentary record.

Thomas the Younger is in the record for the first time in Prince Edward County in 1782 when he sold 100 acres. He was at least 30-40 years old at this time, since he was in his eighties in 1830. This land, half of what he owned, came to him and his wife Rachel (Brooks), along with one slave, by the will of her grandfather William Callicoat who died in 1777. Callicoat was one of the “lords of the land” of the original Amelia County; his 1746 grant, from which Rachel’s land came, was 1,713 acres. It lay one 400-acre tract away from the elder Thomas Chandler’s 1755 grant.

The Chandlers knew the Callicoat and Brooks families. Thomas Chandler Sr. and William’s son James were named in the same road building order. When Thomas made his land entry in Halifax County, James did also, on an adjacent tract. That a son of Thomas would choose his wife from among the affluent Callicoat-Brooks alliance is natural. Although Thomas the Elder moved his family – if they all did go – west to Halifax in the early 1760s, when Thomas the Younger was of marrying age, they moved back to Dinwiddie County by 1767 and were only a day’s ride away from their former Brooks neighbors.footnote 1

The ages of their children suggest that Thomas and Rachel were married after his parents moved to Dinwiddie. One item of proof has been found about where they lived early on. In April of 1775, Rachel was in Prince Edward, for in that month its court ordered the church wardens to “bind out Rachel Chandler’s son William Chandler” to the sheriff.footnote 2 Nothing else on this has been found. They did have a son William, their second one, who then would have been a very small boy. Where was his father? In any case, by 1782 Thomas and Rachel were together on the land she had inherited. It is not known if William was with them, although when grown he was very much a part of the family.

Thomas and Rachel had no easy time for a while, mirroring, indeed, the economic ups and downs of the new nation. The seemingly promising circumstances of early 1782, when they had 200 acres of prime land and three slaves (including Bett, the “negro girl” whom William Callicoat had willed to Rachel), waxed and waned with the uncertain course of Thomas’ ventures. He bought 200 acres more of Prince Edward land, on which he never paid taxes. He failed to contest two debtor suits and was ordered to pay a weighty sum that he and Rachel partially satisfied by selling the remaining 100 acres of her inheritance. From 1789 to 1793 they lived nearby in Nottoway County, although they probably were farming their 200 acres just over the Prince Edward County line from them. They moved, still nearby, to Lunenburg County in 1793 and in the following year sold the 200 acres in Prince Edward “except as much of the same as was sold by the sheriff for taxes.”footnote 3

Their stay in Lunenburg lasted 19 years. Thomas gradually recovered from his misfortunes and they came to live quite well on their 100 acre Spring Creek farm. With 10 children and one slave by 1796 and two by 1800, they had plenty of help. There, their children began to be married; the first was the oldest, Thomas W., born about 1772.

These Chandlers did not lose touch with their Dinwiddie County relatives. Thomas the Elder’s son Martin, who had just become a widower, was in the household of Thomas the Younger at the time of the census of 1810, in which he was listed as Martin Sr. That this was Thomas the Elder’s son Martin and not Thomas the Younger’s son Martin (who in the usage of the time was Martin Jr.) is evident also from the absence of Martin in the 1810 Amelia County census, where he was counted in both 1790 and 1820.

Sterling Chandler, son of Britain (who died in 1806), was also in the household of Thomas the Younger for a few years. When he was married there in 1809, it was to a daughter of one of Thomas’ neighbors; the Methodist circuit rider who married them was the same one who also married some of Thomas and Rachel’s children. (Another Methodist minister performed the wedding ceremonies of most of the others.) In 1810 Sterling and Thomas witnessed a deed that transferred land to the husband of Thomas’ daughter Mary.footnote 4

Although these Chandlers were well off where they were, most of them caught the “fever” that was leading so many easterners to Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. They chose Kentucky. William went first, leaving Virginia probably in 1808 – 33 years after Daniel Boone had initiated the white settlement of Kentucky – to put his roots down in Henry County, Kentucky, on the Ohio River 40 miles northeast of Louisville. His wife’s Farley relatives were there already. James, the fourth son, took his family to Barren County much to the southwest, probably because of his wife’s family ties. In 1812, Thomas and Rachel, when he was in his sixties and she was in her fifties, sold their farm and left, too, with sons Martin (and his family) and John A., about age 10. After going first to James’ place, they then moved to Henry County where Thomas bought a 150-acre farm on Corn Creek near William. Martin and his family stayed near James in that part of Barren County that soon was Hart County. Before long, daughters Elizabeth, Nancy, and Sarah, and son Thomas W., with their families, were also in Henry County. Only the older daughters Catherine and Mary, with their families, remained in Virginia.footnote 5

Surrounded by their ever-larger family – Manson Hardaway Chandler, another of Britain’s presumed sons, came, too – Thomas and Rachel lived out their years on the creek-side farm, set as in a picture at the bottom of a spectacularly high, steep, and rugged wooded hill. Shifting county boundaries have moved the location of the farm from Henry County to Oldham County in 1824 and to Trimble County in 1837. Thomas died in his eighties in 1835 and left the farm to his oldest son, Thomas W., and John A., his youngest. Thomas W., who, evidence suggests, was a teacher and minister, sold his part to John 15 years later. Rachel was still with Thomas in 1834; no record of her death has been found.footnote 6

Thomas’ son James and his wife Susannah (Alderson), ancestors of Bill Jaynes Chandler, moved on in 1826 or 1827 from Hart County to the former Chickasaw hunting ground that had become the Jackson Purchase in the far west of Kentucky. On the Tennessee River in Calloway County (in the part of it that became Marshall County), they acquired several hundred acres of virgin land, and there they stayed. There, also, their 10 children were married. James died in 1841, under 60 years old, and Susannah in 1848.footnote 7 Their oldest son, the ambitious Edwin, not only acquired a lot of land of his own in Calloway County, and, until 1865, slaves to work it, but he also owned the village of Shiloh, including its general store, “tobacco house,” warehouse, and cotton gin. In the middle 1870s, he sold out, having moved already to Morgan County, Missouri; then, with many other members of his family, he went to Texas to join one of his brothers, Henry.

Henry had gone to Texas in 1859 and became one of soon-to-be Rockwall County’s early settlers. Henry left his mark on the area: where his farm was located on the banks of the Trinity River, his name is now on the drive that leads into Chandlers Landing and Yacht Club on Lake Ray Hubbard, part of metropolitan Dallas. His son Hardin Wayne rose to become the president of Farmers National Bank in the city of Rockwall.footnote 8

Bill Jaynes Chandler, who has done much of the research on this genetic family, descends from James and Susannah’s second son, William B., a wheelwright, merchant, and sometime farmer. William lived almost all of his adult life in Western Kentucky, in Calloway and Marshall Counties. There, between 1835 and 1850, he acquired by grant or purchase 397 acres of land, all of which he had sold piece by piece, excepting a town lot, before the end of 1859. He moved to Johnson County, Illinois, and there early in 1860 purchased 123 acres. Together with his wife and their three children, he is in that county’s 1860 census (p. 182). Two months after buying that land, he bought a 112-acre farm on Little Bear Creek back in Marshall County. Just on which farm he and his family were living is not clear for a time. He sold the Illinois property in 1864. It is evident that William soon was back in Marshall County, although not so much on his farm, for he sold it to his sons John H. and James M. in 1867. He preferred living and working in the nearby town of Briensburg where he also owned property. He and his wife Letitia and daughter Betty, soon to be married to a Briensburg merchant, were there in the 1870 census (p. 183); William’s occupation, too, was listed as merchant. He lived until 1891.footnote 9

If William did not much take to the land along Little Bear Creek, picturesque though it was with its hills and creek bottoms, he and five generations of his descendants did reside there for at least parts of their lives, among them the direct line from him, by way of James M., Elisha Webster, and Ollie Janes, to Bill Jaynes Chandler. Bill, born on a stormy April night of 1932 when the creek was “up” and the doctor could not get to the house to attend his birth, had much the same opinion as his ancestor and left there in 1950.

Albert Benjamin “Ben” Chandler Jr. descends from Thomas and Rachel’s youngest son, John A. Arriving in Kentucky as barely a teenager, he settled on the Corn Creek farm and spent the rest of his life there. A farmer and wheelwright, he had a prosperous and, from appearances, a good life. He first was married to Nancy Monroe, from just across the river in Indiana. She died shortly after the birth of their seventh child. It later would be said incorrectly that Nancy was a niece of President James Monroe. There may have been a cousin relationship; her Monroe line did go back to the president’s native Albemarle County, Virginia. John remarried, had one more child, and lived into his eighties, having passed the direction of the farm on to his son Robert. John or Robert, or the two of them, built a new house there. Though it burned down years ago, the dwelling on “the old Chandler place” is remembered for its “imposing two stories, winding staircase, and crystal chandeliers.” Robert, the last Chandler to live there, died in 1908. When his estate was settled, some of his heirs were living in Indianapolis, Indiana, and others in California.footnote 10

Ben descends from John and Nancy’s son Daniel, born in 1837.footnote 11 He was married in 1861 to Mary Ann Terrell, from a prestigious Bluegrass Region family that later would include a speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives and a dean of the University of Kentucky School of Engineering. The Civil War was beginning, and Daniel joined Confederate General John Hunt Morgan’s Kentucky Cavalry. After the war, they moved to Camden County, Missouri but by the end of 1870 were back in Kentucky, though down the river from Trimble, where they never lived again. They soon settled near Corydon in Henderson County, where Daniel prospered from his orchards.footnote 12

Joseph, Daniel’s son and Ben’s grandfather, was born in 1870. He lived most of his life in Corydon, where he was graduated from high school as head of his class. He married Callie Sanders, with whom he had two boys. A studious man who loved to read, especially works of history, Joseph lived modestly, farming some and working at various town jobs, and attended the Christian Church. When he was just over 30 years of age, Callie deserted him and their children, never to return. Although he later remarried, he had much of the responsibility for bringing up his boys. The older one, Albert Benjamin, was about four years old when his mother left. The younger one, Robert, died tragically at age 14 from a fall out of a cherry tree.footnote 13

Albert was a smart and ambitious boy with a strong interest in sports who also at the age of 16 became the Sunday school superintendent at his Christian (Disciples of Christ) Church. It was there where he met the president of that denomination’s Transylvania University in Lexington. On his urging, and with aid that he helped secure, Albert enrolled there and graduated with a record that got him into Harvard Law School and in a timely manner a law degree at the University of Kentucky. Soon, better known as “Happy” Chandler – or, in Kentucky, just “Happy” – he was on his way to a legendary political career. Elected state senator, lieutenant governor, and twice as governor (first in 1935 at the age of 37), he also served in the United States Senate and later as Commissioner of Major League Baseball for six years. He eventually returned to the Woodford County town of Versailles between Frankfort and Lexington that was his adult home, to live for a long time. He died there in 1991 just short of his 93rd birthday.footnote 14 One of his grandsons, Albert Benjamin III, has been Attorney General of Kentucky, his party’s candidate for governor and now serves in the U.S. House of Representatives.

1 Prince Edward County Deed Book 6, p. 455; Oldham County, Ky. census, 1830, p. 295; Callicoat’s will, written 4 June 1765, Amelia County Will Book 2, p. 209 (inventory of his estate, 27 Mar. 1777, p. 219); on this Callicoat grant, see: Virginia Land Office Patent Book No. 25, entry of 28 Aug. 1746, p. 209, and Book No. 31, entry of 3 July 1752, p. 142; Amelia County Order Book 2, p. 191; Halifax County Land Entry Record Book, 1737-1770, p. 210.

2 Order Book 5, p. 469.

3 Their ownership of Bett is shown on the Prince Edward personal property tax lists of 1784 and 1785; John Brooks to Thomas Chandler, 11 Apr. 1784, Deed Book 8, p. 274; Prince Edward County Order Book 8, pp. 362, 409, 410; Thomas and Rachel Chandler to Stephen Roberts, 7 Nov. 1787, Prince Edward County Deed Book 10, p. 22; Nottoway County personal property tax lists, 1789-1793; Thomas Chandler to “legatees of George Burkes, dec’d,” 19 Mar. 1794, Deed Book 10, p. 123.

4 In Lunenburg County, Thomas purchased 50 acres in 1794 (indenture noted in Order Book 1793-1796, p. 379), where they remained until he sold the tract to John Craddock, 11 Dec. 1800, Deed Book 18, p. 228. He next purchased 100 acres in the same county on Spring Creek farther west, John Williams to Thomas Chandler, 16 Nov. 1802, Deed Book 19, p. 129. The slaves are shown in the county personal property tax records, 1796-1812. Thomas Chandler to Sarah Fallin, 2 Dec. 1796, Lunenburg County Marriage Register, 1746-1853, file no. 336; Lunenburg County census, 1810, p. 327; Sterling Chandler to Lucy Moore, Dec. 14, 1809, recorded in Will Book 7, p. 1-A; Vincent Inge, Sr. to son James Inge, 1810 (no month and day given), Deed Book 22, p. 148.

5 William, first on the Henry County tax lists in 1809, bought 150 acres from David and Martha Farley (his wife’s relatives), sale recorded 1 Mar. 1813, Deed Book 4, p. 270. James came on the Barren County tax records in 1811. On Thomas and Rachel: sold their 100 acres in Lunenburg County to Leonard Sibley, 18 Aug. 1812, Deed Book 22, p. 213; on 1813 Barren County, Ky. tax lists, with four slaves and five horses (pack animals, no doubt, since wagons did not then travel the Cumberland Gap route); on Henry County tax lists 1814 ff.; began in 1814 to pay annual taxes on 150 acres, ownership of which was recorded in David and Martha Farley to Thomas Chandler, Sr., 19 Oct. 1819, Deed Book 8, p. 369. Martin Chandler is in the Barren County tax records, 1813-1818 and in Hart County thereafter through 1835; his widow Nancy (Sweeney) is included beginning in 1837 (1836 record is missing). All of Hart County’s courthouse records to 1928 were destroyed by fire in that year.

6 On Manson Hardaway Chandler, see Benita Ruth Shields, The Families of Thomas Carroll Chandler (Wyandotte, Okla.: Gregath Publishing County, 1998). Shields’ work is good on Manson’s son Thomas Carroll and his descendants, but errs in specifics on Manson’s origins. Thomas the Younger’s will, written 16 Mar. 1830, proved 20 Apr. 1835, Trimble County Will Book 1, p. 385; Thomas W. Chandler to John A. Chandler, 3 Aug. 1850, Trimble County Deed Book D, p. 53.

7 James’ last appearance on the Hart County tax rolls was in 1826 and his first on Calloway’s in 1827. His five land grants in Calloway County totaled 800 acres; see “Grants West of the Tennessee River,” Book 1, p. 403, 2, p. 147, 5, p. 99 (2), p. 100. Will proved 27 Dec. 1841, Will Book B, p. 496.

8 Sale of Edwin’s holdings recorded 19 Apr. 1875, Calloway County Deed Book S, pp. 538-543. Henry is on the Kaufman County tax lists 1860 ff. (its early deeds were destroyed in an 1875 fire). His first land purchases in Rockwall County, taken from Kaufman, were recorded in Deed Book 2, p. 178, 29 May 1866, for 200 acres, and on p. 190, 7 Dec. 1866, acreage unspecified, both tracts on the Trinity. On Hardin, see O. L. Steger, Sr., History of Rockwall County (Wolfe City, Texas: Henington Publishing County, 1969), p. 132.

9 Much of the basic genealogy of William B. (1809-1891) and his line is in the Chandler “Blue Book,” pp. 27-33. Records show that William engaged in seven land transactions, 1835-1859, lastly the sale of 87 acres to Matthew Biggs, 17 Sept. 1859, Marshall County Deed Book, 5, p. 455. Lewis and Louise McCoy to William B. Chandler, 123 acres, 21 Feb. 1860, Johnson County Ill. Deed Book I, p. 84; Reuben Lindsay to W. B. Chandler “of Johnson County, Illinois,” 112 acres, 3 Apr. 1860, Marshall County Deed Book 6, p. 44; William B. Chandler and wife Letitia to C. Ellis, 123 acres, 13 Dec. 1864, Johnson County, Ill. Deed Book L, p. 158; W. B. Chandler to James M. Chandler, 62 acres, 1 Mar. 1867, and to J. H. Chandler, 50 acres, 19 Apr. 1867, both in Marshall County Deed Book 7, p.198.

10 Bill Jaynes Chandler researched the Jefferson County, Indiana, Monroes in Madison, the county seat, and, based on land and marriage records in the courthouse and a thick Monroe family file in the public library, came to the stated conclusion. The house on the Corn Creek farm was described to Bill Jaynes Chandler by a lady who was living on the site where it used to be (as she had heard about it from her elders). On the settlement of Robert’s estate, see P. J. Chandler et al. to Jesse Jones, 3 Sept 1914, Trimble County Deed Book Y, p. 515.

11 Most of the information on Daniel and his descendants is from “Heroes, Plain Folks, and Skunks: The Life and Times of Happy Chandler,” (Chicago: Bonus Books, 1989), pp. 4-22, by Albert Benjamin (Happy) Chandler with Vance H. Trimble; also Camden County, Mo. 1870 census, p. 549.

12 On the generally troubled relations between Daniel (and his descendants) and the Terrells, see Chandler, Heroes, pp. 21-22.

13 Ibid., pp. 4, 7, 8-10, 15.

14 On the life of Happy Chandler, see also the long article at the time of his death in The Woodford Sun, June 20, 1991, the Versailles newspaper that Happy and his family published commencing in 1942. For a more comprehensive treatment of their ancestral line than space permits here, see Bill Jaynes Chandler, “The Paternal Ancestry of Governor A. B. ‘Happy’ Chandler,” Kentucky Ancestors: The Genealogical Quarterly of the Kentucky Historical Society, 35 (Autumn 1999), pp. 14-21, 46.