Sunday, April 27, 2008

Goodbye Uncle Aster

The next day, the three of us (my brother John, his wife Barbara, and I) checked out of the Hampton Inn Hotel in Johnson City. We loaded up our van and drove down Roan Road the few miles to Erwin, Tennessee, and Aster Lewis’s house. It was another cool April morning bright with sunshine and the aromatic mixture of spring blossoms. Uncle Aster and his wife Mary greeted us at the door of his house. We would be going to the Johnson City Cemetery and visit the grave of his mother, Rissie Johnson Lewis. We also visited other Tipton graves in the cemetery. Uncle Aster was going to show us where Oscar Brown lived. Oscar was the son of Josie Tipton, a sister of our grandfather Fieldon Tipton. She married an Oscar Brown, the father of the Oscar Brown we were to visit today. Mr. Brown had a very impressive farm located on the outskirts of Johnson City. He told us he didn’t have too much time to talk to us as he was busy with his daily chores. Upon questioning, he said he didn’t remember too much about our grandfather other than his name. We were getting a similar reaction from most of the people we talked to. They didn’t remember much about Fieldon other than his unusual name. I also had the feeling the Fieldon was a man of few words and thus didn’t leave a lasting impression on those we were talking to now. In Oscar Brown’s case, he would have been too young to remember Fieldon. Next, we were to visit Phyllis Hensley. She was the daughter of Geter Tipton, the youngest brother of Fieldon Tipton. Phyllis’s house was a small, rundown house on the outskirts of Johnson City. There was a pile of dog doo on her front porch. For some reason, this sad image is one I will never forget. We knocked on the door. No one answered. We knocked again. Her house seemed so forlorn and lonely. If there was someone in the house, they weren’t answering the door. We left. Phyllis and her father Geter would continue to remain a mystery to us. It was time for lunch. John, Barb and I took Uncle Aster and his wife Mary to lunch. We told them they could go anyplace they wanted to go. I wasn’t familiar with the restaurant scene in Johnson City, Tennessee, but I expected Uncle Aster to choose something special. So where did he want to go? Long John Silver’s. That’s right, the chain restaurant with the murky reputation for quality food. We asked Uncle Aster again, is this where you want to go for lunch? He insisted that Long John Silver's was his favorite restaurant, and he would be delighted to have lunch with us at that eatery. So Long John Silver’s it was. John, Barb and I were not expecting a gastronomic adventure, and we weren’t disappointed. We did not have to wait in line. In fact, we had a delightful dining experience. I think the company had a lot to do with it. As we loaded up in the van outside and drove Uncle Aster and his wife back to their home, a feeling of melancholy swept over us. We arrived at Uncle Aster’s home and said our goodbyes. Something Uncle Aster said as we departed has stayed with me all these years. He said “I’ll probably never see you again, and I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed meeting all of you and spending time with you. I hope I was of some help, and I wish you the best in your search.” Although we had planned to visit Uncle Aster again in a few years, we never did see him again. We returned to Johnson City on August 15, 1996, for the bi-annual Tipton Family Association of America reunion, but we did not get a chance to visit Uncle Aster. The next year I received a phone call from his sister Daisy Buckles. She told me that her brother died August 6, 1997. He was 78 years old. Uncle Aster was right on the April day in 1994 when he said it would be the last time we would see each other. We would never see or talk to our Uncle Aster again, but we did have these precious memories of him that will last us a lifetime. And now I am sharing them with you, the readers of this blog. Uncle Aster will not be forgotten.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

More Pigeon Roost Cemetery

After reading my blog on the Pigeon Roost Cemetery, I realized there are more memories and pictures of my visit in the spring of 1994 to Pigeon Roost that I want to share, with you, the reader of this blog. First are the pictures of the tombstones of Ike Lewis and his first wife Mary Alice Hughes. Glenn Renfro said that it was well known that Mary Alice was “one helluva squirrel hunter.” Somehow that doesn’t bring to mind a picture of a genteel lady in a puff sleeved gingham dress. Glenn also said that family lore has it that Mary Alice could handle a shotgun as good if not better than any man on Pigeon Roost. Then there is the story of Moses Honeycutt. Glen said he heard that Moses Honeycutt had such a wicked life he “would go to hell a snappin and crackling all the way.” The four of us made the descent from Pigeon Roost Cemetery on this unusually warm April day in 1994. It is hard to believe that it was 14 years ago this spring that we made our wonderful discovery of the Pigeon Roost Cemetery, where Ike Lewis and his wife Mary Alice Hughes are buried. John and I will always remember our wonderment upon reaching the summit of the mountain and looking at those dignified headstones, shimmering in celestial beauty with the sunlight shining through the gently rustling leaves on the trees that guarded the cemetery. This was the final resting place of so many who were born, grew up, got married and raised their own families on the hillsides below this peaceful cemetery. This cemetery will never be bulldozed to make way for a new highway. This mountaintop will never see a new shopping strip. From the Nolichucky River below to the “hollers’ that rise to the mountain top, the inhabitants of this mountain community continue to live in their own special Shangri La. Some still manage to make a living selling Christmas trees. Most are descendents of former inhabitants who continue to farm the rich soil watered by the many natural spring water streams that flow from the top of the mountains. More recently new homes are built by retirees to the area, who have discovered and appreciate the gentle beauty of the mountains. There are no fast food restaurants in these mountains. You won’t find a gas station because there are no through roads. We did find a general store run by the Whitson family. John and I stopped in the store but were greeted by the wary silence accorded to strangers (or, in our case “damn Yankees.”) We didn’t say anything because our northern accents would surely give us away as outsiders even though our name was Tipton, a well known name in the area. I took more 35 mm pictures, and John took more VCR pictures with our bulky VCR camera. The next day we would again meet with Uncle Aster. He would take us on a tour of a Johnson City Cemetery. We leave Pigeon Roost with warm fulfilling memories that will last a lifetime. To be continued…........

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Pigeon Roost Cemetery

Sometimes, when in search of one’s roots, unexpected but just as rewarding paths turn up. Our goal when visiting Pigeon Roost was to find where my father and his brothers lived. We were not able to find the house where they lived, so we assumed it no longer existed. However, Uncle Aster did take us to our other great grandfather’s home, Isaac Lewis. Isaac, as I mentioned before, was the father of Aster Lewis and of my grandmother, Hester Lewis Tipton (Fieldon). During our conversation with Glenn Renfro, who was now living at the former Isaac Lewis homestead with his wife Wanda Byrd (whose grandmother was Pansy Tipton, an older sister of my grandfather Fieldon Tipton), he asked us if we wanted to see where “old Ike Lewis was buried.” Absolutely! This was an unexpected treasure. All of you fellow amateur and professional genealogists know what I’m talking about. This is a graveyard with tombstones of our ancestors heretofore unknown. A real find! However, saying we wanted to see it and actually getting there was another thing altogether. The old family graveyard was located at the very top of a steep mountain and was only partially accessible by pickup truck. We had to hike the rest of the way to the summit. Imagine how the pallbearers of old Ike Lewis’ coffin must have struggled to get up that mountain. Even though this was a mild April spring day, we still worked up a sweat climbing to the top of the mountain. As we neared the mountain top , John and I began to fear for Uncle Aster’s health. He was huffing and puffing mightily. That’s all we would need….. poor old Uncle Aster keeling over while climbing the mountain to show us his father’s final resting place. Finally, we reached the top of the mountain, and Uncle Aster stopped for a few minutes to catch his breath. There, under a canopy of trees was the small old graveyard. There were the tombstones, worn by the passing of many seasons of weather, proud and erect, hidden from modern civilization here atop this wooded mountain top that borders Tennessee. My great grandfather Hiram Tipton and his wife Myra Warrick are buried in the Freewill Baptist Church Cemetery in Limestone, Tennessee. Not old Ike Lewis though, he and his first wife Mary Alice Hughes are buried in this their own family cemetery. While this cemetery may not be as fancy as the ones in the church cemeteries in Tennessee, it still possessed dignity and warranted the respect of all who entered its environs. After we looked at the tombstones and I took some pictures, Glenn made a suggestion. He asked if Uncle Aster could say “some words” to honor the occasion of our visit to the cemetery. Uncle Aster, being the preacher man that he is, thrust out his arms and beseeched the Lord to put a blessing on this grave and all those who now had their final resting place in this isolated cemetery at the top of Green Mountain Road in Mitchell County, North Carolina. John recorded this momentous event. Later I made copies of this video and shared it with my cousins in Pennsylvania, some of whom would never have the opportunity that I did at this time, to visit the grave of my great grandfather and great grandmother. This day will live forever in both my brother John’s and my memory. Even though we didn't find the homestead of Fieldon Tipton, we found something equally valuable. We witnessed a moment in time, never to be repeated. We had been to the top of the mountain. We had discovered a treasure and paid tribute to our ancestor. We had accomplished much today. To be continued……….

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A Love Story

I’m taking a temporary departure from my narrative of searching for my Tipton roots in the foothills of North Carolina. Our goal was to see where my father, Isaac Walter Tipton, Sr. (April 18, 1920 – August 22, 2000) was born and raised until he moved to Pennsylvania when he was 10 years old. I am doing this is because my memories of my father were brought sharply back into focus with my selection of music to accompany this blog. Hank Williams, Sr., was my father’s favorite singer. George Jones came in a close second. My “Pop” (what me and my brothers called him) especially liked George Jones’ song “He Stopped Loving Her Today.” Even though the lyrics of that song didn’t directly apply to my parents’ relationship, he identified with that sad, sorrowful song. As he often told me, “Ronnie, that’s the only way I will stop loving your mother, when I’m dead.” We played that song at my dad’s funeral on a hot, sunny August day in 2000. “Her” was my Mother, Betty Louise Hadfield Tipton (December 24, 1923). “Happy Trails” is a song that will bring a smile to your face just as Roy Rogers and Dale Evans always had a smile on their faces. My Mom has reminded some of my cousins of Dale Evans. Mom, like Dale Evans, has a big, sweet, genuine smile of happiness. “Cool, Cool, Water” was an old record my dad used to have in his Victrola. Whenever I hear the Sons of the Pioneers sing that song, I think of him. My brothers and I were very fortunate to have “Ike and Betty” as our parents. While we never had a lot of material possessions, we did have a richness that many families did not have. We had parents who loved and respected each other totally. What an example they set for us. My dad loved my Mother so much, and my Mom loved him just as much if not more. He was the only man she had ever been with. She told me that the first time she saw him she knew he was “the one.” For sixty years theirs was a love that was unbroken. Their voices never rose in anger at each other. At us kids? Sure, now that happened. They did have times of disagreement, usually something Pop did. There were no shouting matches. No angry words hurled at each other. Instead, Mom would let him know she was displeased by her serious look and silence. Her sunny smile would disappear. Pop would know something was wrong, and he didn’t take long to make things right. That was just how much he respected my Mother. Pop has been gone eight years now. Mom has never been the same since he left. However, I am comforted in knowing that they will again be together…..for eternity.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Pigeon Roost

John backed out of Uncle Aster’s driveway. Uncle Aster was going to show us the way “up the mountains.” Since we were on the Tennessee side of the mountains, we had to cross over the state boundary to North Carolina. We were entering Pisgah Mountains in Mitchell County, North Carolina. These mountains form the border between Tennessee and North Carolina. While Uncle Aster and John amiably conversed with each other in front of the van, I was in the back swiveling my head back and forth, taking in as much as I could of these new surroundings. Less than 20 minutes later we were in North Carolina looking at the green mountains before us on this early April morning in 1994. The Nolichucky River runs along the base of the mountains. An old railroad line, used in the past to transport lumber out of the mountains, parallels the Nolichucky. We were looking for “Pigeon Roost.” Our first stop was at the Floyd Peterson home, just above the Nolichucky River and the railroad tracks. A train, its many open bedded cars loaded with coal, slowly rumbled by below us. We got out of our van. Floyd Peterson (06 Sep 1905 - 26 Sep 1997), small framed bib overall clad 89 year old gentleman, approached us from the front porch of his house with a warm smile on his weathered face. Floyd was a retired railroad worker, having worked on the very railroad so close to his present home. He and Uncle Aster greeted each other. Uncle Aster introduced John to both of us. Then Uncle Aster explained to Floyd why we were there. He asked Floyd if he knew of “Field Tipton” and his boys. Floyd said he couldn’t remember too much. He said he knew of “Field Tipton” but not much more than that. However, he did remember very well my grandfather’s oldest brother, William Dove Tipton (11 Nov 1875 – 22 Jul 1951). William Dove Tipton stayed in the area. He did not move to Pennsylvania as his younger brother Fieldon had done. John told us that Dove had a son that he “petted on terribly.” He said that Dove Tipton’s son, George Britt Tipton (31 Mar 1897 – 28 Dec 12969) was an only child and his father “fussed and spoiled him to no end.” Hiram said that Dove and George Britt Tipton operated a general store in Poplar that sold groceries and other necessities to the local folk of the area. Later that day John and I did find a small grocery store owned by Jack Tipton and his wife but we had no way of knowing if that was the same general store that Dove Tipton operated with his son George Britt Tipton. After about an hour with Floyd Peterson, we moved up the road to the old Ike Lewis homestead. Glenn Renfro (13 Nov 1928) and his wife Wanda Lee Byrd (29 Sep 1933) lived there now. Glenn was tilling the fresh spring soil in his small vegetable garden. John and I noted that most the homes on this road were reached by small bridges that spanned over fresh spring water fed streams from the mountains above. Uncle Aster and Glenn also knew each other. It was becoming quickly apparent that Uncle Aster knew a lot of the folks in that area because of his circuit preaching. We hit a gold mine with Uncle Aster. He certainly was the person to take us on our tour. Uncle Aster introduced us and told Glen what we were about. Glen turned off his rototiller and unselfishly devoted the next two hours or so to us. Coincidently, he told us that his wife, Wanda Lee Byrd (29 Sep 1933) was a Tipton. Upon further questioning we found out that Wanda was the granddaughter of Pansy Tipton (10 Jan 1883 – 28 Apr 1963), an older sister of Fieldon! Glenn was too young to remember our grandfather, Fieldon Tipton. Fieldon and his family left these hills around 1929. Glen would have only been a year old at that time. However, he did know where our other grandfather (father of Hester Lewis Tipton, wife of Fieldon Jacob Tipton), Isaac Lewis (04 Nov 1856 – 27 Apr 1944) and his first wife, Mary Alice Hughes (12 Aug 1858 – 26 Aug 1916), were buried. Their final resting places were at the family cemetery at the top of the mountain at the very end of the same road we were on. During our conversation, we determined why our dad, Ike Tipton, always said he was from “Pigeon Roost.” He and his brothers and mother and father didn’t actually live in Pigeon Roost. That is where our grandmother Hester Lewis lived. Uncle Aster believed that Fieldon Tipton and his family lived at the Bailey Settlement, which was nearby on a different road. However, we never got to the Bailey Settlement because it doesn’t exist now. Thus, we didn’t get to see the house that my grandfather and grandmother and their children lived in. Thus our hopes were dashed if we were expecting to see a gracious, historical log cabin type house that would wash us in waves of nostalgia for times past. To be continued…………………..

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Aster Lewis

A new day dawned over Johnson City, Tennessee. On this spring day in April 1994, my brother John and I were about to embark on a journey that we would have thought impossible a few years before. We were actually going to see “Pigeon Roost,” the near-legendary place where our father, Isaac Walter Tipton (1920-2000) was born. Our “tour guide” would be Aster Lewis (1919-1997), our grand uncle. Aster was our grandmother Hester Lewis’ (1894-1944) half brother. We had never met Aster before this day, nor did we even know of his existence. It was only through inquiries through a now forgotten relative that we learned of Aster’s name. The previous night I had called Aster from the hotel where we were staying in Johnson City, Tennessee. We made plans to meet at Aster’s humble home in Erwin, Tennessee. Erwin is near by Johnson City at the foothills of the mountains that form the state line between Tennessee and North Carolina. After breakfast at our hotel, John and I got in our rented van, checked our map for Erwin, and headed for Uncle Aster’s home that he shared with his 21 year old younger wife, Mary. Uncle Aster apparently was following in his father’s footsteps in marrying a younger woman the second time around. We had no trouble finding Aster’s home. “Uncle Aster” came out to greet us as we got out of the van. Again, like his sister Daisy, Aster greeted us as if he knew us all his life. This was Southern hospitality firsthand. Aster escorted John and I into his house to meet his wife. After the greetings, we settled down to our purpose of the visit, to glean as much as we could from Uncle Aster about the Tiptons still living in the near by North Carolina mountains. I set up my video camera to record our interview. I still have those 60 minute VCR video tapes. John and I interviewed Aster for over two hours. We learned that Uncle Aster was a pastor like my brother John. However, Uncle Astor was a “traveling pastor”, traveling the circuit of churches in the mountain area. He was a free lance pastor not associated with any one particular church. My brother is the care pastor of the Mount Calvary Baptist Church of Greenville, South Carolina. Now it was time to make the trek to the mountains and Pigeon Roost. Aster bade his goodbyes to his wife Mary, and the three of us loaded ourselves into the van. Aster would now be riding in the shotgun seat. John would be driving. We could see that Uncle Aster was looking forward to giving us the Grand Tour. Both of us, my brother and I, were so appreciative that his kind gentlemen would be so generous as to give of his time to two relatively perfect strangers who claimed to be his nephews. The moment had arrived; we were going to see our “roots.” To be continued……………….

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Daisy Buckles

On an early spring afternoon in April of 1994, my U.S. Air flight from Philadelphia International Airport touched down at the Greenville-Spartanburg Airport. As I was waiting for my suitcase to slide down the luggage carousel, the automatic doors to the luggage area whoosed open and there emerged all 6 foot 6 inches of my baby brother, John. He grabbed my lone suitcase with a wide smile on his face. We exited the airport for his car, enjoying the special camaraderie that is unique to brothers. John took me back to his neat ranch house which is located in a quiet residential section of Greenville. That evening we had a mini family reunion with his wife Barbara, his daughters Nancy and Vickey and her husband Mark and their seven children. Early the next day, John, Barbara and I got into our rented van and we were on our way to Johnson City, Tennessee by way of Asheville, North Carolina. John slide in a cassette of Appalachian music (AKA “hillbilly” music) to get us in the mood for our journey in search of our roots. We arrived in Johnson City about two hours later and checked into our rooms at the Hampton Inn hotel. It was late afternoon. We agreed to meet about an hour later for dinner at a nearby buffet. The South is famous for their generous buffets and we made sure we took advantage of this opportunity. After dinner we were to visit Daisy Buckles, Aster Lewis’ sister and the daughter of my great grandfather Isaac Lewis (1856-1944). Daisy’s house was only a few miles from the Hampton Inn. She greeted us at the door of her modest house on Hopper Road like long lost relatives although we had never met her before. Daisy is a widow who lives by herself in her small immaculate house on the outskirts of Johnson City. Her grown children had long since left her home and had families of their own. Barbara, John and I were quickly made to feel at home by Daisy. She told us about her father, Isaac Lewis. She said she did not know her father’s first wife, Mary Alice Hughes (1858-1916), who was my great grandmother. Mary Alice had died long before Daisy was born. Daisy, and her brothers Aster, Cisro, and Homer were the children of Isaac’s second, much younger wife, Rissie Johnson. Rissie (1894-1992) was 38 years younger than Isaac Lewis when she married him. Thus, Isaac continued a pattern of many of the Tipton men and other males of that time in the mountains. The first wife would produce 10 or more children and then die. The male would marry again, usually a much younger wife. Joseph Tipton (1796-1870), my great-great-great grandfather (father of John Tipton and grandfather of Hiram Tipton), took a second wife 40 years younger than him. Her name was Drucilla Ledford (1836-1880). Joseph had 8 children by his first wife Sarah Ann Bennett ( 1800-1847) and 11 children by his second wife Drucilla. Isaac Lewis continued the time honored tradition of reproducing many offspring. Isaac had 7 children by his first wife, Mary Alice Hughes. He had 4 children by his second wife, Rissie Campbell Johnson. John, Barbara, Daisy and I talked late into the night. Before we left, Daisy gave us her brother Aster’s address and phone number. Aster lived in Erwin, Tennessee, which is only a short distance away from Johnson City, at the base of the mountains which form the border between Tennessee and North Carolina. Once over that border, all roads lead to the forested mountains. There are no through roads. One goes to the top of the mountain, and then turn around and come back down. That's why the roads are called "hollers". One of those "hollers" is where my father and eight brothers were born. That is where Aster was going to take us the next day. We went back to our rooms at the Hampton Inn, full of anticipation as to what new stories and sights the next day would bring. Who wants to go to Disney World? Not us! This was way better! For the first time we would see where our father played as a child. We would see where our grandparents courted and got married. We would also see where my grandfather eked out a living for his wife and nine children before deciding to move to Pennsylvania. Fieldon decided there was more opportunity to feed his nine growing boys by working as field laborers in his brother-in-law Donald Byrd’s farm in southeastern Pennsylvania. If we were lucky we would meet some folks who knew my grandfather Fieldon Jacob Tipton (1884-1939) and my great grandfather Hiram Tipton (1852-1933). To be continued.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Mission Statement

After receiving a request from a visitor to my website for documentation for proof of her Tipton ancestor I feel it is time to post a mission statement to my “Tipton Tales and Trails” website. The purpose of this website is to share information about our Tipton ancestors. I cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information posted. Any information posted is strictly for our edification and enjoyment. I am not a professional genealogist. The information I have gleaned for my line of Tiptons is mostly from personal interviews with family relatives. What documentation I have was given to me by Burkett Bailey of Knoxville, Tennessee. This information is a copy of the marriage certificate of John Tipton and Martha “Patty” Bailey. I also have a copy of Martha’s application for pension benefits as a widow of a Civil War soldier (Union).

The information I have on the rest of the Tipton genealogy I have taken from various sources, including Charles D. Tipton’s book, “Tipton, The First Five American Generations”, the Reverend Charles Ervin Tipton’s book, “We Tiptons and Our Kin”, and the Tipton family tree information from the website. To repeat, I cannot vouch for the accuracy of any of the information I have received and recorded. For those who are searching for documentation to prove their ancestry, my website is not the place to find that documentation. Anyone who seriously wants documentation will have to visit the local county or state records of where their ancestor was born, lived and died. Also, I cannot provide information to inquiries that state “My grandfather’s name was Bill Tipton and he lived in Kansas City, Missouri around 1944.” Sorry, I can’t help you. In order to help those inquiries I would need the exact name and date of birth and lineage back to the 1800’s. Even then the information is not always available. Many of our Tipton ancestors just melted into the countryside without leaving much of a trace. As frustrating as that is to some Tipton family researchers, that is the unfortunate truth. I have encountered the same problem researching my family line. I’m sure other serious family researchers have faced the same problems when researching their line.

Again, if you’re looking for proof to gain membership into the DAR, this isn’t the place to get it. However, if you’re curious about your Tipton ancestry and want to see the information that has been gathered by many, while it may not be 100% accurate, it is as close as we will ever know about our history. I will be glad to help as much as I can but don’t be too disappointed if I cannot give you the answer that you are looking for. To me, that is the great challenge and enjoyment of genealogy, the hunt. Sometimes we’re lucky and we find a treasure. However, all too often we hit a brick wall and we just can’t go any further in the research on that particular elusive family member. Just remember, we all know the Tipton personality. Some of them just wanted to go off and be alone and couldn’t give a whiff if anyone knew it or not. I should know, my Dad was just one like that, bless his soul. Enjoy the website and happy hunting!

Ronald Walter Tipton

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Who Is My Great Grandfather?

Finding the name of my great grandfather was my next challenge into researching my family tree. No one seemed to know his name. Neither my Mother or Father knew his name. I asked my cousin Charles Tipton. Charles has provided much of our Tipton line family information to Lloyd Bailey, who was writing a book about the Toe Valley of the western North Carolina mountain area where my father was born. Charles is the senior cousin of the children of the eleven Tipton brothers who were the sons of Fieldon and Hester Tipton. Charles didn’t know. I was at a dead end. I asked my Aunt Peg, wife of my Uncle Henry. Aunt Peg had provided me with much information about the early years of the Tipton brothers in southern Pennsylvania. She didn’t know. Where do I go now? My Father suggested that I ask his brother, Ed. Ed lived on the outskirts of Downingtown with his family. He owned 8 acres of land in East Bradford Township. Like my Father, Uncle Ed was passionate about his vegetable garden. Each year, he and my Father would compete to see who would pick the first tomato out of their garden. They were equally proud and competitive about their corn crop. Theirs was a friendly rivalry. I called him and asked if I could go over to his place and ask him some questions. He told me to come over. I brought my bulky, old time video camera with me to record our conversation. I set up the video recorder outside his garage. He would sit there overlooking his garden during my interview with him. Ironically, his plot of land and vegetable garden was almost an exact replica of similar lots of land and vegetable gardens in Pigeon Roost. A few years earlier, my brother John and I visited “Pigeon Roost”, now known as Green Mountain Road, and were surprised to see how similar the residents had the same kind of gardens, even down to the shacks that they stored their garden equipment. My first question I asked was “Do you know the name of your grandfather?” He answered “Harm”. “Harm?” What kind of name is that? I was puzzled. I asked him again and he said “Harm.” Then I realized he was saying ”HIRAM” with his mountain Appalachian accent, which most of my uncles still had, including my father. So now I had the name of my great grandfather, Hiram Tipton. But he didn’t remember too much about his grandfather. However, my uncle provided me with even more valuable information. He told me the name of Aster Lewis. Aster Lewis was the son of Isaac Lewis and his second wife, Rissie Johnson. According to Ed, Aster could provide me with much of the information I was looking for. Isaac Lewis, for whom my Father was named, was the father with his first wife Alice Hughes, of Hester Lewis, the wife of my grandfather Fieldon Tipton. Aster Lewis lived in Erwin, Tennessee, which is located across from the North Carolina/Tennessee state line. I called Aster. Aster was one of those rare family members who eager to help me in my quest for more family information. I made arrangements to take a plane trip to meet my brother John Tipton in Greenville, South Carolina. From South Carolina we would take a “Tipton Genealogy Tour” to Johnson City, Tennessee. We were on our way to met with Aster Lewis. The meeting with Aster was going to prove to be the turning point in my search for my family roots. To be continued……………………………………………………

Note: Pictured are brothers (left to right) Ed and Ike Tipton (circa 1951)

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Bumpy Start

Well folks, it's been about a week since I setup this new Tipton website. There have been a few late nights at the computer fine tuning this blog as well as another "Tipton Tales and Trails" blog posted under another server (to which a link is supplied on this website). One of my problems was that I posted my new website address to Roots.Web with the wrong URL. Actually, it was a simple mistake. The "http://" I typed as "http//:" Note that the two forward slashes come before the colon. A website address that begins that way won't work as some of you found out when you tried to go there. But, thanks to some astute Tipton researchers, they soon realized what the problem was and informed the others who were having trouble getting to this website. Phew! That is resolved. Now let's get to the next issue. I've been trying to add music to the home page of this website. One would think that would be an easy task. But, one would be wrong. First, the company which is hosting this website tells me the website doesn't work with MIDI files. Okay. That's odd but I'll accept their explanation. Then I'm told to try a MP3 or Wave file. Forget finding one of those files for free. So, I went to and shelled out .99 cents to buy a fully orchestrated version of "Happy Trails." Okay. I download "Happy Trails." I carefully put the HTML code in and embed the music. I save the draft and upload. Does it work? Nah! Of course it doesn’t. Why would it? That would be too easy. Now a phone call for support was in order. Thankfully the company that is hosting this website has real people answering the phone in a timely manner. The young lady checks my HTML. You guessed it. I had a TYPO. Again! I know I'm 66 years young but my eyesight really isn't failing me....yet. Maybe it's just because I'm so anxious and excited about this new Tipton website. The young lady fixes my HTML code. She tells me it now works. I bring up the Tipton Tales and Trails website. A pop up message appears on my screen. Oh how I love pop ups! NOT! The message says "Click to run an Active X control on this web page." What is that? That is just lovely. So, I “click”. AH HA! The happy, sweet, innocent strains of "Happy Trails" emanates through my computer's twin speakers. Yes, "Happy Trails" is the perfect accompaniment to perusing through the "Tipton Tales and Trails" blog. Of course right now it is only on the first page. In my excitement I called my partner to my computer to show him my "accomplishment." I key in in my browser. The home page appears on my computer monitor. There is no music. NO MUSIC! I get on the horn again to my web host technical support line. "Mike" answers the phone this time. I explain my problem. I can get the sound when I go in through Internet Explorer to the website. But I get no sound if I go in through AOL, which is my preferred access to the Internet. Also, I get no sound if I go through the "Tipton Tales and Trails" link on my other blog. I'm told by "Mike" that I have a MP3 file. He tells me I should probably have a WAV file. Did you ever start out on a little project that seemed so simple but it turned into Frankenstein's monster? Well, this little foray of mine today is turning out that way. I hope those of you who were able to finally get into my new website were able to listen to "Happy Trails." For those of you who didn't, there is always tomorrow. My Computer Guy is coming over around 10 in the morning to have a look see and correct the problem. When "Happy Trails" plays from all angles of getting to my new website, I will be one Happy Camper!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Fieldon Jacob Tipton, Sr.

To continue where I left of with my previous blog, once I added my father’s name and birth date to my Family Tree Maker software computer program, I was now faced with the dilemma of how to get information from him of his father, Fieldon Jacob Tipton, Sr. My dad knew when he died. “Before you were born” was his answer. Obviously, if I was a serious genealogist, albeit an amateur, I would need more information than this. My Mother knew where her father-in-law, Fieldon was buried. He was buried at the Union Hill Cemetery in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. Thus a visit to his grave was in order. I obtained this information from his headstone: Born June 4, 1884 – Died May 8, 1939. I was born November 9, 1941 so my grandfather did indeed die “before I was born.” I also obtained the information about my grandmother, Hester Lewis Tipton’s dates of birth and death: Born November 30, 1892 – Died April 20, 1945. Now this was a start. I learned from my Father some information about his father. He was in the sawmill business in the hills (Pisgah Mountains) of western North Carolina that border Tennessee (near Erwin and Johnson City, Tennessee). My Father either didn’t remember or want to talk about his childhood in Pigeon Roost, North Carolina. There is some evidence that he and his brothers did not actually live in Pigeon Roost but instead lived at the Bailey Settlement which was in the same general area of those isolated hills dotted with “hollers”. Pigeon Roost is where Isaac Lewis (for whom my Father was named) had a house. One of his daughters, Hester Lewis eventually became the bride of Fieldon Jacob Tipton. This is information that was passed on to me by Ed Tipton, one of my Father’s older brothers and Aunt Peg Tipton, wife of another one of my Father’s older brothers, Henry. Apparently “Field” (as he was called back in those days) used to sneak over the mountain top and pay clandestine visits to Hester. After what can only be assumed a proper courtship, Fieldon and Hester exchanged wedding vows on the warm summer day July 18, 1908 in Relief, North Carolina, dressed in their Sunday best.

From 1909 to 1926 Fieldon and Hester had nine children, all boys. Fieldon was in the lumber business with other relatives in the close-knit mountain community. Leading up to the Great Depression, the sawmill business wasn’t producing enough food on the table to feed nine growing Tipton boys. Fieldon’s brother-in-law, Don Byrd (married to Hester Lewis’s sister, Essie Lewis) had a fruit and vegetable farm in southern Chester County, Pennsylvania. He needed cheap farm labor. Fieldon and Hester and their nine ravenous boys needed food and solid roof over their heads. Sometime in 1929 or 1930 (the exact date is uncertain) the Fieldon Tipton family made a life course change and decided to relocate to Pennsylvania and work on Don Byrd’s farm. The whole family moved into one of the tenant cabins called “The Baker Place” near present day Unionville, Pennsylvania. “Field” and his boys began the back breaking work of picking fruits and vegetables in their Uncle Don’s farm. Two more sons were born to Fieldon and Hester Tipton in Pennsylvania. More farm labor. This saga will continue in my next blog.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

How Does One Build A Family Tree?

After a hiatus from building my family tree on the Family Tree Maker software, I have begun to rebuild it. I first began building my family tree back in 1994 on my old Dell computer. Where does one start? I started with my personal information. My name and date of birth was the very first name entered into my computer. Then I entered the names of my two brothers and their dates of birth. I continued with the names of my mother and father. Then, this is when it gets interesting and challenging, I started to make phone calls to relatives. The phone calls were made mostly to aunts and cousins. Interestingly, most of the relatives who wanted or could provide information were the female relatives. Gathering this information took quite a bit more time since my father had ten brothers who all had families. I’m still working on this aspect of my family tree. Now that I had the base to my family tree research it was time to branch out (pun intended) and make a connection to the broader Tipton family tree. Where does one start? In my case I was fortunate because much research was already available on the Tipton family from other Tipton family researchers. My sister-in-law found a TFAA (for Tipton Family Association of America) newsletter in a Johnson City, Tennessee library. She sent me a copy of that newsletter. I joined the Tipton Family Association of America. The TFAA put out a quarterly newsletter edited by Charles D. Tipton of Garland Texas. That is when I first found out about the first Tipton in America, Jonathan Tipton (1659-1757). Jonathan has also been referred to as “The Immigrant” as he immigrated to America (through Baltimore County Maryland) from Jamaica. I gleaned this information from back issues of the TFAA newsletters. Thus I was able to put a “back” on my Tipton genealogical history. I recorded the names and dates of births and deaths of Jonathan and his children and their wives. There was a lot of information. I was able to record the first five generations of Tiptons in America. My only problem was that I could only go back as far as my grandfather, Fieldon Jacob Tipton, Sr. (1884-1939). I had a big gap in between those two ancestors of mine. In my next blog I will explain how I filled in that gap.