History of the Restoration Movement

James Ireland Tipton

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Biographical Sketch On The Life Of J.I. Tipton

On October 14, 1792, James Ireland Tipton was born to Samuel and Susannah Reno Tipton at the site of present day Elizabethton, Tennessee. His father was a Baptist minister. The son was named after an old Baptist minister, James Ireland of Shenandoah County, Virginia.

James Ireland grew up, married, lived and died in this scenic section of East Tennessee. He was twice married. In 1812 he wed Nancy Patterson who bore him five children. Upon Nancy's death in 1823 he married Joanna Gourley. They had six children.

Tipton farmed and operated a rolling mill where he manufactured nails and other iron products.1

It appears that Tipton came under the influence of brother James Miller of the Boone's Creek Church for he is listed in that congregation's records as a contributor in 1835. He preached for the Buffalo congregation and others including the Union Church in Washington County. For 28 years he held membership in the Buffalo Creek congregation. County records note many marriage ceremonies he performed. Thousands of mountain folks heard the gospel preached by brother Tipton and multitudes were immersed into Christ by his hands.2  For two years he served as traveling evangelist for the East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia Cooperative, baptizing 414 converts.3 In 1841 brother Tipton, John Wright, David Wright and James Miller conducted a great revival meeting at Boone's Creek which brought 56 new converts into the church.4

Poor health ended Tipton's active preaching career. But from his sick bed he delighted to tell his visitors about the Cause he loved.5

Brother Tipton died January 20, 1861, in Elizabethton and was laid to rest in the Samuel Tipton Family Cemetery, now called Green Hill Cemetery. He was spared the heartbreak and suffering of the bloody Civil War. On his tombstone are engraved the words "I am ready to be offered and the time of my parting is at hand, I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith."


1 Mary H. McCown and Josephine C. Owen, History of the First Christian Church, Johnson City, Tennessee, n.p., n.d., p. 97.

2 J. W. West, Sketches of Our Mountain Preachers, pp. 254-256.

3 Mary H. McCown, "The History of the Christian Churches in East Tennessee," The East Tennessee Christian, August, 1966.

4 H. C. Wagner, pp. 52-53.

5 McCowan, History of the First Christian Church, Johnson City, Tennessee.

-Churches Of Christ In East Tennessee, John Waddey, c.1988, J.C. Choate Publications, pages 197,198 And Updated Information

Directions To The Grave of James I. Tipton

James Ireland Tipton is buried in the city founded by his father, Elizabethton, Tennessee. Traveling east of Johnson City, Tennessee on I-26, go to Exit 31. [U.S. Hwy. 321 N (State Rt. 67)]. Coming into Elizabethton go past the Sycamore Shoals Hospital (The road at this point is called West Elk Ave.). You will pass the Walmart on the left with the old abandoned Bemberg Plant behind (as of 2003). Turn left past Walmart on West Mill St. There should be a Days Inn Motel on one corner. The road will curve to the right, but you should see Big John's Closeouts straight ahead. The cemetery is just to the right of the building in a field. The grave is about in the middle of the cemetery at the back from where you enter. The Green Hill Cemetery is also known as the Samuel Tipton Family Cemetery. Samuel was the founder of Elizabethton. Just behind Samuel's grave is that of James I. Tipton.

GPS Coordinates
N 36° 21.198' x WO 82° 13.980'
Accuracy To 14'
Grave Faces West


Samuel Tipton
Founder of Elizabethton - 1796
American Revolutionary Soldier - 1776
Served In Tennessee General Assembly From 1801-1803

James I. Tipton
Oct. 14, 1792
Jan. 20, 1861
"I am ready to be offered and the time
of my parting is at hand, I have fought a
good fight, I have finished my course, I have
kept the faith."

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