My name is Richard Daniel Chennault. I am the great grandson of Claire Lee Chennault. I, as is the line of Chennault’s I descend from, are not clearly recorded in the anals of history as a descendant of the General. However I come by the name honest and true yet the story is not as clear as one would hope.
To be honest I’ve only been able to piece together fragments of the story as to how my grandfather, William Stanley Chennault, came into being. It is a tale of the old south, misogyny and honour.
From stories I’ve heard from my grandfather, over a bottle of Jack Daniels, the story began in the lates teens of the 1900’s. Cliare was a young man met a woman named Anna Mae Griffin. I know little of my great grandmothers early life as she we tight lipped about Claire and her relationship with him. But they did have a child together and that was my grandfather. Now the story, as I’ve heard, was that Claire wanted to go off to war but leaving a pregnant woman behind was simply not allowed in those days. So a scheme was concocted where Claire’s brother William would marry Mae. I suppose Mae and Claire relationship was short and bitter. May never mentioned Claire in all her days and referred to him as a war mongerer. Perhaps it was love scorned and promises broken. She died with the true story locked in her heart at the age of 94 in 1991. She had only the one child; William Stanley Chennault.
My grandfather said the name was given to him in honour for what William Chennault did for May. And to this day every first born of William Stanely Chennault is named after my great uncle William. While I’ve no corroborating records or evidence to this story the timing and the resemblance of William to Claire is uncanny. My brother and I attempted to check the official record but birth records have been lost and sadly uncle William passed in the eighties before my brother and I were able to contact him.
I’m sure this story will raise the hackles of some purist Chennault’s out there and it is not my intent to sully a greats man name. I simply wish to fill in a small portion of the history and hope that somewhere out there in the ether as some one may know more than I.