Tabithas and Lewises and a Virginia to Georgia Family

A past post (“Women Named Tabitha and Parthe-Something“) concerned a collection of individuals named Phips, Phelps, Phipps, and Fips in Cumberland County, Virginia, at least some of whom appear to be related to each other. Cumberland County was formed from Goochland County. Cumberland, in 1770, was located between Goochland and Amelia Counties, counties we have recently been discussing.

A few of the people mentioned included Lewis Phips, who died by 1750 and who had a son Richard, bound out in 1750. In addition, a widow Tabitha had a son William, who was a minor in 1755. A hypothetical guess is that Lewis Phips could have married Tabitha, and that Richard and William were both sons of Lewis and Tabitha Phips.

Oddly, John and Tabitha Phipps – apparently a different Tabitha – then witnessed the deed of Frederick Ford in 1786. This was adjacent to the same Cumberland County where the widow Tabitha Phips was living earlier, who is referred to in records as poor and in need of assistance in the 1750s and 1760s. And – in 1768, a little to the southwest in Charlotte County, John Fips died, who left a widow Tabitha.

How many Tabithas in the above? One, two, or three? Any answer to that question seems odd.

The 1815 will of John Rowsey, Sr. in Elbert County, Georgia refers specifically to an individual he calls “my daughter Tabitha Phipps.” Secondary (unconfirmed) information about this family includes the statement that the Tabitha who is mentioned married Lewis Phipps, so here is another Tabitha and another Lewis.

This Tabitha is said to have been born about 1772 and to have died about 1812. Her father John Rowsey is said to have been born about 1740 in Virginia and to have resided in the counties of Spotsylvania and Amherst in Virginia. Tabitha is supposed to have been born in Amherst County, which in 1770 was two counties west of Cumberland and two counties north of Pittsylvania.

So here is yet another Tabitha Phipps in the same general area. Obviously it’s not a matter of Phips couples naming their daughters Tabitha, because none of these appear to have been born a Phips (unless perhaps the John and Tabitha who witnessed the will of Frederick Ford could have been, say, brother and sister instead of husband and wife).

The presence of another Lewis Phips or Phipps makes one wonder whether there was a connection between the Lewis Phipps who married Tabitha Rowsey and the Lewis Phips who died by 1750 in (apparently) Cumberland County, Virginia.

Then we have the Lewis Phipps who is supposed to have married Margaret Rector and who is supposed to have fathered Benjamin Potter Phipps. That Lewis Phipps was born about 1783 in Virginia according to the 1850 census which shows him living in Lawrence County, Indiana. We’ve discussed individuals from Ashe County, North Carolina, including Phipps family members, who moved to Lawrence County, Indiana.

And this Benjamin Potter Phipps would have presumably derived his middle name from the Potter family which ties into the Witcher and John Fips family we’ve been discussing in the Lunenburg/Charlotte Counties, Virginia and Ashe/Surry Counties, North Carolina area. Then we have a Gideon Potter in Lawrence County, Indiana who was living earlier in Surry County, North Carolina and who ties into this family and who said in his own autobiography that Martha Phipps was his mother.

Then there was the John Witcher Phipps who was born in Virginia but later shows up in Lawrence County, Indiana. And he is said to have been a son of Littlebury/Littleberry/Berry Phipps/Phips, who is said to have been a brother of – you guessed it – Lewis Phipps/Phips. And one has to wonder whether Littlebury derived his name from the Eppes or Epps family, where this name appears.

What is all this about? A strange web seems to be connecting together all these people in Virginia, North Carolina, and Indiana – with multiple Tabithas and multiple Lewises.

The Elbert County, Georgia data may or may not fit in as well. They were not far away when they were in Virginia, and they involve another Tabitha and yet another Lewis. It is hard, however, to see how multiple Tabithas with multiple maiden names could be anything other than coincidence.

Looking in probate records from Elbert County, Georgia for John Rowsey (also Rousey, Rowzee, etc.) it doesn’t take long to find the name Lewis Phipps. (See Family Search’s Georgia Probate Records, 1742-1990 collection, then Elbert County, then “Estates 1790-1900 Roebuck, Robert – Rowzee, Winslow,” beginning at image 379.) That image is a file folder showing a tab reading “Rowsey, John,” who “d. 1815.” The file continues until image 405.

Image 380 is a list of “Property Sold at the late residence of John Rowsey late of Elbert County Dec’d on the 9th Decr. 1815 . . . ” The list includes a sale of a “Fat hog 2nd choice” to Lewis Phipps. (The 1st choice went to James Rowsey.) This cost Lewis Phipps seven dollars and 12 1/2 cents.

The following two sheets are “The return of John Upshaw Jnr. of Thos. Oliver Exrs. of the last Will and Testament of John Rowsey late of Elbert County Deceased for 1815 Court of Ordinary January Term.” On the left side (debit side) is a listing reading “To Cash rec’d of Lewis Phipps.” The amount listed is $7.12 1/2, which would be for his “Fat hog.”

Then, after several pages of receipts, etc., the following record appears at image 390, at the bottom of the page. This indicates that $45.50 was paid by the estate to Lewis Phipps:

Georgia
Elbert County
Recd. June 6th 1818 of John Upshaw one of the Exetors [sic; executors] of the last Will & Testament of John Rowsey late of Elbert County decd. forty five Dollars & fifty Cents in full of the within acct I say Recd. by me
[signed:] Lewis Phipps

Then the following appears, beginning at the top of image 392:

RC [presumably for “received” as written by a tired clerk or executor] of John Upshaw Esqr. and Thos. Oliver Extors. [i.e. executors] of John Rowsey decd. Seventy five dollars in part of two Legacies that is to Say thirty seven dollars & fifty Cents for Richd. Phipps and thirty seven Dollars & fifty Cents for John R. Phipps my sons by Tabitha Rowsey Daughter of Sd. John Rowsey decd. I say RC by me this 6th June 1818
[signed: Lewis Phipps Garden [presumably “guardian” was meant]

What a remarkable record! Here we have the following relationships spelled out for us:

  • Lewis Phipps married Tabitha Rowsey, daughter of John Rowsey, deceased
  • Children:
    1. Richard Phipps
    2. John R. Phipps

The estate of Lewis Phipps is then the subject of yet another folder. This folder appears in “Estates 1790-1900 Patterson, James – Powell, Wm. R.,” beginning with image 404. The first record (image 405) is a guardian bond. The record is labeled on the reverse as:

Lewis Phipps
Guardian Bond
to Richd. & Jno. Phipps
1818.

The record is as follows:

GEORGIA,
Elbert County.
KNOW all men by these Presents, That we Lewis Phipps, Joseph Griffin & Benjn. Higginbotham are held and firmly bound unto their Honors the Justices of the Inferior Court for said county, and their successors in Office, in the just and full sum of two Hundred and fifty dollars, which payment well and truly to be made, we bind ourselves, our heirs, executors, and administrators, firmly by these presents, sealed with our seals, and dated this Sixth day of January 1818

Whereas the above named Lewis Phipps was, on the Sixth day of January appointed by the Honorable the Justices of the Inferior Court of the county aforesaid, Guardian of the person and property of Richard & John Phipps Children of Lewis Phipps Now the condition of the above obligation is such, that if the above bounden Lewis Phipps shall well, truly, and faithfully do, execute and perform, all and singular the duties required of him by law, as Guardian aforesaid – then the above obligation to be void, else to remain in full force.

Taken and acknowledged before me this 6th of Jany. 1818

[signed:]
Lewis Phipps
Joseph Griffin
Benjamin Higginbotham

[witnessed by:]
Job Weston
C. C. [C.?] [presumably County Court Clerk]

Why was Lewis Phipps having to post a guardian’s bond as guardian for his own children?

That’s where the file ends. No more evidence to answer that question can be found in that file.

The will of John Rowsey, which is more or less where we started, can be found online in Family Search in Georgia Probate Records, 1742-1990 > Elbert > Wills 1812-1816, beginning at image 242:

John Rowsey Snr. Will

In the Name of God Amen I, John Rowsey Senior of the State of Georgia and County of Elbert being Weak of body but Sound of Mine & Memory & Calling to Mind Mortality, do Make and Ordain this My last Will and Testament in Manner & form followin [sic; as written]

1st. Item I Recommend my Soul to Almighty God Who gave it to Me in hope of a belessed [sic; as spelled] immortallity [sic; as spelled] my body to the dust With a Christian bureel [sic; as spelled] at the discretion of my Surviving friend [sic; as spelled] – Item 2nd. I Will that the Whole or part of My Estate be sold and all my Just debts to be paid at the discretion of my Executors –
3rd. Item I Will that after my aforesaid debts are paid the Ballance [sic; as spelled] of my Estate under the management of my [page break – image 243:]

John Rowsey Snr. Will Continued

Executors Be put into the hands of My Beloved Wife Mary Rowsey as a loan to her for and during her Natural life for Support – 4th. Item, I Will That after the death of My Wife My Estate or the Money ariseing [sic; as spelled] from the Sale there of be Equally divided among my following Named beloved Childrin [sic; as spelled] My Son Edmund Rowsey one Eaqual [sic; as spelled] Share, my Son Stephen Rowsey Rowsey [sic; written twice] one Eaqual [sic] part. My Son James Rowsey one equal part. My Son Foster Rowsey one equal. part[.] My Daughter Elizabeth Bond one Equal part my Daughter Cler[a? or e?]cy Bond one Equal part. My Daughter Patcy Bond one Equal part. the Children of My Daughter Tabitha Phipps Decd. one Equal part. My Son John Rowsey one Dollar he having already Received his full portion of My Estate.
5th. Item Will that my Freinds [sic; as spelled] John Upshaw Jnr. and Thomas Oliver do dully execute this My Last Will and Testament,

[signed:]
John his X mark Rowsey Snr. (seal)

Witnesses[:]
Archar his X mark Burden
Penelope her X mark Elder
Sarah her X mark Powel

Georgia
Elbert County
Personally Came into open Court Archer Burden & being duly Sworn Saith that he was a Subscribing witness to the Within instrument of Writing, that he Saw the Testator John Rowsey Sign Seal & acknowledge the same as his last Will & testament & that he was of Sound & disposing mind at the time of Executing the Same & that this deponant [sic; as spelled] Subscribed the Same at the request of the testator & in his presence & that the Other subscribing Witnesses (to Wit) penalope. Elder & Sarah Powell Subscribed the Same in the presence of this deponant [sic] & the Testator & at the testators request Sworn to in open court this 4th day of September 1815

[signed:]
Archer his X mark Burden

[witness:]
Test. Job Weston C C C

Where upon it Was ordered to be Recorded Thomas Oliver & John Upshaw qulified [sic; as spelled] as Exrs. and Letters Testamentory &c granted Them

Recorded 9th October 1815

[signed:]
Job Weston C. C. [C.?]

So does this explain the guardian’s bond? Tabitha had died. Evidently the bond must have referred, then, to the inheritance of Lewis Phipps’s sons from the estate of her father, John Rowsey, Sr.

Lewis Phipps appears to have been in Elbert County, Georgia quite a bit earlier. The name surfaces as one of the witnesses to the 1799 will of William Bradley in that county. More on Lewis’s son Richard, but unconfirmed, appears here.

Even a bit earlier still, in 1797, Lewis Phipps bought land in Elbert County from John Staples. This adjoined, among others, Francis Higginbotham. Then in 1798, Lewis Phipps and his wife Tabitha sold land to Francis Higginbotham. That same year, Lewis Phipps also witnessed another Elbert County deed. Estate records for the estate of Benjamin Higginbotham in Elbert County in 1810 include a reference to Lewis Phipps (see page 43).

Lewis Phipps witnessed another deed in Elbert County in 1813. The same web page which discusses this deed abstracts another deed, but in Baldwin County, Mississippi Territory in 1811. This was where Alexander Cunningham of Baldwin County, Mississippi sold all his land in Elbert County, Georgia to Benjamin Witcher of Elbert County, Georgia.

Have we come full circle? Here is this surname again, which we more or less started out with. Ambrose Witcher witnessed the deed. Then in 1823, Benjamin Witcher witnessed a couple deeds in Madison County, Georgia. A list of Elbert County, Georgia marriages lists the marriage of Benjamin Witcher to Frances McLeroy in 1807, and the same list refers to the marriage of Lewis Phipps to Patsy Faulkner in 1812. The name of Ambrose Witcher, the name which appears as a deed witness as mentioned above, also appears in records pertaining to the Cherokee land lottery (p. 39) as does a Williamson Phipps.

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