Joel Chandler


The Vagabond recently had someone visit the Eto-wah Historical Society about one of his ancestors, Joel Chandler, Sr. The Va-gabond came up with the following information.

The very first distance ancestor of Joel Chandler, Sr., was Gilbert Sieur Le-Chaundeler De L’Aigle of France. His son, also from France, was Le Chaundeler De L’Aigle was born in 1210 and died Apr. 25, 1272.

A few generations on down, we find that a John Le Chaundeler who was born in 1390 in Normandy, France. He later moved to England and died in 1481.

Most people born with the surname Chandler in modern times are descended in the male line from men in England who worked as a chandler, making and selling candles.

Several more generations on down, we find the great-great-grandfather of Joel Chandler, Sr. who name is John Chandler. John was born in 1599 in St. Margarets, Westminster, London, England, and died in 1660 in Elizabeth City, Va. 

John was 10 years old when he departed from England in early March of 1609 and arrived the colonies on June 10, 1610.

England was still using the Julian calendar as their civil calendar where the new year started on March 25. Due to the British calendar, England did not change to the Georgian calendar with January 1 as the start of the new year until 1752.

John Chandler and a number of other passengers sailed from England on the Hercules and landed at what became known as Jamestown, Va., in 1610. These persons were not Pilgrims like the Mayflower passengers, who landed in Massachusetts 10 years later seeking religious freedom. This was a group of merchant adventurers who made the voyage for profit. 

There are now thousands of people who trace their ancestry to that John Chandler, mainly in the southeast.

On further down, we find John’s son to be Robert Chandler and his son to also be Robert, then his son Joel, who was the grandfather, then Timothy, who was the father of our subject.

Joel Chandler was born about 1784 in Virginia, the son of Timothy and Mehitahle Terrell Chandler. Joel’s parent moved from Virginia to Wilkes County North Carolina.

While in Wilkes County, Joel met, Sarah Reynolds Humphries, the wife of Uriah Humphries. In 1797 Sarah had filed for a separation from Humphries, a very large landholder in Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio. She was awarded the plantation where they had resided in Botetourt County, Va., with a large number of slaves and a large annual allowance.

Acting on his behalf, Humphries’ son George W. Humphries and great-nephew Edmond Jones purchased the old General William Lenoir Plantation on the Yakin River for Sarah when she moved to from Virginia to Wilkes County, NC. Joel Chandler purchased additional property adjoining Sarah’s land, where they lived until about 1812.

The couple then moved to Blount County, Tenn., where Joel purchased a 197-acre farm. Shortly after the Chandler’s arrived in Tennessee, Joel became one of the army of General Andrew Jackson and was with Jackson during the Creek War of 1813-1814. Joel served as a quartermaster with the Jackson forces and spent much of his time obtaining food supplies for this large army.

Having become acquainted with the area, which was soon to become the Alabama Territory, Joel moved his family from Te-nnessee this new territory and entered several large tracts of land. He had 400 acres on Canoe Creek at the southern end of what is now Rainbow City. He also obtained another large farm on Little Canoe Creek, which already had a mill in operation during the days of the Indians.

The farm was located at the foot of a mountain that later bore his name. Chandler Mountain in a well-known site in this area of Alabama, even to this day.

Joel built the first brick house in what became St. Clair County in 1819. He lived there until the early 1830s, when the house burned. 

As a child, Joel’s family lived on the farm which had been the home place of his son, Joel Chandler, Jr., about two miles from the site of the original brick house of his father. In the 1930’s, the chimney to this old house was still standing.

The old mill was first known as Chandler Mill. It later passed to Joel’s daughter Editha and her husband John Shahan and became known as Shahan Mill. The mill then was sold to the Cobb family. From him it went his daughter Hattie Cobb, who married Lon Killian and it was known as Cobb’s Mill.

After the Chandler home burned, Joel purchased a 600-acre farm from the Brown family located at the foot of Sand Mountain on what is now U.S. Hwy. 278. Brown’s Creek runs through this property. It is better known today as the site of Carnes Chapel Church and Cemetery.

When Joel Chandler died on Jan. 1, 1840, he left a will in which he conveyed one-half interest to his wife Sarah, for her life times, and the other half to his daughter Editha. Soon after, Editha married John Shahan, and the couple asked that the land be divided giving each of them, title to about 300 acres each.

Joel was buried in an unmarked grave at Shiloh United Baptist Church Ce-metery in Attalla.

Joel Chandler had three daughters by Sarah’s niece, Elizabeth Reynolds. Their home was located on the old road, which was established in 1818 when this area was a part of Shelby County, Alabama Territory. 

The road had its beginning in Wills Valley, where Josiah Leeth lived at the time. The road went through the Littleton Community, by the Chandler house and on to Gallant. The road is now known as the back road to Gallant, down Greasy Cove and to Ashville then to Shelby County to the courthouse.

Elizabeth Reynolds died in 1845 and left one daughter, Editha, who married John Shahan. She had two daughters who predeceased her – Rebecca Amanda who married in 1833 to Harris Gammon Bishop, and Adelaid, who married Samuel King of DeKalb County. Sarah Reynolds Humphries Chandler died on Dec. 12, 1848. By her first marriage to Uriah Humphries, Sarah had seven children. Her marriage to Joel Chandler also produced seven children.

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