George Phipps was a son of Jesse Phipps (about 1786/8 to 1865) and his wife Jennie Spurlin. Jesse was born in Ashe County, North Carolina, moved to Owen County, Indiana in the 1830s, and died in Putnam County, Missouri.
His son George has been the most difficult of Jesse’s children to research. Even close family members didn’t know where he was, or if he was dead or alive, when George’s father died in 1865, according to probate records.
According to census reports, George Phipps was born about 1807. Sources differ as to where he was born. The 1852 California state census said Kentucky. The 1880 census listing for his son Samuel said that Samuel’s father George was born in Virginia. The 1900 census listing for George’s daughter Nancy said that George was born in North Carolina.
George Phipps married Nancy Hall 13 March 1834 in Owen County, Indiana, according to marriage abstracts. He shows up in the 1843 tax list in Jefferson Township, where he had earlier bought land that then sold to his brother Matthew Phipps.
In 1847 and 1849, the Iowa state census shows him living in Van Buren County. The federal census on 22 Nov 1850, however, shows his wife and children living without him in Union Township, Van Buren County, Iowa. Where was George?
Reed, in his 1923 History of Sacramento County (p. 428) says that George came to California in 1849. Then could he have been the George Phipps who founded the Gold Rush town of Georgetown in El Dorado County, California. At least one source says, however, that the George Phipps who founded Georgetown was from Massachusetts. Was that correct?
Reed says that George then returned to his “eastern home” from California in 1851. He then set out for California by way of Salt Lake with his family. According to Reed, they arrived that year in Stockton, where George ran a hotel. Stockton is in San Joaquin County.
The 1852 California state census then shows Geo. Fips, with last residence in Iowa, living in San Joaquin County on 15 October 1852. His age is given as 45, and the record says he was born in Kentucky. There he is listed with his wife and children.
Then, however, George went east on a business trip after two years in Stockton. This would have been about 1853. On that trip, he died of smallpox in New York.
Children of George Phipps and Nancy (Hall) Phipps:
1. Samuel Phipps, born about 1835-1841, died 1904
2. William Phipps, born about 1837-1838
3. Jesse Phipps, born about 1838-1840, died 1890
4. Nancy Jane Phipps, born 1841
5. Celia Phipps, born about 1845-1846
6. Lavinia, born about 1848
7. Elizabeth, born Feb 1848 or 1849, d. 1941
1. Samuel Phipps
Samuel Phipps, son of George Phipps/Nancy Hall, was born about 1835-1841 in Indiana, Illinois, or Virginia, depending on which census record or California Great Register record is consulted. He was most likely born in Owen County, Indiana, considering the likely whereabouts of the parents.
He is listed as Samuel Phipps, living with his mother and siblings, in the 1850 census in Van Buren County, Iowa. Then in 1852, he is listed with them in San Joaquin County, California, but this time as Saml Fips. He was 18.
Samuel married Bridget Jolly in San Joaquin County on 26 October 1863. The record can be found in County Marriage Book 2, p. 169. At the time of their marriage, they both lived in Stockton. Census records show her as born in Ireland about 1839-1841 (one record says June 1830).
Then, however, we enter into some questions and issues regarding records. From this point, the data becomes a bit confused because of 3 factors: (1) Someone extracting vital statistic information from California newspapers indicated in a list that Bridget Jolly Phipps died in 1870, which does not appear to be the case. (2) Some news accounts refer to Samuel Phipps and his wife “Kate Jolly.” Evidently this was Bridget Jolly Phipps, although if so, it’s unclear why she would be called that. (3) In 1909, “Mrs. Kate Phipps,” if her, committed an unspeakably horrible violent crime, according to the press. If the account was true, one wouldn’t think she would then return to normal life, but she then seems to appear living in the census in 1910.
Samuel Phipps was appointed an appraiser of the estate of William Wise, deceased, as reported in a Sacramento paper on 12 June 1866. Presumably this was the same Samuel; Samuel’s sister Nancy married Joseph Wise, and they had a son William Wise.
The press then reported that on 13 April 1867 in Sacramento, Samuel Phipps’s wife “Kate Joly” (also referred to as “Kate Jolly”) and John Clooney stole Samuel’s tool chest in which he had hidden $1,700. This would seem to be the same Samuel, but why his wife would be called “Kate Joly” isn’t clear.
She and Clooney were arrested for grand larceny. Samuel Phipps claimed that he had hidden the money, in coin form, in his tool chest under his bed. He had thought that it would there be safe from his wife. She told the police, however, that he had never owned that amount of money, that he didn’t even own a hammer, let alone a chest full of tools, and that the only box under the bed was an old box containing a few onions.
The police court released Samuel’s wife and John Clooney after finding Samuel’s story so “contradictory and improbable,” as a news article put it, that a suggestion was made that Samuel should be arrested for perjury. The judge decided not to arrest him, since he believed Samuel was insane.
That was on 13 April 1867 in Sacramento. The post office then released a list of “letters remaining” on 16 May 1867. Post offices in those days commonly published such lists of unclaimed letters as a warning before they were destroyed. Often such lists indicate that the person had moved on, which would appear likely in this case.
By the time of the next census, 7 July 1870, it became evident that he had moved to San Francisco. There he’s listed as a carpenter. In the 1880 census, on 3 June 1880. he was working in a carpenter shop in San Francisco. The family was then living at 136 Langton Street.
Another news item surfaced in 1895. An individual named Samuel Phipps in San Francisco, but without being identified, shot his wife in the leg on the 9th of November of the previous year. The hospital thought in March of 1895 that her leg would require amputation, but she refused to register a complaint against her husband. A policeman arrested him anyway, and he was charged with assault to murder. Bond was set at $5,000.
That Samuel Phipps, who presumably was the same one who had married Bridget Jolly, was sentenced to three months in the county jail for assault. The 1900 census (4 June 1900) then shows Bridget living at 248 1/2 Harriet Street in San Francisco. She is listed as married and is living with the children, but he is not in the household.
Samuel, presumably the same one, then died 17 August 1904 in the City and County Hospital in San Francisco. That’s not the end of the story, however. While his body was being taken to the cemetery by horse-drawn hearse on 21 August 1904, as the hearse traveled on Mission Street south of the old St. Mary’s College Building, the horses were startled by the sound of an approaching street car and the car collided with the hearse.
The hearse was completely destroyed, but the casket was not. The body was transferred to another hearse and was taken to the cemetery. The account of the incident in the local press refers to Samuel as Samuel T. Phipps.
Then on 6 July 1909, a Mrs. Kate Phipps attacked Mary Ryan in Lexington, as reported in the local press. This was presumably Lexington, California, which is in Santa Clara County not far from San Francisco.
The press didn’t identify this Mrs. Kate Phipps, but she was referred to as “a neighbor” of the young woman who was attacked. Mary Ryan was described as a “young Irish girl” (and Bridget was Irish).
This Kate Phipps, who seems likely to have been the same individual, was charged with throwing carbolic acid onto the girl’s face, then cutting her on the face and hands with a knife. The article reporting this is titled “Mutilates Girl Who Had Rosy Cheeks.” Mrs. Phipps was reported as having said, “If I can’t have rosy cheeks, you can’t. Everybody likes you. Nobody likes me.”
Then, however, the census on the 3rd and 4th of May, 1910, shows what appears to be her living at 362 Richland Avenue in San Francisco, at age 70. Does that mean that the “Mrs. Kate Phipps” of the incident was a different woman? Or were the charges false?
A Bridget Phipps is said to be buried at Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery in San Mateo County. She died 17 July 1917. Whether this is the same Bridget is unclear, but it would seem likely.
Children of Samuel and Bridget were (1) Kate, (2) Jessie W. (male), and (3) Mary E. Phipps. Kate appears to have died early. She was born about 1864 in California according to the 1870 census, but doesn’t appear with her parents in the 1880 or 1900 census. The 1900 census shows her siblings with the notation that her mother had 3 children, but that only 2 were living.
Jessie W. (spelled Jessie) was born August 1871, 1872, or 1873, according to census reports. The 1900 census shows him as a 28-year-old carpenter living with his mother and sister at 248 1/2 Harriet Street in San Francisco. The 1910 census shows him as still living with them on 362 Richland Avenue. He was a house carpenter at the time.
The 1920 census, however, shows him as Jesse W. Phipps, an inmate in the Stockton State Hospital. That was California’s first psychiatric hospital. Celia Phipps, sister of Jessie’s father Samuel, was placed in the same hospital.
Mary E. Phipps, the third child of Samuel and Bridget, was born December 1875 in California according to the 1900 census. She appears as Mary E., a 24-year-old single laborer, living with her mother and brother in the 1900 census.
2. William Phipps
William Phipps, another son of George Phipps/Nancy Hall, was born about 1837 or 1838 in Indiana, according to censuses. The 1850 census shows him living with his mother and siblings in Van Buren County, Iowa, then with his family in 1852 in San Joaquin County, California in the state census.
He is listed as Wm. Phips (presumably him), a day laborer in the household of Sharp, in the census on 27 June 1860. This was in Georgiana Township, Sacramento County, California.
3. Jesse Phipps
Another son of George Phipps/Nancy Hall was Jesse Phipps. He was born about 1838-1840 in Indiana, Ohio, or Indiana, depending on census report. One news article says he was born about 1838 in Ohio. As was the case with William, he appears with his family in the 1850 census in Iowa and the 1852 state census in San Joaquin County, California. There he’s lsited as Jesse Fips, age 12.
The next federal census, 27 June 1860, shows him in Sacramento County. He is listed as [J.?] Phips, a farm laborer in the household of Francis Whittaker in Georgiana Township, Sacramento County. This is next door to his brother William.
He is listed as Jesse Phipps, farmer in Georgiana Township, Sacramento County, in the 1870 census, and in Sacramento County in the 1880 census. According to the latter census, he couldn’t read or write.
A news report of his death says that he moved from Walnut Grove in Sacramento County to Lodi in San Joaquin County about 1884. He was found dead at his home in Lodi on 30 September 1890. His home was described as a “neat little cottage which he owned.” He was unmarried, and was said to be worth about $8,000. He appears to be the subject of Estate 1781, filed 3 October 1890 in San Joaquin County Superior Court, Book C.
4. Nancy Jane Phipps
Nancy Jane Phipps, who was another child of George Phipps/Nancy Hall, was born 22 October 1841 according to Reed’s 1923 History of Sacramento County (p. 428). She is also listed in those same two censuses, from 1850 and 1852. The 1852 state census refers to her as “Nacy” J. Fips, age 10, born in Indiana.
She came with her brother George to Walnut Grove in 1855, according to Reed. When she was 15, she married Joseph Wise on 23 October 1856 according to Reed. This squares with the 1900 census, shows suggests that they married about 1856.
Her husband Joseph Wise was born in Cape Girardeau County, Missouri about 1830, according to a combination of Reed’s history and the 1900 census. He was a son of Philip Wise according to Reed. The census lists him as Joseph Wise, farmer, on 21 June 1900 in Georgiana Township, Sacramento County, California.
A child of Joseph and Nancy Jane (Phipps) Wise was David D. Wise. He was born July 1876 in California according to the 1900 census.
5. Celia Phipps
Nancy Jane’s sister Celia was born about 1845-1852 in Iowa, Indiana, or “US,” depending on which census record is examined. She is listed in the 1852 California state census as Celia Fips, age 7, born in Indiana.
The 1900 census lists her as Celia Phipps, and shows her as a patient in the Stockton State Hospital. This is the same hospital in which Jesse W., above, was placed.
6. Lavinia Phipps
Another sister was Lavinia. She was born about 1848 in Iowa according to the 1852 California state census. There she is listed as Lavinia Fips, age 4. She may have been the same person as the individual who is listed in the 1850 census as Elizabeth Phipps (below), born about 1849 in Iowa.
7. Elizabeth Phipps
As noted, she may have been the same person as Lavinia. Elizabeth, another daughter of George Phipps/Nancy Hall, was born in February of 1848 or 1849 in Iowa, according to a combination of census reports and her death record abstract.
She would seem to be the Elizabeth Phips listed in the household of S.C. Tyler in Georgiana Township, Sacramento County, California, in the census on 27 June 1860. She is presumably the Elizabeth Phipps who married William H. Brown about 1871 according to the 1900 census. He was born November 1846 in Missouri according to the 1900 census.
The 1900 census (21 June) shows the couple as living in Sutter Township in Sacramento County. He is listed as William H. Brown, a stock raiser.
The 1940 census (5 April) shows her as Elizabeth Brown, grandmother, in the household of Roy R. Bridenstine in Sacramento. She died 4 May 1941 in Sacramento County according to a death record abstract.
8. George W. Phipps
George W. Phipps, son of George Phipps/Nancy Hall, was born 27 April 1853 in Stockton according to Reed’s 1923 Sacramento County history (p. 434). He married Eliza Jane Wilson 17 October 1875 in Lockeford in San Joaquin County according to Reed. The 1900 census corroborates that George Phipps married Eliza about 1875.
The census on 1 June 1880 shows them as living in Elliott Township, San Joaquin County. He is listed there as George Phipps, a farm laborer. He is listed the same way in the census on 23 June 1900 in Georgiana Township in Sacramento County. He was Republican and Methodist, according to Reed. Reed also claims that he was the model for characters in several Jack London stories, including “The Valley of the Moon.”
Extensive biographical information on George appears in Reed. The children of George W. Phipps and his wife Eliza Jane (Wilson) Phipps were Corda, Elsie, George, Hester, Lois, Mary, Reuben, Nettie, Nellie, Mollie, Hattie, Charles Fredrick, Mabel, Alma, Irene, Lorene, and David Joseph.
Charles Fredrick Phipps was born about 1890 according to a marriage record abstract, but in June 1888 in California according to the 1900 census. He married Minnie Offer 9 April 1914 in San Francisco, according to a marriage abstract. He lived in San Francisco in 1923 according to Reed. Reed calls him Charles, but the marriage record abstract calls him Charles Fredrick Phipps.
David Joseph Phipps, another son of George W. Phipps and his wife Eliza Jane (Wilson) Phipps, was born 23 April 1899 according to his WWI draft registration, He was born in California according to censuses and his death record abstract.
His World War I draft registration, dated 12 September 1918, shows him as living in Walnut Grove in Sacramento County. He was working as a bookkeper for what appears to be “A. [Brown?],” according to that record. George W. Phipps, presumably his father, is listed as his nearest relative, in Walnut Grove.
Reed said that in 1923, David was working as a bookkeeper in the “bank of Alexander Brown” in Walnut Grove. The WWI draft registration describes him as tall, with blue eyes and dark hair.
According to the 1940 census, he lived on 1 April 1935 in Georgiana Township, Sacramento County, then in the same house on 16 April 1940. That census lists him as David J. Phipps, a bank clerk.
David Joseph Phipps died 4 June 1983 in Sacramento County according to a death record abstract. The Social Security Death Index indicates that he died in 1983, with his last residence at Union City, Alameda County.
He is called David in Reed and in the Social Security Death Index, Joseph in the 1900 census, and David Joseph in his death record abstract and WWI draft registration. His social security number was issued in New Mexico.