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American > Ed Chestnut
Ed Chestnut, the child in this photograph, was born in Gainesville in 1903. Although his life was cut short at a young age-he was only 33 when he died-he was one of a long line of Chestnuts who have lived in Alachua County and made significant contributions to this community. His grandparents, Johnson and Maria Chestnut, moved to Gainesville from Camden, South Carolina, in the 1850s. Johnson was a carpenter by trade, and he served on the Gainesville City Commission in 1868-1869. Johnson and Maria had three sons, John, Lawrence, and James. Lawrence married Louisa Kendrick Chestnut. Louisa was also born in Camden and had come to Gainesville when she was about 13 years old. Lawrence and Louisa had four sons-Ed (seen in this photograph), Charles, William, and McKinley. Lawrence worked in a printing office, was active in Republican politics, and was a trustee for the Union Academy, the first school for black children in Gainesville. Known as "Aunt Lou" to generations of Gainesvillians, Louisa lived 100 years, dying in 1952. She lived in the same area on 8th Avenue from the time she came to Gainesville until she died; her house, located at 14 Northeast 8th Avenue, was demolished in 1997. Charles Chestnut Sr., the son of Lawrence and Louisa, became a prominent businessman. He and his partner, Matthew E. Hughes, founded Hughes & Chestnut Funeral Home in 1914, making it one of Gainesville's oldest businesses today. Chestnut Funeral Home is located at 18 Northwest 8th Avenue (before July 1, 1950, the address was 136 West Boundary Street). Charles Sr. was highly respected for his community leadership, and the auditorium of Lincoln High School was named after him. He and his wife, Hattie, had one son, Charles Jr., and they raised their two grandchildren, Charles III and Gloria. Gloria married Colin Duncan, who was employed by the Hughes & Chestnut Funeral Home for several years and then started his own business, Duncan Brothers' Funeral Home. Charles III joined the family business in 1961 after receiving his degree in mortuary science from Eckels College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He has been politically active and has served on the Alachua County School Board and the Alachua County Commission. Charles III's son, Charles IV, has followed his father into the family business and into politics. He has a daughter-she is the seventh generation of Chestnuts to live in Alachua County! This photograph was copied with permission of the Pleasant Street Historic Society.
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