Mind Games 2.0

Bloggin' 'bout science and life

My Ancestors

Last week, I took a trip to Knoxville, Tennessee to visit the NIMBioS Center. I had a great time seeing old friends and talking to the postdocs and faculty there, but I also had an ulterior motive. It was to find where a number of my ancestors are buried. So on Sunday morning, I drove from Knoxville to just south of Midway, Tennessee.

Because it’s all I know, I trace my ancestory through my maternal grandfather’s family – the Nipps. My maternal grandfather was Charles Curtis Nipp, the man who raised me, and the man I most revere in my life.

With some internet searching last year, I found that my grandfather’s first ancestor to come to North America was Varner Knipp. According to the sources I have found, he was born in 1765 in the Palatine region about 30 miles northwest of Frankfurt, Germany. The original family name spelling was Knöp. He apparently came to America with his wife Christeener and three brothers (William, John and George) as a result of religious beliefs.

The family originally settled in Wythe County, Virginia. According to deed records, Varner Knipp owned 100 acres on Reed Creek, a branch of the New River, on the north side of Pine Ridge in Wythe County.

From there, they moved to the Sinking Springs area west of Greeneville, Tennessee. The family helped found the Sinking Springs Lutheran Church in 1801, and he and his wife Christineer are buried in the cemetary behind the church. The cemetery is

Last Sunday, I attended services at the church (Transfiguration Sunday), spoke with the pastor and many of the current congregants of the church, and spent time in the cemetery. No Knipps still attend the church, but many continue to be buried in the cemetery.

Here is a gallery of a few pictures from my visit.



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Some Of My Other Furniture


  1. h. belmore

    It is always a great feeling visiting your roots. You will reminisce the days of olds. And you’ll learn a lot from the old folks.

    H. Belmore


    My, I forget how many greats, grandfather was
    Varner Knipp. Thank you so much for posting the beautiful pictures of Sinking Springs church and cemetery. I think that our line comes from his son George.
    May God Bless,

    • Hi Barb,

      I trace through George Knipp as well. To his son Robert J. Knipp, then to Archibald Nipp, then to James Robert Nipp, and then my grandfather Charles Curtis (see my “Granddad” post from last year), and my mother Jean.


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