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…………………..

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