Friday, January 30, 2009

Uncle John and Cousin Bud Tipton

John Hannum Tipton was born August 29, 1922 near in Raleigh, North Carolina along with his fraternal twin brother, Richard Berry Tipton. John was the sixth of eleven sons of Fieldon Jacob (04 Jun 1884 – 08 May 1939) and Hester Lewis Tipton (13 Nov 1891 – 20 Apr 1945.)

John Tipton was my uncle. John Tipton was my favorite uncle. I think I’m accurate in saying that John Tipton was the favorite uncle of all of his 35 nieces and nephews.

John was a paratrooper with the U.S. Army during World War II. He was captured by the Germans. He escaped twice and was recaptured twice by the Germans. Uncle John survived the war but his mother, Hester, did not know that. She died in April 1945, a few months before Uncle John was released from the POW prison camp.

Uncle John was much admired and loved by wife, children, brothers, nieces and nephews. Uncle John had a talent for sign painting. He was working for Gindy trailers painting signs when he suffered a fatal accident. A spark ignited paint thinner on the floor where John was working (probably a welding spark) and caught John’s overalls on fire. Even though his co-workers threw him to the ground to put out the flames, John suffered burns over the majority of his body. He died a few days later at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia. How ironic that Uncle John survived the dangers of World War II but would die from an accidental fire caused by a simple spark.

John Hannum Tipton died September 14, 1961 leaving behind his widow, Margaret “Peggy” Frances Meehan (13 Jul 1928); and three young children, John Michael (21 May 1947) , Marsha Anne (18 Nov 1948) and Jeffrey Joseph Tipton (02 Nov 1956 – 25 Jan 2005.)

Uncle John is pictured on this blog with his nephew, Edward “Bud” Tipton, Jr. ( 4 Apr 1941.) The picture was taken in 1956.

Uncle John was the first of the eleven sons of Fieldon and Hester Tipton to die. He died too young. He is still missed to this day by those of us who were fortunate enough to have known him. Rest in peace Uncle John.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Tipton Family Research 2009

This is the year that all my Tipton family research is coming together. Now that I’m retired, I can devote more time to researching our common Tipton family history. Not only am I researching names and dates of births and deaths, but I am looking for old photographs and stories. The photographs and stories enable history to come alive for those of us who are interested in our origins.

From the time I was about 10 years old, I wondered about where my parents and their parents came from. What were they like? I especially wondered about my father’s parents and grandparents since his family wasn’t originally from Pennsylvania. My father knew little of his origins because his parents brought him to Pennsylvania when he was only about 10 years old. All I knew was that his family was a “hillbilly” from someplace called “Pigeon Roost.”

Now fast forward to 1994 when my brother John “discovered” Pigeon Roost. I still remember so clearly when John called me where I worked in Philadelphia to tell me “Ronnie! I found Pigeon Roost! It exists!” He was making his phone call from the Griffith General Store in Tipton Hill, North Carolina. I cannot adequately describe my feeling of exhilaration upon hearing this groundbreaking news. I still have that feeling to this day.

In the spring of 1994 I left my job and took a week off to visit my brother John and his wife Barbara in Greenville, South Carolina for the first time. It turns out that Pigeon Roost, North Carolina was only 2 ½ hours away from Greenville. John rented a van and off we went to the mountains of western North Carolina, near the Tennessee border with Johnson City, Tennessee. What a thrill it was the first time we traveled up one of those “hollers.” It wasn’t quite “Deliverance” (we weren’t going for white water rafting although John and his church group would do that later) but it was a experience of a lifetime.

From that trip I decided to actively research the Tipton family history. It has been a long journey. For a period I was actively researched the Tipton family history. A couple of return trips were made to interview relatives. Pictures and videos were taken. I was on a roll for awhile then I had a twin whammy hit me. My computer crashed and I lost my job. Life interrupted.

It took a while to rebuild my genealogy file and even longer to get established in a new job. In fact, it too took long. I lost several years. By the time I got back to actively researching my family history, many of my older relatives had passed on, thus taking their unique knowledge with them to their grave. It saddens me to know that information is lost forever.

But there is good news. I am back. I have restored my files and am building them everyday. For safety, I now back up my files on a regular basis. As an added measure of safety I now post my research on for all to see. Anyone who is interested in my research only has to send me an e-mail and I will be glad to send them an invitation to view my family tree. There is no cost, you are my guest. One of my big fears these days is if something happened to me suddenly that all my research would be lost. As those of you know who have been also researching Tipton family history, the sudden loss of someone like Charles D. Tipton of Texas can happen any time. I plan to stay around a long, long time (I’m 67 now) but one just never knows.

This morning a long time Tipton family research, Robert Tipton Nave, sent me a link to a new web site for Colonel John Tipton. Colonel John Tipton was the half brother of my direct ancestor, Major Jonathan Tipton III (1750-1833). I’ve added this link to my blog. I will be glad to add any other links to my blog that the reader thinks will be of interest to the Tipton history.

In these economic hard times and fear of security in this world, the one thing we have that is comforting is the knowledge of our shared family history. Finding out about our ancestors; seeing those old photographs and the similarity to our present relatives is priceless. Join me on my journey into our shared family history.

For those of you who are interested you can e-mail me at the following address:

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Searching For My Roots, Part I

Perhaps the greatest accomplishment of my life has been the discovery of my “roots.” I feel secure in the knowledge that if I accomplish nothing else in my life, I have achieved one of the greatest goals known to man. Those of you who read this blog and who also have an interest in genealogy understand what I am talking about. There are others who don’t care about their ancestors or their origins. That is an attitude which I will never understand. I truly feel blessed that I was born with this curiosity about my ancestors. I have found the origin of my paternal ancestral roots and now have the time and energy to share that with my relatives and others who are interested in the Tipton Family.

When I was growing up in a second floor, two bedroom, $22 a month, cockroach infested apartment on 120 Washington Avenue in Downingtown, Pennsylvania I only knew that my father and his ten brothers (no sisters) were “hillbillies.” I’m embarrassed to admit it now, but I cannot tell you the amount of shame that knowledge caused this 10 year old boy at that time who was trying to fit in with his non-hillbilly classmates at East Ward School. Little did I know at that time the amount of pride that I would eventually have for my father and his ancestors.

My father and his eight brothers (two more would be born in Pennsylvania) and his mother and father moved to the Unionville area of southeastern Pennsylvania around 1930, when my father was 10 years old. His family moved from the Pigeon Roost area of the Pisgah Mountains in Mitchell County, North Carolina. This is an area of heavily wooded mountains near the Tennessee border, near Johnson City, Tennessee. My father always said he was from “Pigeon Roost”, but later research indicated that his family lived near the Bailey Settlement near the Toe River. The Pigeon Roost connection came from his mother, Hester Lewis (b. 13 Nov 1892 d. 20 Apr 1945.) Her father, Isaac Lewes (b. 04 Nov. 1856, d. 27 Apr 1944), was a landowner with a large house (for the area) on the Pigeon Roost Road. According to my Uncle Ed (one of my father’s older brothers), Fieldon (their father and my grandfather) would court Hester at her Pigeon Roost home.

Times were especially tough during the Depression in that area of hills and hollers of western North Carolina where the “hillbillies” lived. According to my father, his father Fieldon (Jacob Tipton, b. 04 Jun 1884, d. 08 May 1939) was in the lumber business. Fieldon worked in a saw mill. I don’t know if he owned it or not, just that his livelihood was lumber. Business wasn’t good. Fieldon decided he could provide for his family better by working for his brother-in-law, Don Byrd (b. 1874 d. 1962.) Don Byrd was married to one of Fieldon’s older sisters, Essie Tipton (Essie Elizabeth Tipton, b. 22 Aug 1877 d. 1962.) Don Byrd had a successful fruit and vegetable farm in southeastern Chester County, near the present day town of Unionville. “Uncle Don” would provide housing for his brother-in-law Fieldon and his family provided that Fieldon provided ready farm work (picking fruits and vegetables) with his nine sons. Those sons were (in order of birth):

Raymond Luther “Ray” Tipton 20 Oct 1909 03 Aug 1988

John Henry “Hen” Tipton 15 Feb 1911 11 Mar 1993

Edward Walter “Ed” Tipton 10 Sep 1914 24 Jul 1998

Erby Erwin “Erby” Tipton 20 Nov 1917 29 Sep 1990

Isaac Walter “Ike” Tipton 18 Apr 1920 22 Aug 2000

John Hannum “John” Tipton 29 Aug 1922 14 Sep 1961

Richard Berry “Rich” Tipton 29 Aug 1922 09 Apr 1989

Luther Raymond “Dude” Tipton 11 Mar 1925 17 Sep 1979

Fieldon Jacob “Tip” Tipton 31 Dec 1926 23 Aug 2006

Bruce “Bruce” Tipton 15 Oct 1931 28 Jun 1995

Samuel Park “Sam” Tipton 31 Mar 1934 15 Dec 2001

My father and his brothers and mom and dad lived in a tenant house on Uncle Don’s farm, picking fruits and vegetables. Eventually, other family members would join the Tipton in a migration to Pennsylvania for a better way of life. David Gouge, the husband of another one of my grandfather’s sisters, Abigail Tipton, moved his family to Pennsylvania after he delivered some cattle to Don Byrd. Family lore has it that Dave Gouge saw what he liked and moved his family from the hills of North Carolina to the fertile fields of southern Chester County, Pennsylvania. Adgie Tipton, a distant cousin, also moved his family to Pennsylvania. Some of the Lewis family (Fieldon’s wife was a Lewis) also moved their families to the New World of Pennsylvania.

Thus began the first chapter of one of the ancient families to move out of their Appalachian Shangri-La into the 20th century. For the first time my father and his brothers would attend a formal school, thus obtaining an education which was not available to them in the hills and hollers of their former home in Mitchell County, North Carolina. Even more important, my father and his brothers would meet Pennsylvania women, who came from completely different backgrounds than they would have met if their parents had stayed in North Carolina. Many, if not most marriages in those hills were between the same 20 or so families, who names have intertwined with one another over the hundred and fifty years or more that the Tipton familes have family had lived and reproduced in those mountains. It was in 1940 that my Father met my Mother, Betty Louise Hadfield (b. 24 Dec 1923), a beautiful young woman from a poor family in Downingtown with Quaker roots.

A year after he met my Mother, they eloped to Elkton, Maryland for a quickie marriage on November 2, 1940. After the marriage, my Father returned his new wife to her home on Pennsylvania Avenue in Downingtown because she had to go to school that Monday (she was still a senior in high school.) However, that arrangement didn't last too long once her father found out about the marriage. Once the secret of their marriage was out, my Father took my Mother away "from all of that" (her home life where she was almost like Cinderella cleaning house for her wicked step-mother.

One year later, almost to the day, I was born (November 9, 1941.) Looking at my ancestry now, I know that I am the quintessential American (along with all my Tipton relatives.) My ancestry is half from this country’s Appalachian pioneers and the other half from Pennsylvania Quaker ancestry. However, to his dying day my dad called me “half a hillbilly.” And you know, he was right.