The Chubbs of Chubbtown.
The history of the Chubb Chapel, and in fact Chubbtown itself, must be seen in the context of the Chubb family and its struggle first to escape slavery and then as a rare, free-black family to migrate seeking better opportunities, as did most of its free white contemporaries.
The history of the Chubb family in North America dates back at least to 1775. Nicholas Chubb is listed a free colored male, head of a household on the 1820 census of Caswell County, North Carolina. His age is listed as 45 years or older, which means that Nicholas Chubb probably was not born later than 1775, whether he was born free, or in slavery is not known. If born a slave, it is not yet known when or under what circumstances he was freed.
Isaac Chubb, born about 1797 in North Carolina, is presumed to be one of Nicholas Chubb’s sons. Isaac appeared as a free black in the 1830 Census of Caswell County, North Carolina and shortly thereafter migrated to north Georgia before 1833 when his first child is recorded as having been born in Georgia. It is important to note that Isaac Chubb, a free black male, migrated with his family to Georgia, a slave state, rather than to a northern free state. Isaac Chubb, who was a blacksmith by profession, apparently was successful enough in his profession to keep his family together. In 1850, Isaac and his family were living in Morgan County, Georgia.
In 1850, Georgia’s population was just over 906,000 people with just over 381,000 being slave, and 521,000 free whites. Only 2,931 were listed as free blacks, and of these 16 were recorded living in Morgan County. Of these 16, 10 were Isaac Chubb and family. The only large congregation of free blacks in the state were in the larger cities of Savannah, Augusta, Macon, and Columbus.
By 1860, Georgia’s total population had risen to 1,057,000 or so, with whites making up 591,000 or so, while the slave population had grown to over 462,000. The free black total had grown to 3500 exactly.
While the 1860 Census does not reflect the exact whereabouts of the Chubb family, it would appear that they were already in Floyd County. The free black residents of Morgan County totalled 16 in 1850 (of which 10 were Isaac and family) and only 7 in 1860, for a loss of 9. Floyd County, on the other hand, had only 4 free blacks in 1850 but had gained 9 for a total of 13 in 1860.
Isaac Chubb and his eight sons (William, Henry, John, Thomas, Jacob, Isaac, Jr., Nicholas and George) thus arrived at, or were subsequently born in, Floyd County, Georgia, by the early 1860s. Neither research nor family tradition has indicated any reason for this northwesterly move. The older sons soon began purchasing real estate before the end of the Civil War. Henry Chubb purchased 120 acres in 1864 before the end of the war.
The 1870 census of Floyd County, Georgia, reflects that Isaac was dead and Henry was head of the family. The census lists the various occupations of the brothers as blacksmith, wagon maker, house carpenter, sawmill operator and the rest farmers. Apparently, these varied talents enabled the Chubb brothers to prosper.
Chubb Chapel United Methodist Church was established in a community that most probably was one of a kind, one that was established and owned by blacks before the turn of the century in the United States.
Legend has it that the community in which Chubb Chapel United Methodist Church is located was once inhabited by the Cherokee Indians before they were forced to relocate during the winter of 1838-1939.
In an undated deed recorded on August 8, 1870, “Henry Chubb and brothers, of town of Cave Spring” conveyed for $200 approximately one acre of land “at Chubbs” to the Trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church, with “a house now situated on said lot and occupied as a school and a place of religious worship by the colored people.” Henry Chubb, one of the Chubb Brothers, was one of the original trustees.
Although William Chubb was the oldest son of Isaac Chubb, Sr. as shown on the census, Henry Chubb seems to have taken on the role as head of the Chubb family in Floyd County. The wording of the church deed, Henry’s inclusion as the sole Chubb family member as one of the trustees and his listing in the 1870 census support the tradition that Henry Chubb had become head of the Chubb family in Floyd County by 1870.
During the Post-Reconstruction period the Chubb brothers continued purchasing real estate. Their real estate holdings became a self- sufficient community known as Chubbtown. Chubbtown provided goods and services to white and black residents of the surrounding areas.
Chubbtown was indeed a self-sufficient community. The community, which was serviced by its own post office, was composed of a general store, blacksmith shop, grist mill, distillery, syrup mill, saw mill, wagon company, cotton gin, casket (coffin) company and several farms, all owned and operated by the Chubb family.
The Chubb family remained and prospered in Floyd County, Georgia, while many southern blacks were seeking prosperity in the north. The family’s prosperity declined around the 1940s when a flood destroyed many of the family’s businesses.
By the 1870 census, Henry Chubb had acquired considerable property as an individual, separate from the family’s holdings. Perhaps this is the reason that he became the head of the family.
In the county’s first official county history, A History of Rome and Floyd County, written by George M. Battey, Jr., and published in 1922, the family and its community even attracted the attention of the white community of Floyd County, as seen by the following reference to the family in the encyclopedic section under the heading “Darkeys of Rome, Old-Time”: “Chubb Family: These darkeys were farmers around Chubbtown, near Cave Spring and the Polk County line, whose industry and thrift enabled them to accumulate considerable property, gins, mills, houses, etc. They were law-abiding, respected by the whites and generally good citizens. Their master set them free before the Civil War.”
Although the reference to the Chubbs as “darkeys” certainly will not amuse the current descendants of the Chubb brothers, the reference must be put in its proper historic context. They were the only black family discussed, all the other entries were individuals. The history was published in 1922, when far more insulting words were used to describe blacks. What is far more important to note is that Chubbtown, a community established by blacks, had gained such respect and prominence that it could not be ignored by the white author. As in all Georgia county histories of the era, blacks were relegated to only brief mentions, or appendices, even though in many counties they had long constituted a major percentage of the population.
Perhaps the descendants of the Chubb brothers will not find the following reference to Chubbtown, from the same history, as offensive as the preceding one:
“Chubbtown is a settlement of prosperous and respectable negroes four miles southeast of Cave Spring at the Polk County line.” (p. 397)
The Chubb brothers and Chubbtown certainly had received some recognition by the 1920s. Unfortunately, by 1940 all of the Chubb brothers had died; however, their dreams and lives lived on through their children. The Chubb brothers (William, Henry, John, Thomas, Jacob, Isaac, Nicholas and George) along with many of their children and other descendants are buried in the Chubb Cemetery, located on land donated by the Chubb and Jones families in Chubbtown.
Although the community that the Chubb brothers established is no longer a self-sufficient town and is no longer exclusively owned by members of the Chubb family, it continues to bear the name Chubbtown, and is recognized as such on the U.S.G.S. topographic map, Cedartown West Quadrangle.
The church that the Chubb brothers helped establish in August 1870 stands today and is still operating as a church and is now known as Chubb Chapel United Methodist Church. It is the only historic building dating from the period of Chubbtown’s historic development.
From the National Register of Historic Places Registration Form for Chubb Methodist Episcopal Church, Cave Spring, Georgia.
[Sidenote: Arguably, the most famous Chubb is patriarch Nicholas’ namesake, Georgia Bulldog running back Nick Chubb. See this ESPN video about the Chubbtown legacy.]