The name rolls off the tongue like a unique and obscure place found in a history book.
Yet, there is nothing obscure about Rippetoe Mountain, although it has its unique place in the history of Caldwell County.
Captain William Rippetoe of Albemarle County, Virginia, had just finished his tour of duty as a Revolutionary War soldier when he came to the county to settle on the side of a mountain that has a flat, bald top, surrounded by lush evergreens, and still providing a beautiful view.
According to historian Randy Gibson, Capt. Rippetoe resided on the side of the mountain, which is located in the Baton community just off Orchard Drive, long enough to raise his daughters Elizabeth and Mary and his son, David. He had secured numerous acres as a land grant from the state. When Capt. Rippetoe left the county in 1804, he left his property to son David, who in turn left it to his son Albert, a Civil War veteran. Before David left his for Alabama, however, his sister, Mary, had married John Bush, the head of the Bush clan, which numbers in the hundreds, both in Caldwell County and several states.
While the Rippetoe’s still owned the mountain, they built a small school at the foot for children of the area to gain some formal education Before long, the Bush family began to have reunions at the site. Thus, that section of the property was deeded to the Bush family to be held forever as a reunion site. A small arbor has been erected on the site, which attracts hundreds of the Bush clan each summer to perhaps the largest reunion held in the county.
One of the descendants of the Rippetoe family visited last summer from California and Gibson had the pleasure of showing him the site of his roots. Although the mountain has changed hands during the years, some 40 acres have been saved from the developer’s machinery and is owned today by Dr. and Mrs. Tom Schrum and their three children. Dr. Schrum said he has found the hanger for the old school bell on the property and believes there are other reminders of the early settling of the mountain. The family home sits just below the mountain, which is a popular site for hunters and hikers.
Dr. Schrum said the two original springs that supplied the water source are still visible, with the rusted iron pipe that carried the water down a portion of the mountain. Both springs are listed on the U.S. Geological Map. In addition to the school, a general store and a post office were operated on the grounds in the early years and the area was well known as Rippetoe, N.C.