• Robin R. Foster

Andrew J. Chesnutt (1833-1920), Born Free, Town Commissioner, Justice of the Peace, Helped Establis


Andrew J. Chesnutt was the son of an enslaver and a farmer, Waddell Cade. His mother, Ann Chesnutt, was a free black mistress and housekeeper in Fayetteville, Cumberland County, North Carolina. Here is Waddell Cade and Ann Chester in 1860:

Waddell Cade household, 1860 US Census, Cumberland County, North Carolina, population schedule, Fayetteville township, Fayetteville post office, page 87, dwelling 691, family 674, "United States Census, 1860," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GBSZ-ZLW?cc=1473181&wc=7QSN-DYT%3A1589432691%2C1589425020%2C1589426548 : 24 March 2017, image 15 of 83; from "1860 U.S. Federal Census - Population," database, Fold3.com (http://www.fold3.com : n.d.); citing NARA microfilm publication M653 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

Andrew inherited a farm near Fayettville from his father and became educated. Andrew had been gone from Fayetteville since 1856. He lived in Indiana then Ohio. He worked driving a horse car in Cleveland, Ohio. In Oberlin, Ohio he helped to drive town agents from the area who sought to recapture a fugitive slave. See Freedom's Lawmakers page 44-45.

During the Civil War, Andrew worked as a teamster for the Union Army. Andrew returned to where his family was in Fayetteville in 1866. He became one of the founders of Fayetteville State University. See Freedom's Lawmakers page 45. Then it became known as Howard School. Seven Black citizens "David Bryant, Nelson Carter, Matthew N. Leary, Andrew J. Chesnutt, Robert H. Simmons, George Grainger, and Thomas Lomax paid $140 for a lot on Gillespie Street in Fayettteville and converted themselves into a self-perpetuating Board of Trustees to maintain this permanent site for educating black children in Fayetteville and surrounding areas," see The Charlotte Post.

I found a January 22, 1873 marriage record for Andrew J. Chesnutt that gives his parent's names, Waddell Cade and Ann Chesnutt. Andrew served as town commissioner and as Cumberland County justice of the peace. See Freedom's Lawmakers page 45.

He was father of prominent black writer, Charles W. Chesnutt who also was second principal of the institution in 1880 after it had been renamed the State Colored Normal School. In 1939, the institution became Fayetteville State Teacher's College. In 1963, it became Fayetteville State College. Then in 1969, it acquired its present name, Fayetteville State University. See The Charlotte Post.

This is no way all of Andrew J. Chesnutt's history, but there is enough here to attract those who descend from this line. I will be glad to put you in touch with those who are researching him.

Brick Wall Demolition

I have a personal connection to Fayettville State University. My great uncle was a professor there. His name is Clarence Anderson Chick. I know of him through my mother. He tried to get her to attend there instead of Wilberforce. I met my grandmother's cousin who was named after him, Clarence Anderson Chick of Newberry, South Carolina.

Due to having moved to Faytteville, North Carolina, I have gotten to know so much more about him. Among everything I last got to know a descendant of Robert H. Simmons. As I communicated with him, I felt Clarence stand by me and watch the conversation. I felt that these founders of Fayetteville State University were really important to Clarence. That is one reason why I am doing this. The NC Civil War and Reconstruction History & History Center is accepting stories about your ancestors for that time period. That is the second reason for this effort. Please share!

Finding Ancestors in Cumberland County, NC 1920 Tax Records

#AndrewJChesnutt #FayettevilleStateUniversity #NCCivilWarandReconstructionHistoryHistory

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