Pipkin Family Association

John Fletcher Pipkin

Submitted by Rosie Hanlin Guthrie

From the Pipkin Association Files - Letter to Phyllis Ferrara

117 Goode St, Thibodaux, La., Jan. 18, 1969
Dear Phyllis,

I have attached information you asked for - what I had of it. My grandmother Amelia Rabb married first a Rabb, who died, and then my grandfather, John Fletcher Pipkin. She died when my father was a very small child. I have heard that her family bible and records were lost when Indians burned their home in Alabama. Recently the First Methodist Church in Beaumont, published a beautifully put together church history, "Cornerstones." In it there is much about our family - how the name "Seawillow" came into being and a great deal about Grandpa Pipkin (John Fletcher). Thought this might interest you:

"The head start of Methodism in Beaumont is due to John Fletcher Pipkin, a local Methodist preacher, he was the earliest resident minister. Pipkin, who was later county Judge, began preaching in about 1852 in the head tabernacle and in the little church-school-courthouse building and continued local pastoral work for 40 years. Pipkin was the heart of the church locally. Because Beaumont as late as 1867 had a population of less than 200, it was too small too support churches of various denominations. Parson Pipkin officiated at marriages of Methodists, Catholics, Baptists and persons of other denominations. Catholics would have their marriages blessed when a traveling priest came through, to conform to the rites of their own church. A parishioner wrote: We were led by good men. Strongest and most beloved of all those who worked and sacrificed for and with us was Judge Pipkin of whom like Paul it might be said 'He labored with his own hands that he might not be chargeable to any.' He shared our joys and sorrows. No wedding nor merry making was complete without him. No bed of sickness, no broken heart but he was there to comfort. We all loved Brother Pipkin."
Seawillow Pipkin Gray

I, Seawillow Pipkin Gray, wife of Julius Ralph Gray, was born in Beaumont, Texas December 18, 1911.

I am the daughter of Lewis Beauregarde Pipkin, b. Beaumont, Texas 7 Aug 1861, d. Beaumont, Texas, 28 Oct 1945 and his 2nd wife Leila Tatum Hall, b. 19 Dec 1879 at Salado, Texas, d. Beaumont, Texas 26 Mar 1957.

Lewis Beauregarde Pipkin was the son of John Fletcher Pipkin, b. 14 Aug 1809 in Darlington Dist., SC, d. 28 Oct 1890 at Beaumont and his 2nd wife Mrs. Amelia Rabb Rabb, b. ?, d. ? in Beaumont.

John Fletcher Pipkin was the son of Rev. Lewis Pipkin, b. abt. 1780 in Wayne County, NC, d. 1865 in Nevada County, Ark. and Pheraby Beasley, b. in Darlington Dist., SC and d. 1856 in Columbia Co., Ark.

Rev. Lewis Pipkin was the son of Stephen Pipkin, b. 2 Aug 1757 in Dobbs County, NC, d. between 1836-40 in Conecuh County, Ala. & Amelia Thomson of Duplin County, NC.

Stephen Pipkin is thought to be the son of Lewis Pipkin who is thought to be the son of John Pipkin of Chowan County, NC.

Ralph and I have two sons: Ralph Lewis Gray and John Stephen Beauregard Gray.


Rev. John Fletcher Pipkin was the fourth child of Rev. Lewis Pipkin and Mary Pheraby Beasley.

John Fletcher Pipkin, b. 14 Aug 1809 in Sparrow Swamp, Darlington District, SC, d. 28 OCT 1890 in Beaumont, Jefferson Co, TX, buried in the Magnolia Cemetery, in Beaumont, Jefferson Co, TX, m. ca 1838 to (1) Mrs. Caroline Ann "Smith"-Kendall, a widow, b. ca 1820 in AL, d. before Aug 1844. While living in AL, Indians burned their home & the family bible was destroyed. When Carolyn died, John Fletcher remarried so his oldest brother, Mallard, graciously took care of her family by Mr. Kendall. After her death he m. (2) Mrs. Amelia Charlotte "Rabb"-Rabb, a widow, on 23 Aug 1844 in Conecuh Co, AL.

John Fletcher and Amelia were in Ouachita Co, AR, living in Marion Township by 1850. Records of the Arkansas State Land Office, Little Rock, Pulaski County, AR, show that on 14 Jun 1851, John Fletcher entered 80 acres in the N 1/2 of the SE 3/4 of Section 4, Township 14 South and Range 18 West. His brother, Daniel was in Township 13.

Even though I could not find land records for him in Texas, he had to have managed land because he had so many slaves. He first lived in the Duncan Woods Community in Orange Co, TX, in about 1852. They moved to Jefferson Co, TX, by 1859 and was soon in the lumbering business. He was the County Judge of Jefferson Co, TX, until just a few days prior to his death. A historical marker in Beaumont, Jefferson Co, TX, states that he was the first resident minister in the city. He was known as the father of religion in Beaumont because he ministered to every one who would listen, no matter what their faith, although he was a Methodist minister. He also was referred to as the religious pioneer in the back woods sawmill community of Beaumont.

After Amelia's death John m. (3) Miss Mattie B. Spencer on 7 Jul 1867, in Beaumont, Jefferson Co, TX, where it is thusly recorded in the marriage records. She was b. 1 Apr 1838 in MS and d. 9 Oct 1912, buried in the Magnolia Cemetery in Beaumont, Jefferson Co, TX.

He and his son-in-law, Dr. Noah Gillium Holton/Halton bought a mill in Nona Mills Woods in Hardin Co, TX. He may have had land there. In Sep 1873, the uninsured Pipkin Mill Company & 150,000 feet of lumber burned & and they never did rebuild.

Rev. John Fletcher Pipkin was very feeble towards the end of his life and d. 28 Oct 1890 at the age of 81+ in Beaumont, Jefferson Co, TX, and was buried in the Magnolia Cemetery in Beaumont, Jefferson Co, TX. Inscribed on his tombstone - "No shadow rests on the path to my home in Heaven."

John Fletcher had 20 slaves when the family made their very frightening trip to Beaumont, Jefferson Co, TX, by sea during a terrible storm. The story about that is mentioned within the writings of his daughter, Seawillow. He had one particular slave, named Woodson that he thought a great deal of and the following article was located in regard to this gentleman. After the end of the Civil War, he received his freedom from slavery and took upon himself the surname of Pipkin because of his respect for his master. I do not know the name of the authors, nor the person that provided these tributes that follow, as well as the article on Woodson to The Pipkin Family Association. It is as follows:

NEDERLAND - 3 BEAUMONT BLACK TEACHERS GAVE ALL TO EMANCIPATE STUDENTS FROM ILLITERACY - one could easily drive past St. Paul's African Methodist Episcopal Church at 3320 Waverly in Beaumont and never realize that it is one of the oldest churches in Beaumont. Also its founder, The Rev. Woodson Pipkin, was the first black preacher in Beaumont; the first black school teacher in the city; and most likely Beaumont's first black who could read and write. Pipkin came to Beaumont about 1858 as one of 20 slaves owned by The Rev. John F. Pipkin, Beaumont's first permanent Methodist minister. John Pipkin had to row across the Neches River to preach each Sunday morning because his plantation was in the Duncan's Woods community of Orange County. Apparently John Pipkin took a particular liking and interest in his young slave Woodson, believing he had the needed qualities to carry the gospel to his people. But to do so, young Woodson would need to know how to read the Bible and to write. So in contradiction of most Southern laws, parson Pipkin taught Woodson to read and write during the Civil War years.

Woodson Pipkin was emancipated from slavery on June 19, 1865, and the writer believes that John Pipkin continued to help his young protégée, now The Rev. Woodson Pipkin, to establish himself in the ministry.

Children of John Fletcher Pipkin and Mrs. Caroline Ann "Smith"-Kendall:

1. Mary Susan Caroline Pipkin, b. 30 May 1840/1839 in Evergreen, Conecuh Co, AL. She later lived with her Uncle Mallard Pipkin. Mary Sue m. Rev. William Ceiton Young, a Methodist Minister, on 15 Oct 1867, & soon there after moved to Dallas, Dallas Co, TX. He was b. 7 Aug 1827 in Canton, Trigg Co, KY, d. 21 Mar 1921 in Dallas, Dallas Co, TX, & buried in the Pioneer Cemetery in Dallas, Dallas Co, TX.

2. John Godboldt Pipkin, b. 25 Oct 1841 in Evergreen, Conecuh Co, AL. He lived with his Uncle Mallard for a while, as well as his mother's son, Tillman Kendall, by a previous marriage. John Godboldt Pipkin (J.G. Pipkin) was a confederate soldier in the Civil War. Texas Confederate Civil War Records state that he was a Private, enlisted 4 May 1861 at Beaumont, Jefferson Co, TX, in Capt Joseph Hebert's Jefferson County Mounted Rangers. He was also a Corporal in Company E, Terry's 8th Texas Cavalry, formerly 1st Texas Rangers & 8th Texas Rangers. He m. Florence "Edminston" on 9 Aug 1865 in Jefferson Co, TX. John d. 9 Jun 1876, buried in the Pioneer Memorial Cemetery.

Children of John Fletcher Pipkin and Amelia Charlotte "Rabb"-Rabb Pipkin:

1. James Bascom Pipkin, b. 18 Jul 1845 near Camden, Ouachita Co, AR, d. 26 Apr 1846, died in infancy near Camden, Ouachita Co, AR.

2. Charlotte LeAnna Pipkin, called Nora Lee, b. 18 Apr 1847 near Camden, Ouachita Co, AR, d. 16 Apr 1875 in Houston, Harris Co, TX, & was buried in Houston, Harris Co, TX, m. on 21 Oct 1865 to Dr. Noah Gillium Haltom, b. 3 Oct 1829 in Mifflin, Madison Co, TN, d. ca 1878 in TX. She lived on Cypress Street in her father's home (which was also the post office) in Beaumont in 1860 & was post-mistress. She put 'Beaumont 1860' on letters in lieu of stamps. In her day there were no stamps & she would, in pen, indicate the amount of postage paid on the few letters that went out the little center that was then Beaumont. She apparently was the post-mistress throughout the Civil War.

3. Alexander Bruce Pipkin, called Bruce, b. 25 AUG 1849 in Camden, Ouachita Co, AR, d. 7 Nov 1928 in Beaumont, Jefferson Co, TX, of pneumonia, buried in the Magnolia Cemetery, Beaumont, Jefferson Co, TX, m. Josephine "Barrow" 16 Nov 1871 in Turtle Bayou, Chambers Co, TX, d/o Benjamin Barrow & Permelia "White", d/o Taylor White of Chambers Co, TX. Josephine was b. 17 Jan 1849 in Turtle Bayou, Chambers Co, TX, d. 2 Jan 1929 in Beaumont, Jefferson Co, TX, buried in the Magnolia Cemetery, Beaumont, Jefferson Co, TX.

4. Theodore Moffett Pipkin, b. 18 Nov 1851 in Camden, Ouachita Co, AR, d. 7 Feb 1928, at the age of approximately 78 in Houston, Harris Co, TX, also buried in Houston, Harris Co, TX, but the cemetery has not been mentioned.

5. Margaret Ann Seawillow Pipkin, b. 11 Oct 1854 in Orange Co, TX, m. Little Berry Wells on 22 Nov 1883 in Caldwell Co, TX. She d. 30 May 1912 in Caldwell Co, TX. Little Berry was b. 22 Nov 1853 in Panola Co, MS, d. 20 Jan 1900 in Caldwell Co, TX, both buried in the Wells Cemetery in Caldwell Co, TX.

6. Stephen Walker Pipkin, called Steve, b. 26 Aug 1858 in Beaumont, Jefferson Co, TX, d. 30 Apr 1944 in TX, buried in Magnolia Cemetery, Jefferson Co, TX, m. (1) Eugenia Hortense "Barrow" on 18 Dec 1877, [of Chambers Co, TX,] in Beaumont, Jefferson Co, TX, b. 11 Nov 1860 in Chambers Co, TX, d. Aug 1884 in Chambers Co, TX. It is stated that he became a very wealthy man. He was an original owner of the Pipkin Ranch, then known as the Salt Bayou Pasture Company. He worked with his father in the family sawmill until it burned down. After a period of work in a shingle mill, he started rice farming & raising cattle. He was one of the successful producers in the 1901 Beaumont oil boom & was President of Paraffine Oil Co. of Beaumont until 1912. He was Tax Assessor for Jefferson County for years & was Director of the American National Bank of Beaumont. Later he was Vice-President of the same bank. Numerous news articles were written about him. In one he was called the Grand Old Man of Beaumont & his memory was perpetuated in Beaumont by the naming of a park as Pipkin Park in his honor.

7. Lewis Beauregard Pipkin, (Sr), b. 7 Aug 1862 in Beaumont, Jefferson Co, TX, d. 20 May 1945 in Beaumont, Jefferson Co, TX, at the age of 74, buried in Magnolia Cemetery in Beaumont, Jefferson Co, TX. He & his family are buried in a separate plot in the same cemetery than the other families of his father's. He was a lumberman & was Secretary-Treasurer of the Nona Mills Company in Beaumont. He m. (1) Kate Sayre "Wilbarger" of Bastrop, Bastrop Co, TX, b. 4 Dec 1869, d. 12 Jan 1908 in Beaumont, Jefferson Co, TX, buried in Magnolia Cemetery in Beaumont, Jefferson Co, TX. They had no children. Lewis Beauregard Pipkin, (Sr), m. (2) Leila Tatum "Hall", b. in Salado, Bell Co, TX, on 19 Dec 1879, d. 26 Mar 1957 in Beaumont, Jefferson Co, TX. Leila was the mother of all of his children.

Children of John Fletcher Pipkin (Sr) & Mattie B. "Spencer":

1. Florence Emma Pipkin, b. and d. 5 Nov 1873 in Beaumont, Jefferson Co, TX, buried in Beaumont, Jefferson Co, TX, 'probably' buried in the Magnolia Cemetery, Beaumont, Jefferson Co, TX.

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