Washington Phipps: “Well Calculated to Deceive”

From the Indiana American, Brookville, Franklin County, Indiana, Friday, 10 Jan 1838, p. 1:


WHEREAS my husband, Washington Phipps, has left my bed and board, without any just cause or provocation, this is to forwarn [sic; forewarn] all persons from trusting or harboring him on my account, as I am determined to pay no further debts of his contracting.

As I am informed since he ran away, that he has another wife living in New Liberty, Owen county, Kentucky! I do not wish others to be taken in, by this infamous scamp, as he is well calculated to deceive. He is of fair complexion and blue eyes, about five feet ten inches high, with a large scar on the back part of the head. During the time I lived with him, I had to support him, and I am heartily glad that he has given leg bail.

O trust him not, O girls beware,
And do not fall in love,
Or less like me, you’ll feel the snare,
That will your ruin prove!!

Late Elizabeth Ann Sample.

Indianapolis, Dec. 22, 1837. Democrat.

A relevant but unsourced marriage claim appears in a Family Search “record” collection called Indiana Marriages. Information posted online about that collection explains that it is “not necessarily intended to index any specific set of records” and that it “may include information previously published in the International Genealogical Index or Vital Records Index collections.” In other words, the claim might have no basis in fact at all.

The claim asserts that Washington Phipps married Betsey Sample on 4 August 1837 in Marion County, Indiana. More credibly, the 1850 census does show a Washington Phipps living in Franklin Township, Marion County, Indiana. This is the county which is dominated by Indianapolis, the city referred to at the end of the ad. (The word “Democrat” presumably refers to another newspaper the notice was copied from.)

That census entry, dated 16 July 1850, shows 44-year-old Washington Phipps, farmer, living in the household of Blewford Eaton (one would assume it was actually Bluford Eaton). Washington Phipps’s birthplace is given as Indiana, but Blewford Eaton was born in Kentucky. (Blewford’s wife was born in Virginia.) Washington Phipps, who would have been born about 1806, is shown without a wife.

The 1850 census also shows a Washington Phipps of the same age living not in Owen County, Kentucky, but in Ohio County, Kentucky, and listed as born in Kentucky rather than Indiana. (Ohio County, Kentucky is, however, just one more county away from the Indiana line.)

That individual appears as 44 years of age and living with the Elisha W. Ford family. A 48-year-old Wesley Phipps is in the same household. One must wonder whether this could be the same Washington Phipps.


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