Thursday, February 6, 2014

Are We Related?

Ike Tipton Family - 1948
My father Isaac Walter Tipton, my Mother Betty Hadfield Tipton
(bottom row left to right) my brothers
John Tipton, me (center) and my brother Isaac, Jr. (right)

Hello folks.  It's been a while since I posted on this blog.  I plan to post more often but before I do I need to clarify a few things for the readers of this blog.

I began researching my family tree twenty years ago.  Since that time I've accumulated quite a bit of information.  Most of the information I have acquired has been the result of my own hard work.  Frequent visits to the "homeland" (the mountains of western North Carolina where my father was born), and thousands of hours researching through documents at the National Archives in Philadelphia and now on my account for which I subscribe to for $300.00 a year.  I mention the cost because I have also expended thousands of dollars in my research efforts.

Me (left) with my brothers Isaac (center) and John (right) 1979

The reason I mention all of this is that since I began this blog I often get requests that begin with "Are We Related?"  Well, the short answer is "Yes, all the Tiptons are related."  We Tiptons are fortunate in that the first Tipton to hit these shores was Jonathan Tipton who arrived from Jamaica in the late 1600's and arrived in Baltimore, Maryland.  That is where our American history of the Tipton family begins.  

Me at Old Time Photo in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

The next question is "Can you tell me how we're related?"  And my answer has always been that is you can supply me with the name and date and place of birth of your great grandfather, I can almost always tie you into the Tipton family tree I have created over the past twenty years.  However, I cannot tie you into my Tipton family tree if you do not know your immediate ancestry.  Sorry, but I'm not a magician.  

My brothers (from left me, Isaac, Jr. and John) with our mother - 2005

Just recently I had a guest at the hotel where I work, a James Tipton.  I told him my name was also Tipton and that we were related.  He said "No, I don't think we're related."  I asked him if he knew the name of his great grandfather and grandfather.  He did. After about two hours of research on and my family tree I discovered we were fifth cousins.  And I had documented this proof with census records, death certificates, marriage records and compared with other Tipton family trees on  Needless to say he was very surprised.  Pleased? I couldn't tell but he was surprised.

Since I began this blog I have received many requests from Tipton descendants inquiring if I have information about their lineage.  For those who have supplied the sufficient information I have taken the time and researched my records and have almost always found the connection.  My success rate is about 95%.  For a very few I could find nothing and those are the ones who I suspect were probably adopted or had assumed the Tipton name but were not genetically Tiptons.  For those I suggested to submit their information to the Tipton DNA project

For those I was successful in finding their Tipton lineage I have noticed a disturbing and disappointing pattern.  Before I began researching their family history connection, I always make a small request.  I request an old photograph or two of their ancestors so I can add it to my family tree. I have also requested whatever lineage information they have.  I don't necessarily need information on their relatives who are alive now, I know some people value their privacy but I do request whatever information they have on their deceased Tipton relatives so I can continue to build our mutual Tipton family tree.  Almost without exception I have found once I provide the requestors with the information they have requested, they never keep their part of the bargain.  I don't think this is fair.  To ask me to research for them and yet they can't put forth a minimal effort to at least provide me with additional Tipton information in the form of names and dates and photos?  It isn't fair.

And that gets me to the purpose of this blog posting.  I'll be glad to help anyone reading this blog research their Tipton roots but only if you provide me first with information from your family tree and at least a few old photos.  If you are unwilling or just don't want to comply with my request then please don't ask me to help you.  I don't like to be this harsh but at my age (72) and health (I have prostate cancer), I just don't have that much time left to expend my time doing one sided favors.  I hope you all understand.

Me at a recent Tipton family reunion with my cousins Bob and Paul Tipton - the way Tiptons should act, accepting of one another regardless of their sexual orientation - we're all in this together folks. I'm not the enemy.

And one more thing, I know many of the readers of this Tipton blog are from the south and of the mindset that being gay is "against God's laws."  Well, here you go folks.  I'm gay so get over it.  I make no apologies for being who I am.  I understand you go to your church and have your beliefs.  I don't tell you how to conduct your life so don't tell me how to conduct my life.  My life is none of your business nor is who I love and choose to spend my life with.  Don't judge me.  Pay attention to your own life.  And please don't give me the old "I'll pray for you."   I don't need nor want your condescending attitude.  Pay attention to your own life and how you treat other human beings.  "Judge not lest ye be judged."  Practice what you preach.

Last year during my research in Pigeon Roost, North Carolina (the Pisgah mountains of western North Carolina where my father was born), I was threatened by a distant cousin who "heard a rumor" that I was gay and confronted me with the "Do you practice the gay lifestyle?"  I responded "If you're asking me if I'm gay, I am."  Then he responded "Well you get this and get this good, if you ever step foot on my parent's property (I was scheduled to visit with his parents, his mother's grandmother was my grandfather's sister) you'll have me do deal with!  You got that bud?" At the time I received this threat I was with my cousin Bob Tipton and his wife who I was going to introduce to our mutual cousin.  Well, I know a threat when I hear one (as I have many times in my life since I came out openly as a gay man in 1963) so I decided not to challenge my homophobic cousin.  As a result of that hateful threat I have decided never again to visit the "homeland."  Again, I am just too old for this and I don't have that much time left.  

Me  in the beautiful but hate filled mountains of western North Carolina where my father was born - 2013
I will probably never return

I am going to spend my remaining years in productive activity for people who appreciate what I do for them.  I am also going to spend my remaining years with people who value me as a human being and who don't use the Bible as a cudgel to hate me.  

That's where I am today folks.  I hope you all understand I am here to help anyone who is willing to put forth an effort to also help me.  

Have a great day!

Where I live now, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware where gay men like me are not threatened just for existing