Who Was that Boy?

A Civil War-era newspaper article refers to “a little boy 12 years old” who was singled out as being what the paper called “a brave boy.” This was because he flatly refused to cheer for Lincoln, but would for Jefferson Davis instead.

From The Abingdon Virginian, Abingdon, Washington Co., VA, 19 Feb 1863, p. 2 (CA):

A Brave Boy.

A little boy 12 years old in Lee county, son of Peter Phipps, who was so brutally treated by Maj. Beers, recently captured by Gen. Jones, was caught by the Yankees and three times hung because he would not cheer for Lincoln. Each time, when relieved from the rope, he shouted at the top of his voice, “Hurrah for Jeff Davis.” The Yankees finally let him go, as an incorrigible rebel.

Who was that boy? Since he was 12 in 1863, he would have been born about 1851. Here’s what we know about him:

  • He was born about 1851
  • His father was Peter Phipps
  • He lived in Lee County, Virginia in 1863

With this information, it would seem likely that he was the Boyd D. “Fips” who appears in the 1860 census. That census shows him in Lee County, Virginia, with Peter Fips as his father:

From the 1860 census, Western District, Lee County, Virginia, with post office at “Jonsville” (Jonesville), 17 July 1860, #529/543:

  • Peter Fips, 28 [born about 1832], male, farmer, real estate [blank], personal estate $98, born Washington County, Virginia, could not read and write
  • Julia A Fips, 31 [born about 1829], female, housekeeper, Lee County, Virginia
  • Mary Fips, 13 [born about 1847], female, Lee County, Virginia
  • Margret Fips, 10 [born about 1850], female, Lee County, Virginia
  • Boyd D Fips, 8 [born about 1852], male, Lee County, Virginia
  • Charley Fips, 6 [born about 1854], male, Lee County, Virginia
  • Franklin Fips, 1 [born about 1859], male, Lee County, Virginia

The following would appear to be the same family in the 1850 census. Dates don’t exactly match, but that was common for older US censuses. Of course, Boyd was not yet living in 1850.

From the 1850 census, District 31, Lee County, Virginia, 8 October 1850, #1378/1411:

  • Peter Phipps, 25 [born about 1825], male, farmer, real estate [blank], born Virginia, could not read and write
  • Juliann Phipps, 27 [born about 1823], female, Virginia
  • Mary Phipps, 6 [born about 1844], female, Virginia
  • Margaret Phipps, 3 [born about 1847], female, Virginia

This Peter Phipps or Fips was likely related to the Abraham and Alcey Phipps who are also listed in District 31 in the same Lee County, Virginia. Abraham was born about 1812 in Virginia, and had his own son, another Peter, born about 1843. Like the older Peter, Abraham could not read and write.


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