Chessie Nance was born in Duluth, Ga, in 1896, and moved to Norcross with her father, Jim, brothers Weldon and Juette, and other relatives around 1900. She married James E. Newton of Hazlehurst, GA in the 1920s, and they raised a family of six children, including sons James W. (J.W.), John, Ralph and Charles, and daughters Frances and Jeanette.
The family lived near the intersection of Buford Highway and Beaver Ruin Road, and Ann Barker, her granddaughter, recalls that “Mama,” as she called her, worked as a laundress and cook for Lala Summerour, Sadie Webb and many other families in Norcross. Chessie was also a dedicated member of Mount Ararat Methodist Church in Duluth.
Local and visiting members of the family would frequently gather at Chessie’s home on Sunday afternoons, enjoying a family meal including fried chicken, home-grown tomatoes and scuppernongs, cake and ice cream. Baseball and basketball kept the kids busy while the adults talked.
Chessie Newton passed away in 1989, and the family sold the land several years later for commercial development. Chessie’s brother Juette Nance served in the US military in World War I, and he worked for many years later as a carpenter. He was often out of town at work sites during the week, but he would return home on the weekends. Ann Barker recalls fondly that they would walk together to downtown Norcross on Saturday mornings, where her great-uncle would buy her a Coke and peanuts as a treat at Garner’s Store (today’s Iron Horse Tavern.) On Saturday, Juette would catch up on events in his home town that he missed while away working.