Noteworthy finds were posted recently in the Witcher Family Genealogy blog regarding John Fips of the Pigg River area of Virginia, who has been discussed in other recent posts. These findings are summarized in a new page about John Fips, who died in 1768, and his wife Tabitha. John died in Charlotte County, but probate and estate matters involved his heirs in adjacent Pittsylvania County.
The page, which includes document scans, shows that John’s wife was Tabitha, and that they were the parents of Elizabeth (“Betsey”) Fips who married Ephraim Witcher. Also discussed are other children and apparent children of this couple.
Research regarding this family could hold potential promise for those who have dealt with the Ashe County, North Carolina roadblock. Various circumstances and interconnections suggest a close connection.
Since this John died in 1768, there was obviously another John in the area, perhaps John and Tabitha’s son. The page discusses a 1771 record involving a living John Phips in Pittsylvania County.
For whatever reason, the Phipps family seemed to love to bestow on males names beginning with the letter J, and a number have been named John. Could there be a connection, however, between the later John in Pittsylvania County and the John who shows up in records in Wilkes County, North Carolina in 1789 and 1791? (Some members of this family moved from Pittsylvania County into this general area of North Carolina.)
John Fips, according to a 26 January 1789 Wilkes County, North Carolina record, was to oversee the road from Praters Creek to Franklin’s road. He resigned by 23 April 1792. In addition, a Wilkes County deed dated 24 July1791 is from John and Elender Fips to Alex Smith, for 100 acres.
Then we also have two individuals named John Fips in early Amelia County, Virginia. Amelia County was adjacent to Lunenburg County, where the John of Charlotte County appears to have originally surfaced in records, where he received a land grant on both sides of the Pigg River in 1760.
The following are records pertaining to two individuals named John in Amelia County. This list is mostly dependent on online record abstracts and transcriptions, and there seem to be some abstract or transcription issues. The data seems clear enough, however, to demonstrate the presence of two individuals named John Fips in Amelia County.
- 23 February 1747, Amelia County: Deed, Edward Harris, planter of Amelia Co. to Bartholomew Austin, witnessed by Nathaniel Harris, John “Hips” (presumably Fips misread), Robert Gresham
- 16 March 1747, Amelia County: Deed (see also here, Nathaniel Harris of Amelia Co. to John Green of Goochland Co. (or Edward Harris of “Raleigh Ph.” Amelia Co. to Nathaniel Harris of same – either transcribed incorrectly or there were two different deeds), witnessed by John Fips, Robert Gresham/Grosham, Charles Harris
- 8 March 1747?, Amelia County: Deed(s), abstracted as “a couple of deeds” dated 8 March 1747 and 18 March 1847 (presumably 1747 was meant, but which deed is which isn’t clear), Edward Harris and wife Unity of Amelia Co. to son Nathaniel Harris, witnessed by John Fips, Robert Gresham, Charles Harris
- 2 Apr 1750, Amelia County: Survey, John Fipps had 400 acres surveyed on the south side of the Appomattox River
- 26 September 1751, Amelia County: Road order, John Phips among those to work on “old Roling Road” from Randolph’s Road near his mill, then across Vaughan’s Creek at ford, then to mouth of Sawney’s Creek
- 1775 or 1776, Amelia County: Rev. War service, John Phipps enlisted in Revolutionary War service; he was born 1753 in Charles City County and resided in Surry County, Virginia in 1774 (see both references to his enlistment)
- 23 June 1785, Amelia County: Deed, Solomon Coleman to John Phipps acknowledged in court
- 26 July 1787, Amelia County: Deed, John Phipps to Herrod Crowder proven in court by witnesses Daniel Southall, Samuel Pitchford, and Jeremiah Perkinson
This list suggests two individuals in Amelia County named John Fips or Phips or Phipps. (Presumably when the later John enlisted in 1776 in Amelia County, he enlisted there because he was living there.) One was an adult by 1747. The other wasn’t born until 1753.
A working hypothesis would be that the one who was born in Charles City County in 1753 was the son of the one who was witnessing deeds by 1747. After all, the older one would likely have been born, perhaps, in the mid-1720s or earlier, If he was born, say, 1726 (if 21 in 1747), then he would have been about 27 years old when the later John was born.
A closer examination of the evidence, however, suggests that this appears to be extremely unlikely, if not impossible. Assuming that all the following records pertain to the same individual, then that gives us the following scenario regarding the older man:
- 1747: Witnessing deeds in Amelia County
- 1750: Had land surveyed in Amelia County
- 1751: Working on road in Amelia County
The younger man in Amelia County would have been in 1753 in Charles City County, yet the older man would presumably have been living in Amelia County (or at least not back east in Charles City County). This would suggest an extreme unlikelihood of a father and son relationship.
Could the information about either of these two men named John overlap, however, with the information about the two men named John in Charlotte and Pittsylvania Counties, a short distance away?
Of the two Johns in Charlotte and Pittsylvania Counties, the younger was involved in a debt dispute in Pittsylvania County in 1771. The John who was born in 1753 doesn’t appear to have moved any further west than Surry County, Virginia by 1774, according to his own testimony. As a result, these would appear to be different individuals.
The older of the two Johns in Charlotte and Pittsylvania Counties, the one who married Tabitha and who died in 1768 in Charlotte County, could in theory have been the same as the John who appeared earlier in Amelia County. Then he could have been involved in Amelia County records from 1747 through 1751 in Amelia County records, after which, in theory, he could have received a land grant in 1760 in Lunenburg County, which would have moved him a bit further south.
There’s a problem with that theory as well, however, in that post-war records show John – or at least someone by that name – still in Amelia County after the Revolutionary War. This would have been after the John who was born in 1753 had moved on into Orange County, North Carolina.
Still, it would certainly seem likely that these individuals were related, however distantly. The John of Charlotte County appears to connect back to Brunswick County, Virginia, and the John of Amelia County who was born in 1753 was born in Charles City County. These locations are not very far apart. In fact, Brunswick County was created, in part, from Surry County, which was created from James City County which is adjacent to Charles City County.
Also, note that the earlier John in Amelia County was closely involved with the Harris family. The first two generations of John Phippses in Virginia were surveyors involved with the Harrises, beginning in Jamestown in what became James City County.
Are we dealing here with four separate and distinct individuals in the same general area around the same time and all named John Fips, or do some of these records perhaps overlap, like Venn diagrams? Do the records in Amelia County both before the birth of one of these men in 1753 and after that same man moved out of the area after the war suggest that, perhaps, we’re dealing with as many as FIVE men named John, and all in this same general area?