Dr. Clemmie Whatley is herself a descendant of the Chubbs family and began the research that resulted in this book when her cousin Henry asked that she work with ESPN on a planned project about his son, Nick. Her mother had been the person keeping the story of the free Black Chubb family alive and Whatley found herself taking over the role. In her search she found her grandparents’ trunk and a bill of sale for the exchange of a slave lady and her son between two men, which led her to try and determine if this was the daughter who had been kidnapped into slavery and the bought back by the family. The Chubbs: A Free Black Family’s Journey from the Antebellum Era to the Mid-1900s is an examination of the Chubb family that begins in the mid-1700s and ends in the mid-1900s.
While it is noted by some that it is difficult to trace African-American families prior to 1865 due to a lack of records, the Chubb family line is a unique case. With a majority of the family being free men and women of color there are more available records to show the journey of the family through time. Throughout American history the Chubbs experienced obstacles, but they also made great gains for themselves. After relocating from North Caroline they eventually created Chubbtown, which was a self-sufficient Black community in northwest Georgia in the 1860s. Whatley works to provide context for the lives of the Chubb family in connection to laws and policies that made an impact on their lives.
Whatley actually grew up during segregation in Chubbtown and as a descendant of the Chubb family she has a close personal connection to the history that she presents to her readers. Her work is tremendously detailed and draws from the historical record and also family dialogue that showcases just the tremendous perseverance of the family. The document that led this journey to occur lead Whatley to dive deeper into the family and shows records and larger ideas that she had during her time focused on her family. Chapter 13 is probably my favorite section of the book as it provides stories of growing up and living in Chubbtown. It is a more lighthearted section and was just fun to dive into. This is a very well researched book and the connection Whatley has to everything she is writing shines through. You can get your copy of The Chubbs today.
*Article was edited to correct a date error*