Abraham Phipps was born about 1812-1815 in Virginia (about 1812 according to the 1850 census and his Civil War enlistment, about 1815 according to the 1870 census). He was born in Lee County, Virginia according to the death certificate of his son Peter, but in Washington County, Virginia according to the 1870 census.
Abraham Phipps married a woman who appears in the 1850 census as “Alcey.” Secondary sources claim that she was Alice Yeary, daughter of Benedict Yeary, which appears likely. Abraham and Alcey named a son Benedict Phipps, and Benedict Yeary is listed on the same census page as Abraham and Alcey in 1850.
Abraham Phipps is listed in the 1850 census on 23 August 1850 in Lee County, Virginia as a laborer. He could not read or write, nor could his wife. Their son Benedict, who apparently was named for his grandfather, was born about 1831 in Virginia. Abraham’s daughter Emaline was born about 1837 in Virginia according to the same census.
That census lists several more children: Peter, born about 1843 in Virginia, Martha born about 1845 in Virginia, Catharine, born about 1847 in Virginia (named for her grandmother?), and Wilson, born about 1849.
Alcey is said to have died in 1856, and the 1860 census shows that at least some of the children were scattered. Abraham then entered Civil War service in 1862.
In the Confederate service file of Abraham Phipps (also A. Fipps, Abraham Fipps, and Abe Fipps), Company G, 64th Virginia Mounted Infantry, Abraham appears as a private.
His age was 50 (so born about 1812-1813) on a company muster-in roll, dated 1 Sep 1863 at Cumberland Gap, Tennessee, with muster-in date of 13 Aug 1862. He joined 13 Aug 1862 at Lee County, Virginia to serve for 3 years. He was absent with leave on the muster roll for March and April 1863, but absent without leave from June 28th on the muster roll for May and June 1863.
The company muster roll for 31 Oct 1863 to 30 Jun 1864, dated 30 Jun 1864, notes that he was absent because he had been captured at Cumberland Gap on 9 Sep 1863.
A prisoner of war card, referencing a Register of Prisoners of War received at the military prison at Louisville, Kentucky, indicates that, again, he was captured 9 Sep 1863 at Cumberland Gap, discharged 24 Sep 1863. Another card notes that he appears on a roll of prisoners of war “captured at Cumberland Gap and forwarded to Camp Douglas, Ill., from Louisville, Ky., Sept. 24, 1863.”
Yet another card indicates that Abraham “Phiipps” was listed on a roll of prisoners of war received at Camp Douglas, Illinois during Sept 1863. Another card, referencing a record of prisoners of war at Camp Douglas, Chicago, Illinois, says that he was captured 9 Sep 1863 at Cumberland Gap, that he was received 26 Sep 1863, and that he was discharged 15 Jun 1865. Another card referring to Camp Douglas at Chicago includes under remarks, simply “Lee Co Va.”
He signed an oath of allegiance, according to one card, “date and place not stated.” That card says that he resided in Lee County, Virginia. The card says that he had dark complexion, gray hair, blues eye, and that he was 5 feet, 10 inches tall. Under remarks appears simply “Bristol Tenn.” Bristol is in Sullivan County, Tennessee, adjacent to Carter County, Tennessee, as well as Washington and Scott Counties in Virginia.
Another card says, in part:
See Manuscript No. 1383 page -
Dated – Sept. 2, 1863
He is noted on another card as follows:
Appears on a
ROLL OF PRISONERS OF WAR
received of James W. Reilly, Col. 104th O. V. I. at Cumberland Gap, Tenn., Sept. 11, 1863.
Roll not dated.
After the Civil War, Abraham Phipps appears to have remarried to a woman who is listed with him in the 1870 census as “Delpha.” Secondary sources refer to her as Delphia Moor, and there were people named “More” in the area. Secondary sources say they married in Lee County in 1867, but this is unconfirmed.
The 1870 census, dated 25 August 1870, shows Abraham and Delpha living in Yocum Station Township, Lee County, Virginia. He was working on a farm and his personal estate and real estate were both nil, evidently meaning that he didn’t own his own land. He still could not read and write.
Peter Phipps, son of Abraham and Alcey, was born 25 Dec 1845 according to his tombstone. He was born in Lee County, Virginia according to his death certificate. This data squares with additional data found in the censuses of 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880, as well as the death certificates of his son John and his daughter Sarah.
On 8 June 1860, the census showed Peter, listed as Peter Phips, as living in Hancock County, Tennessee, with post office at Sneedville. He was a 15-year-old farm laborer living in the household of Joshua Givens.
Sneedville is the county seat of Hancock County, which sits along the northern state line of Tennessee, adjacent to Lee County, Virginia. Perhaps Sneedville’s primary claim to fame is its Melungeon heritage. Sneedville was the location of the well-remembered “Walk Toward the Sunset” outdoor drama which, during the 1960s and 1970s, publicized the story of the Melungeons.
On 4 August 1870, Peter appears as Peter Phipps, farm laborer, living in Carter County, Tennessee. This is a part of Tennessee which had been a part of North Carolina at one time. Peter is again listed in that census as unable to read and write.
By the time of the 1880 census, on 5 June 1880, he was still living in Carter County, where his occupation is listed as “Works for Car W. Co.” He still could not read or write.
Peter married Elizabeth (“Betsy”) Blevins. This is attested by the death certificates of sons David, Logan, and John, all of which refer to their parents as Peter Phipps and Betsy Blevins. The death certificate of son Charly, which is poorly written, shows the parents’ names as what looks like “Petr Phipps” and “Betsy Blavin.” The two are listed as Peter Phipps and Bettie Blevins on the death certificate of their daughter Sarah.
The Blevins surname is one of those names that often pops up in discussions of Melungeon families in the region. A number of Phipps and Blevins associations have been located in various records.
The death certificate of Peter, by the way, shows his father’s name as what looks like “Abram Phipps,” although it’s hard to tell for sure, since it’s poorly scribbled.
Betsy was born about 1847 or 1848 in Tennessee, according to the 1870 and 1880 censuses. She was born in Carter County according to the death certificates of her sons John and Charly.
Betsy’s husband Peter Phipps died 20 January 1924, at 3 pm, in Johnson County, Tennessee, according to his death certificate. The same date appears on his tombstone. He was buried 22 January 1924 in Proffitt Cemetery in Johnson County, according to his death certificate and a Find A Grave page. The latter includes a photo of his tombstone. According to his tombstone, he served in the military (Civil War) in Company M, 13th Tennessee Cavalry.
Children of Peter and Betsy (Blevins) Phipps include Charles (“Charley” or “Charly”), David L., John Hamilton, Amanita, Daniel, Sarah Jane, Jane, and Logan. John Hamilton married Amanda Wilkins, according to their death certificates, and fathered a son named Peter (1921-1924). Daughter Sarah Jane married J.T. Elliott, according to her death certificate, and they fathered a son named J.T. Elliott, Jr.