Biographical Sketch of George W. Phillips

George W. Phillips was probably born 4 April 1804 in Rhode Island.1 Nothing is known of George’s first wife except that she was born in Canada.2

Zephaniah was born in 1837 in Toronto, Canada, to George and his then wife.3 When Zephaniah was about two, the family supposedly moved to Illinois, but no trace of George or Zephaniah can be found until the 1860 census in Equality, Gallatin County, Illinois. George was listed as born in Rhode Island, age 54, and his occupation was carpenter. By this time he had married again, to Catherine Molsbee Wallace, and they had four children: Louisiana, George W. Jr., Margaret and William. Another son would be born in 1863, Charles Aaron.4

According to one family researcher, Catherine Molsbee, who was born in Tennessee, married William Wallace of Livingston County, Kentucky about 1842. They had a son Hugh, born 1844 and a daughter Mary Elizabeth, born 1847. Shortly after Elizabeth was born, Catherine left her husband and son and went with her daughter to Equality, Illinois. When Catherine, Elizabeth’s mother, died sometime after 1860, Elizabeth was returned to William Wallace, her father, by a woman whose last name was Phillips. This researcher thinks that Catherine Phillips was Catherine Molsbee and that Elizabeth, her daughter, was William Wallace’s daughter and that “Mrs. Phillips” might have been Mary E. Pierce Phillips, Zephaniah’s wife. This is all conjecture and has not been proven.5

By 1870 the family was living in Shawneetown in Gallatin County. Daughter Louisiana had married Harvey Brokaw the year before.7

In 1875 the Brokaws left for Arkansas and George went with them. Apparently Harvey and Louisiana had a child with dropsy (a heart disease) and were told that he would be better living in a warmer climate, so they moved to Arkansas. George’s wife, Catherine, appears to have died by then. The Brokaws and George moved to Batesville, Independence County, Arkansas.8

After more than ten years living in Arkansas, George Phillips died on 25 March 1888, age 83. He was buried in Oaklawn Cemetery in Batesville, Independence County, Arkansas, two days later.9

Related Links
Descent report for George Phillips, 7 generations, with index
George W. Phillip's gravestone
George's son, Zephaniah Phillips
The Phillips Family
George Phillip's granddaughter, Julia Phillips Whitted

  1. According to a descendant and researcher, Liz Burns Glenn, his tombstone says that he was born April 4, 1804 and died March 25, 1888 (83 years, 10 months, 20 days).

  2. 1880 U.S. Census. West Virginia, Ohio County, Wheeling, Ward 5, E.D. 204, p.314. Zephaniah Philips, 49, cabinet maker, born Toronto, father born Mass., mother born Canada.

    1900 U.S. Census. Florida, Hillsborough County, Sheet 5B, House #131. Zephaniah, head, 63, born Mar 1837, married 36 years, born Canada; father born Mass., mother born Canada; occupation: real estate.

  3. Karl H. Grismer, History of Saint Petersburg, Historical and Biographical, St. Petersburg, Fla., Tourist News Publishing Co., 1924. States that he was born in Toronto, Canada on March 2, 1837, and that he came to the U.S. when he was two.

    Bureau of Vital Statistics, State of Florida, Death Certificate: Zephaniah Phillips, Dept. of Health and Rehabilitative Services, State Board of Health, Jacksonville, Fla, Died 21 Jan. 1903, St. Petersburg, Hillsborough Co.

    Obituary: Zephaniah Phillips, 1903, "Capt. Z. Phillips." St. Petersburg Independent, 24 Jan 1903. Copy provided by the Pinellas Genealogy Society, St. Petersburg, FL.

  4. 1860 census: Equality, Gallatin, Illinois. George 54, born RI, carpenter. Catherine, 41, born TN. Elizabeth, 12, born KY [Catherine’s daughter by a previous marriage]. Louisiana, 11, George, 8, Margaret, 6, and William 2, all born IL. Zefaniah, 22, born Canada, son of George and his first wife. Louisiana was also known as Lucy and Louisa.

    Charles Aaron sometimes went by the name Aaron; he was in Hillborough County and then Pinellas County, Florida, for the 1900 census and beyond. He died there in Largo in 1952.

  5. Information on George Phillips and Catherine Molsbee comes from researchers Thomas Orange, a descendant of Catherine Molsbee and her first husband, William Wallace; and Liz Burns Glenn, a descendant of George Phillips and Catherine Molsbee's daughter Louisiana.

  6. 1870 U.S. Census. Illinois, Gallatin County, Township 10, Range 10, Shawneetown P.O., p16, Fam. #98, FHL Microfilm 0545723.

  7. Marriage License and Certificate: Harvey Brokaw and Louisiana Phillips (Gallatin Co., Illinois, Marriages, 1867-1872. FHC MF 0969490), Book B, p.167. License July 3, Marriage July 7, certified July 9. Bowlesville was just south of Shawneetown in Gallatin County.

  8. Information on the family’s move to Arkansas provided by Liz Burns Glenn.

    1880 U.S. Census. Arkansas, Independence County, Ruddell Township, Batesville, p.201B/p.19, Family #164, E.D. 123, 8 June 1880. George Phillips, father in law, 75, born Canada, father and mother born in Rhode Island. George is living with his daughter's family, Harvey and Louisiana Brokaugh [Brokaw].

  9. Per Liz Burns Glenn: his tombstone says that he was born April 4, 1804 and died March 25, 1888 (83 years, 10 months, 20 days) and Cemetery book says that he was buried in Lot 4, Block 1, Div. 8 (page 54) on March 27, 1888. His burial info is also on Find A Grave, memorial #41957744.

Anne Healy's Genealogy, Created October 2002
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Created 10 Feb 2010
Updated 25 May 2016