In late October I was contacted by researcher Steve Shaffer who was looking into the ancestry of his grandson. He had recently visited Pine Tree Cemetery in Shiawasee, Michigan where Betsey Ann (Peters) was laid to rest. The daughter of James Peters and Marguerite (Wait) of Halfmoon, Saratoga Co., New York, Betsey was born in Johnstown, Fulton Co., New York in 1818 and at the age of seventeen, married Charles Rhodes.
Of the eleven children born to Betsey and Charles, their son-in-law J. Harvey Phipps piqued my curiosity. After spending more than twenty years researching the ancestry of myself and my husband, I am always intrigued by those who present me with a greater challenge, forcing me to intricately piece their life together through more indirect avenues.
|Oakwood Cemetery - Fenton, Michigan|
Since the records consistently – and surprisingly – listed his father as having been born in England the search would typically yield fewer results, making things easier. With these few notes at hand, I proceeded in searching the online death records at SeekingMichigan.org and found three Phipps (Daniel, Ellen and Charles) all recorded as the children of Daniel Phipps of England and Eliza Harvey of Vermont . Adding to my information, I was then able to locate Daniel in the 1860 census residing in Oakland Co., Michigan. He was listed as a 54 year-old house carpenter who was apparently widowed. His household in White Lake included Ellen, age 16 and Charles, age 8 – which matched the names and dates I had found on their death certificates.From their dates and places of birth, I was able to determine that the family had arrived in Michigan from New York by at least 1852, when their son Charles was born. I could also be certain that Daniel’s wife Eliza had died prior to 1860, and that J. “Harvey” Phipps had likely been given his mother’s surname.
Hoping the family had resided in White Lake ten years ealier, I viewed every one of the 1850 census images for that town, and although I found familiar surnames such as Rhodes and Vorhees, I did not locate Daniel with his wife Eliza. Not knowing where in New York they had resided, locating them with all the various and erroneous spellings of their surname would be difficult. Instead, I took a necessary detour; and after locating information on J. Harvey’s siblings, I searched Find A Grave for any Phipps who might have been buried in Oakland County, Michigan. I found – much to my delight - the beautiful old headstone of Daniel and Eliza. Although worn and difficult to read, it appears that Eliza died on 17 Feb 1859 at the age of 48 years, 5 months, and 17 days; and that Daniel died on 19 Feb 1867 at the age of 60 years, 11 months and 18 days.I confirmed these dates with Leslie Odell Ousnamer who had photographed the headstone photo and contributed it to Find A Grave. After contacting her with additional information, she provided me with a date and place of birth for their daughter, Ellen Elizabeth, who had been born in Elba, Genesee Co., New York in 1844. Perhaps, I hoped, this would be my lead to locate the family in the 1850 census prior to Eliza’s death, and therefore confirm them as the parents of J. Harvey.
|Extracted Image of 1850 Fed Census|
So now finally the search comes to an end. I have successfully indentified and located the parents of Joseph Harvey Phipps, photographer and husband of Fannie (Rhodes), and hope my findings assist others who have been unable to locate this family.
Wishing you all Happy Holidays, and a joyful 2012.