Tuesday, June 29, 2010


The first that is known of the saga of Christopher C. and Sarah Phipps Flowers is the following taken from the Hyde County, NC Superior Court Records: "Whereas Sarah Phipps of said Craven County, single woman hath been Delivered of a Child which Child is a Bastard and Likely to become Chargeable to the County … the Justices of the Peace for said County this 28th day of June in the year of our Lord 1821, who saith upon oath that Christopher Flowers Junior said County is the father of the said Child."

In 1833, Christopher petitioned for a divorce from Sarah, making the following statement: "… that about the month of May 1824 [22?], your Petitioner then being a Single man, intermarried with one Sarah Phipps a Single woman, and for sometimes thereafter they lived in a status of uninterrupted matrimonial bliss, and your Petitioner did hope that such a state of domestic happiness and concord would still continue to exist between them, but alas for the instability of subulnary things 'the course of true love never runs smooth.' "

Christopher further charged that " … for some causes unknown to him, the affections of his wife Sarah became totally alienated from him, and about the 22nd day of December 1824, his said wife Sarah left his house, and abandoned him altogether, and has ever since remained separate and apart from him. Your Petitioner charges that she has been living in an adulterous state with one James Rigs, and vows it to be a fact that about the (left blank) day of (left blank) 18(left blank) she was delivered of a living child by the said James Rigs, or some person to your Petitioner unknown."

In an undated document, Sarah answered Christopher's charges: " …this defendant peremptously [sic] denies that she never left the Petitioners hands or absconded from the Petitioner as in said Petition is most untruly set forth, but saith that when she intermarried with the Petitions she was living in her fathers house, that upon her intermarriage the said Petitioner became an inmate of the family, that the Petitioner and this Defendant there resided together until near Christmas in the year 1824, that the Petitioner then abandoned this defendant, took up with another mans wife whose husband he whipped and drove off with violence …"

Apparently, the divorce was not granted because in 1848, Christopher returned to court, changing his story somewhat: " …that some time in or about the year 1822 your petitioner was married in Craven County North Carolina to Sarah Fipps, that said marriage took place late at night when your petitioner was in a state of intoxication, and was greatly imposed upon, but when he became sober, and learnt what had take place, he determined to endeavor to live with his wife, and hoped that he might be enabled to enjoy that happiness and felicity which usually attends the Married State, but in this most reasonable expectation, Your Petitioner was greatly disappointed for in a very few months after his marriage he found that his wife was corrupt in her disposition and inconstant in her habits."

"Your Petitioner then left his said wife, finding that he could not enjoy her Society and determined that he would have nothing more to do with her -- that his said wife immediately after he left her took up with one James Riggs and lived in open adultery with him, that She had two or more children by Said Riggs and continued to live in open adultery with him the Said Riggs until about the Year 1845, when she and the Said James Riggs were openly married and have since that time and do now live together as man and wife, … ."

At some point, possibly 1849, a jury found that Christopher and Sarah Phipps Flowers had been lawfully wed and that Sarah had committed adultery with James Riggs. Christopher was therefore granted a divorce.

Source: High Tides, Hyde County Historical Society Journal, North Carolina. Vol. 1, No. 2, Fall 1980; Hyde Co. Superior Court Records in the NC Division of Archives.

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