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Out On The Mudline

Shipp Ancestors Settled On Chickasaw Purchase Lands

By W. P. Sissell

The first reader of last week’s column said. “I thought, when you mentioned Benjamin Hawkins, that there would be at least five pages.”  I did cut the story short for W. A. Carr and Virginia had a number of children, most of whom lived in the Water Valley area. All of these were kin of my mother, Sarah Thomas Brower Sissell.   Now I will look at a historical connection with my wife.  

A Caravan on the Move

    In the fall of 1833, Dr. Felix Grundy Shipp; his father, Josiah, and family; bother-in-laws (Higginbothams); and their servants (a total of some 65 people) left Hinds County for the Chickasaw Purchase.  They had come to Hinds from Clinton, La., where Felix found his first wife Lucinda and second Frances Jane.

    On the 15th of December, he, with all his caravan stopped and built huts about where the town of Water Valley now stands.

    Can you imagine the inhabitants of the area they passed through being mostly Native Americans?    

    In the fall of 1834 Josiah Shipp, my wife’s great, great, granddad and father of Felix G. Shipp, bought the first section of land sold in the Chickasaw Nation.  This land was later sold to the Carr’s.

    In 1839, Dr. Felix G. Shipp bought Chickasaw Indian land in what is now Lafayette County at the Pontotoc land sales.  He built an inn on the Old Stage Road where he first lived. Later he built the old Shipp home facing the Stage Road on the opposite hill from where he first settled. I saw the Shipp home a couple of times.  Its plastered walls and staircase were very similar to the McFarland home out on McFarland Ridge.

The Sale Master

    Last week we talked about Benjamin Hawkins, the Indian Agent appointed by George Washington for the many tribes in the quadrant from the Ohio River to the Mississippi.

    We talked about his great interest for the welfare and culture of the Native Americans. His interest was so great that he moved to a central location, and used his own people in many cases at his own expense.  All this was against his own family’s wishes.  The Indians had their own name for Benjamin Hawkins—I paraphrase as “The great man who is our friend.”  

    Benjamin Hawkins was a part of the dickering in setting the price per acre and the land lines of the various tribes.  We, here in Panola County, have public lands that are affected by those lines.  Much of the discussion between the Indians and the government took place in the area around Pontotoc and Hawkins, as Indian Agent, was a part of the discussion.   

    Can you imagine, even in those times, being as close to one of your daughters as the distance from Pontotoc to Water Valley? I really can’t imagine that and though I cannot find a record of a visit I would bet that Colonel Hawkins visited his daughter Virginia in Water Valley.  

One More “Imagine”

     This is reality I think—my great, great grandfather Carr bought land from my wife’s great, great grandfather Josiah Shipp. Josiah bought the land in 1834 at the sale of lands of the Chickasaw Nation. The sale came about because of Indian lands bought under a treaty arranged by my great, great, great grandfather Benjamin Hawkins. Do you realize that at that level I had eight of those grandfathers —wonder what the other seven were doing?  

    Several years ago Nannette and I worked through the procedure of getting the Shipp Cemetery named as a Community Cemetery – 501c entity (or some such).  Most of the above is still wandering around in my mind.  

    One young man up in Yankee land thought it really unique that at that time the land was still owned by descendants of the original purchasers.  Everything went smoothly but slowly until I got a communication from a lady which basically said:  Mr. Sissell, if you can and will truthfully change the answer to question – from yes to no – I will approve it immediately.  I could and did.  In four days I had the approval papers.

    I will be somewhere in the Ozarks when you see this tale but I do wish you a wonderful week—we’ll be having one. You will not be able to reach me until I get back but all the places will be the same as always—Nannette and I will be missing.

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