|Martha "Patty" Bailey Tipton Cooper|
My paternal great-great grandmother
So what does this old picture of an old woman have to do with my Number One Passion?
When I first began my genealogy research of my family back in 1994, I didn't know the name of my paternal great grandfather. My father didn't know the name of his grandfather because he was brought to Pennsylvania when he was ten years old with his eight brothers (two more were born in Pennsylvania for a total of eleven boys, no girls). My father was a hillbilly from western North Carolina where where the mountains border eastern Tennessee.
I was always interested in my family history but had little hope of finding anything about my paternal line because my father showed no interest and had no knowledge other than he was born in Pigeon Roost, North Carolina. Well, to make a long story short (a more detailed story is on my blog "Tipton Tales and Trails"), through a lot of hard work which included much travel and many interviews with family relatives I was able to establish a basis for my family tree. From there on out it was just a matter of filling in the missing pieces of the puzzle.
One "piece" that always eluded me but I knew existed was a picture of my great-great grandmother Martha "Patty" Bailey Tipton. I was told that one existed somewhere but no one knew where it was exactly. Just last month I found where she was buried quite by accident. I was working on my Ancestry.com account and was reading through an obituary for a daughter of one of Martha's sons and it mentioned survivors. I called one of the survivors and through our conversation she told me where Martha and her son Baxter Tipton were buried!
This folks is how genealogy research is done. Through a lot of digging through records and interviews. You just never know when a "gem" will pop up.
I told my brother John who lives in Greenville, South Carolina that Martha was buried at a church cemetery in Ashville, North Carolina. John and his wife Barbara took a week to tour the "homeland" (as we call those"hollers" in the mountains of North Carolina that form the border between North Carolina and Tennessee) and found her grave and took pictures for me! I was so excited but I thought this was as close as I would get to see my paternal great-great grandmother.
Then lo and behold last week a book arrives on my doorstep called "The History of the Toe River Valley Volume X." These books are written by Dr. Lloyd Bailey, who is a professor at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Lloyd is the person who was the key to me researching my ancestry. I will be forever grateful to him.
Every time a one of his volumes of Toe River Valley History comes out I order it. This volume has to do with how the Civil War affected the mountain folk. As I was flipping through the pages I came across this picture of Martha! I couldn't believe it. My heart started to race! This was finally the picture I've been looking for. WOW! Now I feel complete. The only way this could be better is if I had a picture of her husband, my great-great grandfather John Tipton. But that is probably impossible because he was killed while recruiting for the Union Forces in those same mountains in 1863. He and some of his neighbors were ambushed by a Confederate Calvary which was lead by a Colonel Noah Wichter. Colonel Wichter and his men were in the mountains trying to discourage Union sentiment and especially recruitment for the Union forces.
After my great-great grandfather was killed Martha and her neighbor went to fetch his body and he was buried on the family farm. She was now a widow with eight children. Not an easy situation to be in those harsh days of the Civil War. Life in the mountains was difficult even with the husband alive. So here she was a widow during those difficult times with eight hungry children to raise on her own.
Her third child was my great grandfather Hiram Tipton. He was eleven years old when he lost his father John. Hiram's fifth son was Fieldon Tipton was my grandfather. Fieldon's fifth son was my father Isaac Tipton. And here I am, the End of the Line.
Martha never did learn to read or write. She signed her application for Civll War Widow's Pension Benefits with an "X". But she did raise her children all to be successful. In fact, Martha remarried to a doctor; Dr. Thomas Cooper.
Looking at her face looking at me through all these years gives me a sense of tranquility and completeness.
I know that some in my family and friends think that I take too many pictures and I can be annoying with always wanting to take "just another photo" but I'm telling you...there will be someone like me one hundred years from now who will appreciate all the photos I've taken of my family.
I may not have a family, and I haven't written the Great American Novel. In fact, I have no discernible talent but one thing I do have is a passion for researching my family history and putting the record out there for future generations. I love it!
|My Family Tree|