Robert Rippy was born in Sumner County, Tennessee on 14 March 1866. He married Mary Frances (Fannie) Gant 1 August 1888. Mary was born 1 January 1868. Before they were married, Robert (with the help of his friends and brothers) built a two-room log house in Tennessee for them to start their life together. Most of the materials and equipment for their shelters and their farm were taken from the woodlands or presented to them by Grandfather Rippy, who owned several hundred acres. Later, Robert and Fannie built a frame cottage of five rooms with porches at front and back. They moved into the weather boarded house and tore the log house down. In the early summer of 1902, they suffered a shocking misfortune. Every building in the barnyard burned, but they were able to save the home. Nothing but ashes were left in the barnyard. They had no insurance. Robert and Fanny felt some enemy of Robert’s had done this since he served frequently as Deputy Constable and had sent some people to prison.
Episodes of this sort and fear for her husband’s safety fed Fannie’s desire, already strong, to “move away to Texas” where most of the members of her immediate family had gone a few years before. Since Robert’s two uncles, Edgar and Wesley Rippy, had been living in Texas, this helped him to become reconciled to leaving Tennessee.
It was near the middle of September, 1902, that they climbed into a spring-wagon and set out to board the Louisville and Nashville Train. Robert returned home long before the rest of the family left.
He intended to drive a covered wagon to Texas after he had completed the sale of his crops, livestock and small farm. Fannie, her daughter, Dewey, and sons, Porter Oather and Fred, went by train to Texas. Two or three days were required to reach Plano, in Collin County, where they were met by Fannie’s uncle. They were only seven miles from the home of Grandpa Gant, but the September rains had filled the roads with mud and water that prevented them from driving to Plano. After staying all night with their uncle, they proposed to walk to their grandfather’s home. Everybody laughed at this thought, so they boarded the Houston and Texas Central for the short ride to Richardson. They were met by Grandpa Jacob Mason Gant, who had driven a one-horse surrey through the two miles of black mud that separated his 188-acre farm from the railway depot. After his warm welcome, they climbed into the surrey and went to his farm’s rambling house. They, along with the members of the Gant family, lived in this home for more than four months and were soon joined by Robert, having decided that he preferred a train to a covered wagon. After they arrived in Richardson, two daughters were born, Iva Pearl and Mary.
Robert Rippy and Reverend W. C. Wallis were coming back from the cotton gin, where they had taken a load of cotton bales in November, 1911, when they were hit by a south-bound train. The wind was blowing strong and they were letting the mules take them back while they were down in the cotton wagon. Robert was negotiating for more land at the time. Both men were killed instantly.
His ambition to become the owner of a section (640) acres of fertile land was never satisfied. He was in the midst of a trade for the best 100-acre farm in Dallas County when the accident occurred at the railroad crossing on Main Street in Richardson. Their farm was located where First Methodist Church stands now.
He never ceased to abhor farm mortgages and longed for freedom from debt. He was a complete convert to the idea of operating on a cash basis, a conviction held by his. Tennessee kinsmen and by many of the subsistence farmers of the South. But he had become a commercial farmer, specializing in cotton and grain, and a farm mortgage or two were still unpaid at the time of his death. By June, 1914, the family was almost out of debt, planning to build a new house.
Robert had a lively sense of humor and was skilled in the art of manipulating the “punch lines.” Always an admirer of gifted politicians, he was a delegate to one or two state conventions. Death ended his humble, though useful, career before he completed his forty-sixth year.
By Robert M. Skiles for Dallas County Pioneer Association‘s Proud Heritage, Volume III.
Photo: Robert and Mary Frances Rippy.