Thursday, May 8, 2008

Hiram Barnett

August 15th, every other year, Colonel John Tipton’s birthday is celebrated at the Tipton-Haynes Historic site in Johnson City, Tennessee. Thus it was in August of 1996 that I made plans to drive to Johnson City and attend my first Tipton Family Association of America reunion. My nephew Isaac W. Tipton, III (‘Ikey”) would drive us to Tennessee in a van that I rented. We arrived on a typical hot, muggy August day and checked into our rooms at the Johnson City Hampton Inn. The next day I gave directions for while Ikey drove to visit our genealogical roots in the forested hills and hollows that form the Tennessee/North Carolina border. Without Uncle Aster around to direct us, I managed as best I could from memory where the little roads that led up the hollows in those mountains. We arrived at the Tipton Hill community. This was a thrill for both of us, to be in a town named after us. Ikey and I spent most of the day driving around those roads. The only person I talked to was Glenn Renfro’s wife, Wanda Byrd Renfro. We missed Glenn, he was away. The next day we attended the TFAA reunion at the Tipton-Haynes Historic site. What a thrill it was to meet other Tiptons and their descendants we had never met before. My brother John and his wife drove up from their home in Greenville, South Carolina. Perhaps the highlight of the day, other than meeting fellow Tiptons, was meeting for the first time our father’s first cousin, Hiram Barnett (02 Jul 1917 - 28 Nov 2007). Hiram was the son of Jane Tipton who married Spencer Barnett. Hiram and his wife Nadine could not have been more gracious and accommodating to their new found cousins. A special treat of the visit was when Hiram brought out a large framed photographic picture of his grandfather and namesake, Hiram Tipton. John and I were stunned. We had never seen a picture of our great-grandfather. The thought never entered our minds. What a wonderful surprise. Our great-grandmother, Myra Warrick was also in the picture. Of course I wanted to take the picture, frame and all, with me. Hiram chuckled and said that would not be possible. He knew I was kidding (I wasn’t). He placed the frame on an ornate gold chair. I asked if I could take a picture in order to share with my Tipton relatives back home in Pennsylvania. Hiram gave me his permission. I took two pictures, one of which is posted in this blog. As was our visit two years previously with Aster Lewis, Hiram Barnett and his wife Nadine treated us the best of southern hospitality . Before we left, Barbara (John’s wife) took pictures of us outside of the Barnett home. A few years later Hiram died of melanoma cancer. Our visit to Hiram Barnett was in many ways like our earlier visit to Aster Lewis. Both were kind and gracious gentlemen. They generously offered their time and knowledge to help build the Tipton Family history. Fortunately I was able to meet these gentlemen before they left us. I will always remember them with affection and respect.

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