Hank’s Birth Certificate, Dr. Henry K. Tippins and the Tippins Hospital
by Brian Turpen

Hank Williams was born on September 17, 1923 at Grace/Mt. Olive in Butler County. Two things stand out on Hank’s birth certificate.  The first is that the certificate was filed nearly 10 ½ years after his birth, on March 1, 1934.  The second is that the certificate was filled out and signed by a “H.K. Tippins” M.D.  Who was this Dr. H.K. Tippins, and why was the Birth Certificate not filed until 1934?
Text Box:      The old Tippins Hospital building in Georgiana  After Hank’s birth in 1923 until around 1930, Hank’s family moved several times.  Around 1930, when Lon Williams entered the VA Hospital, Lillie had saved enough money to move the family to Georgiana.  The first house they lived in Georgiana burned down.  Local resident Thaddeus B. Rose offered Lillie a place rent free until she could get back on their feet.  It was an imposing house, by far the finest dwelling the family had ever been in. These days, it's numbered 127 Rose Street and is home to Georgiana’s Hank Williams Boyhood Home and Museum.

After moving into Rose's house, Lillie’s nieces Marie and Bernice McNeil came to live with the family.  Their mother, Lillie’s sister Anne, had died and their father decided to pay Lillie to care for the girls.  From time to time, Lillie also looked after her mother.  With the expanding household, Lillie took a job at what was called the Tippins Hospital.  The building was a large house that resembled a convalescent home.  It was located at 135 Broad Street (at the corner of Pride Avenue) in Georgiana.  Brothers, Dr. Henry Keener Tippins and Dr. James Rankin Tippins ran the Hospital.
Text Box:    Dr. Henry Kenner Tippins Sr.
Lillie was employed as a practical nurse at the Hospital. Lillie realized that Hank would someday need a birth certificate, and neither she nor Lon had ever gotten around to having one filled out.  Lillie prevailed upon her employer, Dr. Henry K. Tippins to fill out Hank's birth certificate.  Dr. Tippins signed the form, which was filed with the Alabama Bureau of Vital Statistics on March 1, 1934.

Dr. H. Keener Tippins Jr. confirms the fact that his father was not present at the birth of Hank, and that he filled out the form at the request of Hank’s mother.

Henry Keener Tippins was born on June 19, 1881 in Brewton Alabama, one of ten children born to Philip Henry-Mulkey Tippins and Julia Castleberry Tippins.  He had 6 sisters and 3 brothers.

He attended St. Ignatius College in Chicago, graduating with a medical degree in 1907.  His younger brother James also attended St. Ignatius, which is now called Loyola University Chicago.  After receiving their licenses, both Dr. Tippins went to Butler County to start their medical practice.

 

Text Box:   
Hank’s Birth Certificate that was filed on March 1, 1934

Dr. H.K. Tippins married Bennie Williams not long after he graduated medical school.  The couple would have four children; Eloise, Marjorie, Ida and Henry Keener Jr., who followed in his father’s footsteps.

Dr. Tippins practiced in Chapman from 1907 until 1923, and was also the W.T. Smith Lumber Company’s doctor.  In 1923, Tippins and his family moved to Gulfport, Mississippi.  Dr. H.K. Tippins Jr. relays that the family moved back to Butler County in 1930, and stayed until approximately 1937.  Dr. Tippins then moved his family and practice to Geneva, Alabama.

Around 1945, Dr. Tippins was involved in an automobile accident that left him a quadriplegic.  He died three years later in 1948 at the age of 68.  He was laid to rest in Brewton, Alabama.

Special thanks to: Dr. H. Keener Tippins Jr., the Butler County Historical Society, Cheryl Morris Sumner, Minta Forester, Bill King, Ted Urquhart. Judy Taylor, Mary Wallace and Paul Washburn