Benjamin Phipps of Grayson County, Virginia

A deed from Grayson County, Virginia dated 1814 is transcribed below, and is from Benjamin and Jane Phipps to Joseph Phipps. This Joseph would seem to have likely been the Joseph who is said to have been their son.

Jane, stated in the record to have been Benjamin’s wife, is referred to as Jean in Revolutionary War pension application records, assuming that it’s the same person. It must be the same person, because she is referred to as Jean in the marriage record cited recently (see “A Scottish Psalter and Transatlantic Trade“), dated prior to the deed, and as Jean in Revolutionary War pension applications, dated after the deed.

For all the focus on this Benjamin by genealogists over the decades, very little is actually known about him from primary source documents. The most significant known document is his Revolutionary War pension application, which includes his own testimony. Mullins, in his 1982 book on the Phipps family, devotes only about 4 1/2 pages to Benjamin per se. That’s including a list of children, and some of the information appears to be conjectural.

Despite ample copied-and-pasted claims all over the Internet, it appears that no documentary proof of his parentage has ever been found. It is also not clear how he relates to other Phipps individuals in the area who have been claimed by some genealogists as his brothers.

“Recollections” by Columbus Phipps, with a 1922 preface by French Wampler, refers to this Benjamin. The essay jumps around a bit and appears to contain some errors and some irrelevant information.

Columbus Phipps quotes from Charles Doughton of Alleghany County (formed from Ashe), North Carolina, who he thought was 99 when he died. The implication, of course, is that he was an old-timer who should have known what he was talking about. According to that source,

Benjamin Phipps and wife first settled near the mouth of Peach Bottom Creek when the county was still a part of Montgomery county; built a cabin and cleared a piece of land along New River; he said Phipps and wife ate their meals from boards. wiped them off, and put them up in the cracks of the cabin. I don’t know how long it was after they settled on the river until he moved to the old place where he made his home until his death.

The cabin board chinking story has been told and re-told, but unfortunately provides no genealogical data. Of greater utility are the geographical references. In his Revolutionary War pension testimony, he stated that he was “born in Guilford County in the State of North Carolina in the year 1761 or 2 as he believes,” but that he had no birth record.

He said that he was in South Carolina when he entered the service, but evidently that was only because he had been captured by Tories and brought there. He said that he was captured “about the year 1779 or 80” while “making a crop of corn” while living in Capt. John Cox’s household on the New River “in Montgomery County Virginia, now Grayson County.”

During the 18th century, working in a cornfield could be a real problem. The enemy – whether Indians, British, or Tories – could easily see from a distance that someone was working among the rows of corn, but that individual could not see who was coming.

Benjamin and Jane or Jean married in 1782 according to their Psalter record and Revolutionary War pension application, but Columbus Phipps claimed that

Benjamin Phipps was born in Guilford County, N. C., in. the year 1732; married about the year 1761 or ’62. . .

Where he derived these dates from isn’t clear, but what is clear is that they are not even close to reality.

In 1900, A.B. Cox published his informal history titled Foot Prints on the Sands of Time: A History of South-Western Virginia and North-Western North Carolina. B.F. Nuckolls’s later book Pioneer Settlers of Grayson County Virginia (1914) sometimes quotes from or paraphrases Cox without acknowledgement.

Cox discusses the Cox family as moving into Grayson County. He then turns to George Reeves, the father in law of Samuel Phips or Phipps or Fips of Ashe County, North Carolina. Both Reeves and Samuel Phipps appeared in Montgomery County, Virginia records, then in Wilkes County, North Carolina.

George Reeves and family settled in the same neighborhood. They came from eastern Virginia. . . . Benjamin Phipps came from Rowan county, N. C., settled on Bridle Creek. His brother, Isaiah came about the same time, as did also the Hash family. Benjamin Phipps married Miss Jane Hash . . . .

Note that no reference is made to any other brothers besides this Isaiah. If he had other brothers in the area, why would they not be mentioned? Note also that just because Reeves is said to have come from eastern Virginia does not mean that the Phipps family did not. In fact, they had to have come from somewhere.

Evidently the author did not know where they had originated, however. When reference is made to them coming from Rowan County, North Carolina, this obviously doesn’t mean that they came from very far away. Obviously the family had to have been somewhere else previously.

George Reeves was in the same area, with his daughter marrying Samuel Phipps, and is said to have come from eastern Virginia. Benjamin Phipps is said to have come from Rowan County, but that would have only been a short distance and presumably relatively recent move.

Although today Rowan is some distance away, just slightly west of the center of the state, online interactive county boundary change maps make it clear that, at one time, things were radically different.

In 1770, for instance, Rowan County essentially comprised all the territory in the western half of North Carolina, with the exception of Anson, Mecklenburg, and Tryon Counties along the South Carolina line. Going back to 1760, about the entire western half of North Carolina consisted only of Rowan, with a narrow slice of territory along the South Carolina line occupied by Anson County.

As already mentioned, Samuel Phipps, along with the George Reeves who Cox mentions, appeared in Montgomery County, Virginia records in the 1780s. Columbus Phipps says that Benjamin settled “near the mouth of Peach Bottom Creek when the county was still a part of Montgomery county.” Reaves or Reeves is said to have settled in the Peach Bottom tract in 1767.

Kegley, in Early Adventurers on the Western Waters, Vol. 2, p. 72, abstracts Montgomery County, Virginia entries that were based on warrants under a Virginia legislative act for establishing a land office for the Commonwealth. Among 1782 entries, dated 21 Oct 1782 on (original) page 158 (Kegley’s page 72) appears a warrant to Benjamin Phipps, “assignee of Wm. Hash, assignee of Enoch Osburn, assignee of James Newell, assignee of Frederick Edwards.” This was for 100 acres on Meeting House Branch. Meeting House Branch was a branch of Mill Creek. A note in parentheses at the end of Kegley’s abstract says “(withdrawn).”

Note the reference to William Hash. This warrant was immediately followed by another (same original page and date) to John Hash, “assignee of William Hash, assignee of Wm. Hash, assignee of Enoch Osburne, assignee of James Newell, assignee of Frederick Edwards.” This warrant was for 100 acres on New River. This land was defined as beginning at Robert Baker’s line and running up New River, and was to include “his” (presumably Hash’s) plantation and improvements.

In addition, Grayson County Order Book 1793-1794 includes the following:

Ordered that David Cox and Thomas Blair do allot the hands to keep the Road in repair under Jonathan Ward and George Reeves.

and,

Ordered that Scott Spain[,] Ezekial [young?] [unreadable first name] Howell & Benjamine phipps being f[unreadable 2 words] to View [unreadable short word] or any three of them. Ground from Grassy Creek to Wells Wards and Make Report of the Same to our next Court.

Then, the following Grayson County record, dated 23 Apr 1794, is found in County Court Order Book, 1793-1794, p. 43, from a court held on 23 Apr 1794:

Ordered that Enoch Osborne Joseph Fields Samuel Cox & Benjamine phipps or any three of them Being first Sworn do View the Road from James Howell Senr. to the Iron Mountain at the head of fox Cree [sic] Where the Road Crosses Said Mountain and make Report to our Next Court.

Benjamin Phips or Phipps died in 1838. Ashe County, North Carolina (adjacent to Grayson County, Virginia) loose court papers refer to a “Bengamin” Phipps in 1811, who might be the same individual:

articles of agreement made and Confarmed Between peter Levesey of grayson County, virginia and Bath[j?]olemey auston of North Carliner ashe County whereas the sd [i.e. said] peter Levesey has Brought sute against the sd Auston in ashe County upon an obligatision the sd auston for a serten survey of Land on new River at the mouth of gun Schole Branch and the sd auston has agreed to pay the sd Levesey for the sd Land in sted of making him a [Retec?] to sd Land By the valuatision of william Howell Joshua Cox and Bengemon phips in horse or horses not to exceed eight years old and the sd Levesey is to Dismiss the sd sute and the sd auston is to pay what Cost is [onit?] till next Cort

and the sd peter Levesey and sd Auston Binds them selves there heirs adminerasters or asigns in the some of five hundred Dollars which ever Refuses to stand to the valuatision of the sd Land and horses By the sd william Howell Joshua Cox and Bengemon phips it is to Be Rembired that it is the Land that sd auston gave this oblagatision to gorge Levesey and they are to apint [i.e. appoint?] the Day for the arbestraters and the property to Be paid Between this and Chrismess next

witness our hands and seals this first Day of November 1811 –
test [(witnesses, signed:)] Joshua Cox John goss
[signed:] Peter Livesey (seal) B. Austin (seal)

Another related document is also dated 1811:

State of north Carolina. To the shff of ashe county Summon[ce?] Benj. Phips & Jas. [or Jos.?] Cox personally to appear at ashe Superior Court of law on the 2nd monday of [blank] 1811 to give evidence in behalf of [blank] in a suit in said Court depending wherein he is [blank] and [blank][signed] Jno. McMillan C[lk?]

An additional document excerpt is labeled as follows:

to S[unclear] M[uckmulen?] Clark [sic; clerk?] of Ash Court Desapitions [i.e. depositions?] from Grason to Ash Court

Here is that record:

Bengamin Phipps after bein first sworn Deposeth & Saith qastion [i.e. question?] was you laled [i.e. labeled?] as a thirds man anser [i.e. answer] I was quastion what did you valey [i.e. value?] the land to anser one hundred dolers [i.e. dollars] in good trade at the rates of Corn at three shiling [per?] bushel from the [heep?] question what did you Valey the bay horse at answer at sixty dolers question what did you Valey the back mair at anser at Sixty dolers question had the mair lost one Eye anser yes & ferther Saith Not[signed] Benjamin phips
Sworn before me
Test[signed] Joseph Field

Note the reference to Joseph Field. Here is an 1814 deed from Benjamin Phipps and his wife Jane to Joseph Phipps, perhaps their son Joseph. The deed refers to land purchased from Jeremiah Fields. The deed is from Grayson County, Virginia Deed Book 4, pp. 544-545:

[p. 544] This Indenture made the 19th [day] of October in the year of our lord one thousand Eight hundred & fourteen Between Bengamin Phipps & Jane Phipps his wife of the County of Grayson and Commonwealth of Virginia of the one part & Joseph Phipps of the same place of the other part Witnesseth That the said Benjamin Phipps & Jane his wife for and in Consideration of the sum of Two-Hundred & fifty Dollars to them in hand paid by the said Joseph Phipps before the en[c?]ealing or delive[ri?]ng these presents the receipt whareof [sic; whereof] is hereby acknowledged have Bargained & sold & doth by these presents bargain sell and confirm in fee simple unto the said Joseph Phipps and his heirs forever one certain tract or parcel of land situate lying & being in the County of Grayson on the south side of Buck mountain on [Wells?] [p. 545] mill creek It being Part of a tract of land Benjamin Phipps purchased of Jeremiah Fields Containing Two Hundred and [twenty?] nine acres and three quarters Beginning on the bank of wells Wards mill Creek and passing through Thomas Bakers field to a chesnut oak Beech and maple S70 E66 poles to a white oak by a road and small Branch thence up said Branch with a conditional Line Between Daniel Jones Junr. and Jeremiah Fields [N?]35 E90 [or 80?] poles to Two yahagany [sic] Trees on the bank of said branch S35 E38 poles to two Chesnuts and a white oak by a rock thence a Long the old line to a Coditional [sic; conditional] line on a ridge made Between Joseph Phipps and Benjamin Phipps thence along said line to the Creek and up said Creek to the Beginning. Together with all and singular the priveleges [sic; privileges] and appurtenances thareunto [sic; thereunto] belonging or in any wise appertaining unto the said Joseph Phipps and his heirs forever free from the claim chalenge [sic; challenge] or demand of any person or persons whatsoeve [sic; whatsoever] and further the said Benjamin Phipps and Jane his wife doth agree to and covenant with the said Joseph Phipps and his heirs that they will warrant and forever defend the said land and premises unto the said Joseph Phipps and his heirs forever against the claim or claims of them the said Benjamin Phipps and Jane his wife their or Either of their Heirs and all [and] Every person or persons whatsoever; In Witness whareof [sic; whereof] the said Benjamin Phipps and Jane his wife have hereunto set their hands and affixed their seals this day and year first above Written.

[signed:]
Benjamin Phipps (seal)
Jane Phipps (seal]

attest
Joseph Fields
Joseph Eliott
William Fields

Grayson Clerks Office June 22nd 1824

This Deed from Benjamin Phipps to Joseph Phipps was acknowledged by the said Benjamin and admitted to Rcord [sic; record]

[signed:] Test M. Dickenson C.C [i.e. Court Clerk]

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