Gideon Potter, Son of Martha (Phipps) Potter

In relation to the last several posts, one of our readers provided a working link to the manuscript titled “The Life of Elder Gideon Potter.” That article appeared in the November 1888 issue of The Gospel Messenger. While the article does not contain a wealth of Phipps-related information, a few clues are included. In addition, the article provides a lengthy and interesting account of the life of Gideon Potter as an early Baptist pioneer minister, in addition to detailing the nature of the Baptist churches during that period.

The last several posts referred to the Phipps family and related and associated families in the Pigg River area in and around Pittsylvania County, Virginia. Gideon Potter wrote of his family’s move to Pittsylvania County. Potter referred to his grandfather being imprisoned and whipped before the Revolutionary War because of his religious views.

He also referred to the family’s move to Indiana and says that his father settled at Bedford in 1832. Note that Jesse Phipps (about 1786-8 to 1865), son of Samuel Phipps/Elizabeth Reeves of Ashe County, North Carolina, came into Owen County, Indiana from Ashe County right around the same time, where he settled by 1833.

Gideon Potter also noted, “My mother’s name was Martha Phipps, and was of Welsh descent.” The claim has been made on the Internet that this indicated Melungeon connections, but it may have simply been a reference to an immigration from Wales to Virginia, which would match some family stories.

Gideon Potter said that his mother became a Baptist when he was about four years old. Since he said that he was born July 4, 1798 in Surry County, North Carolina, this would suggest that she was baptized around 1802. He said that she was baptized in Mitchell’s River in North Carolina. He was apparently referring to the Mitchell River which is a tributary of the Yadkin River. The river starts in the Blue Ridge Mountains in what is now Alleghany County, but which was formerly Ashe County, North Carolina. From there, the river flows in a southeast direction into Surry County.

Potter said that his mother, Martha (Phipps) Potter, lived about 26 years after her husband died, living primarily with Gideon’s brother Benjamin. Gideon Potter said that his parents raised six boys and four girls, all of whom were still living when Martha (Phipps) Potter died. Gideon said that he was too young to serve in the War of 1812, but that two of his brothers, Benjamin and William, did serve from North Carolina. Benjamin later lived in Jackson County, Missouri.

A sister married Samuel McBride and settled near Washington, “Davis” County, Indiana. This would have actually been Washington, Daviess County, Indiana, two counties away from Owen County. Although this may have just been coincidence, Mathursa (Toliver) Phipps, wife of Matthew Phipps of the adjacent Owen and Clay Counties, remarried to a McBride – Alexander McBride – after her husband disappeared in 1841.

Potter also said that a sister married Isum Hodges and lived in Lawrence County, Indiana. Isom was a commonly recurring name in the Ashe County, North Carolina area, and members of the Hodge family, if the same family, were associated with the outlaw gang which Edward Bonney wrote about as being situated in the 1840s in both Owen and Lawrence Counties of Indiana (see p. xiv in the pdf link).

One interesting facet of all this which doesn’t seem to have been mentioned in any of the sources referred to in this and the last several posts is that Gideon Potter shows up in the 1850 census in Lawrence County, Indiana, but also in Owen County, Indiana in the 1860 census. This is even more evidence that would seem to perhaps point in the direction of a connection with the Ashe County, North Carolina Phipps family, since that was the origin of at least most of the family in that county.

1850 Census, 22 Aug 1850, Indian Creek Township, Lawrence County, Indiana, 676/676:

  • Gideon Potter, 52 [b. abt 1798], M, Minister Reg. Bap., $600/[blank], NC
  • Tabitha Potter, 48, F, NC
  • Bartholomew Potter, 26, M, farmer, NC
  • Stephen Potter, 26, M, farmer, NC
  • John Potter, 24, M, farmer, NC
  • Polly Potter, 21, F, NC
  • William Potter, 15, M, IN, attended school
  • Salley Potter, 13, F, IN, attended school
  • Rachael Potter, 9, F, IN, attended school
  • Gideon Potter, 6, M, IN, attended school
  • Tabitha Potter, 4, F, IN, attended school

1860 Census, 10 July 1860, Franklin Township, Owen County, Indiana, P.O. Deem, 763/745 (next to Oliphant households; Potter refers to this family in his autobiography):

  • Gideon Potter, 62 [b. abt 1798], farmer, $200/$150, NC
  • Tabitha Potter, 57, F, domestic, NC
  • Rachel Potter, 22, F, domestic, IN
  • Gideon [B.?] Potter, 18, M, farm labor, IN, attended school
  • Tabitha Potter, 15, F, IN

Gideon Potter’s brother Benjamin appears in the 1850 census in Lawrence County, Indiana.

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