The Pipkin Family

A Digital Exhibit Created by Amy Skillen, Archives Technician

The story of the Pipkins and their involvement with Florida Southern College begins with the migration of Nathaniel Pipkin, father of future Trustee L.N. Pipkin and forefather of future alumni. Nathaniel “Nathan” Levi Pipkin was born December 16, 1830 to Moses and Delilah Winnie Cobb Pipkin.[1] During the Civil War, Nathan Levi served in the Confederate military; he signed up in August 1862 and was honorably discharged in April 1865.[2] He married Margaret Elizabeth Hart on June 12, 1853, and together, they would have six children: Daniel Moses, Levi Nathaniel, Mary Elizabeth, Samantha, James Harris, and Donna.[1]

Image of Nathan and Margaret Pipkin courtesy of Florida Memory.

Like many other families in the South, the Pipkins were affected by the aftermath of the Civil War and sought to earn their fortune elsewhere [3] Margaret Hart Pipkin’s brother Dr. James Hart was the first to go to Florida, purchasing a house near present-day Lakeland. Nathan’s son Daniel Moses was the first of the Pipkins to go to Florida, arriving in 1879. While in Florida, he assisted his uncle James with preparing the land for the eventual arrival of the rest of his family. It was here that Daniel met his future wife Sarah Catherine Moore, a member of another pioneering family, the Fitzgeralds. [3] The Fitzgerald family owned land near the present-day Scott Lake area (Lakeland, Florida) in a place they called Greenwood. Sarah Catherine Moore would inherit land from her grandfather Mylas Alexander Fitzgerald, including the Fitzgerald Cemetery where numerous members of both the Fitzgerald and Pipkin families are interred.[4] Samantha was the next of Nathan’s children to go to Florida, as she left to help her aunt Carrie Hart with household duties as well as her brother Daniel with his newborn son.[3] On December 1, 1883, Nathan Pipkin and his family arrived in Polk County; they made the move to Florida under the Homestead Act of 1862. Daniel Moses’ new house had been completed just in time for his family’s arrival. Nathan homesteaded near his two daughters and his son Daniel. Levi Nathaniel also later claimed a homestead for himself once he reached the age of twenty-one.[3] Below are pictures of the family gathered at Nathan’s home:

Image courtesy of Florida Memory.

Image courtesy of Florida Memory.

The homesteaders did not stay for long, however, as phosphate was soon discovered under their land, so they sold their properties and moved to Mulberry. Nathan’s sons benefited from both their new wealth and the economic boom. Daniel Moses would go into real estate, while Levi Nathaniel went into merchandising. Together, the brothers also bought land potentially containing phosphate with partner Hugh Wear and sold the lands at a significant profit to mining companies.[3]

In 1902, the Pipkin family held a reunion, including their relatives from Georgia who had come to see the success of their Florida relatives.[3] The reunion was held at the home of Levi Nathaniel and Florence Beulah. Forty-five members on both sides of the Pipkin family were said to be in attendance.[5] Below is a picture taken at the family reunion. For a list of individuals in the picture, please click here.

Image courtesy of Florida Memory.

Both Levi Nathaniel and Daniel Moses continued to succeed financially after the family reunion. Levi Nathaniel would soon become involved with Southern College, which had recently moved to Sutherland on the West coast of Florida. Their father Nathan Levi continued to live on his homestead until he died on April 28, 1921.[1]


[1] “Nathanial Levi Pipkin (1830-1921).” Find a Grave., October 1, 2008.


[2] State Board of Pensions. PIPKIN, Nathan. 1907. Application form, State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, Identifier: a02307,


[3] Pipkin, Alva Claude. “Brothers Nathan and Wiley Pipkin: My Great Grandfathers.” Polk County Historical Quarterly 36, no. 2 (2010): 4-8.


[4] Pipkin, Beulah Mary. “The History of Scott Lake.” Polk County Historical Quarterly 6, no. 4 (1980): 1-3.


[5] Pipkin, Bernice. “The Pipkin Family Reunion of 1902.” Polk County Historical Quarterly 14, no. 1 (1987): 6.