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Below is a family biography from the book, History of Kentucky, Edition 8a by J. H. Battle, W. H. Perrin and G. C. Kniffin and published by F. A. Battey Publishing Company in 1888.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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JAMES SHIPP PHELPS, long one of the prominent tobacco warehousemen in Louisville and president of the J. S. Phelps House, at the southeast corner of Main and Eleventh streets, is a native Kentuckian, born at Hopkinsville, March 8, 1828, and was the third child and third son of John H. and Caroline (Shipp) Phelps. His father was born in July, 1790, and came from Virginia with his brother when a young man. Some years before he had taken his wife from the well-known Shipp family near Hopkinsville. The Phelps stock is probably English, though it is not known when it made its advent into this country. James, the subject, lost his mother while less than two years old, and his father married again in October, 1830, this time taking to wife a sister of Gov. James T. Morehead. She proved an excellent mother to the little family and brought them up carefully. James had two elder brothers, Hiram Abiff, an attorney at Hopkinsville, and Laban Shipp, deceased at twenty-six years of age. The elder Phelps died in 1842. His widow married Augustine Webber, of Hopkinsville, in February, 1846, and survived him about eighteen months, dying in 1875 at the residence of her stepson in this city. Young Phelps was educated mainly by Mr. James D. Rumsey, of Hopkinsville, and in a school of a venerable Baptist minister near that place. He was in this school from the age of fourteen until he was ready to enter into active life. At the request of his father, who had in his lifetime been circuit court clerk of Christian County under the old system of appointment for a long series of years and died at his post, James entered the office of his successor while a very young man, as a writer and manager of the office, in the absence of his superior, who was in failing health. This was an important position for a youth, and fulfilled his father’s expectation of the place as a capital means of education for him. So well did he improve his opportunities of legal study in the office that within a year after leaving it he was enabled to receive from the Circuit Judge a license to practice law. He opened an office with his brother (though not as a partner) in Hopkinsville; but at the end of another year he wearied at the slow and drudging character of the profession, and determined to embark in the mercantile business. He entered into partnership with Mr. Joseph K. Grant, of the same place. It was in 1853 when the two young men started in the dry goods business. The times were prosperous, and Christian was then the richest county in the State outside of Jefferson and Fayette. A great many slaves were held in the county, and the negro trade was especially lucrative. The partners made money every year, selling to the amount of $115,000 the last year they were together. In 1856, however, Mr. Phelps retired, selling his interest to Mr. Grant. In the summer of 1862 he came to Louisville, and built the well-known Louisville warehouse the same season, at the northwest corner of Main and Tenth streets. Mr. Phelps embarked in the tobacco business as a warehouseman, and as the head of Phelps, Caldwell & Co. This warehouse was sold about 1867 to Ray & Co., and the superb building now occupied by Messrs. Phelps & Co., and known as the Planters Tobacco Warehouse, at the corner of Main and Eleventh streets, was erected by Mr. Phelps in 1875. The firm of Phelps, Caldwell & Co. was dissolved at the time of the sale and removed, and that of J. S. Phelps & Co. was formed, composed of J. S. Phelps and John C. Durrett. The present stock company, bearing the same name, was formed in 1881, and embraces Mr. Phelps and his four sons, John H., James S., Jr., Laban and Hiram O., and capital stock $150,000. Zach Phelps, another son of Mr. Phelps, is a lawyer, and a member of the firm of O’Neal, Jackson & Phelps. Mr. Phelps was an old line Whig before the war, and a sympathizer with the Union cause when the great struggle came, and during its continuance. Many years he was much attached to Odd Fellowship, and served for several years as deputy grand master of the State. He is a member of the First Baptist Church of Louisville, in the faith of his parents and of a past generation. He was married in Hopkinsville, July 25, 1849, to Miss Mary Jane, second daughter of Zachariah and Mary Jane Glass.

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This family biography is one of 195 biographies included in the Jefferson County, Kentucky section of the book, The History of Kentucky, Edition 8a published in 1888 by F. A. Battey Publishing Company.  For the complete description, click here: History of Kentucky, Edition 8a

View additional Jefferson County, Kentucky family biographies here: Jefferson County, Kentucky Biographies

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