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Roots Revealed Blog

The Legend of Robert Whipp

Posted: 1/1/2014
Posted By: Foster Brown

Many visitors have hiked around the “Sharon Conglomerate” ledges in Hinckley Reservation for years and have admired the geological beauty they offer, but most are not familiar with the amazing story behind the ledges namesake, “Whipp.” Well, sit back for a few minutes while I tell you this true American story of hard work, love and tragedy.

Path along Whipp's Ledges
Photo courtesy of Hinckley Historical Society

When driving around Hinckley Reservation and Hinckley Township, you may observe the land is quite rolling, rocky and not conducive for crop farming. The early landowners found it suitable for livestock grazing and planting orchards.

An Englishman named Robert Whipp moved to Brunswick in the late 1840s and began practicing his trade as a butcher, eventually selling his meats in Cleveland. Much of his early wealth came from providing meat to Clevelanders and the Union soldiers who trained there.

Robert Whipp
Photo courtesy of Hinckley Historical Society

Robert Whipp was often heard saying, “I want to own land enough so that I can have cattle on a thousand hills.”  His burning desire nearly came true on the land where Hinckley Reservation is now. His wealth allowed him to buy up farms to raise cattle, sheep and hogs. It was said he would purchase old homesteads and raise his livestock in the houses until they fell down.

The ledges and the surrounding land were owned by Robert and his wife, widow Mehetable Waite from Hinckley whom he called, “Ittie.” Both of them were known for being upright citizens and strong in faith. Those who knew him said, “He never chewed or smoked, and was not regarded as a drinking man. As for his word in dealing, nobody questioned it.” Both Robert and Ittie were known for helping the underdog. They adopted a young man and helped a neighboring child with a speech impediment.

The Whipps’ wealth grew, but to only be drained away like a slow leak in a bucket. Hard winters had a devastating effect on his livestock. Boom times were over, and the land that Robert purchased demanded heavy taxation. Then Robert’s world turned upside down. Ittie passed away and his life crumbled.

In his vulnerable state, Robert befriended an English family from Granger: a widow, her son, and daughter, Rachel. Learning of his wealth which amounted to about $100,000, the family began to dream up a vicious plan to take a hold of Robert’s riches. In 1877, Robert was convinced to marry Rachel, after she was informed she was pregnant with another man’s child, but Rachel told Robert it was his.

The story soon escalates. Robert’s young wife, her brother and boyfriend staged a murder attempt, covering Robert’s face with chloroform and trying their best to hang him. But Robert Whipp, being a giant of a man at over 6 feet tall and 250 pounds, fought back and thwarted their plans.

The murder trial, which drew much attention, finally convicted Rachel and her brother Lonsdale to seven years of hard labor in the penitentiary. The boyfriend was never convicted because he could not be identified by Robert.

Although Robert Whipp was well respected, he slowly faded from prominence, with only a few friends to tend to his needs. With high taxation, financial panics, low market prices for sheep and cattle, and eventually declining land values, Robert Whipp died a poor blind man. At the age of 67, Robert was laid next to his beloved Ittie, West of Hinckley on 303 in Maple Hill Cemetery.

This story of ambition, love and eventually crime and brokenness are all a part of the history these ledges once knew. I hope you take many opportunities to enjoy the beauty Hinckley Reservation offers and return often with a better appreciation for those who came before us.

Whipp's Ledges - 1905
Photo courtesy of Hinckley Historical Society 1


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