Thursday, August 21, 2008

Isaac Walter Tipton, Sr.

Eight years ago yesterday, my Dad passed away. It is a day that I will never forget. Isaac Walter Tipton, Sr. (4/18/1920 - 8/20/2000)was born near Pigeon Roost, North Carolina. Pigeon Roost is located in the Pisgah Mountains that form the border between western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee. He was the fifth child and son of Fieldon Jacob Tipton (6/4/1884 - 5/8/1939)and Hester Lewis (11/30/1892 - 4/20/1945.) Fieldon and Hester had a total of 12 children, all boys. One child, a twin of Samuel Tipton (3/31/1934-12/15/2001), who died shortly after birth. My Dad's family moved to southeastern Pennsylvania, around 1929, to work on their uncle Donald Byrd's fruit and vegetable farm. Fieldon Tipton's sawmill business in North Carolina was failing and he could not support his every growing family. In Pennsylvania my Dad met my Mother, Betty Louise Hadfield (November 24, 1923), on a double date in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. From that union I was born November 9th, 1941. My parents had two more sons (Isaac Walter Tipton, Jr., April 9, 1943 and John Lee Tipton, June 10, 1944.) My Father was a stern taskmaster who was a dependable provider for his family. I did not have a close relationship with my Father. I was closer to my Mother. My Father was closest to my youngest brother, John. As is usual in the typical sibling setup, the middle child, Isaac, received the least attention. However, we all knew our Father loved us and was proud of us as we were of him. "Pop", as we called him, loved to garden. Even after he was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer, he still managed to visit his much loved garden in the back of his three acre property in East Brandywine Township. Although my Dad lacked much formal schooling (I never did know how far he went in high school, that information wasn't available in our family), he was a very smart and clever man. He had good street sense. Pop also loved his carpentry work. Interestingly enough, I was the only son who inherited his love of gardening. I did not inherit his woodworking and mechanical skills. However, both of my younger brothers did inherit his woodworking and mechanical skills. But, sad to say, they have no interest in gardening or growing things. Pop was such a major factor in our lives, it still came as a major shock when he died even though we knew he had a terminal illness. He had requested not to be put on a life support system and we honored his wish. When I received word that he had died, I felt like someone punched me in my stomach. I literally had trouble breathing. Pop has been gone eight years now. Every summer at this time I remember that sultry August day that my life changed. Even to this day, there are times that I want to share information with my Dad and I realize I can't. He loved jelly donuts. Whenever I see one I'm tempted to buy some for him. His favorite dessert was German Chocolate Cake. I would always try to make him this cake for his birthday. I haven't made a German Chocolate Cake since he died. However, one thing that will never change are our many memories of him. His practical jokes, his laughter and his love of my Mother. Perhaps the only thing he loved more than my Mother was his favorite dog, Pepper (a black miniature Poodle.) Even though I miss him very much I am comforted by the fact that he has rejoined Pepper and his brothers. Rest in peace Pop.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Four John Tiptons

As any professional or amateur genealogist has discovered, family members with the same names are perhaps the greatest challenge in researching their family history. In the Tipton family, next to Jonathan Tipton, perhaps the most common name is John Tipton. In my immediate family there are four John Tiptons.

John Lee Tipton, Sr. (10 Jun 1944 - ) – my brother
John Lee Tipton, Jr. (22 Feb 1973 – 22 Feb 1973) - my nephew
John Hannum Tipton (29 Aug 1922 – 14 Sep 1961) – my uncle
John Michael Tipton (21 May 1947) – my first cousin

One would ask how this came about. Here is the explanation. My uncle John Hannum Tipton was missing in action during World War II. When my brother John Lee Tipton was born June 10th, 1944, he was named after his Uncle John Tipton, who was presumed dead, another casualty of World War II. After World War II ended, it was discovered that my Uncle John was a prisoner of war in Germany. He was liberated from the prisoner of war camp and returned home and married his longtime sweetheart, Margaret Frances Meehan (13 Jul 1928). Their first child was a son, John Michael Tipton (21 May 1947.) Thus, in the span of three years, my immediate family had three John Tiptons. How did we keep them straight? Uncle John was always referred to as ‘Uncle John.” My brother John has always been referred to as “John.” Not “Jack”, “J L”, or “Jay”, but “John.” Cousin John has always been referred to as “Johnny”, possibly because he was the youngest John. Some years later my brother had a son and he named him John Lee Tipton, Sr. (22 Feb 1973 – 22 Feb 1973). Unfortunately, his son died shortly after birth. This is how my family came to have four John Tiptons, thus providing fodder for confusion for future genealogists of my Tipton line. In my next blog installment, I’ll tell the story about the Three Isaac Tiptons – my Father, brother and nephew and how I avoided being named Isaac, which would have been logical since I am the oldest son of Isaac Walter Tipton. Then there is the story behind "Walter", which is the middle name of myself, my brother, my Uncle Edward Tipton and his son Edward, Jr. Sometimes it seems that we Tiptons seem determined to make life difficult for future Tipton family genealogists.

Note: The photo in this blog is of my brother John Lee Tipton and three other John Tiptons (grandfather, father and son) who we met at a Tipton Family Association of America reunion at the 1994 Tipton-Haynes Historic site in Johnson City, Tennessee.) Yet another example of Tipton family members contributing to confusion for future Tipton family genealogists. I don't have any pictures of my cousin John Michael Tipton. The picture below is of his Father and my Uncle John Tipton in his Army uniform.