(1861).  Journal And Proceedings Of The Missouri State Convention Held At Jefferson City And St. Louis March, 1861.  St. Louis:  George Knapp & Co., Printers And Binders. 

Freemasons have a long and distinguished history in the United States.  My 3rd great-grandfather Thomas Scott Jr.  (1816–1897), son of Thomas and Sarah (Mahurin) Scott, was a player in Missouri politics.  Scott was a member of Flatwoods Baptist church, and a member of Miller Co., MO Masonic Lodges in Linn Creek (Nos. 66 & 152), Mt. Pleasant (No. 139), and Tuscumbia (Nos. 169 & 437).

Thomas Scott Jr. and America (Stillwell) Scott had migrated to Miller Co., MO from Dubois Co., IN.

(“Thomas Scott Jur” means Thomas Scott Jr.)

Thomas Scott Jr. was the son of Thomas Scott Sr. (“Thomas Scott Ser” means Thomas Scott Sr.) and wife Sarah Mahurin:

Miller County was in the 27th Senatorial District.  Thomas Scott Jr. served as a Resident State Senator from 1858 to 1862.  He was elected Justice of the Miller County Court on 2 Aug 1860, and also served as a Justice of the Peace for Equality Township.

[Wilson Milton Vaughan family from a photo dated ca. 1895.  On 11 Mar 1875 in Miller Co., MO, Wilson married Rachel Jane Scott, daughter of Thomas Scott, Jr. and wife America Stilwell.  Rachel d. on 30 Mar 1894.  Left to Right / Bottom Row: Lafe Vaughan, Floyd Vaughan; 2nd Row: Eric Lyman Vaughan, Wilson Milton Vaughan, Everett Vaughan; Top Row: Ethel Vaughan, Theron Vaughan, Teresa Vaughan.  Wilson Milton Vaughan, my 2nd great-grandfather, was a well-known character in Tuscumbia, MO and lived to be nearly 100.  He was the son of Joshua Vaughan and wife Betsy Birdsong.]


In 1861 Scott was a representative to the Missouri State Convention and voted to keep Missouri in the Union.  He’s listed in the official roster of the Convention (p. 7) as born in Kentucky, age 44, Farmer, of Tuscumbia (county seat of Miller Co.).  In 1862 he was elected State Representative from Miller County and is listed in the Missouri House Journal.  

Scott studied law and he and Jacob Gantt had a law office in Tuscumbia.

[Thomas Scott Jr., (1816–1897).]

Scott supported the Liberal Republican Party which in 1872 unsuccessfully opposed the reelection of President Ulysses S. Grant by nominating newspaperman Horace Greeley. Greeley, who is credited with coining the phrase “Go West, young man” (although he may not have used those exact words), died before the electoral votes were counted.

Scott tried his hand at gold mining in CA.  There’s confusion as to when and where he located in CA.  “Scott, Thomas” age 63 and b. in KY is found in the 1880 Placer Co., CA Federal Census, p. 42, SD 42, ED 72, Butcher Ranch Precinct, Household 527/527, residing as a boarder in the house of William Bennett.  Placer Co. is in northern CA bordering NV.

I have the text of a letter Scott wrote from U.S. Ranch, Cal., to Wilson Milton and Rachel Jane (Scott) Vaughan, dated 11 Jan 1880, in which he said:

“We have had the hardest winter so far that has ever been known in the country.  Ice has frozen two inches thick something never known before.”

According to a letter of Scott’s grandson, Everett Vaughan, dated 2 May 1952:

“Grandfather Scott also went to California…. He apparently had some trouble with his family, especially the boys.  He deeded each of the boys a farm and left for California without telling anyone he was going.  I recall his return, about 1886.  He came to our place and stayed there for a few months.  He then moved to Uncle Newt’s, where he died.  Uncle Newt then lived on what later was known as the Fogleman place, where we lived for a while once.”

Since Scott’s wife, America (Stilwell) Scott was yet living, it’s inferred that the couple’s marriage had soured.  That may have been the motive for his sudden departure to CA. 

This symbol found on the $1.00 bill is a testament to the Founding Fathers’ association with Freemasonry.  The “Eye” symbol and motto “Annuit Coeptis” are loosely translated as “Providence Favors Our Undertakings.”  “Novus Ordo Seclorum” means “New Order of the Ages.”  The use of the mottos and symbol reflect the Founding Fathers’ confidence in the new United States. “MDCCLXXVI” are Roman Numerals for “1776.”


Some Christian groups are opposed to Freemasonry and penalize members who become Freemasons.



(Left to Right:  Lawcie Idella Chipman, Beecher Edgar Chipman, Jewell Vester Chipman; ca. 1909.)

While going through my files, I found something of which I was unaware:  a copy of a letter from Lawcie Idella (Chipman) Mason to Beverly Ann Page, written ca. 1983.  It gives information on branches of the family on which I have nothing, so I transcribed part of it, with notes and corrections:

“Allie Oxley—James Edward Chipman

5 children were born

3 boys and two girls

Jewel [sic] Vester Chipman married Ruby Bohannon — 2 daughters (a) were born.  Ruby died and he married again.

(Jewell Vester Chipman, 2 Jul 1988, Paragould, AR.)

Beecher Edgar Chipman married Winfred Bailey — one son, Ralph (b).  Then he married Essie Hyde (c) and I don’t know much about how many children were born to them (d) — Beecher is deceased.

(Beecher Edgar Chipman, 1931.)

(Essie Lee Hyatt, ca. 1931.)

(Joyce Elaine Chipman, ca. 1948.)

(Dixie Lee Chipman, 1942.)

Winford Chipman (e) married Ada Hill and had to [sic] sons, Carl & David.  Ada is deceased too.

[Here’s a rare photo.  Left to Right:  Jewell Vester Chipman, Lawcie Idella (Chipman) Mason, Pauline Aquilla (Chipman) Page Moffitt, Winford William Chipman.  Pauline died in 1983, so this must date to the late 1970s or early 1980s.  Beecher was unavoidably detained elsewhere in the Cosmos.]

Lawcie Chipman married Arvil Mason and had seven children, one girl who died at age 16 months.

1.  James Lee Mason [&] Ester Boyd } 2 sons and 3 grandchildren

2.  Harold Mason [&] Jo Metheny } 3 children

3.  Paul Mason [&] Berneita Neely } 3 children and 3 grandchildren

4.  Don Mason — never married

5.  Virginia Nell Mason [&] Joe Mabry } 2 sons and 2 grandchildren

6.  Shirley Mason [&] Jake Manley — divorced about 17 or 18 years go — has 3 children and four grandchildren.

and then your Mother.” (f)

(a)  Jean and June.

(b)  Another son named Donald died in infancy.

(c)  Essie’s maiden name was actually Hyatt.

(d)  Two daughters:  Joyce and Dixie.

(e) This is one of the few photos I have of Winford William “Winnie” Chipman (1910–1999).  He m. Ada Hill on 1 Jan 1933 in Greene Co., AR.

(f)  Pauline Aquilla Chipman (1916–1983), m. (1) 20 Mar 1936 Carl Davis Page, b. 13 Apr 1905, d. 8 Aug 1963, two children:  Carl Victor Page, Beverly Ann Page; m. (2) 24 May 1968 James Moffitt, no issue.  (See article next.)



We begin this column with the marriage license of Carl Davis Page and Pauline Aquilla Chipman, of Flint, MI, solemnized on 21 Mar 1936—the grandparents of Google CEO Larry Page (Lawrence Edward Page).  The clerk who typed the license had a problem with the name of Carl’s mother, calling her “Drucilla Prucilo.”  The clerk may have thought Carl’s mother was Italian.  My grandfather Beecher Chipman was a witness.  At the time of her marriage, Pauline was living with Beecher on E. Foss Ave.  As the nuptials approached, the void her departure would create must have weighed upon Beecher.  Nonetheless, having (carefully) pointed out her many good qualities to Carl, when love bloomed, as a gentleman Beecher stepped aside and welcomed Carl into the family.

(Click on image to enlarge.)

(Pauline Aquilla Chipman on a cart in front of the family car, ca. 1917.  Viewing the roof line, it’s probably a Model T.)

(Resistance is futile:  Pauline Aquilla Chipman with creepy doll, ca. 1918.)

(Pauline Aquilla Chipman, ca. 1920.)

(Pauline Aquilla Chipman, ca. 1931.)


(Senath High School record, Pauline Aquilla Chipman.  Click on image to enlarge.)

[Detail from 1940 Flint, MI Federal Census, Ward 8, p. 7B, Carl Davis Page family.  Carl V. Page (Carl Victor Page) age 1 is the father of Larry Page.  Click on image to enlarge.]

The following series of R.L. Polk Flint city directory entries for Carl Davis Page give some insight into factory jobs in the auto industry.  The entries carry different job titles which appear to be lateral positions.

ScreenHunter_126 Feb. 14 13.12

(1937: 611 Atwood.  Inspector, Chevrolet.)

(1941:  719 Bryan Place.  Machine operator, Chevrolet.)

ScreenHunter_127 Feb. 14 13.13

(1942:  1024 W. Parkwood Ave.  Factory worker, Buick.)

Note that in 1937, 1941, and 1942 Carl Davis Page resided at different addresses.  Workers living in GM owned housing were shuffled from building to building.  Individuals known to be working for GM can be absent from city directories as sometimes families didn’t reside within Flint city limits.  Clio, a suburb of Flint, also attracted autoworkers.

“Flint grew like a mining camp, without design, without planning….  The incoming thousands overtaxed Flint’s limited housing supply, and some workers were compelled to live for a time in tar-paper shacks, tents, and even railroad cars.  The same lodging rooms were rented to night-shift workers for the day and to day-shift workers for the night.  GM felt constrained to enter the home construction business in 1919, and through the Modern Housing Corporation it had built thirty-two hundred homes for its Flint workers by 1933.

“[The] city ‘never provided’ enough personnel, funds, or services to meet its health problems.  Among twenty-two cities of from 100,000 to 250,000 population in 1934 Flint ranked nineteenth in the infant death rate and the death of children from diarrhea and enteritis, seventeenth in maternal deaths, in a tie for thirteenth and fourteenth place in typhoid-fever death rate, thirteenth in the diptheria death rate, and tenth in the tuberculosis death rate.

“A large proportion of the workers who were lured to the city by automobile jobs and the high wages that GM paid were from rural backgrounds, and many of them reacted unfavorably to the industrial discipline imposed by the factory.

“Of Flint’s 128,617 native-born whites in 1930, 64.8 percent (83,290) had been born in Michigan and only about 30 percent in Flint itself….  The overwhelming proportion of Flint’s Southerners were drawn from the Central South, from Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, and Tennessee:  about 10 percent (12,818) of Flint’s native-born white population derived from these four states, and sections of the city had come to be known as ‘Little Missouri.'”

[Fine (1969), pp. 102–103.]

My grandmother Jewel Winifred (Bailey) Chipman and her first son Donald both died in Flint in 1929.  The close proximity of families to one another facilitated the spread of disease.  The Baileys must have harbored some bitterness against my grandfather Beecher Edgar Chipman for taking her to such an inhospitable place.

(Delayed Birth Certificate of Carl Davis Page, listing his parents as Henry Horace Page and Drucilla Pardue.  Her name is also spelled “Perdue.”  I’ll use the spelling as found in the actual record.  Delayed Birth Certificates were filed so that those who were born prior to the legal requirement for Birth Certificates could register for Social Security.  Like many people in the South, Carl’s mother was known by her middle name, in this instance “Drucilla.”  Her first name was “Annie.”  Click on image to enlarge.)

[Parents of Henry Horace Page and his brothers John Benton Page and James H. Page:  detail above is from the 1880 Hickman Co., KY Federal Census, Moscow, District 5, p. 3, SD 1, ED 114.  J.D. (John) Page and wife Emily C. have been confused with their son John Benton Page and wife Emily Corilla Pardue.  John D. Page was a shoemaker whose parents were born in VA.  This is as far back as I’ll document this pedigree.]

(Marriage record dated 8 Jul 1872 in Obion Co., TN for John D. Page and Emily C. Sullivan.  Click on image to enlarge.)

 (Henry Horace Page and wife Annie Drucilla Pardue are buried at Cotton Grove Baptist church cemetery in Madison Co., TN.)

[Death Certificate filed in TN for Henry Horace Page.  Informant was Emily Corilla (Pardue) Page, sister-in-law of Henry Horace Page.  The 1920 and 1930 Federal Census for Madison Co., TN shows Henry Horace Page was renting a farm.  Here we have an odd situation, and it’s not the only one for this Page family:  according to his tombstone and Death Certificate, Henry Horace Page was b. in 1871, yet his parents wed on 8 Jul 1872.  On his Death Certificate his mother is listed as Emily Sullivan.  She was. b. May 1834.  Emily’s last child was James H. Page, b. Mar 1878, when Emily was aged 44.  Biologically there’s no problem with Emily as the mother of Henry Horace Page, John Benton Page, and James H. Page.  It seems John D. Page and Emily C. Sullivan dispensed with marriage until sometime after the birth of Henry Horace Page, but why?  My conclusion in this case, and in the case of John Benton Page and Emily Corilla Pardue below, that being very poor they could not afford to establish a home of their own until later in their relationship and may have been living apart when their first child was born.  Click on image to enlarge.]

[Death Certificate filed in TN for Annie Drucilla (Perdue) Page.  Informant was Luther J. Page, brother of Carl Davis Page.  Annie Drucilla Page was b. 5 Dec 1876 at Madison Co., TN, d. 17 Feb 1948 at Jackson, Madison Co., TN.  Spouse listed as Henry Horace Page.  Parents are Jeff Perdue and Bettie Mccaig.  Henry Horace Page m. Drucilla Pardue on 10 Apr 1898 in Obion Co., TN.  Click on image to enlarge.]

[Tombstone of Emily Corilla (Pardue) Page, twin sister of Annie Drucilla (Pardue) Page.  Emily is also buried at Cotton Grove Baptist church cemetery.  She m. John Benton Page, brother of Henry Horace Page, on 10 Dec 1898 in Obion Co., TN.  According to her death certificate filed in TN, Emily C. Page was b. 5 Dec 1876 at Madison Co., TN, d. 23 Dec 1948 at Nashville, Davidson Co. TN.  Parents are listed as J.F. Perdue and Elizabeth.  The family of J.D. (Jefferson Davis) Perdue (age 31) is found in the 1880 Madison Co., TN Federal Census on pp. 2–3, SD5, ED 98 with wife Mary E. (age 31), and children Otis R. (age 6), Bessie P. (age 5), Emily C. (age 4), Ann D. (age 4), and George (age 7 months).  Wife “Mary .E.” stands for “Mary Elizabeth.”  Entry is found on bottom of one page and top of next.  Carl Davis Page inherited his middle name from his maternal grandfather Jefferson Davis Perdue.]

(Marriage record dated 19 Dec 1872 in Madison Co., TN for Jefferson Davis Perdue and Mary E. “Bettie” McCaig.  Click on image to enlarge.)

Larry Page and legendary pin-up icon Bettie Page share common ancestors in Jefferson Davis Perdue and wife Betty McCaig, who were Larry Page’s 2nd great-grandparents and Bettie Page’s great-grandparents, making Larry Page and Bettie Page 2nd Cousins-Once Removed. Theoretically they also share ancestors in John D. Page and wife Emily C. Sullivan, making them double 2nd Cousins-Once Removed.

[Detail of 1900 Obion Co., TN, Union City Federal Census, District 13, SD 9, ED 109, Sheet 10.  Family of John Benton Page with wife Emily Corilla Pardue and sons Walter and Aubon.  Living next door is Emily C. (Sullivan) Page, John’s mother, and his brother James.]

(WWI Draft Registration Card for John Benton Page.  On 12 Sep 1918 the Registrar reported that Page had blue eyes, light hair, and his right eye was out.  The birth date of 20 Sep is the same on the Registration Card and the death certificate, but the birth year is 1874 on the Registration Card and 1875 on the death certificate.)


 [According to his death certificate filed in TN, “Jno. Page” (John Benton Page) was b. 20 Sep 1875 in TN, and d. 23 Oct 1918 at Union City, Obion Co., TN. Parents listed as Jno. D. Page and Emily Sullivan.  John Benton Page’s occupation was “Painter & Paper Hanger.”  Informant was Henry Horace Page, then residing at Union City, TN, brother of John Benton Page.  John Benton Page survived a little over 5 weeks after he registered for the draft and was buried at East View cemetery in Union City, TN.  Cemetery is still in existence.  Click on image to enlarge.]

[Death Certificate filed in TN for Emily Corilla (Perdue) Page.  Informant was Walter Roy Page.  Click on image to enlarge.]

(Tombstone of Walter Roy Page, 19 Apr 1896—20 Jan 1964, WWI veteran, located at Nashville National Cemetery in Nashville, Davidson Co., TN.)

My goal here is to situate Bettie Mae Page, known professionally as Bettie Page, within her family context.  Her father Walter Roy Page was the son of John Benton Page and wife Emily Corilla Pardue.  Walter Roy Page was b. on 19 Apr 1896, more than two years prior to the marriage of his parents, who, as noted above, were m. on 10 Dec 1898 in Obion Co., TN. In that era being born out of wedlock carried stigma, and his instability as an adult may be partly attributed to the circumstances of his birth. In the complete 1900 census record I viewed, John and Emily claimed to have been married for 5 years, Emily said she was the mother of 2 children, both living, and John said both Walter and Aubon were his sons. 

Walter Roy Page enlisted in the Army on 22 Jan 1917.  On 22 Jan 1920 he was a Private stationed at Camp Travis, Bexar Co., TX, and was released on 5 Jul 1920.  On 17 Oct 1920 in Madison Co., TN he m. Edna Pirtle.  Walter Roy Page’s stormy marriage to Edna Mae Pirtle was exacerbated by poverty which led to his incarceration in Georgia for the theft of a police car.  In the 1938 Nashville, TN city directory, Edna Page was living at 436 6th Ave N, and reported herself as the widow of Roy, who actually died in 1964.  The Social Security Death Index indicates at some point he was assigned SSN # 410-22-9956.

walter roy page

(Photo of Walter Roy Page, father of Bettie Page, probably dating to his Army days ca. 1917–1920.)

(To solve the mystery of Walter Roy Page, I consulted the 1910 Obion Co., TN Federal Census, Union City, 13th District, SD 9, ED 125, Sheet 9B. The two brothers Henry Horace Page and John Benton Page are living next door to one another.  Carl Davis Page is Henry and Drucilla’s third child.  Henry was working in a stable, taking care of horses parked there when their owners visited Union City.  John Benton Page and wife Corilla have changed their story: they now say they’ve been married 11 years, so the marriage date of 10 Dec 1898 is correct.  John and Corilla lied about having wed in 1895 to make it appear they were married when Walter Roy Page was born.  “Aubon” the son has become “Mary” the daughter.  Corilla stated she was the mother of 4 children, all of whom were living.  John said all of them are his.  But even if Walter Roy Page was not the son of John Benton Page, but only the son of Emily Corilla Pardue, Larry Page would still be a 2nd Cousin-Once Removed with Bettie Page, and he does share a descent with the other children of John Benton Page through Emily C. Sullivan.  However, as noted above, the explanation for this discrepancy may have been poverty, rather than flaunting social mores, and Walter Roy Page was the son of both John Benton Page and Emily Corilla Pardue.)

[Snapshot of a celebrity:  detail above from the 1940 Nashville, Davidson Co., TN Federal Census, SD 5, ED 99–186, Sheet 10B.  “Betty Mai Page” is third from top, shown here with her mother Edna Mae (Pirtle) Page.  Click on image to enlarge.]

(Bettie Page early cheesecake photo.  Bettie Page posed for “Playboy” in the January 1955 issue.  And she could have taught Christian Grey a thing or two.  She remained soft-core, preferring to work clothed in her more “out there” films and photos.)

 (Although her personal life had its ups and downs, Bettie Page was very intelligent and earned a B.A. from George Peabody College (now part of Vanderbilt University) in 1944.  Her style remains influential today.  Bettie Page is tied with Steve McQueen at Number 9 on the Forbes 2014 Top Earning Dead Celebrities list.  She’s buried at Westwood Village Memorial Park cemetery in Los Angeles, CA.  The pennies on her grave marker are left by visitors as tokens of remembrance and respect.)

Beverly Ann (Page) Budzynski sent me the following newspaper clipping.  Carl Victor Page [cot] and Beverly Ann Page [inset] were stricken with polio during a visit to Tennessee.   The children and their mother, Pauline Aquilla (Chipman) Page [R], were flown back to Flint, Michigan where they were met by their father, Carl Davis Page [L].  Carl Victor Page went on to be professor of Computer Science at Michigan State University, and by his (then) wife Gloria Weinstein was the father of Larry Page.  

(“The Flint Journal,” Flint, MI.)

(Obituary of Carl Davis Page, apparently from “The Jackson Sun” newspaper of Jackson, Madison Co., TN.  Since he died on Thursday 8 Aug 1963, the funeral was held on Monday 12 Aug 1963.  The obituary states he was an inspector at Chevrolet, probably a non-management Quality Control position.)

(Hollywood Cemetery, Jackson, TN.)

(Obituary of Carl Victor Page, “The State News,” Michigan State University newspaper.  The article notes that Carl Victor Page “was the first in his family to graduate from high school and college.”  This remark applies to the Page family, as Pauline did attend all four years of high school.  In the 1940 Federal Census for Carl D. Page cited above, under the column “Highest grade of school completed,” Carl Davis Page indicated the 8th grade.  Material was composed by the family of Carl Victor Page.  At this point Google didn’t exist.)

[Note from Jean (Chipman) Crom, daughter of Jewel Vester Chipman, re: funeral of Carl Victor Page.]

In this set of Emails beginning on 23 Oct 2006, I was contacted by an individual claiming to be Donald Gudehus, husband of Larry Page’s mother Gloria.  I found it odd because I had exchanged a number of letters with Larry Page’s aunt Beverly, and ordinarily she would have been the person to contact me, rather than a stranger.  Beverly must have a large photo collection.  The phrase: “I have been handling the genealogy of our various families for some time” sounds like:  “You have to go through me.”  I don’t have to go through anyone.  Perhaps it was merely inappropriate wording.  I did Email whoever it was a copy of a letter I had received from Carl Victor Page and one of Beverly’s letters.  I then let the exchange fizzle.  That proved to be a wise decision.

The following set of Emails I received in 2014 are from my first cousin David Alton Dodd, who lives in Tijuana, Mexico (Click on images to enlarge).

I don’t quite know what to say about this.  Thanks to Larry Page, every author on the planet wants to sue Google.

Pauline Aquilla (Chipman) Page Moffitt was a farmer’s daughter.  She was also a descendant of one of the most important monarchs in English history, as revered in the UK as Washington and Lincoln are in the United States.  Some people are timeless—and Alfred the Great is one of those very few.  And among her ancestors were Mayflower passengers and soldiers and patriots of the Revolutionary War.

Of Carl Davis Page we can say his ethnic composition was primarily Scots-Irish.  The Scots-Irish were a very important genetic stream in the United States well into the Civil War era.  Carl didn’t pursue an education beyond the 8th grade because he was expected to work and help support his family.  But in that era having an 8th grade education was hardly a novelty.  Carl left Jackson, TN lured by reports of the good wages paid by GM in Flint, MI.  There he became friends with my grandfather Beecher Chipman, who introduced him to his eventual wife Pauline.  Carl was an unsung hero among unsung heroes, who endured the grime and squalor of Flint to build a better life for his family—and he succeeded.  The story of Carl Davis Page and others like him faded when GM left Flint, but they shouldn’t be forgotten.  The struggle to unionize GM was a pivotal episode in American labor history.

The building blocks of this line are already on the Internet:

I had nothing to do with this website, but obviously someone familiar with the family supplied the information.  You can find an extended pedigree on, but I haven’t documented this family beyond what’s in this column.

In summation, this chart exhibits the paternal ancestry of Larry Page formed by the people under discussion here (click on image to enlarge):

(1) Presumed father of Henry Horace Page.

This chart shows the paternal ancestry of Bettie Page.  I haven’t examined the ancestry of Edna Mae Pirtle.  Larry Page’s chart consists of 5 generations and Bettie Page’s chart has 4 generations because Larry Page and Bettie Page aren’t of equal generations from their common ancestors (click on image to enlarge).

(2) Presumed father of Walter Roy Page.

Regardless of the biological paternity of Henry Horace Page and Walter Roy Page (and available records indicate they were sons of their reputed fathers), uterine relationships exist between Google CEO Larry Page and pin-up icon Bettie Page, who share common ancestors in Jefferson Davis Perdue and his wife Mary Elizabeth McCaig, making Larry Page and Bettie Page 2nd Cousins-Once Removed. 

It’s confusing:  if Henry Horace Page was not the biological son of John D. Page, but only of Emily C. Sullivan, and Walter Roy Page was not the biological son of John Benton Page, but only of Emily Corilla Pardue, then Henry Horace Page and Walter Roy Page weren’t related through the Page family and didn’t share Emily C. Sullivan as a common ancestor.  DNA tests should resolve the biological paternity of Henry Horace Page and Walter Roy Page as these are male line descents.

Call it a True Hollywood Story.

tombstone blues (riddle hill is leveled but gets back on its feet)

•March 6, 2015 • Comments Off on tombstone blues (riddle hill is leveled but gets back on its feet)

This is a story with a happy ending.  The following is the text of a memorial plaque placed at Riddle Hill Cemetery:




Veryl Riddle collected the surviving Riddle Hill Cemetery tombstones, cleaned them, and erected them within an iron fence enclosure.  There were nine surviving tombstones: James A. Riddle, Joellan (Beckwith) Riddle, John Riddle, Joseph F. Riddle, Luther Riddle, Press Riddle, Robert R. Riddle, Sophronia Jane (Tompkins) Riddle, and Dixie (Snedacor) Riddle.  

All descendants of this Riddle family are deeply indebted to Veryl Riddle.


The remainder of this column describes the conditions at (Old) Riddle Hill Cemetery as my parents found them:

This tombstone belongs to Joellan (Beckwith) Riddle, wife of John Franklin Riddle.  Joellan was the daughter of Joseph and Eliza J. (Creath) Beckwith of Stoddard Co., MO, and grandmother of Allie May (Oxley) Chipman, wife of James Edward Chipman.

These photos were taken by Ralph Vernon Chipman at Riddle Hill Cemetary in northern Dunklin Co., MO.  Joellan (Beckwith) Riddle’s tombstone was found in a thicket.  Evidently a developer had bulldozed the tombstones off the graves, and they were tossed into a wooded area.

The next tombstone is that of Robert R. Riddle, son of John Franklin Riddle and Joellan Beckwith.  Robert R. Riddle married Safronia Jane Tomkins.  Ralph Vernon Chipman read Robert R. Riddle’s death date as “April 6, 1895,” but my notes indicate he died on 6 Apr 1896.  However, it does appear that the tombstone says “1895.”

This tombstone belongs to Luther Riddle, a grandson of John Franklin Riddle and Joellan Beckwith.  Luther Riddle’s father was George R. Riddle, who married a woman with the initials “M.C.,” but I know nothing further of her.  Luther Riddle’s tombstone is quite ornate.  He was 9 years old when he died.

I can’t comprehend how someone could desecrate a cemetary.  Scattered around the property there must have been more tombstones of John Franklin Riddle and Joellan Beckwith’s children and grandchildren and various spouses.  We are fortunate to have preserved these three tombstones in photographs.  Considering the difficult conditions, the photos are remarkably clear.


Ralph Vernon Chipman’s account of the circumstances under which the above photos were taken, from a letter dated 4 Jul 1988:

On June 29, 1988 we were fortunate to have assistance in locating  the gravestones of the Riddle family.  The graveyard is obliterated.  The gravestones are at the rear of a vacant lot:  the lot is immediately east of the brick residence of George Hampton Sr., RFD 2, Malden [Dunklin Co.], Mo.  telephone [*].  It is on blacktop road J about 4 miles west of Malden.  The vacant lot is overgrown with grass and weeds some two foot high, and the lot is about 200 X 200 foot in size.  The stones are at the top of a ravine, or hill, at the rear (north side) of the lot, back among thorn trees, vines, poison ivy/oak, brush, and evidently copperhead snakes (poisonous variety).  It is not known when the stones were moved from the gravesites, or who moved them.  There are approximately 6–7 stones, and bases, piled into a heap, that I saw at the top of the ravine, and of these only three inscriptions could be read.  The others weighed 200–400 pounds each so they were too heavy for one sixty year old, and a boy, to lift or roll over.  Also, it was raining steadily at the time making everything wet, slick and muddy, including George Hampton Jr. (a young fellow 16–17 years old who guided me to the stones, or I would never have found them), and me.  George Jr. thought there were additional stones at the ravine bottom, under brush, grass, and weeds, but we did not attempt to find them.  The inscriptions I copied carefully, and photographed, were:

1.  “Joellan, wife of John Riddle, born Nov. 20, 1831, died Aug. 6, 1896″  It was translucent marble, obelisk, some 4 feet high, plus base, with perfect cut letters, not weathered at all.

2.  “Robert Riddle, born July 28, 1855, died April 6, 1895″

3.  “Luther, son of G.R. & M.C. Riddle, born Feb. 25, 1894, died Jan. 8, 1904″

* Telephone number has been omitted.



There’s a difference between “forgiving” and “enabling.” We forgive those who have done unto us something that is outside their normal behavior. We are enabling when someone’s harmful behavior is a pattern and forgiving them merely allows it to continue.  Cruelty is sick, whether it’s from a relative, spouse, friend, stranger, or institution. There can be no excuse for violence.

Often the aggressors try to portray themselves as the victim.  Had there been no witnesses to this attack, it’s unlikely the perpetrator would have been prosecuted.  But because there were witnesses, the perpetrator entered into a plea agreement, and it wasn’t necessary for me to testify.  As the victim, I’m not bound by Pecoraro’s plea agreement and the letters are my property.

These two letters document a crime:  “This defendant has been found guilty and ordered to pay restitution to you.”

Joseph A. Pecoraro was found guilty of battery:  criminal physical assault.  The court ordered him to pay restitution for my bloodied shirt and damaged sunglasses.  His conviction was expunged upon expiration of court ordered  supervision. $100.00 plus court costs and $55.00 restitution sounds like a slap on the wrist, but Pecoraro had to hire an attorney, so his actual costs related to the crime were higher.

My injuries were serious enough that I had to go to a hospital emergency room for treatment.  I had medical insurance through an employer, so the defendant didn’t have to pay for medical treatment.  Initially I didn’t think the injuries were that serious because there wasn’t much pain.  As I soon found out, the real damage was to the tissue beneath the skin.  By the next day, I was in a lot of pain and my face was swollen. I went to the Emergency Room at Edward Hospital in Naperville where they prescribed antibiotics, dressed the wound, and administered a tetanus shot because Pecoraro had been wearing a ring.

I wasn’t attacked in the apartment complex, but at a traffic intersection in Glen Ellyn, Illinois.  I was aged 40 and Pecoraro was in his mid-to-late 20’s.  Witnesses called the police.  The witnesses were irate because I was trying to cover my face with my arms as Pecoraro hit me.  After the incident Pecoraro and a passenger fled the scene.  Evidently Pecoraro feared he’d be arrested because a note had been made of his license plate number, so he turned himself in.


These situations are exactly why Missouri has a tough harassment law.

Harassment is a huge problem in the United States.  It can escalate into violence and even murder.  Missouri’s tough harassment law aims to stop harassment before it escalates.

According to Missouri Revised Statutes, Chapter 565, “Offenses Against the Person,” Section 565.090, Sub-sections 1–(5) & (6):

A person commits the crime of harassment if he or she:

“Knowingly makes repeated unwanted communication to another person; or

Without good cause engages in any other act with the purpose to frighten, intimidate, or cause emotional distress to another person, cause such person to be frightened, intimidated, or emotionally distressed, and such person’s response to the act is one of a person of average sensibilities considering the age of the person.”

The first offense is a Class A Misdemeanor.  Subsequent violations are Class D Felonies.

If you have an ex-spouse or ex-love interest who can’t accept the end of the relationship, or have any relationship personal or organizational in which the other party won’t let you go, you know why this law is necessary.

Harassment is often of a personal nature:  the tormentor wants to bring the victim down to the tormentor’s “level.”   Harassment is psychological abuse.  Those who engage in harassment are attempting to undermine the autonomy of the individual.

Missouri takes harassment seriously.  It’s a crime.

You can read the entire statute at:

Click on the link or copy and paste the link into your browser.

Harassment is often linked with stalking.  Missouri takes stalking seriously, too.

Missouri Revised Statutes, Chapter 565, “Offenses Against The Person,” Section 565.225, Section (2) states:

“A person commits the crime of stalking if he or she purposely, through his or her course of conduct, harasses or follows with the intent of harassing another person.”

According to Section 6:

“Any law enforcement officer may arrest, without a warrant, any person he or she has probable cause to believe has violated the provisions of this section.”

As with harassment, the first offense is a Class A Misdemeanor and subsequent offenses are Class D Felonies.


Click on the link or copy and paste the link into your browser.

If you’re being harassed or stalked, involve law enforcement before someone harms you.  You might think the situation isn’t that serious and it will go away.  Harassment and stalking creates an atmosphere conducive to violence and those who harass and stalk know that and use it to intimidate.  Don’t take chances with your personal safety.

Dorothy (Branch) Benton & her brother John battle a ghost / John Branch & the War of 1812 / Branch family history & North Carolina politics

•December 10, 2014 • Comments Off on Dorothy (Branch) Benton & her brother John battle a ghost / John Branch & the War of 1812 / Branch family history & North Carolina politics

     One of the more interesting families from which I descend is the Branch family of Halifax Co., NC.  There’s a little known incident on my “limb” which led me to collect a large amount of material.  Genealogists might learn something of value from it.

First, let’s set the stage:  John Branch and Dorothy Myra (Branch) Benton were brother and sister, children of William Branch Jr., a deputy sheriff in Halifax Co., NC.  For the purposes of this essay, it doesn’t matter if they had the same mother (they probably didn’t).

Dorothy married Nathaniel Benton, son of Jesse and Nancy (Gooch) Benton.  Nathaniel was brother to Thomas Hart Benton, United States Senator from Missouri.  Nathaniel and Dorothy were the great-grandparents of Thomas Hart Benton of Neosho, MO (1889-1975), celebrated muralist and painter.  The couple resided in Dyer Co., TN along with John Branch.

On 26 Sep 1835 in Dyer Co., TN, Nathaniel Benton, Dorithy Benton, John Branch, Thomas H. Ham, and William R. Pate bound themselves unto Joel A. Light and Stephen D. Light in the sum of $4,000.00 for a tract of 315 acres, which was part of the grant of 5,000 acres to the heirs of Jesse Benton.  (Dyer Co., TN Deed Book C, pp. 428-429.)  John Branch wasn’t married to a daughter of Jesse Benton.  His partcipation was acting as security for his sister in the transaction.  Thomas H. Ham married John Branch’s daughter Frances.

William Branch Jr. (who predeceased his father 30 Sep 1793), father of John and Dorothy, was the son of William Branch Sr. (Halifax Co., NC Deed Book 16, p. 133).

William Branch Sr.’s will, proved Halifax Co., NC, Feb Court 1794 (Will Book 3, p. 218), named the following:  wife Elizabeth Branch;  son Nicholas Branch; son John Branch; daughter Elizabeth Marshall; daughter Mary Scurlock; daughter Sarah Hill; daughter Ann Fleuellin; daughter Jane Overstreet; and daughter Martha Dillard.

William Branch Sr.’s daughter Elizabeth Marshall wound up a wealthy widow in Williamson Co., TN.  In her will, made 10 Nov 1853, she freed her slaves Manuel, Carey, Phederick, Suckey, Dick, Tom, Becky, John, Margaretts, and Henry.  It was this language that ignited a firestorm:  “I want my land that I live on after my death sold to the highest bidder, on a credit of twelve months and the proceeds of said land to be divided between my ten slaves to support them until they may make a start.”  She also bequeathed the rest of her estate to the same slaves.

Here’s why Elizabeth Marshall was angry with her family:

This Lawsuit is recorded in Williamson Co., TN:  “Elizabeth Marshall vs. George A. Conn 1847  She is aged 93 years and was married to -– Marshall and he is now deceased.  She has never remarried and has no children.  She owns considerable estate.  In 1833, Conn who married a distant relative of her’s, persuaded her to let Nicholas Branch live with her as she was living alone.  He was her nephew and without a home.  In 1834, she purchased a slave Fed from Thomas Parham.  Branch and Conn induced her to move to the western district of Tennessee in the fall of 1834 and said they would move to Haywood County where her old friend Joshua Farrington lived.  Branch was to live with her and Conn and his family to live nearby.  They had no money.  She placed money with them to be invested in land in the western district, about $2000.  They went to Fayette County and Branch collected money as her agent in Williamson County.  She sent for Farrington and told him of the situation and he started court proceedings.  Conn sold her land to -– Wilson for $1500 and collected the money.  She resided with Conn 18 months after returning to Williamson County.”  [Lynch, Louise Gillespie.  (1978).  Miscellaneous Records Williamson County, Tennessee Volume 2.  Pub: The Author.  p. 72.]

Dorothy Benton and relatives of Elizabeth Marshall sued James A. Hughes, executor of Elizabeth Marshall, to overturn the will.

The following is a transcription of the plaintiff’s petition:

“Dorothy Benton et al vs James Hughes

Issued 20th June 1854

Came to hand same day issued & executed by summoning defendants and delivering a copy of the Petition this 28th day of June 1854

FB Haynes Shff

To the Worshipful the County Court of Williamson County in the state of Tennessee.

The petition of Dorothy Benton John Branch George A. Conn & wife Martha would respectfully represent to your Worships that Elizabeth Marshall departed this life in the County of Williamson in the state of Tennessee in the year 1853 at the advanced age of One hundred years or thereabouts —

She died Seized and possessed of Considerable property real and personal At the January term 1854 of this Worshipful Court, James Hughes presented to the Court for probate a paper writing purporting to be the last Will and testament of the said Elizabeth Marshall and the same was admitted and letters testamentary issued to the said James Hughes the executor nominated therin No citation issued by the executor to the next of kin of the said Elizabeth Marshall nor were they or any of them present when the said pretended will was [?] — and it was only proven in common for we your petitioners constitute some heirs and next of kin of the said Elizabeth Marshall and they deny that said paper is the last will and testament of her the said Elizabeth Marshall and they desire to contest the same as a Valid will.  Your petitioners ask for a citation to the said James Hughes to appear before this court and propound said will in solemn form –

They ask that the probate heretofore granted be set aside – that they have leave to contest the validity of the said supposed will – that this order be made transfering the same according to the provisions of the statutes in such case made and provided to the Circuit Court of said County of Williamson that an issue of devissant vel * now may be made up and tried — Your petitioners pray for general relief in the premises — And that a copy of this petition together with a citation issue to the said James Hughes requiring him to appear and propound said supposed will in solemn form

S Venable Atto for Petitioners”

{* “devissant vel” may mean “actual devisees.”  JTC.}

Williamson County court records show that on 12 Mar 1855:

“This day came the parties by their attorneys, and by consent it is ordered that Nancy Capps and Mary Knight be admitted defendants in this cause, and permitted to contest the validity of the paper writing purporting to be the last will and testament of Elizabeth Marshall.”

In court on 28 Mar 1855:

“Dorothy Benton, John Branch & George A. Conn Nancy Capps & Mary Knight the defendants come and say that said paper writing is not the last will and testament of the said Elizabeth Marshall deceased, and that she did not devise and bequeath as is in and by the same set forth and expressed, and of this they put themselves on the …, and the plaintiff doth the like.”

Nancy Caps was Nancy Scurlock who married Benjamin Caps 11 Nov 1824 in Williamson Co., TN.  George A. Conn married Martha Dillard 25 Jul 1822 in Rutherford Co., TN.  I can’t identify Mary Knight, but she was in some fashion a descendant of William Branch Sr. 

On 31 Mar 1855, the Williamson Co. court issued its decision:

“It  is therefore considered by the court, that the said paper writing is the last Will and testament of the said Elizabeth Marshall deceased, and valid, and that it be established as such, and that the said Elizabeth Marshall thereby did devise and bequeath, as is in and by the same set forth and expressed.” 

The court allowed the defendants to recover their costs from James Hughes.

Sounds like it was over, doesn’t it?  It wasn’t.  There were suits and counter suits.  Dorothy Benton and her relatives overturned the will.  Accounts dated March 1865 show that Fed, John, Dick, Tom, Henry & Susan, and Margaret had been hired out—that is, “rented” to others, and the payments, which were substantial, duly entered into a register.  The estate of Elizabeth Marshall was an Administration with Will Annexed.

(J.H. Conn was Josephus H. Conn.)

Randal McEwing summed it all up on 15 Mar 1865, just weeks before Lee’s surrender at Appotmattox Court House:

“I was the Attorney of James Hughes as Adminstrator or Executor of Elizabeth Marshall deceased — I know that the settlement of the Estate was attended with great difficulties and there was a large amount of litigation in settling the same Besides these law suits there was land notes to be collected and slaves to be hired out year after year and the hires to be collected &c. have my personal knowledge of the difficulties attending the Administration.  I am of the opinion that six hundred dollars would be a just and moderate compensation for his services as Executor or Aminstrator.”

This ledger recorded earnings from hiring out slaves:

(Records like this should be abstracted and put into a database.)

How had Dorothy Benton and her relatives prevailed?  In 1847, Elizabeth Marshall stated her age was 93; so she was about 100 years of age when she died.  I don’t have a court record stating the basis upon which the will was overturned, but the defendants probably argued because of her extreme old age Elizabeth Marshall was not quite right in her mind when she gave her wealth to her slaves.

The end of the Civil War rendered the accounts superfluous.  The remaining slaves gained their freedom, but they had to make their own start.

Bounty land warrant files for veterans who served in the War of 1812 often contain useful information similar to pension files.  Most soldiers were deceased by 14 Feb 1871, when Congress passed a pension act for War of 1812 veterans, so bounty land files are a valuable substitute.

The War of 1812 was fought from 18 Jun 1812 to 17 Feb 1815, although the British had ratified the treaty ending the war on 27 Dec 1814.  The celebrated Battle of New Orleans, which made Andrew Jackson a hero, was fought on 8 Jan 1815, after the treaty.

Among the items in the bounty land warrant file for my 4th great-grandfather, John Branch, was this handwritten note:

At the time he applied for bounty land, John Branch was a resident of New Madrid Co., MO (the section which later became Pemiscot Co.).  He stated he had served in a company of mounted horse, and had volunteered in Giles Co., TN in Oct 1814.  Service records like this document his enlistment:

John Branch, son of William Branch Jr. * of Halifax Co., NC, served as Postmaster of Cottonwood Point, Pemiscot Co., MO (Pemiscot Co. was formed from New Madrid Co. in 1851).  A brother  to Dorothy Myra (Branch) Benton, ancestor of American painter Thomas Hart Benton, he and Dorothy resided for some years in Dyer Co., TN.   John Branch was a second cousin of Confederate Brigadier-General Lawrence O’Bryan Branch, killed at Antietam.

His grandfather, William Branch Sr., had been captured and paroled by the British during the Revolutionary War, and is qualified as a Patriot by DAR.  William Branch Sr. secured a land grant of 5,000 acres on the Duck River in Bedford Co., TN.  It was inherited by John Branch upon the death of William Branch Jr.

The tract was the subject of much litigation.  In 1812 it was sold to satisfy a court order and purchased by John Warren, who had married Nancy (Bradford) Branch, widow of William Branch Jr.  John Branch was not raised by the Warrens.  His grand-uncle, Lt. Col. John Branch (brother of his grandfather, William Branch Sr.), was appointed his guardian.

Another John Branch, a son of Lt. Col. John Branch mentioned above, had a long and distinguished political career.  He served as Governor of North Carolina, a United States Senator and Congressman, Secretary of the Navy under Andrew Jackson, and Governor of Florida.


Haywood, Marshall DeLancey.  (1915).  John Branch 1782–1863 Governor of North Carolina, United States Senator, Secretary of the Navy, Member of Congress, Governor of Florida, etc. Raleigh, N.C.:  Commercial Printing Company.

* William Branch Jr. (died 30 Sep 1793) married Nancy Bradford in 1790 in Halifax Co.  There is no date on the bond, but it was numbered 45 of the 69 issued that year.  Nancy Bradford was certainly the mother of Dorothy Myra (Branch) Benton (born ca. 1793).  She was probably not the mother of John Branch (born ca. 1790), as he was raised by his grand-uncle Lt. Col. John Branch.  In the 18th and 19th centuries, “Nancy” was sometimes used as a nickname for “Ann.”  John Branch named a daughter Ann Bradford Branch (wife of William Kimbrow), who was also sometimes called Nancy.  The wife of John Branch was named Elizabeth, but her maiden name is unknown.

The Will of William Bradford of Halifax Co., made 1 Aug 1822, in which he names “my half sister Nancy and her husband Henry B. Bradford,” appears to rule out William Branch Jr.’s wife Nancy as a daughter of Col. John Bradford of Halifax Co.  William Bradford was without doubt Col. John Bradford’s son by 3rd wife Elizabeth Smith.  Col. John Bradford’s daughter Ann was by 2nd wife Dorothea Miriam Burgess.  Since John Warren, second husband of Nancy (Bradford) Branch, died on 24 Nov 1848 in Bedford Co., TN, his wife cannot have been the daughter of Col. John Bradford.

Kinship terms used in old documents often had broader meanings than they do today, but in the instance of William Bradford’s will there is no doubt of the identity of Nancy, wife of Henry B. Bradford.  William Branch Jr.’s choice of the name “Dorothy Myra Branch” for his daughter doesn’t necessarily mean her grandmother was Dorothea Miriam (Burgess) Bradford, despite similarity of names.  That his son John Branch named a daughter “Ann Bradford Branch” suggests that John Branch’s wife Elizabeth may have been a Bradford.  The Bradford family was prominent in Bedford Co., TN, and the marriages for that period are lost.

Onomastic evidence in this case appeared conclusive, but the weight of other evidence disproves Nancy (Bradford) Branch Warren as a daughter of Col. John Bradford.  This underscores the danger of relying upon onomastic evidence as sole “proof” of a genealogical link, even though it is ostensibly persuasive.

The origins of the Branch family of Halifax Co., NC are obscure, although they appear to have settled in NC early in the 18th century.  There is no known connection to Christopher Branch of VA.

Who Do You Think You Are? The Life and Death of Beecher Edgar Chipman / Beecher Wasn’t a Bounder / Who’s Buried In Jean Chipman’s Tomb?

•December 7, 2014 • Comments Off on Who Do You Think You Are? The Life and Death of Beecher Edgar Chipman / Beecher Wasn’t a Bounder / Who’s Buried In Jean Chipman’s Tomb?

Behind this seemingly ordinary document is a story.  Beecher Edgar Chipman was my paternal grandfather.  And this is his previously unknown third marriage.

Why did a couple who lived in Flint, MI drive to Bowling Green, OH to get married on 24 Apr 1950?

On 23 Apr 1959, Beecher drowned while fishing at a lake in Pendleton Township, MO.  His companion, listed as Jean Esther (Southard) Chipman on her death certificate, also drowned.  They’re buried side by side in a cemetery in Farmington, MO.

Who was Jean Esther Chipman?

The answers may shock you.


But first, who was Beecher Edgar Chipman?

He was the second son, and third of five children of James Edward and Allie May (Oxley) Chipman.  The family owned a small cotton farm in the fertile Missouri boot-heel county of Dunklin.  Dunklin County was named in honor of Daniel Dunklin, governor of Missouri 1832–1836.  The Missouri boot-heel, virtually unknown outside the state, was leveled by the New Madrid earthquake of 1812.

Beecher was born in the small town of Senath, southwest of Kennett, the county seat. Other than cotton, Dunklin County’s most famous export is singer/songwriter Sheryl Crow, who hails from Kennett.  Senath is now only a ghost of its former glory.

In high school Beecher read classics like David Copperfield and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  The best grade he could muster was an “M,” equivalent to a “C.”  More often he scored an “I,” which is equivalent to a “D.”

(Click on image to enlarge it.)

Beecher married Jewel Winifred Bailey (my grandmother), the daughter of Alvis Cowan and Mary Ann Cordelia (Harkey) Bailey.  The Harkeys came to Dunklin County about 1851, from Wilkes County, GA via Mississippi.  Like many young families during the Depression, Beecher and Winifred moved north to Flint, MI, where the men sought work in the factories.

In a letter to me dated Jan 1988, Beecher’s niece, Beverly Ann (Page) Budzynski, had this to say about Beecher:

“I’m sure your father [1] is bitter and has every right to be.  Beecher was not a good father—but he was a very interesting and complex person.

“Many people disapproved of him but they liked him.  Even as a child, I can remember his visits.  He came in like Santa Claus—a big, good-looking man, big smiles and a big hug.  I know my mother [2] loved him very much—but really didn’t know what to do or say.  My dad [3] disapproved, I’m sure because he was such a family man, but I know he really liked Beecher.  (Of course, it was through Beecher that he met my mother!)

“Beecher was a tool and die maker in the factory—well respected in his job.  In those days, men heard the factories were hiring and they would gather outside the gates.  Someone would come out and choose likely candidates.  The story goes that Beecher got jobs for many men!  He simply stood there, got chosen—and gave the other fellow’s name.  The next day, the other fellow reported to work!  He must have looked like  a good worker!

“I have one surviving aunt on my dad’s side.  She’s 75 and knew Beecher well—in fact, I’ve always wondered why they never got together as they would have made quite a couple!!  She remembers Beecher with great fondness—describes him in modern teminology as a “hunk.”  She said he was full of life and fun.

“I can remember many discussions about Beecher and why he did what he did!  My mother thought Beecher was devastated  by his first wife’s [4] death.  He seemed to punish himself thereafter.  He sought out low life bars and low life women.  Then, he would return to some semblance of family life.  But, he couldn’t seem to stay on the straight and narrow.  Who knows what would have happened had Winifred lived.

“Also, Beecher was a product of the ‘Roaring Twenties’ and was always popular with the girls.

“My mother used to tell me how she learned to drive at seven.  She had gone somewhere with Beecher and she wanted to return home.  He wasn’t ready so let her drive the car home!  She was allowed to keep on driving—in fact her father [5] never learned to drive well, and I think Allie May [6] didn’t drive at all.

“Mother drove them on family trips to Hot Springs, Ark, St. Louis, and when she was 13, drove them to Flint!!”

[Notes:  1. Ralph Vernon Chipman; 2. Pauline Aquilla (Chipman) Page Moffit; 3. Carl Davis Page; 4. Jewel Winifred Baiely; 5. James Edward Chipman; 6. Allie May (Oxley) Chipman.]

This letter dated 18 Mar 1989 from my father to his half-sister Dixie painted an unflattering portrait of Beecher:

“Upon receiving news of our father’s [1] death, while at work with the railroad in Cicero, Ill., my first reaction was a sense of lost opportunity for any improvement ever in my relationship with him.

“The uneasiness and threat was my fear that Dad would appear, (or “show up out of the blue,” as you well express it), get drunk and thrown in jail, or fight, causing me and my family embarassment among my work friends, and our social and neighbor acquaintances.  From reports from Poppa [2] and Aunt Lawcie Mason [3] he had indeed done exactly that around Senath and Kennett.  He had borrowed money from Lawcie and Orval Mason for jail bond.  Poppa, of course, was always indulgent of Dad.  However, Lawcie, Jewell [4], and Winnie [5] were not.  As close as Dad ever came to causing this fear was his taking Jeff [6], then some three years old, and spending a couple of hours at one of the sleaziest bars in Burlington, Iowa.  At the time, we thought he was just going to the nearby grocery to to buy cigarettes, but instead the two of them returned some 2–3 hours later with Dad definitely smelling of alcohol, and only then told us where they had gone.  Of course that was the last time any of our children went anywhere with Dad.

“So my secondary feeling … was relief.  He had lived his life as he had chosen, and now he was gone.

“My earliest recollection of Dad was his visit to James Edward and Allie Oxley Chipman’s 10-acre farm near Senath, Mo. when I was perhaps 4–6 years old.  People sat on the little front screen porch visiting in the evening.  Dad was laughing a lot, talking, and in a genial mood.  I asked him if I could smoke his cigar butt, and he said sure and when I smoked it I was very ill and threw up.  He thought it was funny, but Momma Chipman [7] was duly critical.

“Dad was involved in the historic auto labor union lockouts/riots in Flint sometime around 1934/1935.  The men barricaded themselves in the auto shops, while some overturned cars outside, etc.  The contention was to get the union recognized.  Also, General Motors, before the union, generally announced each December a flat $100 Christmas bonus:  that was a significant sum…. *

“Dad was … drinking quite a bit, and I recall he and Essie [8] arguing over it.  I believe there were other women problems too, between them.

“He regularly practiced, with [his] pistol, behind our house [in Clio, MI], and could usually keep a tincan rolling with a fusillade of shots.

“In the end, the reason I left Flint was that Dad agreed I could quit school and get a job at Champion Spark Plug Factory.  This proved to me he really did not care about me, because previously he had always said I should get good grades, and aspire to attend General Motors School of Technology.  His work clothes and shoes were always saturated with oil and grease, so he told me, “you don’t want to work in the shops and always be dirty and grimy, which is why you should study and get an education.”

“I think Dad meant well sometimes.  But he was addicted to alcohol.  He never learned any self discipline.  He did not seem to recognize that he was responsible for his actions, and omissions.  Our family history reveals him based on the evidence, despite his charisma, or powers of verbal persuasion.  And maybe Momma Chipman’s Pentecostal devotion penetrated his mind sometime, kicking his butt around the block, whether he liked it or not.”

[Notes:  1. Beecher Edgar Chipman; 2. James Edward Chipman; 3. Lawice Idella (Chipman) Mason; 4. Jewell Vester Chipman; 5. Winford William Chipman; 6. Me; 7. Allie May (Oxley) Chipman; 8. Essie Lee Hyatt, Beecher’s second wife.]

* The strike actually took place in 1936–1937.  For a complete history, see:

Fine, Sidney.  (1969).  Sit-Down The General Motors Strike of 1936–1937.  Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press.


Which brings us to the mystery that began this column—the utlimate fate of Beecher Edgar Chipman, and the last two (as far as is known) women in his life.

Beecher had four proven children, two by Winifred and two by Essie, and three (probable) by Imogene, for a potential total of seven.

1. Beecher Edgar Chipman married 1st, Jewel Winifred Bailey (my grandmother), b. 5 Apr 1907 in Senath, Dunklin Co., MO, d. 1 Sep 1929 in Flint, Genesee Co., MI, bur. Cude Cemetery near Senath, daughter of Alvis Cowan and Mary Ann Cordelia (Harkey) Bailey. The Harkeys were a prominent family in Dunklin Co.

(Beecher Edgar Chipman and Jewel Winifred Bailey; probably taken about the time they were married.)


(a)  Donald LaVerne Chipman, b. 4 Jan 1927, d. 4 Mar 1929

(b)  Ralph Vernon Chipman, b. 3 Nov 1928, only surviving child by Beecher Edgar Chipman’s first wife, Jewel Winifred Bailey

(The first and third obituaries are from the Dunklin Democrat, Kennett, MO.  The second obituary is from the Flint, MI newspaper.)

[Alvis Cowan Bailey, father of Jewel Winifred Bailey, from a tin-type, mid to late 1880s.  Alvis Cowan Bailey died on 25 Jul 1934.  Of his family, we know that his parents were Meschach and Lucinda Bailey.  Meschach Bailey was evidently the son of Carr Bailey of Hawkins Co., TN, who was a son of William “Flea Buck” Bailey.  William “Flea Buck” Bailey made his will on 30 May 1828 (Hawkins Co. TN Will Book 1, p. 42)  Beyond that, I have reservations as to published accounts of the family.  A family story relates that William “Flea Buck” Bailey was the son of Samuel and Sarah (Bryan) Bailey.  Sarah (Bryan) Bailey was allegedly the sister of Rebecca Bryan, wife of the famous pioneer Daniel Boone.  This tale is unsubstantiated and probably false.]

(This sketch of the Nesbit Community is from an 1896 Dunklin Co. history.)

[My grandparents, Jewel Winifred (Bailey) Chipman and Beecher Edgar Chipman.]

Jewel Winifred (Bailey) Chipman d. at Flint, MI on 1 Sep 1929.

In 1930 Beecher was a lodger in the home of Charles K. Williams in Flint, MI.  Carl Davis Page, who later married Beecher’s sister Pauline Aquilla Chipman, was also a lodger in the home:

(Detail of 1930 Genesee Co., MI Federal Census, city of Flint, ED 25-29, SD 10, Sheet 22B.)

Beecher had placed his son Ralph V. Chipman with Beecher’s father James Edward Chipman:

(Detail of 1930 Dunklin Co., MO Federal Census, Salem Township, ED 35-27, SD 17, Sheet 6B.)

These entries from Polk’s Flint, MI City Directories chronicle Beecher’s marriages.

1929:  Chipman Beecher E (Winifred J) auto wkr r1335 Smith

1930:  Chipman Beecher E autowkr r611 Stone

1931:  Chipman Beecher E (Essie L) auto wkr r417 E 7th

1932:  Chipman Beecher E (Essie L) autowkr r309 1/2 E 14th

1934:  Chipman Beecher (Dessie) autowkr h663 Hall

1936:  Chipman Beecher A (Essi L) autowkr h1041 E Foss av

1937:  Chipman Beecher A (Essie L) die str Chevrolet h1041 E Foss av

1938:  Absent from directory

1939:  Absent from directory

1941:  Chipman Beecher E (Essie L) auto wkr Chevrolet h1073 E Austin

1942:  Absent from directory

1945:  Absent from directory

1946:  Absent from directory

1947:  Absent from directory

1949:  Chipman Beecher E (Jean L) toolmkr Fisher h826 E Hamilton St

1950:  Chipman Beecher E (Jean L) diemkr Fisher h826 E Hamilton av

1952:  Chipman Essie L Mrs h627 Prospect

             Chipman Imogene L Mrs h826 Hamilton av *

1954:  Chipman Imogene (wid Beecher) h905 Mary **

1955:  905 Mary Chipman Imogene Mrs Chevalier Floyd E ***

1956:  Chipman Essie Mrs h425 Bangs

[The above are records I viewed.  * Record shows that by this time Beecher had left Imogene.  ** Women who had been deserted sometimes gave their marital status as “Widow.”  *** Floyd E Chevalier may have been a boarder.]

(Beecher Edgar Chipman, 1931, Flint, MI.)

2. Beecher Edgar Chipman married 2nd, on 18 Feb 1931 in Genesee Co., MI, Essie Lee Hyatt, b. 2 Feb 1908 in Nashville, Howard Co., AR, d. Jul 1998 in Fresno, CA, bur. Clovis Cemetery, Clovis, CA; daughter of Thomas Edward and Hattie Ann (Bigger) Hyatt. Beecher and Essie divorced in Genesee Co., MI on 31 May 1949 (State File No. 25 18514, Docket No. 47577).

(Detail of 1920 Dunklin Co., MO Federal Census, Independence Township, Kennett City, SD 12, ED 80, Sheet 15A, Thomas Edward Hyatt family.  Essie is 4th from bottom.  Beecher’s wives all had a Dunklin Co. connection.)

Children by Essie (information from obituaries supplemented with my research):

(a)  Joyce Elaine Chipman, b. 22 Feb 1932; m. on 21 Mar 1953 in Genesee Co., MI, Troy L. Barnett, b. 9 Sep 1929 in Lawrence Co., AR, d. 30 Nov 2012 in Fresno, CA.  According to Troy L. Barnett’s obituary published by Yost & Webb Funeral Home, Joyce and Troy’s children are:  LeRoy T. Barnett and Teresa Lynn Barnett (m. Henry Saldivar). Grandson: Vincent Saldivar.  I have nothing further on this family.

(b)  Dixie Lee Chipman, b. 12 Oct 1940, d. 12 Nov 2013 in Greeneville, TN; m. Jack Alton Dodd, d. 19 Jun 2012.  According to her obituary published 9 Jan 2014 in the Greeneville (TN) Sun, her relatives and descendants are:  sons David Alton Dodd of Baja California, Mexico, and John Edward Dodd of Kingsport, TN; sister Joyce Barnett; half-brother Ralph Chipman; half-sister Sue Bartlett; grandchildren Rebekah Dodd-Crosby (dau. of David Alton Dodd by Irving), Joshua Alton Dodd (son of David Alton Dodd by Irving), Juan Huerta Dodd (son of David Alton Dodd by Guzman), Sharon Guzman Dodd (dau. of David Alton Dodd by Guzman), and Anna Margarita Dodd (dau. of David Alton Dodd by Guzman); and three great-grandchildren (not named).  David Alton Dodd is a sportswriter and freelancer; m. twice: (1) 23 Mar 1985 in Clark Co., NV, Lynette Joan Irving; (2) Rocio Luna Guzman.  I have nothing further on this family.

(Beecher Edgar Chipman and his second wife, Essie Lee Hyatt, 1933.  Bottom row:  Ralph Vernon Chipman, Joyce Elaine Chipman.)

3. Beecher Edgar Chipman married 3rd, on 24 Apr 1950 in Bowling Green, OH, Imogene Lulu (Oliver) Golden aka Lula Oliver, b. 26 Feb 1915 in Malden, Dunklin Co., MO, d. 15 Nov 1995 in Leesburg, Lake Co., FL.

Of her, the facts at hand are these:  she was the dau. of John and Minnie (Kiethley) Oliver.  In the 1920 Dunklin Co., MO Federal Census, Malden City, SD 12, ED 73, Sheet 17A, Line 47, Imogene Olliver age 5 is residing with her widowed mother Minnie Olliver age 20. By the 1930 Dunklin Co., MO Federal Census, Malden City, SD 17, ED 35-7, Sheet 14A, p. 102, Imogene Oliver age 15 (step-dau.) is residing with her mother, Minnie J. King, and Minnie’s new husband, Earl M. King.

According to the 1940 Genesee Co., MI Federal Census, SD 6, ED 85–70, Sheet 7B, Imogene Golden (divorced in 1936, no children) was employed as a waitress and performing housework in a private home, occupying the rear apartment of the residence which she shared with Minnie King, her mother, who was also divorced and working as a seamstress (see detail below).  I interpret this entry to mean Imogene was working as a domestic in a private home.

(Click on image to enlarge.  The 1940 Federal Census is the most recent census available to the public.)

In 1941 Imogene, calling herself “Lula Oliver,” was working as a maid as this Flint city directory page shows:

The 1942 Flint city directory lists Mrs. Minnie King residing at h1606 Bingham.

By age 21, Imogene had been married and divorced.  In 1940, the United States was still reeling from the Great Depression with unemployment at 15%.  Job opportunities for single women with little education were limited.  As WWII ramped up, Imogene joined the massive influx of women into the factories.

Imogene had no siblings.  Her affair with Beecher must have begun about 1943.  The couple never divorced.

[Imogene Lulu (Oliver) (Golden) Chipman]

The obituary of Imogene L. Chipman, of Leesburg, FL, homemaker, in the Clermont-Orlando Sentinel, states she was b. in Malden, MO, and had moved to Leesburg from Orlando in 1993.  Survived by:  sons James, Michigan; David, Orlando; daughters Sue Golden, Dallas; Donna Platman, Leesburg; Glenda Caruthers, Orlando; 19 grandchildren and 25 great-grandchildren.

Children of Imogene:

(a)  * Glenda Elaine —, b. 19 Sep 1941 (named in mother’s obituary as Glenda Caruthers of Orlando, FL); m. Gary Daniel Carruthers (Orange Co., FL records show that on 18 Feb 1990 Glenda Elaine Carruthers was issued a citation for “Fishing, Hunting Or Trapping W/O License” at Ocoee.  At that time she gave her birth date as shown.  On 26 Feb 1990 agreed to the charge.  Uniform Case Number: 481990IN000297000AWX.)

(b)  Susan Dean Golden aka Susan Dean Bartlett (probable dau. of Beecher Edgar Chipman), of Eustis, FL, and Leesburg, FL, b. 22 Oct 1944 [As Susan Dean Golden of Eustis, FL, in Case No. 2002 MM 00 2359 State of  Florida vs. Susan Dean Golden, pleaded “No Contest” on 3 Jul 2002 to a charge of Misdemeanor Battery-Domestic Violence (Battery-Touch Or Strike).]

(c)  Donna Jane Golden aka Donna Jane Platman aka Donna Chipman Platman (probable dau. of Beecher Edgar Chipman), of Leesburg, FL, b. 7 Apr 1946; m. 24 Jan 1977 in Genesee Co., MI, Frederick Edward Platman, d. 24 Dec 2012 (Bride gave her maiden name as “Golden.”  On 24 Nov 2008, Donna Jane Platman was booked into the Lake Co., FL jail on a charge of “Aggravated Battery Person Uses A Deadly Weapon,”  a 2nd Degree Felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.  Booking # 0814076; Inmate # 93834.  She posted $20,000 bond.  Her birth date given was 7 Apr 1946.  On 8 Apr 2009, Platman in Case No. 2008 CF 003768 pleaded “No Contest” to the charge and was sentenced to 4 Years Probation plus counseling.  The Lake Co. , FL Sheriff website maintains booking data online for 10 years.)

(d)  James Edward Chipman aka James Edward Chipman II (probable son of Beecher Edgar Chipman), b. 10 May 1948, d. 8 Aug 2013 (This individual is discussed in some detail later in the column.)

(e)  * David Michael Chipman, of Orlando, FL, b. 12 Feb 1953; m. 28 Jun 1971 in Genesee Co., MI, Heilda Maxine Tatum  [On 14 Oct 1991, David Chipman aka David Michael Chipman, in Orange Co., FL Case No. 1991-CF-004333-A-O, agreed in a plea bargain to a 1st Degree Misdemeanor charge “Improper Exhibition Of Weapon Or Firearm” and was sentenced to 1 Year Probation.  On 28 Jun 1991, the court filed correspondence from Sue Golden to the judge.  In this and other cases including theft, bad check, and drug charges, David Michael Chipman gave his birth date as 12 Feb 1953, which I presume to be correct.  On 7 Mar 1997, in the 7th Judicial Circuit Court (Genesee Co., MI), Stephen J. Platman sued Heilda Chipman, and David Chipman of Orlando, FL.  The subject of the lawsuit was “Complaint For Paternity And Injunctive Relief.”  Case No. 97-054964-DP.]

* Not child of Beecher Edgar Chipman.

My motive in assembling the above account of Imogene’s children was to learn the truth about my grandfather Beecher Edgar Chipman’s third family.  Most of this information came from online government databases operated by the courts in those jurisdictions or other online sources available to anyone.

I had two series of contacts with Susan Bartlett, daughter of Imogene, both of them initiated by her.  The first time she supplied the names and birth dates of herself and her siblings, and the location of Beecher and Imogene’s marriage.  Her information enabled me to obtain the marriage record.

In the second series, as you’ll read below, Susan accused me of lying about her family.  I did what any prudent person would do: I determined to get the facts using the best sources available.  I found that some of the birth dates Susan had previously supplied were inaccurate.

Beecher met Imogene while both were working in the Chevrolet plant in Flint, MI. Although Beecher married Imogene on 24 Apr 1950, four of her children were born prior to the marriage.  Obviously he divorced his second wife in order to marry the third. Essie refused to give Beecher a divorce unless he picked up the expenses.  Beecher married Imogene in Bowling Green, OH so people in Flint, MI wouldn’t know the couple had been “living in sin.”  In that era cohabiting couples were a scandal.

Without a DNA test, I can’t be 100% certain of the paternity of Imogene’s children.  Evidently Beecher didn’t sign the birth certificates of Sue Golden and Donna Jane Golden.  Beecher deserted Imogene and took a job with a toy company in St. Louis.  I found an old letter which gives the reason:  “BE [Beecher] claimed child No. 5 [David] was not his, and evidently Imogene and BE separated about the time child No. 5 was born.”

(R.L. Polk & Co. Flint City Directory 1952 sub “Chipman.”  Record shows Essie L. Chipman and Imogene L. Chipman without Beecher Edgar Chipman in their home.)

It’s Imogene’s first son, James Edward Chipman (just known as James), who interests me here.  The details were sketchy, and came from Beverly Ann (Page) Budzynski:  James “killed a policeman in Flint, was sent to prison & escaped.  He was recaptured and is serving time in Marquette Prison.”

Using this information, I was able to locate a dossier (including photograph) on James.  He had been incarcerated in the maximum security facility at Marquette Branch Prison in Marquette, Michigan.

Beverly’s letter wasn’t entirely accurate.  Using newspaper accounts from The Flint Journal I pieced together the events:

James was in the Genesee County (Michigan) jail for the 10 May 1970 murder of a Flint teenager, with whom he’d been arguing about a woman.  On 6 Apr 1971, Genesee Co. Deputy Sheriffs Ben Ray Walker and Harry G. Abbott took inmates James Chipman, Charles Macklin, and Jesse Bailey to a local dentist.  When Walker took off James’s handcuffs, James attacked Walker. In the ensuing struggle, Macklin gained control of Walker’s handgun, fatally shot Walker and wounded Abbott. James and Macklin hid in a nearby home but were apprehended.

(Officer Down Memorial Page for Ben Ray Walker.)

(The 7th bio is for Ben R. Walker, naming his killers as Charles Macklin and James Chipman.)

Charles Macklin confessed to the murder of Walker.  Macklin was later killed while attempting to escape from prison.

On 20 Jan 1972, James was convicted of manslaughter for the murder of 10 May 1970 and sentenced to 7-15 years.  On 9 Aug 1971, James was sentenced to life in prison for the Walker murder, and drew 50–70 years for the attempted murder of Abbott, the same sentences given Macklin.  (The trial took place in Pontiac on a change of venue.)  Circuit Court judge Donald R. Freeman told James:  “Even though you did not pull the trigger of the gun that killed Walker, you are equally guilty because you plotted with Macklin to escape.”  Although James wasn’t technically guilty of Walker’s murder, he was an accomplice.  But for James, Deputy Walker would have lived.

In Jan 1984, James and another convicted murderer escaped from Huron Valley Men’s Facility near Ypsilanti, MI.  James eluded the manhunt for nearly seven weeks until he was recaptured in Phoenix, AZ.

James appealed his  “concurrent life sentences for his jury conviction of first degree murder and assault with intent to commit murder” to the United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit.  On 7 Dec 1987, the appeal, alleging unconstitutional instructions to the trial jury, was denied.

According to the Jackson Citizen Patriot, on 26 Jan 1990, James and four other prisoners  escaped from the Southern Michigan Prison Central Complex in Jackson County, Michigan, overpowered two guards, took them hostage, and stole their van.  After a brief high speed chase, the prisoners surrendered peacefully.  The two guards sustained minor injuries.  The kidnapping charge earned James an additional 25-50 years, but it hardly mattered.

The story came to an abrupt end on 8 Aug 2013 with the death of James Edward Chipman.  He brought tragedy to the family of Ben Ray Walker, tragedy to his brother and sisters, and tragedy to my family as well.  Having seen his photo, I think James probably was the son of Beecher Edgar Chipman.


The two Emails I’ve transcribed in full below are from Sue Bartlett, a daughter of Imogene Lulu (Oliver) Golden.

Complaint No. 1:  Imogene was “left pregnant.”  David Michael Chipman’s birth date of 12 Feb 1953 is established in a number of Orange Co., FL court records.  If Imogene’s pregnancy followed the ordinary course, David was conceived ca. Jun 1952.  The R.L. Polk & Co. Flint City Directory 1952 proves that by some point in 1952 Beecher had already left Imogene.  By early 1954 Beecher was in a relationship with Jean Esther Southard.

The question is:  when was the data in the 1952 city directory assembled?  The Library Of Congress copyright was registered on 5 Nov  1952.  How much time did it take to process the submission?

The 1952 directory itself states the data was acquired by actual canvass.  Given the amount of time taken to canvass Flint, put the data in order, create the advertising, and publish the directory—which shows Imogene was on her own—was Beecher in the household when David was conceived? Would he even have known Imogene was pregnant?  If Beecher’s absence was merely temporary—perhaps the result of a quarrel—it’s unlikely Imogene would have omitted him from the listing.  Thus it seems likely the 1952 data was gathered in the Spring of that year and by that time Beecher had moved out.

Complaint No. 2:  My report that in 1940 Imogene and her mother Minnie shared a rear apartment and Imogene worked as a waitress.  Those facts are recorded in the 1940 Flint, MI Federal census, a screenshot of which is above.  This was 4 years before Sue was born.  At that time Imogene had no children.  Sue’s comments are an insult to waitresses everywhere.  Waitresses are mythic American icons, celebrated in film, TV, and detective novels.  It would be 3 years before Imogene met Beecher when both were employed at Chevrolet.  By 1950 Beecher and Imogene were living on E. Hamilton Ave. in Flint.  In the 1954 Flint, MI city directory Imogene was listed as a widow living at 905 Mary St., but Beecher was very much alive.  I don’t know what Imogene’s circumstances were at that time or after.

Complaint No. 3:  My account of her brother James’ encounters with the law, which were extensive.  That was taken from newspaper stories.  I believe the court reached the correct verdict in the Ben Ray Walker murder.  Sue implies the murder was linked to a problem James had with the police in California.  I see no connection at all between a Genesee Co., MI sheriff’s deputy who was kind to James and whatever happened to James and his wife in California, of which I have no record.

Complaint No. 4:  You would not want YOUR family skeletons and secrets scattered across the universe would you?  Has she even read this blog?

I cannot be more emphatic: I do not share Susan Bartlett’s opinion of her brother James or endorse her version of his encounters with law enforcement.


On Sat, Dec. 27, 2014 at 10:10 PM, Sue Bartlett wrote <> wrote:

You have much wrong info on your page. Imogene did not share a back apartment with her mother, but, rather, she rented a very large house, and sub-rented two apartments to two other families when she was left pregnant and supporting four other children. So she was very resourceful. We always lived in a decent home and she was very smart. Also, She did not work as a waitress, but opened her own restaurant with her mother helping her. I was eleven years old then, and remember everything quite well. She was a very intelligent and strong woman. Her only fault was loving the wrong man. But she always found a way to raise her five children in a large house. Not some back apartment. I do not like having her portrayed as a lesser person. She was a strong, clever and attractive woman, who made sure her children had a decent life. With the rent from the sublet apartments, she was able to support us, since she never received child support. I helped her in the restaurant that we owned. She was not a waitress, but a business owner.

Also, James was not arguing over a woman, as you have written, but had reported his wife had been raped by a biker gang when he was in California, and when the police refused to take action, he sought revenge. He was arrested and brutally beaten and to[rt]ured by Flint police after he tried to escape with Macklin. He was the most wonderful, kind, strong, handsome, intelligent and amazing man I have ever known, and few men could ever have endured what he endured. He suffered four years with stage four bone cancer, much longer than the average person lives after being diagnosed. He was also a writer.

Please get these facts straight. There is too much hurt from scandalous errors. My heart is heavy with pain from the death of my brother, James. I do hope my brother, Ralph, is doing well.

On Sun, Dec 28, 2014 at 1:01 AM, J C <> wrote:

The information was mainly taken from newspaper accounts and the Federal census. I would prefer that you not contact me again.

Sue Bartlett <gud2besue@gmailcom> Sun, Dec 28, 2014 at 4:00 PM
To: J C <>

I prefer that you write an accurate account and not show my family in an unfavorable light. I am writing and publishing a book, which will be out at the end of 2015, or the beginning of 2016. Perhaps you can read the truth for yourself. The Dew Drop Inn was the name of the restaurant, in case you want to research that too. I have resisted the urge to write you to correct the accounting of my brother, a man whose shoe’s no one could fill, but when you depicted my mother as living in a back apartment and working as a waitress, that was the last lie I could contend with. My mother was a business woman, and persevered under very hard conditions. But she always provided us with a nice house to live in, and never had to work as a waitress. I will not contact you again, but surely you would not want YOUR family skeletons and secrets scattered across the universe would you? And especially if they were not true. If you want a question answered, ask me.

Aunt Sue

But who was Jean Chipman, with whom my grandfather is buried?  The facts are these:

According to her death certificate, she was Jean Esther Southard, born 16 Feb 1913 in Morehouse, MO, the daughter of Robert E. and Lillie (England) Southard.  Her family was located in the 1930 Mississippi Co., AR Federal census, as follows:

Lila Southard 34 b. MO (head) widow; Esther 17 b. MO (dau.); Lester 13 b. MO (son); Lucy 10 b. MO (dau.); Edna 9 b. MO (dau.); Eva 7 b. AR (dau.).

Lillie (England) Southard is listed as an orphan born March 1896, living in the home of Samuel Evans in the 1900 New Madrid Co. Federal census.  Lila Southard is probably the Lula Southard who died on 16 May 1931 in Mississippi Co., AR.  Jean’s brother Robert Lester Southard was born 9 Oct 1916 in MO, and died 26 Mar 1989 in San Diego, CA.  His death record lists his mother’s maiden name as “England.”

New Madrid Co., MO marriage records show that R.E. Southard married Lillie England on 10 Mar 1912.  Robert Ephron Southard was born on 3 Feb 1892 in Fredonia (Caldwell Co.), KY, the son of Brice and Jennie Southard.  Although Lillie (England) Southard gave her marital status as “widow” in the 1930 Mississippi Co., AR census noted above, Robert Ephron Southard actually died on 11 May 1969 and is buried at Mansfield Cemetery in Richland Co., OH.  

The death certificate of Jean Esther Southard “Chipman” checks out.  I have no birth certificate confirmation for Jean’s birth date as 16 Feb 1913, but it tracks with the 1930 census entry.  The informant on her death certificate, Giniver Shockley, was correct in all other details, so I think she may be trusted here.

Jean had an insurance policy worth $800.00 with Bankers Life and Casualty Company of Chicago.  The policy was issued in 1954, and Beecher was the beneficary.  I wrote Bankers Life and Casualty asking for a copy of Jean’s application, but received no reply.  However, it’s known that Jean lied about her birth date on the application.  Evidently the insurance company spotted the discrepancy when they examined Jean’s death certificate, and reduced the payout on her policy from $800.00 to $550.00.

Probate papers were filed with the St. Francois County, Missouri Probate Division, appointing Berl J. Miller, then St. Francois County Coroner, as administrator of Jean’s estate.  But because Miller had ruled that Jean and Beecher died simultaneously, the money was paid into Jean’s estate as if she had survived Beecher. 

According to the estate papers, Jean had two sons:  Carl Wayne Crader of Fresno, California and J.C. Crader, address unknown.  Miller determined that Jean had no relatives in Missouri.

Mr. and Mrs. Carl W. Crader are listed among the relatives attending Beecher’s funeral.  Carl Wayne Crader was born 28 Aug 1932.  That places Jean’s marriage to Carl’s father as ca. 1931.  The location of the marriage is presently unknown, but could have been in Mississippi Co., AR.

So who got the money from Jean’s estate?  Berl J. Miller—who was also the proprietor of Miller Funeral Home (now Taylor Funeral Service) of Farmington, Missouri.  Jean’s sons received nothing.  Before you cry “foul,” after burying Jean and performing the duties of an administrator, which included newspaper notices to locate heirs, Miller actually wound up with a deficit.  In reviewing the estate papers, it would appear no one contributed anything to help defray his expenses—although Ralph Vernon Chipman contributed to Beecher’s bill, as implied in the letter below.

There is no record of Jean’s marriage to Beecher.  My father and Beverly Ann (Page) Budzynski ( Beecher’s niece) agree that Beecher and Jean had never married.   Beecher hadn’t divorced Imogene, so Jean’s use of the “Chipman” surname was as an alias.  Missouri abolished common law marriage in 1921, but the few states that accept it require the parties to be free to marry.  Beecher and Jean were cohabiting in rural Missouri in the 1950s, and found it prudent to say they were married.

The insurance policy, effective 22 Feb 1954, comprised Jean’s entire estate.  Is that date significant?  Was David Chipman, Beecher’s last (probable) child by Imogene, born the day before, on 21 Feb 1954 (the birth date supplied by Susan Bartlett), or more than a year before, on 12 Feb 1953, the birth date given in an Orange Co., FL criminal case?  The birth date of 12 Feb 1953 was given to the court in a number of cases including drug and bad check charges, and therefore must be correct.  Thus it appears that Imogene was not left alone and pregnant.  By early 1954 it is certain that Beecher was in a relationship with Jean Esther Southard.

Beecher had no children by Jean, who was in her forties when she met him.  My father signed Beecher’s Social Security death benefit over to Imogene at the urging of Beecher’s sister Pauline Aquilla (Chipman) Page Moffit (who was Page then).

Beecher and Jean are buried at Doe Run Memorial Cemetery in St. Francois Co., Missouri.   They are buried together and will remain together.  The cemetery is sometimes informally referred to as “Rosella McCloud” because of the memorial arch which bears her name.  The cemetery is an association.

For now, the legend on Beecher and Jean’s shared tombstone giving her surname as “Chipman” will remain.  Here’s how their tombstone should read:

Beecher Edgar Chipman

Son of James and Allie Chipman

Born May 15, 1908                          Died April 23, 1959

Jean Esther Southard alias Chipman

Daughter of Robert and Lillie Southard

Born February 16, 1913                   Died April 23, 1959

The birthdate on Beecher’s death certificate of June 16, 1909 is wrong—his father, James Edward Chipman, filed a delayed birth certificate in 1939 so Beecher could register for Social Security.  Beecher was born before birth certificates were mandatory in Missouri.

Beecher and Jean had gone fishing that calamitous day of 23 Apr 1959.  What really happened?  I located the couple’s obituary, and discovered there had been an eyewitness:

Berl J. Miller, St. Francois County Coroner, ruled the deaths “Accidental Drowning,” and no inquest was held.  Note that Beecher’s wife is listed as “Esther E. Chipman.”

Beecher’s funeral was on 27 Apr 1959 at Miller Funeral Home in Farmington, Missouri.  It was attended by many family members and friends.

But that’s not quite the end of the story.  This is:

After a life of self-indulgence, Beecher Edgar Chipman had become a modest farmer.  He left behind a car with a blown clutch, a few chickens, and some ethereal hogs. And scars along the way.  You don’t just walk away from someone like Beecher.

(Beecher Edgar Chipman, ca. 1950s, sporting a W.C. Fields look.)

One uncorroborated tale about Beecher I feel compelled to record.  It’s known he carried a gun.  He told his son Ralph the gun was for protection from “tough” neighbors.  But another version claims Beecher was involved in the numbers racket in Flint.  He was not a career criminal or a killer, it was low level, quick money.  He left Flint and moved to St. Louis, then left St. Louis for a farm near Doe Run, an unincorporated community in rural St. Francois Co., MO—allegedly because of “heart trouble.”  But was Beecher in some other kind of trouble?  Was the farm a hideout?

Following my grandfather’s trail of bread crumbs to Hell reveals a journey of selfishness and dissipation.  Beecher could not have been more different from his four siblings, who were all (as people said in those days) “upright.” Every family has a Beecher. He could be superficially charming, as such men often are. In the end, alcoholism turned him into a cartoon. He made one more grand gesture, but the Earth was having none of it.  His children depended upon him for the basics of life and emotional support, but he was emotionally abusive, a bully who struck his victims with words.


Material in brackets mine.  The inspiration for this column was the TV series “Who Do You Think You Are?”  But there’s nothing heart-warming about the story of Beecher Edgar Chipman.

In many family histories written between the 1880s and 1930s, their “Beechers” are concealed in a hiding place of a few words.  Complete wastrels, if they have the “right” ancestry, assume an importance they never had in life.  Beecher Edgar Chipman was a descendant of Mayflower passengers and Anglo-Saxon monarchs, yet he couldn’t have been less idealistic, and he was no prince among men.  He was of one of the oldest families in America, but had he known the details of his ancestry, I doubt he would have cared.

The task of the genealogist is to interpret the available records and draw reasonable conclusions from them while keeping errors to a minimum.  Having written this column, I feel as though I have finally buried Beecher.  And the woman, though not his wife, who lies buried with him.  There are no additional scandals known to me or my informants.  People have survived horrors far greater than this dismal tableaux.

The best way to exorcise a ghost is to bring him into the light, and let him evaporate like dew on the mourning grass.


Death In Dunklin County: The Odell Gentry Shooting

•December 5, 2014 • Comments Off on Death In Dunklin County: The Odell Gentry Shooting

As a genealogist, I always prefer to work from records rather than family stories.  But here are two seemingly unconnected records that don’t tell the whole story.

The first is the marriage record of my great-grandfather, James Edward Chipman, to Minnie Harmon.  The marriage took place 20 Feb 1939 in Hollywood, Missouri:

The second record is the death certificate of one Odell Gentry dated 21 Sep 1954. Printable copies of Missouri death certificates filed from 1910 to 1963 are available online at the Missouri Secretary of State’s website.  Here the cause of death is “Homicide by Gunshot Wound.”

What’s the connection?

Odell Gentry was the son of Minnie Harmon.  She’s listed as Minnie Lee Thomas on his death certificate.  And James Edward Chipman shot and killed Odell Gentry.

James Edward Chipman was then 74 years old.  Minnie Harmon was his third wife.  His second wife was Myrtle Williams, whom he divorced.  The book on Myrtle was that she was more souse than spouse.  His first wife was Allie May Oxley, and Allie, the mother of his five children, was the glue that held the family together.  Allie died from complications stemming from an automobile accident.  James Edward was never the same.

Allie’s mother, Mariah Caroline (Riddle) Oxley, was a successful businesswoman in Dunklin County, Missouri.  She was the family’s matriarch, as often found in the Southern tradition, the daughter of John Franklin Riddle and Joellan Beckwith.  About 1900, James Edward Chipman and his cousin Charles Monroe Chipman left Lauderdale County, Tennessee and settled in Dunklin County.  But Mariah and Allie, whose families had resided in the Missouri bootheel section for decades prior to the arrival of James Edward Chipman, were the family’s real support.

[Mariah Caroline (Riddle) Oxley (1857–1934), detail from a family group photo, ca. 1929. ]

[Tombstone of Aquilla Voin Oxley, born Dec. 5, 1847, died Nov. 18, 1887, father of Allie May (Oxley) Chipman, at Rocky Hill Cemetary near Campbell, Dunklin Co., MO.]

On 5 Nov 2010 I spoke with Tony Byrd, a member of the Dunklin County Genealogical Society, about obtaining a copy of the Coroner’s Inquest.  I was told if a person caused the death of another, but wasn’t charged with a crime, the records are permanently sealed.  He called again on 6 Nov 2010 and said he’d located an extensive newspaper account of the Odell Gentry inquest, and would mail it to me.

The following account is taken directly from the Dunklin Democrat published on 23 Sep 1954, two days after the shooting:

“A coroner’s jury at Senath yesterday [22 Sep 1954] cleared Ed Chipman, 74, in the slaying of his step-son, Odell Gentry, 38, at the family home a mile south of Senath.

“The jury after 15 minutes deliberation brought in a verdict that Chipman had shot Gentry in self defense.

“Chipman had told the inquest that he fired one shot from ‘a 22-caliber, single shot rifle at Gentry as the younger man advanced on him with a knife.’

“Chipman said that Gentry was intoxicated when he came to the Chipman home with Lester Pruett, 29.  Pruett, who is the grandson of Chipman’s wife, was wounded in the left arm by the bullet which killed Gentry.”

The account then states Lester Pruett was treated at Presnell hospital, but the bullet could not be immediately removed and was still in Pruett’s arm when he testified at the inquest.  Pruett gave an account of his and Gentry’s movements prior to the shooting. They arrived at the Chipman home between 3:00 and 4:00 PM Tuesday afternoon.  Pruett claimed Gentry was drunk and Pruett was trying to get him out of the house.

Let’s pick it up at James Edward Chipman’s testimony:

“Chipman Tells Story  Although he was not required to testify, Chipman decided to tell the inquest jury his story of the shooting.

“The elderly man, who is known around Senath as ‘Uncle Ed,’ said he was lying on a day bed in the living room of his home when Gentry and Pruett arrived.  He said both men appeared to have been drinking.

“Chipman said that when Gentry came into the living room he told Chipman to ‘get up and go to work.’  Chipman said that he answered, ‘Now, Odell, don’t bother me.  I’m a sick man.’

“Chipman said that Gentry started toward him but that Pruett grappled with Gentry, trying to get him out of the house.  Chipman told the inquest that he got up from the day bed and went to a bedroom where he got the rifle.

“He said that he then returned to the dining room which is connected to the living room by a wide door.  Chipman said he told his step-son, ‘Now, Odell, I’ve asked you to not come home when you’re drinking and mistreat us.’

“The elderly man said Gentry pulled a knife from his pocket and started advancing on him.

“‘I told him twice to put the knife down,’ Chipman related to the jurymen.  ‘He didn’t do it and I put up the .22 (rifle) and let him have it,’ Chipman said.

“Gentry fell immediately in the middle of the living room floor.

“Chipman said that he then went out to the kitchen door, reloaded the rifle and walked to the front yard where he sat down in a chair.  Later, when neighbors arrived at the house he gave the rifle to one of them.

“Mrs. Chipman [Odell’s mother] was in the house during part of the disturbance leading up to the shooting.  However, she was confined to the home Wednesday morning and did not testify at the inquest.”

The account continues with the testimony of Ed Aumon of the Howard funeral service, who was called to the Chipman home.  Aumon picked up Senath police officer Rushie Marlin en route, but had to return to Senath for a gun as Marlin was not then armed.

“When they [Aumon and Marlin] returned, Chipman gave up the loaded rifle to one of the men who arrived about the time they did, Aumon said.  He told the jury that Gentry was lying dead in the middle of the living room floor.

“Aumon testified that the bullet had entered Gentry’s chest about three inches below the left nipple.  It had come out the right side of the body.”

The shooting was ruled self defense and no charges were filed.  From the account, it was justifiable homicide.  Clearly, Odell Gentry intended to harm, if not kill, James Edward Chipman, who acted out of fear for his life.  Velma Southard, who was the informant on Gentry’s death certificate, was Gentry’s sister.

My father attended the inquest.  His account, which provides a little background to the above, was that Odell Gentry lived in a ramshackle house on James Edward’s property. Evidently Odell had been beating up the old man and stealing his money.  James Edward let it be known that if Odell did it one more time, he was going to shoot him.  And the next time Odell showed up and demanded money, James Edward shot him with a rifle.

It’s straight out of a William Faulkner novel.  (One of Allie May Oxley’s ancestors was a William Faulkner.  Faulkner’s daughter Annaretta married Allie’s grandfather James Oxley.  I’ve often wondered if the two William Faulkners were related.)

Minnie got a divorce.  James Edward went into rapid decline, and in November of the following year, was admitted to a hospital to be treated for TB.  There he died, on 31 Jan 1956, of “Arteriosclerotic Heart Disease.”

Maybe it was a broken heart.


I’ve been researching family history since 1987, and I’ve seen most situations more than once.  There aren’t many “Eureka!” moments anymore.  But this was one of them.

It began when I decided to investigate the Odell Gentry shooting, in which my great-grandfather James Edward Chipman shot to death his step-son. Anytime someone is killed outside of a theatre of war, it’s disturbing.  Was the old man really justified?  What actually happened?

I made several phone calls to Kennett, the county seat of Dunklin County, Missouri, to track down the records of the Odell Gentry inquest.  One of those calls was to the public library in Kennett, which I knew to be a great resource for those researching Dunklin County families.  I gave my name and number to a librarian who said she’d pass it on to a member of the Dunklin County Genealogical Society.

Tony Byrd called.  He was familiar with the case.  He told me the inquest records would be permanently sealed.  And one thing he said threw me:  Odell Gentry had not come to the Chipman home alone.  There was an accomplice, who had suffered a non-life threatening wound.  So I reviewed my notes on the matter.

The next day Tony called, and said he’d located a comprehensive account of the Gentry shooting in the Dunklin Democrat, and would send it to me.  We talked for awhile, and agreed that the shooting had drained the life out of James Edward.  The shooting was quite a sensation, front page news and common knowledge in Dunklin County.  Tony’s connection to the Chipman family is that his wife was related to Myrtle Williams, James Edward Chipman’s second wife.

The headline in the Dunklin Democrat read:


[Clicking on the photo will enlarge it.]

I want to thank Tony Byrd for taking the time to locate this material.  During my 23 years of research, it’s been my good fortune to encounter people who have helped me answer difficult questions, and Tony Byrd is one of those people.  My collection of family records would be a fraction of what it is without them.


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