Born: 29 September 29 1840 in Jackson County, Tennessee
Died: 16 September 1916 in Davidson County, Tennessee
Buried: Grimes Cemetery, Putnam County, Tennessee
Parents: Benjamin Frankline and Rebecca (Lovelle) Chaffin

1st Married: Lucinda Jackson about 1864 in Jackson County, Tennessee
Born: about 1846 in Jackson County, Tennessee
Died: Between 1870 - 1874 in Jackson County, Tennessee
Parents: Amos Gore and Susannah (Billingsley) Jackson

  1. Martha Almeda Chaffin
  2. Almira Elizabeth Chaffin
  3. Rebecca Susan Chaffin
  4. Nancy C. Chaffin

2nd Married: Violet Josephine Davis about 1875 in Jackson County, Tennessee
Born: 27 December 1855 in Jackson County, Tennessee
Died: 21 December 1909 Putnam County, Tennessee
Buried: Grimes Cemetery, Putnam County, Tennessee
Parents: Andrew Campbell and Elizabeth (Fox) Davis

  1. Rice Hall Chaffin
  2. Andrew Davis Chaffin
  3. AlmiraChaffin
  4. Lando Chaffin
  5. Leah Chaffin
  6. Sally Chaffin
  7. Ova Chaffin
  8. Alexander Chaffin


28 thTennessee Infantry
Company E


  • Entered the service as a Private and left the service as a 1st Sergeant
  • Enlisted and Mustered In: 11 Aug 1861
  • Age: 21
  • 3 Oct 1861: Present
  • 11 Aug - 31 Oct 1861: Not Stated
  • 28 Apr 1862: Not Stated
  • 28 Feb - 31 Aug 1862: Discharged 15 Jul 1862
  • Sep & Oct 1862: Discharged

8 thTennessee Mounted Infantry
Company C


  • Enlisted as a Private and left Service as a Private
  • Mustered In: 27 Feb 1865 at Nashville
  • Born: Jackson County
  • Age: 24
  • Occupation: Farmer
  • Enlisted 10 Feb 1865 at Carthage
  • Eyes: Hazel
  • Hair: Dark
  • Complexion: Dark
  • Height: 5' 10"
  • 27 Feb - 30 Apr 1865: Present; Promoted from Private to 2nd Sergeant on 7 Apr 1865
  • 30 Jun 1865: Present
  • Mustered Out: 17 Aug 1865 at Nashville
  • Promoted from Private to 2nd Sergeant on 7 Apr 1865
  • Age: 24
  • Enlistment Papers Included
  • Born: Jackson County
  • Volunteered: 11 Feb 1865



  • 1850 Census: Jackson County, TN, Page 319
  • 1860 Census: Jackson County, TN, Page 286
  • 1870 Census: Jackson County, TN, Page 248
  • 1880 Census: Jackson County, TN, Page 224A
  • 1900 Census: Putnam County, TN, Page 95A
  • 1910 Census: Putnam County, TN, Page 113B


Biographical Sketches Of Gospel Preachers, H. Leo Boles, Pages 305-308.

(LINK to Online Copy)

William Riley Chaffin was born on September 29, 1840, in Jackson County, Tennessee, about five miles south of Gainesboro. He was the son of Benjamin F. and Rebecca R. Chaffin (nee Loveall), and was the great-grandson of Abner Chaffin, who with his father migrated from Virginia, through North Carolina, into Tennessee, shortly after the Revolutionary War. Young Chaffin inherited strong intellectual powers of mind. He had but little opportunities for an education. He had no advantage of a college education and had no opportunity to come in close touch with any one who had been so favored as to obtain a college education. He was reared in the country, where there were but few schools, and these of the very poorest kind. He took advantage of the opportunities offered him and made rapid improvement. He soon acquired enough education to teach school in his county. He taught in the public schools in his county and the adjoining counties for a number of years. There were no better people in that section of the country than Riley Chaffin.

Among the other good qualities which were transmitted to him through his parents was the adorning trait of piety. He had a religious turn of mind, and he revered the Bible as the word of God from his youth up. He delighted in the study of the Bible, and he became very familiar with the teaching of the Bible and was well versed in Biblical lore. He committed to memory nearly all of the New Testament and much of the Old Testament. He could quote Scripture for hours at a time. He had a retentive memory. His friends said that he never forgot anything that he learned. He obeyed the gospel in August, 1859, at Antioch, in Jackson County. William and Garland Kuykendall were in a series of meetings at this place at that time. Old Brother Garland Kuykendall baptized him in the beautiful little stream, Flynn's Creek, a tributary of the Cumberland River. This clear, limpid stream flows by the church house at Antioch. He began preaching the gospel in 1865. His first public effort was in what was called " Peter's Hollow," in Jackson County, not far from his home. There were few preachers at that time in that county of any faith, and there were fewer preachers of the gospel. His services were soon in demand, and much of his time was given to the proclamation of the gospel.

At the beginning of the Civil War he was drafted into the Confederate Army. He was not in sympathy with secession and was bitterly opposed to slavery. He served out the time of his draft and then enlisted in the Federal Army and served in it until the war closed. He did not believe in carnal warfare; but since he saw no way of escaping service as a soldier, he determined, if he had to fight, that he would fight on the right side. So soon as he got out of the army he went to work helping his county back to normal conditions. He was a lover of peace and a peacemaker among his fellows. He saw the great need of building up the churches and strengthening them for their mission. Most of his work as a preacher of the gospel was done in Jackson and Putnam counties. In 1891 he moved from Jackson County to Putnam County. He strengthened the churches in that county by his monthly visits and strong gospel sermons. He preached the truth and love and opposed error with courage. He was a man of convictions and did not fear any one who opposed his efforts in proclaiming the truth. For many years he preached for the old Bethlehem Church, in Putnam County, and remained with it during the latter part of his life. That church became one of the strongest in the county under his guidance and through his instruction.

Brother Chaffin had an impediment in his speech, but his presentation of his sermon was logical and forceful, and he never failed to put across the lesson which he had chosen. He was devout, conscientious, fearless, and outspoken. Those who knew him knew where to place him on all moral and religious questions. He made his impression upon the community in which he lived. The world is better because William Riley Chaffin lived in it.

Brother Chaffin died in Nashville, Tenn., September 16, 1916. He was buried at his old home, near Bethlehem, in Putnam County. He never sought publicity or courted popularity. He served God and his fellow man nobly. He was one of the silent forces which helped build the church of our Lord in Jackson and Putnam counties.


Photo Source: Biographical Sketches Of Gospel Preachers, H. Leo Boles, Page 305