Beulah Mary Pipkin was 7th of thirteen children of Daniel Moses Pipkin and Sarah Catherine Moore Pipkin. She was born in the Daniel Moses Pipkin homestead house in Greenwood, Florida on December 19, 1895. Beulah never married.
Later in life, Beulah had a goal of living to be 100. She came within a few months of reaching that goal. She died March 19, 1995. At her wishes, her body was cremated and the remains buried in the Daniel Moses Pipkin plot in Fitzgerald Cemetery at Scott Lake in the original section which was donated by Beulah's great grandfather, Mylas Alexander Fitzgerald.
Beulah graduated from Florida State College for Women (now Forida State University) in Tallahassee, Florida with a BS degree in 1919. She attended Columbia University in New York City in 1922-1923 and received a MS degree. She was a dietitian and worked in several locations around the country, including serving as dietitian for Auburn University (at that time Alabama Polytechnic Institute). She came home for a while and helped her parents run the Pipkin Mineral Springs Hotel in Safety Harbor, Florida.
When her mother was older and needed help, Beulah came home and lived with her. After her mother's death, she began making and selling dolls. She had a little frame house built on her property at Scott Lake where she made the dolls and sold them.
Beulah was dedicated to researching and preserving her family history. She remembers Scott Lake when only a few homes nestled along its shores. Back when there was a sawmill, the woods were full of pine trees. Her father grew greens, beans, corn, cabbage, lettuce and sugar cane beside the lake. The smell of hickory, violets, yellow sessomines and wild honeysuckle filled the air.
Pipkin preserved the memories of her childhood and life in a book for relatives a few years ago. But she still likes to talk about days of old, especially this time of year. Pipkin turns 91 Friday. She is the oldest living descendant of the 13 children of Daniel and Sarah Pipkin raised in Lakeland.
She was born in the second homestead house of the couple. It was a two-story log cabin house that served as home for the brood of nine boys and four girls. Many of the descendants of that family still live in Polk County, and Pipkin would like them and friends to stop by Friday at her house at 5511 Old Scott Lake Road. She promises to have 91 candles burning and hopes everyone will celebrate with some cake and ice cream. "Last year they had a party for me when I turned 90," says Pipkin. "It was about all I could stand." This time she'd prefer people drop in a few at a time during the day, so she can take a nap if she tires.
Pipkin is deaf now and communicates by notes. She no longer makes the pioneer dolls with bisque faces that earned her recognition and an income. But she is still very active. Nine decades have failed to fade her independent pioneer spirit. "My grandfather Nathan Pipkin lived to be 91, with an alert mind," says Pipkin. "I take after him."
Pipkin moved to the Old Scott Lake house in 1950 after her mother died. She left me $900 in cash," Pipkin recalls. "So I took the money and went to Jim Walters in Tampa." "I asked him if he'd build me a house for $900, because that was all I had." Walters did and Pipkin still keeps track of the man who went on to make his fortune in home construction. "It was the first Jim Walters' house build in Polk County," she says, leafing through the clippings she's kept of the man. "There was a big sign out front and people would come by and look at it. He was just getting started then."
Pipkin serves as the historian of the family which homesteaded in Polk County. Each candle she will light Friday symbolizes a year, with a story to go with each flame.
"She's completely deaf," says Mary Pipkin, whose husband is a nephew of Pipkin. "She told me once she was young when she started losing her hearing. And ever since she started losing it, she hears music all the time. "She's a very, very independent little old lady. She's one of the very first females to graduate from Florida State."
Deafness has limited Pipkin. She doesn't have a phone. And arthritis has slowed her ability to get around. "But she reads a lot," says niece Barbara Anderson. "She loves to watch the baseball games."
This week, though, she'll be busy arranging her birthday candles to form a Christmas tree. "I was a Christmas baby," explains Pipkin. That was Christmas, 1895.
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