John T. Lipscomb, A Vintage Vignette

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John T. Lipscomb
A Vintage Vignette by John P. Rankin
July 11, 2009

A few years ago there were stories of how people are interconnected under the “six degrees of separation” concept. I have come to think that in old Madison the separation was more like two or three degrees. In the 1970s, while traveling for Boeing as an engineering manager, I was seated on an airliner beside the Chief Engineer of Arizona Public Service electrical utility company. As an electrical engineer (power systems major at Mississippi State University, class of 1965) myself, that was an interesting experience. As we conversed we discovered that we had a mutual friend. Al Haraway of Boeing in Huntsville had been one of my contacts here for a number of years while I lived in Houston, Texas. The chief engineer in Arizona had been the Best Man at Al’s wedding.

Al’s specific connection, if any, to the Haraway families of eastern Limestone County are unknown to me. However, I always noticed the surname as it turned up in research into the pioneer families of the area. I have noted linkages of the Limestone County Haraway families to the pioneer Lipscomb, Payne, Crutcher, Clark, and McCargo families around Madison. Lipscomb was another name that had caught my attention from the first time that I saw it on a tombstone in the Madison City Cemetery’s old section south of Mill Road near Hughes Road. That name later took on added meaning when I was exploring the old family cemeteries on Redstone Arsenal for the Army.

There is a Lipscomb Cemetery in the northwestern part of the arsenal, just west of the airfield. That cemetery has several large obelisks to commemorate the family of Richard Lipscomb. He was born in Virginia in 1800 and died here in 1847. The Lipscomb family came to Madison County around 1830, buying government land in 1834. According to census data, Ancestry.com postings, and tombstone inscriptions, Richard and his wife Sarah McCargo had ten children: Robert, Martha, Manerva Jane, John T., Mary E., Elizabeth V., Theophilus J., Margaret E., Sarah R., and Harriet N. Lipscomb. Robert, Martha, Manerva, and John were all born in Virginia by 1829. Mary was the first of their children born in Alabama, in 1832. Robert, Martha, and Harriet died in the 1850s. Margaret married William Fowlkes and lived here until her death in 1918. John T. Lipscomb became the first public school teacher in Madison and married Oregon Cartwright. She was a daughter of Hezekiah (son of John Cartwright) by his second wife, Martha Vaughan, widow of Elijah Bailey. Their descendants married into the Parham, Hughes, Lewis, Garrett and Humphrey families of Madison. Through Hezekiah Cartwright’s first wife, Martha Gray, there were linkages to the family of Governor Reuben Chapman and the Picketts, plus the Slaughter, Crutcher, Abernathy, and Bailey families.

John’s mother, Sarah Lipscomb (wife of Richard), was a daughter of Robert McCargo and Rebecca Portwood. Sarah’s sister Elizabeth McCargo married Reuben Crutcher (1792-1869), who was a son of William Crutcher by his first wife Susannah Dupree. Susannah was a daughter of William and Amy Pettus. William Crutcher was a son of an earlier Reuben Crutcher (1741-1819) and Elizabeth Cheaney. Elizabeth Cheaney’s parents were William Cheaney and Susannah Crutcher, a daughter of Henry Crutcher. Elizabeths’ husband Reuben was also a son of Henry Crutcher, whose will was dated 1778 and probated in Essex County (Virginia) in 1780.

Sarah McCargo Lipscomb’s sister Ann McCargo married Thomas Crutcher, a brother of Elizabeth McCargo’s husband Reuben. Sarah’s brother Robert McCargo married Mary Haraway in 1841 in Limestone County. Their sister Julia McCargo married Achilles Haraway in 1836 in that county. Another McCargo sibling married Mary Clark (1828-1898), daughter of William and Sarah Clark of Limestone County. Yet another sibling, William Henry McCargo, married in 1843 Lucy Adalaide Payne (1823-1856). Lucy was a daughter of Robert Payne, another Huntsville and Madison pioneer.

The marriage of Robert McCargo and Rebecca Portwood was one of three intermarriages of the children of John McCargo (1737-1814) and Thomas Portwood (1746-1784) of Charlotte County, Virginia. Such intertwining of families led to the sparse “degrees of separation” that they brought with them to northern Alabama, connecting many pioneer families together.

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