Fibbs, Phips, Phipps, Fips: All the Same in North Carolina

The family of Isaac Phips of Cabarrus County, North Carolina is outlined in an online family group sheet. That data seems to either contain some issues or raise some questions, however. For one, the sheet says that Isaac died about 1778, but an estate file exists for an Isaac in that county, dated 1804.

The sheet says that Isaac was born in Virginia and lists all his children as born in North Carolina except for one, listed as born in Pennsylvania. (Siblings, one born the previous year and another born two years later, are both listed as born in North Carolina.) Notes refer to land deeds in Guilford County, North Carolina, but with notations to the effect that these records are not proven to pertain to the same person.

As mentioned, however, a probate file does exist for Isaac Phips, also known as Fibbs, dated 1804 in Cabarrus County, North Carolina. That file refers to the family as both Fibbs and as Phips. Isaac Fibbs or Phips’s widow is identified as Marey Fulham.

One record reads as follows:

Cabarrus County Court
to the Sheriff of Said County
you are hereby commanded to Summon twelve good and Lawfull Men connected with the Parties neither by consanguinity or affinity and entirely disinterested to allot the lay of the Dower for the widow & relect of Isaac Fibbs deceased viz: One third part of the Land of which the Said Isaac Fibbs died Seized and possessed of in this County and to make a Return of Such their proceedings to our next County Court to be held on the third Monday in January next.
herein fail not and have you then & there this writ witness John Simianer Clerk of our Said Court at office the third Monday in October Ao. Do. 1804 & in the twenty ninth year of our Independence.

[signed:] John Simianer C C [Court Clerk]

Another document pertains to the survey of land belonging to Isaac. That document contains a small inset map in the upper left corner, captioned “Laid Down by a Seal of a 100 Poles to the Inch. -” The oddly bounded 7-sided shape of the land is labeled as what appears to be “Marey Phips” and “106 acres.” The accompanying text says,

State of North Carolina
Cabarrus County
Surveyd. the 11th of March – 1805 – for Marey Phips – the Widow and relix of – Isaac Phips, one hundred & Six acres, it being Subdivided from a Tract of Land belonging to the Said Isaac Phips of 319 acres Lying on the West Side of Caddel Creek Joining to William Collens [or Callins?]. Begining at a Post Oak by a Pond then Runing No. 5. Et. [i.e. East] 72 poles to a Hickory a [? (looks like Littel)] to the West of the Corner of the Fence thence No. 44. Et. 70 poles to a Black Jack to the North of the Fence thence – Running Threw the field So. 401. [or 40?] Et. 70 poles to Hickory then No. 66. Et. 52 poles to a Stake then So. 37. Et. [qr.?] [pol.?] to a Stake On or near the Old line then With Said Line – So. 66. Wt. 100 poles to a [Red?] oak one of the Old Corners then with a nother of the Old lines No. 79. [Wt.?] 117 poles to the Begining

[signed:] Geo. Alexander [(unclear abbreviations)]

Hugh Ross
&
James Callens [or Collins?] C. B. [i.e. chain bearers]

The above was attached to another document:

North Carolina
Cabarrus County
March The 11th 1805
We the under signed Jurors apointed to Lay off the dower of the widow and Relix of Isaac Fibbs do agree upon our Oath that it Shall be in manner and form following viz Begining at a Post Oak by a pond & runs No. 5. Et. 7[? (page torn or eaten)] to a hickory a [little?] to the West of the Corner of the fence then No. 4[? (page torn or eaten)] 70 poles to a Black Jack, to the [No.?] of the fence then running Th[rew?(page torn or eaten)] the field So. 400 [or 40?] Et. 70 poles to a hickory thence No. 66. Et. 52 poles to to [sic] a Stake, thence So. [37?]. Et. [qr.?] poles to a Stake on or Near the Old line, thence With Said line So. 66. Wt. 100 poles to a [red?] Oak, one of the Old Corners then With a nother of the Old lines No. 79. Wt. 117 poles to the Begining

Containin [sic] one hundred & Six acres which is the one third of the Land of which he the Said Isaac Fibbs died possessed of in the County Given under our hands and Seals The day and year first above written

[signed:]
James Smith (Seal)
James Creaton (Seal)
frances Ross (Seal)
Will young (Seal)
James Callen (Seal)
[?] Ross (Seal)
Charles Campbell (Seal)
William Callen (Seal)
John Callen (Seal)
Moses Lenander [or Senander?] (Seal)
Robt. Scott (Seal)
[Nat.?] Alexander (Seal)

The back of the above reads:

Return of the Jury
of the Dowery of –
Marey Phips alias
Mary Fulham &c

The final page in the file lists expenses associated with the probate:

The amount of the Costs that acrud [i.e. accrued] in Laying off the dower of the widow and relix of Isaac Fibbs
£ S d [i.e. Pounds, Shillings, Pence]
Geo. Alexander Survayer – 1..0..0
William young Pr. [i.e. per] 3 days – at 8/Pr day 1.4.0
Charles Campbell Pr do. [i.e. ditto] do. 1.4.0
John Callans Pr do. do. 1.4.0
William Callans Pr do. do. 1.4.0
James Smith Pr do. do. 1..4..0
Robert Scott Pr do. do. 1..4..0
Francis Ross Pr do. do. 1-4-0
Hugh Ross Pr do. do. 1-4 0
Moses Alexander Pr – do. do. 1-4.0
Nathaniel Alexander Pr 2 days – 0-16-0
James Callans Pr do. do. – 0-16-0
James Crayton Pr one day – 0-8-0
For summoning the Jurys and attending on them the Sum of – 4-8-0
Total – £ 18 4 0

Polly Fibbs is the subject of Cabarrus County bastardy bond records in 1803 and 1806, according to a published abstract. In 1803, the father was Samuel Martin. In 1806 the father was Robert Ross. In 1806, the father Robert Ross was to take care of the child.

Note that Polly was an extremely common nickname for Mary. Was the Polly of the bastardy bonds the same as the “Marey” (Fulham) Fibbs or Phips of the probate records?

Note also that the Ross name appears multiple times in the probate records, although not Robert Ross. Abstracted marriage records or bonds for Cabarrus County include one for Levy Russel to Sarrah Fibbs, dated 25 November 1797, one for Hugh Johnston to Hannah Fibbs, dated 14 September 1801, and one for Jean Phipps to Thomas Martin, dated 16 June 1810.

A different family group sheet approaches this family from a different angle, that being the Russell family connection. Again, Sarrah Fibbs is supposed to have married Levy Russell in 1797.

That sheet, oddly, associates the Russell family with Rowan County, North Carolina, where Phips, Phipps, etc. family were early on, and associates them with the Mebane family. The Mebanes might not have intermarried with the Phipps family, as far as can be immediately remembered, but they were definitely around the same vicinity as the Phipps family in Guilford County, North Carolina.

In addition, past posts have noted the presence of a “Fibbs” family in Guilford County as well as a “Phipps” family. The Isaac Fibbs family was also referred to as the Isaac Phips family in his estate file.

The Russell family in the family group sheet shows up in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina records. (One must momentarily wonder about the “Phifer” surname that shows up multiple times there, but we’ll assume it’s too dissimilar and will move on.)

When Cabarrus County was formed in 1792, it was formed from Mecklenburg County. Mecklenburg, in turn, had been formed in 1762 from part of Anson County. The first county court was held in the home of Robert Russell, according to the family group sheet, in 1792. Then on 20 February 1792 came a Mecklenburg County estate settlement, according to the same sheet, for Isaac Phipps.

This is where, as has been discussed in past posts, “Sela Russell appeared and swore under oath that she heard her father and Isaac Phips bargain that her father was to have the season of the horse for two years in said bargain to one mear [i.e. mare].”

This was sworn before William Scott, described as the executor for the “I. Phipps” estate. The family group sheet refers to an “estate paper” bearing the original signature of Isaac Phipps.

This Isaac Phipps family in Mecklenburg in 1792, however, is surely related to the Isaac Fibbs/Phips family in Cabarrus County (formed from Mecklenburg) in 1804.  In Cabarrus County, the name Robert (not William) Scott appears in connection with the estate. In Mecklenburg, a Sela or Cela Russell is closely associated with the Isaac Phipps estate, and of course the Russell family is closely associated with the Isaac Fibbs/Phips estate in Cabarrus County.

This Sela or Cela would seem likely to be the Ceily, apparently a daughter, mentioned in the (1795?) will of James Russell in Mecklenburg County. That will also refers to James Russell’s son Levi, who might have been the “Levy” Russell who married Sarrah “Fibbs” in 1797 in Cabarrus.

The Ross family, which figures prominently in the Cabarrus County estate records of the Isaac Fibbs/Phips estate, also shows up in connection with the Russell family. A 1794 Cabarrus record abstracted in the same family group sheet refers to Francis Ross as guardian of Levi Russell, orphan child of James Russell, deceased.

Again, this could be the Levi or Levy who married Sarrah (Sarah) Fibbs about 3 years later. The name Francis Ross, which appears in this 1794 record, also appears in the 1804 Isaac Fibbs/Phips estate file.

Then the same sheet also refers to a Cabarrus County deed, dated 17 January 1795. This was from Susanna Russell to James Plunkett who married Agnes Houston. The deed was for land on the south side of “Coddle” Creek near Isaac Phips. Susannah received the land by means of the will of James Russell, deceased. That will mentioned his plantation and his wife Susannah. That will was also witnessed by Abijiah Alexander. Three other Alexanders appear in the Isaac Phips/Fibbs estate file.

The family group sheet document also refers to Susannah, apparently this same Susannah, as “paid account against Isaac Phipps estate.” What this means, exactly, doesn’t seem clear. This is followed by the statement “Copy of Estate settlement found in Phipps Family file in Charles A. Cannon Library, Concord, NC.”

That’s immediately followed by a reference to a son, presumably a son of James Russell and his wife Susannah. That son was Joseph Russel, born about 1770, who (it says) married Nancy Phipps.

Then, as Nancy Russell, she and her husband Joseph are said to have told land to Robert Smith on 26 August 1796, according to a Cabarrus County deed. The name James Smith appears twice in the Isaac Fibbs/Phips estate file.

The land in the deed was said to be a sixth part (so presumably divided as an inheritance) from the land of Isaac “Fips” on the south side of Coddle Creek. Notice that here is yet another variant spelling: Fips. The abstract says that the land was descended from her father Isaac Fips, although presumably this was not actually spelled out in the deed.

That deed was witnessed by Francis Ross and George Campbell, Jr. Charles Campbell appears a couple times in the Isaac Fibbs/Phips estate file, and Francis Ross, as we just noted, appears there and as the guardian of Levi Russell (who presumably married Sarrah Fibbs).

Further, Mary Russell is mentioned as evidently another child of James Russell. She is said to have been born about 1773 and to have married George Campbell. Again, Charles Campbell’s name appears a couple times in the Isaac Fibbs/Phips estate file.

Then the author returns to Levi Russell, who married Sarrah (Sarah, nicknamed Sally) Phipps (this time, early as Fibbs). It’s mentioned that he died about 1845 in Dade County, Missouri. Also mentioned is an extant marriage bond for Levi’s marriage to Sarrah (Sally) Phipps (it’s not clear if the name is spelled that way in the document). George Campbell – that name again – was security.

A bit later another Cabarrus County deed is mentioned. This deed is dated 21 December 1798 and is from Levi Russell to James “Collens.” This is surely the name which generally appears fairly clearly as “Callens” in the Isaac Fibbs/Phips estate file. There the name appears various times.

This was for land on the south side of Coddle Creek, as has been mentioned before. One of the witnesses was Elizabeth Phipps.

Then an 1803 mention from the diary of of James Patterson, from the United Methodist Church Archives in South Carolina. Here it’s mentioned that “Brother Levi Russell” preached at a camp meeting 4 “mives” (presumably miles) above the narrows of the Yadkin River.

The family group sheet notes that a “great revival” hit Cabarrus County in 1802 and affected the whole area between the Yadkin River and the Catawba River. What is not mentioned is that the camp meeting phenomenon appears to have begun right around 1799-1801, with the now legendary Cane Ridge camp meeting in Kentucky taking place in 1801.

The 1800 census for Salisbury, Cabarrus County lists Levi Russell. In the household were 1 male under 10, 1 male 16-26, 1 female under 10, and 1 female 26-45. (A blank 1800 census form is here.)

Some research questions:

  • When the family group sheet referenced above says that Isaac Fibbs/Phips was born in Virginia, is this accurate?
  • Was this family actually in Rowan County and, if so, were they also in nearby Guilford County?
  • If the answers to the above questions are yes, then did this family migrate from Virginia down into the Rowan and Guilford Counties area of North Carolina before moving further south into the Mecklenburg/Cabarrus Counties area?

More appears here:

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