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Otis Burnett Lipps



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Otis Burnett Lipps was born August 28, 1876, in Cuero, DeWitt County, Texas, to William Ernest and Mary Harriet Kringle Lipps. He was the youngest of eleven, possibly twelve, children. The first record of Otis on a U.S. Census record is in 1880, in DeWitt County, TX, at the age of 4, with his parents (William E. Lips, 55, a ferryman, Mary, 45, Fred, 14, Nannie, 11, Mollie, 9, and Nettie, 7). His older siblings, Charles, AryAnna, Elizabeth and John had already left home. Residing with the family, however, was another daughter and son-in-law, Sally Abby (20) and Uriah Owen (30), a dentist

Otis’ mother died around 1891, as well as can be established, although no record has yet been found of her death or burial. By 1900, Otis (22), as well as his father (76), lived with his older sister, Nannie Johnston (William Warren Johnston) and her family. He was listed on the census record as a boarder, and his occupation was “day laborer.”

According to family members, Otis worked for a time as a cook on a chuck wagon for the XIT Ranch in the Texas Panhandle.1 It is not known for sure whether it was before or just after the 1900 census, but in later years he told some of his grandchildren that his brothers were involved in a killing and that he “left that part of the country (DeWitt County) because it was too rough”. The killing he referred to was evidently the murder of John C. Eivet in a saloon owned by his brothers, Charles and John, in Rio Grande City, TX, on October 6, 1882. Charles and John both served terms in the Huntsville Penitentiary. Otis would have only been 6 years old at the time, so it is not likely that he left at that age.

Otis was married in Cameron, TX, to Catherine (Katie) Wier on November 1, 1903. Katie was born February 19, 1884, in Arkansas, the fourth of eleven children born to Thomas Valentine and Frances “Frankie” Jane Osborn Wier. Otis is believed, according to daughter Frankie, to have lived in Gonzales at the time, and Katie worked at a laundry in Cameron.

Otis locations for the next several years can best be determined by the birth places of his six children, all born in Texas. Henry Kirby, his oldest son, was born December 6, 1904, in Belton, Bell County. According to Kirby’s birth certificate, Otis’ occupation at that time was “cook” in Belton, TX. Nettie Faye was born March 7, 1906, in Cameron, Milam County. The next child, Ruby, was born August 23, 1910, in Smithville, Bastrop County. The 1910 US Census shows Otis (33) and Katie (25) with their children, Kirby (5) and Faye (4), in Precinct 7 of Bastrop County. His occupation was “Farmer”, and hers, “Farm Laborer”.

The next two children, Frankie Mae, May 17, 1914, and George Vance, December 26, 1917, were both born in Eustace, in Henderson County. The next record of their residence was on a WWI Draft Registration Card dated “Sep 12, 1918”, which shows Otis living in Denton, TX, “farming, for self”. The card is difficult to read, but it looks as though his address is Route #1, Frisco, Denton County. According to Hazle Mathiews’ notes (oldest daughter of Kirby), Otis and family moved to Throckmorton County in 1919.

The youngest daughter, Bessie Lee, was born April 6, 1920, in Woodson, Throckmorton County. No record of the family has yet been found in the 1920 census. According to family members, Otis moved several times within the Woodson community. Bess remembered that they lived on “the Beaty place” when she was born, and her earliest memories are of living there.

In 1926, Otis moved his family in a covered wagon to Lubbock County, where Otis again made his living farming. Their oldest daughter, Faye, had married James LeRoy “Roy” Bassinger on June 16, 1925. Roy owned a farm and twelve "Spanish mules" near Acuff, and it is believed Otis moved to help farm this land. Otis’ oldest son, Kirby, along with his wife, Alberta (Bert), and daughter, Hazle, had also moved from Woodson to Lubbock County to help with the farming and lived in a little two-room house “up in the field” (“the sudan patch” behind Roy’s and Faye’s house). Roy’s and Faye’s daughter, Katy, was born May 21, 1926.

Roy Bassinger died unexpectedly from a seizure on March 3, 1927, in Menard, TX, while en route to visit relatives in Houston. After his death, Otis and family—all 6 of them—moved into the 2 bedroom house with Faye and Katy. (See US census record 1930, Lubbock County, Tex, Otis B. Lipps.) At some point, they also kept a boarder, a Mr. (Travis?) Wallace, who taught school at McClung, a rural school just across the road from the house. Katy still owns and lives on her father’s land.

Katy remembers that her grandmother, Katie Lipps (“Grannie”), always wore a clean, white apron. Her hair was long and hung below her waist. She would make Katy wash her feet after playing outside barefooted so she wouldn’t get the floor dirty! Grannie told her stories, usually fairy tales, every night at bedtime and also recited this poem to her:

"Little birdie with the yellow bill, Hopped up on my window sill; Cocked his shiny eye and said “Ain’t you ashamed, you sleepy head?”

Katy sometimes rode with Otis (“Papa”) to the gin. He hauled one bale at a time in a mule-drawn wagon. She also remembers that he headed grain one head at a time with a knife that was made especially for that purpose. Another of her memories is that Papa was scared of clouds, and they would wade through water going to the old dirt cellar with a lamp. He farmed as a share cropper wherever they lived.

Bess Taylor, youngest daughter, remembered living in a tent for a time on the Guadalupe River in Kerrville, Texas, where Otis went for health reasons. He had respiratory problems, possibly tuberculosis and told he had to leave the plains in order to survive. This was probaby around 1930-1932, but regardless of the time frame, other family members do remember this time spent in Kerrville.

Around 1932 or 1933, Otis and family moved back to Woodson to farm and lived on several different farms there. They were there for sure by 1933 when daughter Frankie was married to Jack Tefteller (November 22, 1933). According to Hazle Mathiews, the various places they lived included the Eden place (3-4 miles west of Woodson, where the children attended Titus school), the Patton place (where they lived in a two-story house and the children attended County Line school;where they lived when daughter Frankie married, November 2, 1933,) the Hamm place (NE of Hazle’s house and east of the Sunshine community), and the O.B. Sullivan place (behind the Poserns). She thinks they may also have lived on the Bob Darnell place, which would concur with the youngest daughter Bess’s memory of living “near the Stokers” after they lived on the Beaty place, since that was where the Darnell place was located. Bess’s diploma from Woodson’s County Line Grammar School is dated April 26, 1935. She was in Woodson schools through 9th grade, and a few of the entries in her autograph book are dated early 1937.

On July 2, 1939, Bess was married to James Marvin “Mark” Taylor, by which time the family had moved to Crystal Falls, where Otis was retired. Otis and Katy were listed in the 1940 census of Stephens County E.D. 215-5, Sheet 19A. According to the census, Otis was seeking work, although family members thought him to be retired at that time. A postcard from their son, Vance, dated "Mar 11, 1941," was mailed from Rio Grande City to Mrs. O.B. Lipps at Crystal Falls.The address on the top of the card reads “Ft. Ringgold, Texas, 124 Cavalry Troop G”. Their daughter, Frankie (Mrs. Jack) Tefteller, and granddaughter, Sue, lived with them for a short time in the spring of 1942 before moving to California where Jack was stationed in the U.S. Navy.

Around 1946, Otis and Katie moved back to the farm near Acuff. Katie was in poor health, and they needed to be closer to family. The little two-room house that was “up in the field” where Kirby and Bert had lived at one time was fixed up for them and moved to FM 400, closer to Faye’s house. Jerry Andrews remembers riding with Vance in Papa’s Model A when they moved from Crystal Falls, while Bert brought their belongings, probably on a cotton trailer. His entire front yard was planted in petunias that bloomed all summer long.

In September, 1954, Faye and Bert sold their land and moved farther north where there was a better water supply for crop irrigation. They rented a farm near Farwell 3.5 miles west and half a mile north of Clay’s Corner (intersection of 214 and 145). A year later, they bought a farm 2 miles west and 2 miles south of Flagg (intersection of FM 1524 and FM 1055), near Earth. They brought in a new “Lubbock house” (these were pre-fab houses manufactured in Lubbock, TX and moved to home sites) and moved it to their new farm. At this time, they also moved Otis’ and Katie’s little house and set it just behind and to the side of their home. A sidewalk was poured between Faye’s back door and their front door.

Faye continued to take them their meals and look after them until 1962, when Otis’ health declined to the point that he could no longer be cared for at home. The decision was made to move him to Crane, where his youngest daughter, Bess lived. He stayed in Miller Nursing Home, which at that time was a house that Mary Miller had adapted to a care facility, while a new facility was in the planning stages. Katie lived with Bess and her family until the new facility was built (around 1964), and then she and Otis were moved into the same room in the new facility. The staff there affectionately called them “Uncle Otis and Aunt Kate”. Katie passed away on December 19, 1965. Faye was killed 5 months later on May 24, 1966, in a car-train accident, and Otis died just 5 months after that on October 25, 1966. Their obituaries are as follows (newspaper errors have been corrected):






Otis Lipps, 90, Dies In Crane
CRANE (SC) – Otis Burnett Lipps, 90, died Tuesday morning in a Crane nursing home after a long illness. Funeral will be held at 3 p.m. today in the First Baptist Church Chapel. Burial will be in the Crane Cemetery directed by Crites Funeral Home. Mr. Lipps was born Aug. 28, 1876 at Cuero. He was a Baptist. Survivors include three daughters, Mrs. L.N. Farris of Slaton, Mrs. Cecil Faulkner of Rankin and Mrs. J.M. Taylor of Crane; two sons, H.K. Lipps of Breckenridge and G.V. Lipps of Slaton; one sister, Mrs. Nettie Patterson of Gonzales; 14 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren.

Mrs. Katie Lipps
CRANE (Staff) – Services for Mrs. Katie Lipps, 81, resident here since 1962, are set for 10:30 p.m. Tuesday in Crane First Baptist church with Rev. W.G. Purdue, pastor, officiating. Burial will be under direction of Crites Funeral Home. Mrs. Lipps died at 3:10 p.m. Sunday in Crane Memorial Hospital. She was married to Otis Lipps in Cameron, in 1903. She was a member of the Baptist Church, and formerly lived at Earth. Survivors include her husband, four daughters, Mrs. Bert Andrews, Earth; Mrs. L.N. Farris, Slaton, Mrs. Cecil Faulkner, Rankin, and Mrs. J.M. Taylor of Crane; two sons, H.K. Lipps Breckenridge, and G.V. Lipps, Slaton; 14 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren.


Children of Otis B and Katie Wier Lipps

Henry Kirby Lipps   b. December 6, 1904 Belton, Texas m. Alberta (Bertie) Hurford, October 23, 1922, Lusk, Texas d. December 3, 1986, Abilene, Texas, buried Woodson, Texas Nettie Faye Lipps    b. March 7, 1906 Cameron, Texas m. James LeRoy Bassinger m. Bert Andrew, July 26, 1934, Lubbock, Texas d. 24 May 1966; Plainview, Texas, buried Slaton, Texas Ruby Lipps              b. August 23, 1910 Smithville, Texas m. Lawrence Newton Farris, July 7, 1930, Lubbock, Texas d. May 4 1995, Slaton, Texas Frankie Mae Lipps    b. May 17 1914, Eustace, Texas m. Jack Tefteller, November 22, 1933 m. Cecil Faulkner George Vance Lipps b. December 26, 1917, Eustace, Texas m. Mary Marguerite Blanton, November 12, 1943, Lubbock, Texas d. June 26, 1995, Lubbock, Texas Bessie Lee Lipps     b. April 6 1920, Woodson, Texas m. James Marvin Taylor, July 2 1939, Breckenridge, Texas d. March 6, 1999, Lubbock, Texas


 1.This is not a picture of Otis, but is inluded to illusrate his time spent as a chuck wagon Cook on the XIT Ranch. *CRYSTAL FALLS, TEXAS. Crystal Falls is at the intersection of Farm roads 1481 and 578, on the Clear Fork of the Brazos River in northwest Stephens County. It evolved during the 1870s, when settlers began to come into the region, and was named for a small waterfall nearby. Caravans of hide wagons stopped there during the brief buffalo boom of the 1870s. A post office was granted to Joseph C. Reavis in 1877, and by 1892 the town had grown to include a general store, a gristmill, livery stables, a steam gin, a flour mill, a Union church, a doctor, a blacksmith, and a population of 175. In 1900 Crystal Falls was the largest town in the county. The short-lived oil boom of 1918–21 pushed the population to 1,200 residents, who supported numerous businesses, including a bank, a hotel, and two restaurants. Rapid decline came in 1921, when oil prices plummeted, and every bank in Stephens County went bankrupt, save one in Breckenridge. Although it acquired a station on the new Cisco and Northeastern Railway during the 1930s and 1940s Crystal Falls had a population of only 150 and one surviving business. The post office closed in the early 1940s. After the 1950s the population declined further; from 1974 until 2000 it was estimated at ten. In 1980 a church and cemetery were indicated on county maps. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Betty E. Hanna, Doodle Bugs and Cactus Berries: A Historical Sketch of Stephens County (Quanah, Texas: Nortex, 1975). Loy W. Hartsfield, A History of Stephens County (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1929).