Early Settlers of Union
Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements
Mists of History on Their Way of Life
By: Ethelene Dyer Jones
Born in Union County, a noted
teacher in Fannin County
When I first
began researching area history and heard the name Zenobia
Addington Chastain, I was fascinated by it.
When I learned further that she was a noted teacher in the latter half
of the 19th century and a few years into the 20th century, I knew I had
to find out more about this outstanding mountain lady and what
motivated her noble work.
interesting that I would call her work “noble,” for indeed it was. Her
nickname was “Nobie,” short for Zenobia. Her parents were March and Amy
Elizabeth White Addington. By his first
wife, Sarah Moore Addington, 11 children
were born into the March Addington family.
Two daughters, Emily Elizabeth and Mary Zenobia,
were born to March’s second wife. Mary Zenobia’s
birthday was May
not a common name to give a girl in 1848. It can be assumed that her
father March was a history buff, naming his baby daughter for Queen Zenobia of Palmyra, an
ancient province in present-day Syria.
Perhaps March Addington had read about the
well-educated queen, who after her husband, King Odenathus
died, led his armies in a successful revolt against the Roman
occupation army of Palmyra.
Later when she was captured by Roman Emperor Aurelius, Queen Zenobia was led captive through the streets of Rome with
a gold chain in respect to her position and bravery.
March Addington was a slave owner. When secession
came, he was 60 years of age. He enlisted in the Confederate Army,
Georgia Cavalry Volunteers, in the Sixth Regiment in 1862. His
enlistment was for three years. Life was not easy for March’s wife Amy
Elizabeth, who was looking after her two children, Emily and Zenobia, and the younger ones of March’s first
The story is
told of how March Addington bought his
first land in Union County. He
was riding his horse one day and found two men digging and searching
along Coosa Creek. When they saw him, they fled. March saw that the
land had gold, so he sold his beloved horse and bought the land for
$40. It has been reported that the gold extracted from the Coosa
mines was the yellowest gold of any from
several mines in Union County.
March Addington (b. 1802) died in 1885, 20
years after he returned from the Civil War. He was buried beside his
first wife, Sarah Moore Addington (b.
1804) who had died November 25, 1844.
Sarah’s marker bears the oldest date in the Old Blairsville Cemetery
located north of the Blairsville Middle
Zenobia Addington, like her namesake Queen Zenobia of Palmyra,
loved learning. Early on, she showed intellectual acumen, and read as
many books as she could get at the place and age where she lived. She
had the good fortune to study under one of the outstanding teachers of
the area, Professor M. C. Briant. She
learned Latin and Greek as well as the classics. In Ward’s History
of Gilmer County, Briant
was praised as a teacher of distinction and Zenobia
Addington was noted as one of his
outstanding students. It is assumed that she boarded and attended the
Academy where Briant taught at Ellijay, GA.
Zenobia Addington began a school in Fannin County at
Morganton in 1868. Called “Zenobia’s
Academy,” the school drew students from a wide area. They found places
to live with citizens of the town, then the county seat of Fannin County,
formed in 1854 from parts of Union and
Gilmer counties. Records show that Zenobia
employed three or four teachers, besides herself, depending on the
enrollment. She was enterprising, applied for a grant from the Peabody
Foundation, and received money for the school at Morganton. In the
summers, students could attend free, but in regular sessions, the cost
was $1.00 per student for tuition, with the parents making arrangements
for room and board.
came along for school administrator, Zenobia
Chastain. At the time of their courtship, Oscar Fitzallen
Chastain was working in a store in the city of Morganton.
They were joined in holy matrimony on December 18, 1872 in Union County by
the Rev. Thomas M. Hughes. No doubt he had been attracted to the
industrious school teacher who had a good reputation as a fine
educator. Oscar Fitzallen Chastain had
been old enough to serve in the Confederate Army during the Civil War.
His father, Colonel Elijah Webb Chastain, also served with the South.
The elder Chastain had been a representative to the state legislature
at the capitol in Milledgeville when Georgia
seceded from the Union on January, 19, 1861.
Mary Zenobia Addington’s
and Oscar Fitzallen Chastain’s marriage
joined two outstanding families, one of Union and
the other of Fannin.
On May 17, 1884,
Oscar Fitzallen Chastain was ordained as a
minister at Morganton Baptist Church.
Teacher and minister were to join forces to extend the educational
outreach even beyond Zenobia’s Academy at
Morganton. (To be continued)
c2006 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Jan. 26, 2006 in The Union
Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights
Dyer Jones is a retired educator, freelance writer, poet, and historian.
She may be reached at e-mail email@example.com;
phone 478-453-8751; or mail 1708
Updated December 24, 2008
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