John Quincy Skipper was born on his parentís (Dave and "Katy" Skipper) farm between Solgohachia and Lanty, Arkansas, on February 27,1877. Paternal grandparents were Joseph and Louisa Skipper, 1856 settlers from North Carolina. Maternal grandparents were Jim and Harriet Dillon, early settlers from Tennessee and Kentucky.
Mary Magdalene "Maggie" Sands was born at St. Vincent on June 5,1881. Her parents were James Nathan and Nancy Ann (Carey) Sands, early settlers from Tennessee. Her paternal grandparents were James Moses and Rachael (Bowman) Carey from Tennessee.
John attended local schools as much as possible, then finished high school at Choctaw (apparently a boarding school). He then attended Quitman Male and Female College (a Methodist college and forerunner of Hendrix College in Conway) with thoughts of becoming a medical doctor. His plans changed, however (some said he was made sick at the sight of blood), and he turned briefly to teaching school at Lone Grove, near St. Vincent. It was here that he met and married one of his pupils, "Maggie" Sands. It was said that he had to give up teaching there in order to date and marry Maggie in 1898.
When their first child, Ida, was born, they received a beautiful new baby dress from Maggieís mother, Nancy. When other women commented that it was good enough to be handed down through several children, Nancy objected, and said that Maggie, like herself, would probably only raise one child. As it turned out, John and Maggie went on to have a total of 12 children!
Here are their names, birth dates, death dates, burial sites, and names of their spouses:
After marriage, John tried farming for a short time. Then he turned to sales work selling fruit trees to area farmers. Some family members said he was postmaster at Arthur (just east of Lanty) for a while. But then John found his main occupation when he became the first Singer Sewing Machine salesman in Conway County. Old timers recalled seeing "Red John" (because of his red hair) Skipper traveling the area with wagon and team, then a modified T-Model Ford, delivering and repairing (and probably even teaching their use) the new Singer Sewing Machines. He was often invited into the customerís homes for meals.
Others remembered him as being postmaster of the Morrilton post office from 1921 to 1929, a position that is said to have come to him through his Republican Party affiliations. He was a chairman of the local Republican Central Committee and was known a good public speaker.
I met a man from Morrilton, several years ago, who told me of an encounter he had with "Mr. Red John Skipper." He said that when he was just a boy, Mr. Skipper came to their home to borrow a mule to pull his T-Model out of a muddy spot in the road near their house. They caught one of their mules, and he and Mr. Skipper hooked him up to the front of the car. The mule refused to pull the car out for him, so Mr. Skipper grabbed the reins and said, "Here, boy, Iíll make him pull it out!" He said he told Mr. Skipper not to hit the mule, because the mule would start kicking if he did. But Mr. Skipper slapped the mule on the rump with one of the lines. Sure enough, the mule kicked and damaged the cars front end! He said he expected Mr. Skipper to get extremely angry, but instead, he just handed the reins back to him and laughingly said, "Looks like you were right, son!"
Tragically, Maggie died on December31 in the Great Flu Epidemic of 1918. "Grannie Sands" (Nancy) was living with the family (Grandpa Sands died in 1915) and tried to take care of the kids, but her mental state was failing, so the greater burden fell on the oldest daughter, Ida. The Skipper kids, especially the younger ones, looked on Ida from then on as their "mother." Ida also had to take care of "Grannie Sands" until she died in 1925. John married again, in 1923, to Mrs. Martha (Bradshaw) Bice and adopted her two sons, Glenn Bradley (1918 to 1999) and Walter Marion (1921 to 1952; "W.M." died in an auto accident near Winters, Texas). Glenn and W.M. both went by the name Skipper the rest of their lives. Glenn was married to the former Erma Lee McClung, and W.M. was married to the former Billie Wetzell.
Martha gave birth to Johnís 13th child, John Quincy, Jr., on July 16,1925. "Junior" died on May 18th, 1994. He married the former Rebecca Newberry. Martha died June 21,1967, after running a boarding house for girls in Little Rock for a number of years. She is buried at Alexander, near Little Rock.
John Q. Skipper died in 1931, at the young age of 54. He died of "acute nephritis" which (I think) is failure of the kidneys. He also suffered from high blood pressure (a Skipper curse) and severe hemorrhoids. He apparently visited Hot Springs and another spa-type hospital in Missouri trying to find some relief for his ailments.
I never knew Granpa John, since he died 2 years before I was born, but I have often wondered just what kind of a man he was. So, I once asked Aunt Delma, "Which of his sons was most like him?" Without hesitation, she replied, "Well, actually, his grandson Jessie Gordon was most like him!" Those of us who remember Jessie Gordon will recall that he was energetic, outgoing, loving, friendly, mischievous, and always laughing! The comparison now gives me a better understanding of what Granpa Johnís personality must have been like.
My sister, Muriel Dean told me recently that, although she was only about 3 at the time of his death, she remembered swinging on the foot of his bed when he was sick. Mama Ida tried to make her get down, but Grandpa John told Ida to "Leave her alone, and let her swing!" He apparently loved children. Muriel can also remember being at his gravesite when they buried him.
John Quincy and Mary Magdalene "Maggie" Skipperís gravesites are in the small McLaren Cemetery on the side of the highway between Solgohachia and Lanty. The cemetery is very near the old Skipper homesteads.
Needless to say, there are now many, many descendants of Joseph and Louisa, and Dave and Katy, and John and Maggie Skipper. As you may have noticed, I have not included any of the younger generation past John and Maggieís children. It would be too much of a task for one person to handle! Therefore, I would like to challenge each branch of the tree to start, now, writing up a history (with pictures and "warts and all") of their own particular family. You will find it a rewarding and learning experience, and Iím sure your descendants will be thankful that you did.
Lest we forget.
Note from Jim Skipper: I remember a time or two when I was a little boy and was introduced as a Skipper, the person would ask if I was related to "Red John" Skipper. That would have been about 20 years after his death.
Contact Ray Don Bostian
161 County Road 166 South
Hope, AR 71801
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Searchable File of Names of Many of the Descendents of Joseph and Louisa Skipper