I confess that I was not nearly as interested in the story of the Chandler Boys as told by PBS’s History Detectives as I was in how people would react to the History Detectives show. After all, the findings of the show should have come as no surprise, and the answers as to Silas’s status were easy to determine. By show’s end it was clear that the real story was significantly different than the fairy tale offered on several websites.
The reactions did not fail to disappoint or amuse. Some were bizarre. But the most puzzling claim was offered by Ann DeWitt, who opined:
The bloggers, who are against acknowledging the hard work and dedication of African-American military service with the CSA, have drawn the family members of Silas Chandler into the debate. The goal is to prove that Silas Chandler unwillingly went to war with Andrew Chandler. Are the blogger’s motives sincere in protecting the family or are the blogger’s motives centered on promoting their own personal historian careers?
Ms. DeWitt soon found her Greek chorus in the always charming Connie Chastain. The League of the South member self-righteously declared:
Family disputes are so sad. And if the bloggers played a role in it, shame on them.
In an effort to salvage what she could for her own interests, Ms. DeWitt then offered the following observation:
Why not highlight how the Chandler Tintype has brought these two men, a descendant of a slaveholder and a descendant of a slave, together? You know. Focus on the positive in the story; and bring people together in peace and harmony. I sure will!
Well, now, one might celebrate that, right? Indeed, we’re lucky enough to hear the following from one of Silas Chandler’s descendants, Myra Chandler Sampson, who shared the following on Kevin Levin’s Civil War Memory:
Please look on the date of the petition signed by the descendants of Silas and you will see that this was started long before my first blog on cwmemory. On my first blog I stated that the overwhelming majority of the descendants of Silas Chandler had signed a petition to removed that cross and flag from Silas’ grave. We had solicited assistance from many organizations, but it was Kevin who offered to help. Because of Kevin and The History Detective, our family is now more united than ever because now we all know what the mojority of us already knew. I am asking you and Kevin Weeks to remove all myths concerning Silas Chandler from your sights and any other place you have them written.
In short, it appears that Kevin Levin’s work helped bring the Chandler descendants together, according to a member of the family.
As Connie Chastain was so quick to wag her finger at any bloggers who might promote family disunity, and as she frequents this website, it seems to me that if she’s a person of honesty and integrity that she’ll share Mrs. Sampson’s request with Ms. DeWitt on the SHPG newsgroup, the same place where both of them held forth on the importance of family harmony. Moreover, they now need to thank Kevin Levin for his role in helping to bring the family together, and Ms. DeWitt should honor the family’s wishes instead of trying to disrupt it by maintaining her argument about Silas Chandler, complete with discredited links. Otherwise she’d be admitting to continuing to agitate an issue now put at rest and of attempting to foment divisions within the family … and, as Connie herself has said, if she does that, well then “shame” on her, as Connie says of anyone who seeks to perpetuate family divisions (especially simply to promote one’s own website, as Ms. DeWitt seems intent on doing, regardless of the truth of the story).
Of course, if Connie doesn’t respond by advising Ms. Dewitt to honor Mrs. Sampson’s request, she’d be opening herself to charges of hypocrisy and of seeking to drive wedges within the Chandler descendants as well, as well as admitting that when it comes to history, she doesn’t have an interest in historical accuracy. But then perhaps that’s why Michael Hill of the League of the South finds her such welcome reading … because the League of the South doesn’t care for history, just a fabricated heritage. After all, Dr. Hill was once a perfesser, too. 🙂
Meanwhile, congratulations are due Kevin Levin for his work in this matter. As Mrs. Sampson has spoken of his willingness to help the descendants of Silas Chandler, I’m sure that those bloggers who expressed concern about family harmony, Ms. DeWitt and Ms. Chastain, will extend their thanks to Kevin for his work and cease trying to divide the Chandler family.