Joseph W. Skipper and Susan Louisa Garnto

(1814- 1878)             (1830 - 1902)


by great, great grandson, Ray Don Bostian
placed on this site by great, great grandson, James Maxwell Skipper



After the Norman conquest of England in 1066, the people were required to take a second name for tax purposes. Most were given occupational surnames. Dolan’s English Ancestral Names says SKIPPER comes from an old Norman word meaning "basket maker". A William leSkippere (or William the basket maker) can be found in records of the late 1100’s. Clemon’s American Marriage Records Before 1699 lists the marriages of three Skipper women in the Boston, Massachusetts area as early as 1653. This is the earliest record of Skippers in America found at this time.

The first U. S. Census of 1790 lists eight Skipper heads-of-homes in North Carolina: Barnabas, Abraham, Benjamin, James, John, Joseph, Moses and Nathan. While connections have not been made yet, it is likely that our subject, Joseph Skipper is linked to one or more of these North Carolina Skippers. Known records show that Joseph came from, and was probably born in, New Hanover, North Carolina in 1814. During the early 1850’s, he took his family and headed west, stopping for a while in Tennessee, and then arriving in the Lanty area of Conway County in 1856. Indications are that they came in wagons pulled by oxen. The 1850 Census of New Hanover County, N.C., lists the family as Joseph, 36, farmer: Louisa, wife, 19: James, 2: and David, 1. Listed below these is a Charles, age 8, and Rebecca Garnto, mother of Louisa. (Charles’ position in the family is not clear; speculation is that he was Joseph’s son by a previous marriage; note the difference in Joseph and Louisa’s ages, and that she would have been only 13 years old when Charles was born.) All in this family are said to have been born in North Carolina.

The 1860 Census finds them in Washington Township, Conway County, Arkansas. Members of the family are Joseph, 47, head of family; Louisa, 29, wife; Charles, 18. "works as a farmer;" James, 12; David, 10; John, 8. (all born in N. C.); Caroline, 6; Laura, 4, (both born in Tennessee, indicating a two to four year stay in that state); Luezer (spelling not clear), 3; and George, 1 month old (both born in Arkansas). Rebecca Garnto, who "knits and sews", is still with the family. Land grant records show that Joseph purchased 80 acres (at $0.75 per acre) in 1857. Later purchases of 280 acres were made in 1860. Sons John, David and George also made subsequent land purchases. These land holdings and the families that sprang up in the area apparently caused local residents to call the area "Skipper Mountain".

The Civil War (1861-1865) had some devastating effects on the Skippers. Joseph, who was a staunch Republican and believer in the Union, joined the Union Army when they took over North Arkansas. Records show he joined at Batesville and was "mustered in" as a corporal in Company "B", 1st Battalion Arkansas Infantry Regiment on April 20, 1862 for a six-month enlistment. He was stationed at Helena, AR. where he became ill in November and was sent to General Hospital in St. Louis. He was "mustered out" December 31st, at Benton Barracks, MO.

Family stories say his home was burned and his cattle stolen by bushwhackers and that he was often referred to as "an old reprobate" by his neighbors and relatives who disagreed with his political beliefs. His (unknown) illness is said to have affected him until his death in 1878. Louisa filed for a widow’s pension in 1881. She apparently lived until the late 1800’s. Their gravesites are not known, but it is believed they are buried either in the McClaren Cemetery in unmarked graves or in a now-forgotten family cemetery somewhere in the hills between Solgohachia and Lanty. [Round Mountain is about half way between Lanty and Solgohachia.]

The 1870 Census listed the family: J. W. (Joseph), 55, farmer; Susan (probably Susan Louisa), 40, housekeeper; (older sons James and David have started families); John, 19; Caroline, 17; Jane, 14 (probably "Luezer" since listed as born in AR); (Laura, who was born in TN, is not listed, so may have died); George, 10; Mary, 7; Dunkin, 4; and Wilson and Mavan (or Meyan) age 3, who were probably twins. Rebecca Garnto, 65, is "boarding."

By the 1880 Census the family has shrunk to Sueza (Susan Louisa). 49, widow, keeping house: J. W. (John), 29, son, widower, farmer; G. W. (George) single, farmer; Mavan (who may have also been called 'Deed'), age 13 (her twin, Wilson, must have died); and Rebecca Garnto, mother, widow, and this time listed as 78 years of age.

Probably most, if not all, the Skippers connected with Conway County could trace back to this couple that settled in the Lanty area in 1856. It would take a tremendous study to locate and name them all since there are now (known to this writer) great, great, great, great, grandchildren of Joseph and Louisa Skipper.

Joseph W. Skipper Children

  1. Charles 1842 New Hanover County, North Carolina, by a presumed first wife.
  2. James 1848 New Hanover County, North Carolina, by Louisa Garnto
  3. David James 1849 My great grandfather
  4. John (J.W.) 1852
  5. Caroline 1854 Tennessee
  6. Laura 1856 (died before 1870?)
  7. Luezer (Louisa Jane) "Deed" 1856 Arkansas
  8. George (G. W.) 1860 Ira Skipper's father?
  9. Mary 1863
  10. Dunkin 1866
  11. Wilson 1867 (died before 1880?)
  12. Mevan 1867 (or Navan or Megan?)

  13. Louisa's mother, Rebecca Garnto, was born around 1804 and lived at least to 1880 and maybe to 1885 according to an insurance application. Susan Louisa was 49 in 1880. Later census records indicate that she was born in August 1830. Louisa was 70 at the turn of the century. Insurance application indicates that she died in 1902.

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    E-mail me: jamesmskipper@netzero.com

    Re-posted: 11/12/02
    Some additions and corrections posted 1/26/09
    Searchable File of Names of Many of the Descendents of Joseph and Louisa Skipper