Rewriting the Biography: When Did James Sims Die?

Many of my West Virginia cousins and genealogy acquaintances know my 5th great-grandfather James SIMS (1754-1845) of Nicholas County is one of my favorite ancestors to research. I worked with a group of descendants sixteen years ago and wrote a lengthy biography which is attached to hundreds of trees on Ancestry. It is now time to review the information I used in writing the biography and attempt to find more of the missing pieces.

One question which has not been settled is the year of death of James SIMS. The exact location of his grave in the Simms Memorial Church Cemetery in Swiss is in doubt as the original stone marker was displaced and lost many years ago. Two memorial plaques are in the cemetery.

James Sims, Sgt VA Militia, Revolutionary War, 1754-1838
Revolutionary Soldier, James Sims, 1754-1845

The marker with the year 1838 was secured from the Veterans Administration in 1979 by George R. Penick, Jr. Mr. Penick who compiled information on the descendants of James Sims spoke with some older family members who assumed James SIMS died in 1838. Mr. Penick did his research over 40 years ago and did not have the resources we have today. He likely did not consult the 1840 census as James SIMS age 80 thru 89 was enumerated with his wife, his youngest son George Washington Sims, and a younger male – perhaps a grandson who was helping on the farm.

I have not been able to find out who placed the marker with the 1845 year of death which is more likely as James was living in 1840.

In 1848 a bill of complaint was filed by attorney John Reynolds in the Circuit Supreme Court of Law and Chancery for Nicholas County with George H. Lee, Judge, seeking to have the court provide for the sale of the 125-acre farm near Beech Glen left by James SIMS when he died. The transcript names heirs who would have been living at the time and has also been referred to as a partition suit. The date of death of the deceased was given in the bill as 1836 which cannot be correct due to his being alive at the time of the 1840 census.

Although FamilySearch now has many records online for Nicholas County, I have yet to locate the original partition suit. The transcript was found by Willard E. Simms of Cozaddale, Ohio, in the DAR file of Virginia Bondurant Johnson and shared in a letter to John T. Simms, of Charleston, West Virginia, in 1947. Without a copy of the original record, I cannot be sure that the information in the transcript is correct.

When did James SIMS die?

FamilySearch now has many “new” browse-only record collections available for Nicholas County, West Virginia.

In the Order books, 1844-1928 I found four documents which mention James SIMS in the volumes for the years 1844-1871.

At a Court continued and held for the County of Nicholas on Wednesday the 13th day of November 1844 present William D. Cottle, Bernard Hendrick, John Mc Hamilton.

A power of attorney from James Sims to John McClung was presented in court and ordered to be recorded.1

This now places the death of James SIMS at after this date, 13 November 1844. Eight months later another record was recorded in the Order Book.

August Term 1845

At a Court held for the County of Nicholas at the Court house by the Justices thereof on Tuesday the 12th day of August 1845. present Bernard Hendrick, William Sims, James G. Neil, David Hanna, Jeremiah Odell & William D. Cottle Gent. Justices.2

James Sims Senr. is released from the payment of County & parish Levies in future.3

As we see here on 12 August 1845 James SIMS was still living. Was he exempted from paying the levies due to his age or infirmity? James was born in 1754 per his own declaration made in 1834 and would turn 91 years old on 8 October 1845.

The last two records found add a new date to the equation.

At a Court held for the County of Nicholas at the Court house by the Justices thereof on Tuesday the 10th day of March 1846 present John M. Hamilton, William D. Cottle, William Sims & James G. Neil Gent Justices & John McClung Gent Justice.4

On the motion of William Sims who made oath & together with Joshua Stephenson and Dryden Sims his securities entered into and acknowledged a bond in the penalty of Two hundred Dollars conditioned as the Law directs certificate is granted the said William Sims to obtain Letters of administration on the Estate of James Sims decd in due form.

On the motion of William Sims administrator of the Estate of James Sims Decd. George Hardway William Summers & John Morris are appointed appraisers of the personal Estate of the said decd. after being first duly sworn for that purpose and that they return the appraisment under their hands to the Court.5

Sometime between 12 August 1845 and 10 March 1846, James SIMS passed away. He did not leave a will and letters of administration and the appraisement of his estate were ordered.

His son William SIMS was one of the justices of the court. How long after his death would he have waited to start proceedings to have his father’s estate administered and appraised? Previously the court was held on 10 February 1846, 13 January 1846, and 12 November 1845? Could it be he died in 1846 and the year 1836 seen in the partition case was an error of ten years?

For now, I will list the death of James SIMS as between 12 August 1845 and 10 March 1846. Previously I had between 1840-1848 as these were the last census year he was found and the year the partition suit was filed. I am quite happy with the range I have been able to narrow down to.

The next question I have may not be as easily answered. If the estate of James SIMS was appraised6 then the appraisement would be found in the West Virginia Will Books collection at FamilySearch. Although I have not checked page by page, I found that at one point in the Nicholas County will book for the period there are records missing between July term in 1844 and 1865 with one will from the October term in 1857 serving as a placeholder between the 1844 and 1865 records. Are the records out of order? Where could the missing years be?

I asked this question in the Nicholas County WV Genealogy group on Facebook. One researcher has been to the Nicholas County courthouse several times to do research. She was told at least two wills books may be missing and was lead to believe they are unsure of what became of the books.

© 2018, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

  1. Nicholas County (West Virginia), County Court, Order books, 1844-1928 (images), <i>FamilySearch</i>, (11 microfilm reels of original records at the Nicholas County courthouse, Sommersville, West Virginia), DGS 7617649, Film 1639161, Vols. D,E,D 1844-1871, p 3, image 37 of 840. 13 Nov 1844 Power of attorney from James Sims to John McClung,( : accessed 6 February 2018). 
  2.  Ibid., DGS 7617649, Film 1639161, Vols. D,E,D 1844-1871, p 40, image 54 of 840. 12 August 1845 James Sims exempt from levies (page with date court was in session), ( : 7 February 2018). 
  3. Ibid., DGS 7617649, Film 1639161, Vols. D,E,D 1844-1871, p 41, image 55 of 840. 1845 James Sims exempt from levies (left page, last entry), ( : accessed 7 February 2018). 
  4. Ibid., Vols. D,E,D 1844-1871, p 65, DGS 7617649, Film 1639161, image 67 of 840. 10 March 1846 date court was in session, ( : accessed 7 February 2018). 
  5. Ibid., DGS 7617649, Film 1639161, Vols. D,E,D 1844-1871, p 69, image 69 of 840. Letters of administration and appraisement order for estate of James Sims decd, ( : accessed 7 February 2018). 
  6. William Sims adm. of the Estate of James Sims decd. presented in Court an appraisment & Sale Bill of the Estate of the said Decd. which being seen and inspected by the Court is ordered to be Recorded.
    Ibid., DGS 7617649, Film 1639161, Vols. D,E,D 1844-1871, p 92, image 81 of 840. ( : accessed 7 February 2018) 

A West Virginia Coal Miner’s Poetic Memories

My great-grandfather Walter Farmer ROOP (1883-1971) was a blacksmith, coal miner, artist, poet, photographer, and cartoonist. He was 17 years old when the 1900 census was taken and worked as a day laborer for six months during the previous year. He was living in the Cabin Creek District of Kanawha County in West Virginia in his father Gordon‘s household. When he married Rebecca Jane CLONCH on 12 July 1903 his occupation was listed as a miner. This is the profession he would engage in until his retirement.

Walter and Rebecca’s family was missed by the enumerator in 1910. On 12 September 1918 Walter was a mine blacksmith with the Gauley Mountain Coal Company of Ansted per his Draft Card. His place of employment was Jodie, Fayette County.

walter-farmer-roop-wwi-draft-card U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

Per the census, in 1920 and 1930 he was a miner in a coal mine and in 1940 a utility man in a coal mine. In 1939 he worked 44 weeks and received a private wage. The number of weeks he worked in 1939 appears to be the average for the miners in the community.

walter-f-roop-family-with-his-father-gordon-ca-1920-1921In 1942 the Registration Card (for men born on or after April 28, 1877, and on or before February 16, 1897), also known as the “old man’s registration,” has the Gauley Mountain Coal Company of Ansted as my great-grandfather’s employer.

walter-farmer-roop-wwii-card-front U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942
walter-farmer-roop-wwii-card-back U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942

The place of residence on the 1920, 1930, and 1940 census for the ROOP family was Jodie in Fayette County.

The community which would become Jodie was started up when the first houses were built by local logging companies in the late 1800s. The first post office was established in 1894 or 1896 (conflicting sources) when the town was named Imboden. The name of the town was changed to Jodie in 1910. In 1915, the Gauley Mountain Coal Company established Jodie as a coal town. The company utilized the existing lumber company houses and built additional ones. A company store, movie theater, and boarding house were also built but they are now long gone. The houses were sold off to residents in the mid-1940s, and the local mines closed less than ten years later. My great-grandfather very likely worked for the Gauley Mountain Coal Company from the time they established in Jodie until his retirement.

Christopher Taylor, a Shepherd University (Shepherdstown, WV) history major, kindly shared maps, photographs, and explanations to give me an idea of the geographical location of the mine Walter worked in.

Image and text courtesy of Christopher Taylor.

Here is Jodie as it appeared in a USGS topographical map from 1928. I added labels showing various locations and parts of town. The Buck Run Mine loaded coal into a tipple along the river. In later years as operations expanded southeasterly across the mountain, they discontinued the tipple on the river and sent the coal down to Rich Creek.

Photo and text courtesy of Christopher Taylor.

The Jodie Tipple on Rich Creek, c. 1940s. Coal from the left hillside came from the No. 1 (Buck Run) Mine, and across a conveyor into the tipple. Coal from the right side came from the No. 2 (Rich Creek) Mine.

My Great-grandfather’s Poetry

Walter’s poetry, written after the 1950 death of his wife Rebecca Jane CLONCH, has been passed down in the family. I have no idea if he wrote poems before my great-grandmother’s death. I think he may have discovered his love for expressing his feeling in poetry following his beloved’s death.

Although most were written for his darling wife, he also wrote two poems reflecting his love of mining. He wrote Buck Run after re-visiting the site of the old mine he spent so many years of toil and happy times.


Buck Run

Old Buck Run Mine has played its part
With vigor, zeal and zest;
Through two great wars that we have fought
She gave her very best.

We miss the rhythmic tramp of feet
Of those we used to know,
Who worked with us at Buck Run Mine
Some forty years ago.

I strolled alone the other day
To visit Buck Run Mine,
The scene of many years of toil
And many happy times.

The old landmarks had disappeared
And all was calm and still.
The only things familiar now
Are Buck Run’s brushy hills.

Old memories gathered thick and fast
Of pals who used to be;
Some rest perhaps on native hills
And some across the sea.

There crept upon my aged form
A feeling strange and cold;
I bowed my head and walked away;
I, too, am growing old.

— W. F. Roop, Jodie, W. Va.

What Remains of Rich Creek Mine No. 2

Similar to the stroll Walter took to visit Buck Run Mine, Christopher hiked up to the remains of Rich Creek Mine No. 2 in 2013. He took photos which he has kindly allowed me to use.


A Coal Miner Remembers

The second poem, When We Retire, describes what it was like to work in a mine. Clipped and dated January 1952, it was published in the United Mine Workers Journal.

“When We Retire,” a poem published in the United Mine Workers Journal, January 15, 1952, pg. 15

When We Retire

I’m just an Old Miner, retired from the mines,
Still I yearn for the days that are dead,
When we labored and toiled, in the dust and the grime,
While dangers lurked over our heads.

Though we pray and we pine till we’re weary and sick,
Fate never will answer our prayer;
To feel the old thrill, of the shovel and pick,
And to be with the gang that was there.

Where we labored and toiled in a world of our own,
By the gleam of a flickering light;
Where the change of the seasons is ever unknown,
And the day is eternally night.

Why we yearn to go back, I cannot understand,
For the dangers and hardships were great,
And many a miner who played a good hand
Has lost in the gamble with Fate.

— By Walter Farmer Roop, Belva W. Va.

Walter Farmer ROOP was an all around artistic talent. He left wonderful gifts for his children, grandchildren, and all later descendants. While re-reading his poems and reviewing his art I realized he left much more than photos, drawings, and words – he actually bequeathed us with parts of his own autobiography.


© 2016, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.












James SIMS (1754-1845), Gunsmith of Nicholas County

Happy 4th of July!

Although my 5th great-grandfather James SIMS’ service during the Revolutionary War was not accepted as proof for a pension, the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) accepted his “providing supplies” and approved him as a Revolutionary War patriot.

Early in 2002 I wrote the biography of James SIMS (1754-1845) with the help of several cousins. On 25 March 2013 I posted an updated version of the biography on my blog. In May Mark Smith of Hampshire County Long Rifles requested permission to run the biography on his blog.

I was thrilled at the request to share my work. But I had a different idea. I suggested my writing, as a guest blogger, a shorter piece on James Sims and his sons discussing gun-making with a link back to my blog with the full biography.

Sims Rifle from Rose Mary Sims RudyThis was a great opportunity to focus on an aspect of my ancestor’s life that I did not know very much about. Please take a moment to read James Sims (1754-1845), Gunsmith of Nicholas County and visit Mark’s blog.

Many thanks to Mark Smith for letting me be a guest blogger and to Jeff Prechtel, a wonderful artist, for the drawings used to illustrate my post.

© 2015 Cathy Meder-Dempsey


The World War II Exploits of Eugene N. DEMPSEY

Gene was my 1st cousin once removed. We may have also been 5th cousins once removed, sharing Susannah [–?–] DEMPSEY as an ancestor. Susannah’s husband, whoever he may have been, is not the DEMPSEY who passed his surname on to both Gene and me. I’ll leave it at that as it’s another story for another day.

Eugene Noble DEMPSEY, 86, of Ansted, passed away Friday, May 11, 2001, at Hidden Valley Nursing Home in Oak Hill, Fayette County, West Virginia. Gene, as he was known by his family and friends, was born August 23, 1914, in Ansted, and was the son of the late Oscar and Fannie NOBLE DEMPSEY. He was a retired electrician from Alloy Union Carbide, a member of Ansted Masonic Lodge, VFW of Fayetteville, American Legion of Fayetteville, CCC Alumni, and Hopewell Baptist Church of Hopewell.

On January 8, 2001, four months before his death, Gene wrote me a letter giving his permission to use his World War II story on my now obsolete website. On the 13th anniversary of his death I would like to once again share his memories of this world war.

The World War II Exploits of Eugene N. DEMPSEY

By Eugene N. Dempsey

The notice containing the “Greetings” from the White Bearded Uncle came to EUGENE NOBLE DEMPSEY in December 1943. After completing his physical examination at Huntington, West Virginia, he was inducted into the U.S. Army in that same month. Following induction Gene was granted a three week furlough for the purpose of placing his personal and business affairs in order before being sent to Fort Thomas, Kentucky for processing, classification and assignment to a military unit.

In the processing for the military service stage, numerous papers were filled out where such questions concerning the individual’s education, previous military service, work experience, and special skills were required to be answered. Although Gene had previous service in the Infantry branch of the U.S. Army (1933-36), he avoided reassignment to this combat arm because of one seemingly innocent question he answered on his personnel questionnaire regarding his work experience. Here he indicated that he had worked for a short time as a brakeman on an electric motor propelled train which moves coal cars in and about the coal mine. Since at this very moment in time the U.S. Army was in the process of organizing railway operating battalions to be assigned to the newly created Transportation Corps, classification officers had been alerted and directed to assign any newly inducted personnel with experience on railroads to these units. The Transportation Corps is that branch of the Army that is assigned the responsibility for the movement of personnel and materiel over land, sea and in the air. During World War II, this was to and from the European, African, Middle East theater of operations as well as the far flung bases and battlefields of the Pacific.

In January 1944, following five days of classification and processing at Fort Thomas, Kentucky, Eugene N. Dempsey was sent to Camp Plusha, New Orleans, Louisiana. He spent three weeks there in basic training before he and several others were moved to an abandoned U.S. Army Air Force Base on Lake Pontchartrain near New Orleans where they continued basic training for three more weeks. In February 1944, after they had completed their SIX weeks of basic training, the group was given a farewell party and dance on the campus of Tulane University in New Orleans before being reassigned to Camp Claiborne, Louisiana for seventeen weeks of technical training on the Missouri Pacific Railroad. Gene was assigned to the Alexander to Monroe, Louisiana Division of the Missouri Pacific where he trained under the regular civilian train crew to be a railway brakeman.

About the middle of June 1944, Gene Dempsey completed his seventeen weeks of on-the-job training as a brakeman on the Missouri Pacific Railroad and was reassigned to Camp Reynolds, Pennsylvania. He was given a seventeen (17) day delay en route before he was to report to his new station on 17 July 1944. After spending several days at Camp Reynolds, Gene and his contingent were moved by troop train via Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester and Albany down the Hudson River to West Point. Then they moved on to Camp Shanks near New York City, the Port of Embarkment for Europe, where they arrived on 22 July 1944. On this day Gene and his contingent became part of a larger group of 15,000 military personnel who boarded the British ship QUEEN MARY in New York harbor from which they departed for the United Kingdom on 23 July 1944. To hopefully avoid German submarines who were prowling the waters of the North Atlantic, the QUEEN MARY with Eugene N. Dempsey and its cargo of other soldiers proceeded to take a zigzag course across the Atlantic. Five (5) days later, on 28 July 1944, the majestic Queen arrived at Glasgow, Scotland.

On the evening of 29 July 1944, Gene Dempsey and his railway buddies left Scotland on a British troop train. They rode through the night in complete darkness, the use of lights of any kind only being an invitation to the German Luftwaffe to bomb and strafe the moving train. (Gott strafe England – God punish England, German propaganda slogan during World War I.) On a cold and rainy morning, they arrived at Doddington Park near Liverpool, England on 30 July 1944. Gene, along with the other military railway unassigned replacements, remained at Doddington Park until 4 September 1944 before being moved to Delmar Park, England. There they remained for only eight (8) days before being stationed at Tidworth Barracks a permanent British Army Base about ninety (90) kilometers south of London. Also stationed here was the 9th U.S. Armored Division and many other military units. On 4 December 1944, Eugene N. Dempsey and other replacements departed for Southampton, England where they were to cross the choppy waters of the English Channel on a L.S.T. arriving in Le Havre, France on 6 December 1944. In Le Havre Gene was to lose his duffel bag which, after thirty-eight (38) years, is still missing and has now been dropped from an AWOL status to that of a deserter.

On 9 December 1944, Eugene Dempsey and several other railway replacements were moved to Ballan Court, near Paris, France, where they remained for eighteen (18) days and where they observed a Christmas that was everything but the usually delightful holidays spent in the States. Many of the replacements, including Gene, were overcome with a bad case of diarrhea. This is an extremely dreadful and distressing malady when one must hike through deep snow to the nearest Straddle Trench, which serves as an outhouse when the army is in the field. At that time, the Labor Unions were not strong enough to require that the U.S. Army provide “Comfort Stations” for their troops in the field. It should be remembered that under these conditions certain tender extremities which are exposed to a low chill factor only add to the pathetic predicament. Even under these unpleasant circumstances, soldier Dempsey was able to mail a box of souvenirs back to West Virginia. Included in this parcel post package was a German steel helmet, which Gene still has.

During December of 1944, the front line combat units were fighting the fierce and bloody Battle of the Bulge (and Cousin Eli Dews was up there with his men pinned down by the grazing fire of the enemy guns). Everyone, including the support units of the Army, was somewhat jittery because the German Army had cracked the lines of the Allies and were rapidly moving toward the English Channel. Under these extremely explosive and unstable conditions, Gene and his group of replacements departed Ballan Court on 27 December 1944. The following day they arrived at Compiègne where the World War I Armistice was signed in a railroad car on 11 November 1918. It was also where Hitler, in June of 1940, added to the humiliation of France by requiring their leaders to meet with him and sign a treaty with Germany during World War II. Here on 28 December 1944 Gene Dempsey’s group was to spend a bitter cold night in tents pitched on a race tract for purebred horses. The following day, 30 December 1944, Gene and his group of replacements were moved by army trucks to Noyon, France a small town several miles northeast of Compiègne. Here Gene and his comrades enjoyed a bath at a public bath house. Here also, Gene Dempsey committed a dishonorable theft when he removed a light bulb from a French Post Office while his buddies engaged the sweet young Postmistress in a conversation of pigeon French. Gene rationalized this shameful act by calling it a “requisition” since the light bulb was removed, he said, from one French government building to another building owned by the same government, that is from the Post Office to the French Army Barracks where they were temporarily quartered.

On 7 January 1945 Eugene Dempsey along with other replacements were moved from Noyon, France to Aulnoye, France where they were assigned to the 716th Railway Operating Battalion. This Battalion was then under strength because several of its members, including the Battalion Commander, were charged and court-martialed with selling to French civilians materials and supplies they were transporting to the troops fighting on the front line. After spending about twenty (20) days at Aulnoye, Gene and his entire Battalion was ordered to Metz, France, where they were quartered in French railway box cars. It was here in Metz that Gene learned of the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt when he heard a French newsboy cry out the headline on his newspaper “ROOSEVELT EST MORT.” With Metz as their home base, Gene along with other members of the 716th Railway Operating Battalion were sent out in groups on detached service and at this time Gene found himself working in a railroad yard in Maubeuge, France, for several weeks. Nearly every morning while at Maubeuge, Gene observed the heavy bombers of the 8th U.S. Air Force in formations which included several hundreds of planes, along with their fighter escorts, passing over on their way to destroy military targets in Germany.

On or about 10 April 1945 Gene was transferred to Thionville, France, which is located on the Moselle River near the border between France and Germany. The Germans called the town Diedenhofen. It was from here that Gene Dempsey rode a street car to Luxembourg City, Luxembourg, where he bought an ice cream cone – the very first ice cream that he had in over two (2) years.

On 5 May 1945, the day of the German surrender and the end of World War II in Europe – Gene left France with his railroad unit. They headed for Kornwestheim a small town northeast of Stuttgart, Germany, where they arrived on 10 May 1945. In this town there was a large shoe factory (Salimander) where Gene traded a package of Lucky Strike cigarettes for a pair of brown slippers. Gene and his train crew continued to use railway boxcars as their living quarters when they crossed the Rhine River near Mannheim, Germany, where they spent seven days before moving on to Esslingen, Germany, on 17 May 1945 where they moved from their boxcars and commenced to live in buildings. For the next fourteen weeks they were quartered in a schoolhouse in Esslingen which is a city of about 50,000 located about ten miles southeast of Stuttgart, a city of about 700,000. The 100th Infantry Division was also stationed in and about Esslingen at this same time. The 716th Railway Operating Battalion to which Eugene N. Dempsey was assigned operated the electric railway from Stuttgart to Augsberg, Germany, a distance of about 110 miles. It was on one of these runs that “One” Dempsey almost made contact with his cousin, Captain Eli “One” Dews who was a rifle company commander with the 44th Infantry Division. The train on which Gene and his crew were operating had made an emergency stop and was blocking the highway over which elements of the 44th Infantry Division were traveling. They were on their way to France in preparation for being re-deployed through the States before being assigned to the Pacific Theater of Operations to continue the fight against the Japanese. Gene was unable to contact his “Cuz” because Eli was still in Ulm, Germany, a city that his Infantry Regiment captured during the fighting.

It was while the 716th Railway Operating Battalion was stationed in Esslingen that they commenced the project of turning the operations of the German railroads back to their German owners and very shortly Eugene Dempsey found himself driving trucks for the Transportation Corps instead or operating railway trains. The war with Japan ended in August 1945 and it was here in Esslingen in late September of 1945 that re-deployment started to wreck the 716th Railway Operating Battalion. Based upon length of service combat assignments, campaigns, decorations, dependents and other considerations, an individual soldier was assigned “points”. The soldiers with the lowest number of points were being reassigned to other military units all over Europe while those soldiers with the larger number of points were sent back to the States for separation from the service Since Gene Dempsey was in the low point category, his service with the 716th Railway Operating Battalion ended. He was shipped, along with several of his buddies, to Hannover, Germany by troop train. Here in the British Zone of Military Occupation, they were assigned to the 741st Railway Operating Battalion. It is reported their duty assignment at this station was somewhat of a “cake walk” and that these combat characters spent more time loafing and “fraternizing with Frauleins” than they did performing military assignments. However, all of this good stuff came to a screeching halt on 4 November 1945 when Gene and others in his train crew departed Hannover, Germany, for duty assignments at Kassel, Germany. They remained in this city of about 130,000 located approximately 100 miles south of Hannover until 23 November 1945 when they were released from assignment with the 741st Railway Operating Battalion. They were then assigned to the 817th Tank Destroyer Battalion at Fürth, Germany, the town where Henry Kissinger was born. Since Fürth is practically an eastern suburb of Nürnberg, Gene had occasion to be near the Palace of Justice where the Nuremberg Trials of war criminals were taking place.

Eugene Dempsey spent his second Christmas in Europe in the city of Fürth, Germany, and it was here on 18 December 1945 that he had to say farewell to several of his old army buddies. John Shay of Falls River, Massachusetts, who in 1948 supplied him with most of the dates and places used in the preparation of this “after action” report was one of these old army buddies. Since most of his railway buddies were being re-deployed and Gene was left almost alone in strange surroundings he became homesick, dispirited, depressed and extremely melancholic and felt that he needed to do something very soon to overcome this undesirable condition that entered his young life. A solution – take a furlough to England where he at least could be among people who spoke a language he could understand better than he did French and German. Since he felt that he would be re-deployed to the States in the very near future he would be even more depressed if he was in England and “missed the boat” which might return him to the nearest port on the Atlantic coastline of the United States. Gene solicited and received assurances from his first sergeant that there was no possibilities that he would be scheduled for Stateside transportation for several months. Consequently, Gene accepted the 10-day furlough in the United Kingdom which also authorized “necessary travel time.” What a trip!! At 11:59 PM or at 2359 hours on 31 December 1945 he boarded a train in Nürnberg railway station. About daybreak the following morning his train stopped in Strasbourg, France, for breakfast and in the afternoon of 1 January 1946 Gene Dempsey was in Paris, France. Since he had almost unlimited travel time and because things looked VERY interesting in “Gay Parree” ONE decided that there was no great need to hurry on to England. Although there are no witnesses, reportedly he went on a conducted tour of the city where he visited Napoleon’s tomb, the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Palais Royal, Notre Dame, the Louvre, Sorbonne and other educational, artistic and cultural works. One reason to wonder about some of these reported uplifts in refinement of this soldier’s party received in Paris is hazy because seven days of the diary is missing and is believed to have been lost at Place Pigalle. Anyway, Gene left Paris and continued on his journey to the United Kingdom on 7 January 1946 only to arrive at Le Havre, France (Camp Lucky Strike) and find that because of rough seas in the Channel there would be no boat train to England for several days. After three days Gene volunteered to ride in the back of an army truck 50 miles up the coast to Dieppe where crossings to England had not been interrupted even though the seas were high. Along with a large number of military personnel Gene boarded a boat for the 67-mile crossing to Newhaven, England and a few hours later a boat load of sea sick soldiers were met by a train which took them to Waterloo Station in London in 30 minutes. From the train station Gene took the subway to the Columbia Hotel and here he was indeed surprised to meet Forrest Scales a fellow worker at the Alloy Plant in Fayette County, West Virginia. Forrest was the very first person with whom he had worked that he had met since he left there when inducted in the army in December 1943. Gene and Forrest reportedly spent the 10-days together and London, England, has never been the same.

On 16 January 1946 Eugene N. Dempsey left London and headed back toward Germany. As he felt he had not received enough culture in Paris while on his way to England, he decided to make another extended visit on the return to soak up more of the esthetic and intellectual excellence of this refined civilization. The exact number of days he devoted to this chore is not known because in Place Pigalle time stands still. Reportedly this, by now, “soldier of fortune seeker” that some would characterize as a “soldier of fun seeker” also spent a few days at his old stomping ground and watering holes in Esslingen, Germany on his return trip. Although written records of these events have been lost or deliberately destroyed, military history will record that he did not return to his unit until 28 January 1946 and his first sergeant was surprised to see him back so soon.

On 10 February 1946, One Dempsey, the nomadic vagabond soldier, was transferred to the 379th Anti Aircraft Artillery Battalion stationed at Hann Münden, Germany. Here, appropriately, he was assigned to the motor pool as a driver of various purpose army vehicles. This detail as a gasoline cowboy was much preferred over that as a guard on railway supply trains operating from the American Sector of Occupation to the city of Berlin, Germany, which was also being offered as a choice duty assignment. While here Gene was assigned as the driver for a Captain in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, an Irish national who had never been in the United States. It was while driving for this medical officer that the otherwise unblemished military record of Eugene Dempsey was almost marred, tainted, blemished and tarnished beyond all recognition. One night while they were in Bremen, Germany, this usually circumspect soldier decided to go to a movie – probably a cover story – and placed the army vehicle for which he was responsible for protecting in an unguarded parking lot. Several hours later this red faced soldier returned to find that his vehicle had been stolen – not an unusual happening. The missing vehicle was reported to the military police, the CID and several other military and civilian law enforcement and criminal-investigating agencies but it was never located. Negligence on the part of the custodian-driver of an army vehicle can subject the guilty party to court-martial and could result in his being required to reimburse the Federal government for the depreciated value of the vehicle. This was one hell of an unpleasant predicament for a “lonely” soldier whose primary goal at this point in time was to he assigned to a unit which was scheduled to return to the States for demobilization. After several lengthy investigations and the intervention of several high-ranking officers, Gene was absolved of blame for the lost army vehicle.

It was in March of 1946 that Gene was transferred to the large seaport city of Bremerhaven, Germany, located on the North Sea. Here he was to make contact with the first group of U.S. Marines that he saw during all his travels in Europe. The detail of Marines were guarding the German Liner EUROPA which was anchored in the harbor at Bremerhaven. In addition, it was here on 1 April 1946 – April Fools Day – that One Dempsey received the information for which he had long been waiting. His name had been placed on the roster of those to be returned to the United States and he was placed in the re-deployment pipeline. This pipe line processing can be long and hazardous and often subject to much chaos, commotion, pandemonium, confusion, disorder, disarray and general snafu. Along with a group of others scheduled to return to the States, Gene boarded the boxcars of a troop train and after traveling day and night they arrived in the city of Mannheim on the Rhine River in Southern Germany. Here they were assigned quarters in a tent camp and in order to get to the Post Exchange for “rations” they needed to ride a street car to Heidelberg, Germany located several miles to the southeast. Monotony can become intense when one has nothing to do but lie in the springtime sun for three weeks and that was the occupation which Gene and his fellow re-deployees were doing in Mannheim, Germany during the greater part of April 1946. But, the good news came: “board the box cars boys” and be on your way back to Bremerhaven, Germany on the North Sea was the order which the First Sergeant barked out. Boarding the troop train and riding day and night the rag-tag group arrived at their northern destination where they were moved to a German Luftwaffen hanger which served as their sleeping quarters while waiting ship passage to the States. After about two days here Gene and about 1,500 other soldiers were placed aboard the Victory ship ALHAMBRA for the westward voyage across the Atlantic. They sailed out of the North Sea and into the English Channel where they passed the white Cliffs of Dover before nightfall on the first day of a 10-day trip back to the United States. On the morning of the 10th day the greatest thrill of a lifetime was experienced when they sighted the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor. An unexpected but very moving and touching ceremony was given the troops on the Alhambra Victory before they docked at the 84th Street Pier at 11:00 A.M. on 2 May 1946. They were met near the entrance of the harbor by several tug and fire fighting boats which were spraying water in all directions and every ship and boat in the harbor began to sound their horns. As the troops came down the gangplank a band was playing “I Love You Truly”. Another touching scene was to witness a few returning soldiers drop to their knees at the end of the gangplank and kiss the soil of the good old U.S.A.

From New York the returning contingent was loaded aboard a train for the short ride to Fort Kilmer, New Jersey where they were served a meal of T-bone steaks with all the trimmings. The table waiters at Kilmer were German prisoners of war, which had been captured in North Africa and parts of Europe. After two days at Port Kilmer Gene was sent to Fort Meade, Maryland for processing and discharge after over two and one half years of Wartime service nearly 90% of which was spent overseas. For control and administrative purposes Gene was attached to an Ordnance Battalion for the return trip to the States and he was a little apprehensive that this unit might show on his discharge as his “Wartime” assignment. It did not however and his discharge from the service that he received on 6 May 1946 shows that he was a member of the 716th Railway Operating Battalion.

Immediately upon receiving his final pay and separation papers at Fort Meade, Maryland, Eugene N. Dempsey caught a bus to the Union Station in Washington, D.C. where he got a ticket on C&O train No.3 to continue his westward journey to Wonderful West Virginia where he arrived on 7 May 1946.

This brief military history made by One Dempsey shows his contribution to keep the World free for Democracy. How free? How long? It seems somewhat doubtful that this War has ever ended because there was a continuation in Korea and Vietnam and now it has spilled over to Afghanistan and Poland, Central America and the Middle East.

February 1982

© Eugene N. Dempsey

The Mystery of James C. Crouse Sr.’s Grave Marker – Part 2

I promised a follow up on this mystery but did not expect it to be so soon. I cannot believe how fast things got moving once people read the story.

As seen in my original post The Mystery of James C. Crouse Sr.’s Grave Marker Anita McClung and Sandra Humphries Raedel from the Facebook group Fayette County West Virginia Genealogy were the first to help on April 28th.

On Saturday, May 3rd I searched Facebook and found a page for Fayetteville Huse Memorial Park and Mausoleum. I liked the page and took a look around. There were several photos of requested markers.

I was a bit hesitant to request a photo of the marker as the cemetery is quite large and I had no idea of the plot’s location. In the Notes section of the page, I found burials listed in alphabetical order. They included the block, lot and grave numbers.

I sent a private message to the admin of the page requesting a photo of the marker of James CROUSE Sr., block 1, lot 38, grave 4 and included the link to my unpublished blog post as an explanation to why I was interested in this particular marker. An hour later I received a message from the page administrator that she would get the photo for me on Monday.

I posted The Mystery of James C. Crouse Sr.’s Grave Maker as scheduled on Sunday. Monday morning I had a message from Sonya of the Huse FB page, I have placed the picture of the marker along with monument and other markers associated with your request under ‘Various pics requested’. Hope it helps.

Of course, it helped! Sonya took time on a Sunday evening to perform this act of kindness, taking not only a picture of James’ marker but also of the family monument and his parents’ markers.  Thank you, Sonya!

Markers found in garage (left) and at Huse Memorial Park (right)

I shared the photos with James C. CROUSE’s granddaughter Marian. As soon as she saw the marker she remembered that her stepmom had put a new marker on the graves after her Dad’s burial.

Sonya told me, Most of the time when a family changes a marker, then they will take the original marker home. Very few say throw it away.”

Presently speculation is that the marker found in the garage is most likely the marker that was on the grave of James C. CROUSE Sr. from 1949 until the burial of his son in 1997. Even though the application for the marker had the wrong cemetery listed it appears to have been placed in the right cemetery.

The question that remains is how did the marker end up in the garage? One of my helpers offered to “go to the courthouse and dig a little” [search the deeds at the courthouse to see if the Crouse family once owned the home where the marker was found].

I hope that once all parties have gotten in touch with each other the marker will be returned to the family. It would be nice to write a “closure” post on this mystery.

© 2014, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

The Mystery of James C. Crouse Sr.’s Grave Marker

On 27 April 2014 Ellen Claytor contacted me by private message on my Facebook page to find out where James C. CROUSE 1920-1944 is buried. It was a very short message and I had no idea why she wanted to know this.

She found James in my GEDCOM file which is online at RootsWeb WorldConnect Project and linked to my Facebook page. A few messages were passed back and forth before I found out why she wanted to know.

Her son had recently bought a house and in the garage, he found a flat marble marker:

James C. Crouse Sr.
P.F.C. 424th Inf. – 106th Div.
World War II
Jan. 2, 1920 – Dec. 18, 1944

I already had the following information and went on to find several newspaper articles about his burial to answer her question.

A Short Biography of James C. CROUSE


James Carlton CROUSE Sr. was born 2 January 1920 in Lochgelly, Fayette County, West Virginia, to Samuel Joseph CROUSE and Cora Lee BABER. He was my 5th cousin once removed (5C1R) through two sets of 5xgreat-grandparents:
1. William JOHNSON and Amy NELSON and
2. James SIMS and his first wife Phebe [–?–].

James had been an only child for seven years when his sister Margaret Ann was born in 1927. He attended Fayetteville High School and was a Methodist.

On 26 July 1941 in Fayetteville, Fayette County, West Virginia, James C. CROUSE, age 21, married Eugenia Lee WISE, age 18, daughter of William and Lucy Lee WISE. [line 24]

James and Eugenia became the parents of a son, James Carlton CROUSE Jr., on 17 August 1942.

World War II Young American Patriots, 1941-1945 ( : accessed 29 Apr 2014)

On 2 December 1943 James enlisted in the U.S. Army “for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law.”

He began his service at Camp Blanding in Florida and then went to Europe where he served in England, France, Belgium, and Germany. He died serving his country.

His death was recorded in the Register of Death for Fayette County. [line 40] On the West Virginia Veterans Database of West Virginia Memory Project, maintained by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, we find his record with more details. His cause of death is listed as DOW (died of wounds) in Belgium while his death record in the register has killed in action (KIA) in Germany. He was awarded the Purple Heart.

A little over four years later the body of Private First Class James C. CROUSE of Fayetteville was re-interred in Huse Memorial Park in Fayetteville on Sunday, April 24, 1949.

1949 James C. Crouse burial
Beckley Post Herald > Thursday, April 21, 1949 > Page 2

Publication: Beckley Post Herald (West Virginia)
Published: Thursday, April 21, 1949, Page 2
FAYETTEVILLE, April 20 – Pfc. James C. Crouse of Fayetteville, who was killed in action in Germany, December 18, 1944, will be buried in the Huse Memorial Park here on Sunday, April 24.
There will be a brief ceremony at the home Sunday afternoon at two o’clock with Rev. R. T. Mallory of Mt. Hope in charge. Graveside services will be in charge of the American Legion, LaFayette Post, 149, Fayetteville. The body will be removed from the Dodd Mortuary here to the home of his parents, Saturday at 5:00 p.m. where it will remain until time for the services.
He was aged 24 years, 11 months and 11 days, and is survived by one son, James Culton (sic, Carlton) Crouse, Jr., his wife; his parents, Mr. and Mrs. S. J. Crouse of Fayetteville; one sister, Mrs. Margaret James of Oak Hill.

1949 James C. Crouse obit
Charleston Gazette > Saturday, April 23, 1949 > Page 2

Publication: Charleston Gazette (West Virginia)
Published: Saturday, April 23, 1949, Page 2
Headline: Rites for Pfc. Crouse Slated in Fayetteville
Service for Pfc. James C. Crouse of Fayetteville, who was killed Dec. 18, 1944, in Germany, will be held at 2 p.m. tomorrow at the home of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. S. J. Crouse of Fayetteville.
Rev. R. T. Mallory of Mt. Hope will officiate and burial will be in Huse Memorial Park at Fayetteville with LaFayette Post No. 149. American Legion, in charge of graveside rites.
Pfc. Crouse, 24, was born at Lochgelly, Fayette county.
Surviving besides his parents is a sister, Mrs. Margaret James of Oak Hill.
The body is at Dodd mortuary in Fayetteville and will be taken to the house of his parents at 5 p.m. today.

James C. Crouse’s location at the time of his death

The 424th Combat Infantry Regiment of the 106th Infantry Division landed in France on 5 December 1944. They crossed into Belgium on 10 December 1944 and were stationed at Winterspelt (Germany). On 16 December 1944, the German Army unleashed its Ardennes Counteroffensive (The Battle of the Bulge). After Action Reports show that the 424th was in Belgium on 18 December 1944. KIA or DOW, whichever is correct, one could place him in Belgium and the other in Germany. His military records may shed light on this question.

And this is where the mystery comes into the story

Ellen wanted to know why the marker was in her son’s garage and what they could do to get it back where it should be.

I posted the “problem” to the Fayette County West Virginia Genealogy group on Facebook. They are a wonderful group of genealogist and always ready to help.

Anita McClung was able to confirm both James C. Crouse Sr. and Jr. are buried at Huse Memorial Cemetery. Her source is the Fayette County Cemetery Records, Vol. VI, published by the Fayette & Raleigh Counties Genealogy Societies in October 2006. She was one of the persons who participated in reading the cemeteries.

Sandra Humphries Raedel was able to furnish a missing piece of the puzzle. On Find A Grave she found James’ listing with the application for the marker. “It ‘does’ appear that a flat memorial marker was ordered for James C. Crouse Sr., but…it was to be shipped to High Lawn Memorial Park.”

I hadn’t thought to check Find A Grave as I’d already located the newspaper articles. If I’d looked there first I might not have gone on to search for the burial notices which would have caused further problems. The contributor Jeff Hall had entered the name of the cemetery seen on the application. I notified Jeff of the discrepancy and he corrected the cemetery name. 

The story of James C. Crouse’s marker continues:

After the body was returned to West Virginia and buried in Huse Memorial Cemetery, his father S. J. Crouse applied for a flat marble marker with a Christian emblem for the unmarked grave.

James C. Crouse marker application ( : accessed 29 Apr 2014)

James was buried on the 24th of April and his father made the application three days later on the 27th of April. Several different handwritings are seen on the card. The name of the cemetery was penciled in. On the card, we see Highlawn Memorial Park in Oak Hill as the place of burial. As seen in the cemetery book and the newspaper articles this is incorrect.

Reverse side of application ( : accessed 29 Apr 2014)

On May 10th C. S. Wilson, superintendent or caretaker of the cemetery, certified that the marker would be permitted on the grave. The information was verified in Green Mountain, VT, on May 17th.

The question is, was C. S. Wilson from the Huse or High Lawn cemetery?

Shock, surprise, and goosebumps

I quickly found James’ granddaughter Marian Crouse Walraven on Facebook and sent her a message. I don’t like to do this as the message will go to the person’s Other folder if you are not “friends.” I hardly ever have success getting in touch with people this way. I sent a friend request, just in case, and was surprised to get a quick response. In a private message, I explained what was going on. She was shocked to hear about this marker and confirmed that both her grandfather and father are buried in Huse Memorial Park in Fayetteville.

By the time replies came in from Anita and Sandra from the Facebook group, I was chatting with Marian, and sending messages to Ellen — three conversations at one time.

Marian was shocked that I was getting in touch with her about her grandfather’s marker and that it had been found in someone’s garage. It was news to her as she has seen his marker on his grave but does not have a photo to compare with.

She was excited to learn not only are we related through her father and grandfather but also through her mother’s paternal line. We are 6C1R on JOHNSON and SIMS lines mentioned earlier (both her father and mother descend from these lines)  and we share John KINCAID Sr. and Elizabeth Hannah GILLESPIE at the same level.

Then it dawned on me that Ellen had contacted me exactly 65 years to the day that Samuel Joseph CROUSE had filled out the marker application for his son’s grave. I shared this <goosebumps> with both Ellen and Marian. Ellen wrote, “I believe that things like this happen for a reason. My son says to use the photo. He wants to do whatever he can to find the proper place for the marker.”

The mystery hasn’t been solved. Was the marker delivered to the wrong cemetery? Was the family contacted? Did they request a new marker when the one they applied for did not show up at the cemetery of burial? Was the home that the marker was found in previously owned by a member of the Crouse family?

Photo of the marker courtesy of J. Claytor

One last <goosebumps> note:

My part in this story began on the 65th anniversary of the application for the marker. James’ story spans two continents, my part in the story also spans two continents. What are the chances that a mother in Ohio would contact a genealogist in Luxembourg — one of the countries that the Battle of the Bulge took place in?

There will be a follow-up on this mystery. I have a couple of people checking things out. Mostly, I can’t wait to hear from my new cousin Marian about how this story ends.

© 2014, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

James SIMS (1754-1845) Pioneer of Nicholas County, West Virginia

James SIMS (1754-1845)
Pioneer of Nicholas County, West Virginia
© Cathy Meder-Dempsey

Note: This biography was written in early 2002 and first shared with cousins on April 28, 2002. Corrections were made on February 22, 2003. The last revision was made on August 25, 2013.

A little over two hundred years ago, our ancestor James Sims came to Kanawha County with his young wife Elizabeth Cotton and the children from his first marriage. He settled in the area of Kanawha County, Virginia, which later became Nicholas County, West Virginia.

James Sims, born 8 October 1754[1] in Culpeper County, Virginia, was the only child of Jeremiah Sims and Agatha Nalle. On 4 March 1768[2] a weak and sick Jeremiah Sims wrote his will which was probated 18 October 1768[3] in Culpeper County. James was nearly 14 when his father died in 1768. Jeremiah left half of his estate to his beloved wife Agatha Sims and the other half to his loving son James Sims. In the event that James would die without heirs the estate was to be divided equally between Jeremiah’s two nephews, Thomas Graves and Jonathan Sims or their heirs. Jeremiah appointed his loving wife Agatha and his loving friends Edward Sims, John Nalle Jr., and Henry Pendleton as executors of his will. The will was witnessed by Thomas Griffin, Moses Spicer, Henry Pendleton and John Nalle Jr.

“In the name of God Amen. I, Jeremiah Sims of the County of Culpeper being
sick and weak but of perfect mind and memory blessed by God for it, Do
constitute ordain and appoint, this my last will and testament in manner and
form following (to wit) In the first place I bequeath my soul to God was
gave it, and my Body to be decently buried. ITEM I lend unto my beloved
wife, Agatha Sims one half of my estate both real and personal during her
natural life, after my just debts are paid.  ITEM I give and bequeath unto my
loving son James Sims one half my estate both real and personal after my just
debts are paid.  ITEM My will and desire is that if my said son James Sims
should dec without heir that my wife have the use of my whole estate during
her natural life and then to be equally divided between my two nephews,
Thomas Graves and Jonathan Sims or their heirs.  ITEM I do constitute and
appoint my beloved wife Agatha Sims executrix and my loving friends Edward
Sims, John Nalle Jr. and Henry Pendleton executors of this my last will and
testament.  Witness my hand and seal this twenty fourth day of March 1768.
                                                                                  Jeremiah Sims (LS.)
Signed, sealed and acknowledged in presence of us:
Thomas Griffin and Moses Spicer, Henry Pendleton and John Nalle Jr.[4]

Jeremiah’s will establishes that James Sims was the son of Agatha and Jeremiah. Agatha Nalle was the daughter of John Nalle and Mary Brown. John Nalle’s will, written 16 September 1780[5] and probated in Culpeper County, Virginia, 19 August 1782[6], mentions amongst his legatees his daughter Agatha Hill and her son James Sims. In the item concerning his daughter Agatha, John lends to her half the service of a Negro woman Jinncy (or Jinney) during her lifetime and the other half goes to the grandson James Sims from the time of his mother’s marriage to Russell Hill. After Agatha’s death the slave and her increase is willed to James Sims and his heirs forever. Agatha was also left ten shillings.

“Item. I Lend to my daughter Agatha Hill half the Service of a Negro Woman named Jinncy During my Daughters life the other half of the said Negroes Service to my Grandson James Sims from the time of My Daughters marriage to Russel Hill, and after My Daughters Descease I give the Said Negro Woman Jinncy and her Increase to my Grandson James Sims to him and his Heirs for Ever also Ten Shillings to my Daughter Agatha Hill and her Heirs for Ever.”[7]

On 15 January 1776 in Culpeper County, Virginia, Russell Hill of Culpeper and one Agness (not Agatha) Wood of Culpeper entered into an agreement because of a marriage to be solemnized between the two of them shortly after the above date. In this document Agness Wood states and Russell agrees that any property, etc. she brings to the marriage is hers and if she should die before him said belongings and property will be given by Russell Hill to her son – James Sims and if James Sims should die before his mother then to James Sims’ heirs. If Russell Hill should die before Agness Wood (Hill) then his property, etc. is to go to his sons and Agness agrees to this. Also, if Russell Hill should die before Agness then she would receive only her present estate that she brings into the marriage. This was witnessed by three men: Richard and John Vawter and John Breedlove.[8] It is possible that James Sims’ mother Agatha married a Mr. Wood between 1768 and 1775 and was widowed for a second time. There is no proof that the above Agness Wood is our Agatha Nalle but it is something to be researched. The fact that this Agness Wood has a son named James Sims and a marriage is to be solemnized between her and Russell Hill lends credit to this assumption.

James Sims married Phebe [–?–], born Abt. 1755 in Virginia, before 1777. Robert Owens notes that they were married 1775 in Culpeper County, Virginia[9]. (Note: Rose Mary Sims Rudy recently heard from Col. Owens; he told her his information was not to be considered as it has been successfully disputed by other researchers.) According to family tradition his wife was a cousin. It has not been proven that she was from the Sims or the Nalle side of the family. George R. Penick, Jr. in his compilation of information on the descendants of James Sims wrote that John H. Simms of Boomer, WV (1872-1950?), who did considerable family research, seems to have been of the understanding that James’ first wife’s name may have been Phoebe Nalle (a cousin on his mother’s side).[10] It should be noted here that James’ eldest son Jeremiah and his eldest daughter Elizabeth both named their eldest daughters Phoebe.

William H. Maginnis wrote in notes found in Virginia Bondurant Johnson’s DAR file:

“As several persons named James Sims were recorded in Culpeper County, Va., between 1768 and 1808, I took note of the names of their wives and after some study came to the conclusion that the James Sims whose wife was named Phoebe was the one who moved to Bath County and later, after Phoebe was drowned, to Gauley river in what is now Nicholas county, W.Va.”

Here an error in information needs to be noted. Many researchers have listed James Sims’ first wife as his cousin Elizabeth Sims. However documentation has since been found to correct this. This documentation which includes the circumstances of Phebe’s death in 1794 will be discussed in sequential order.

James and Phebe’s first child Jeremiah, named after James’ father, was born 24 May 1777[11]. Most likely James missed out on the first three months of Jeremiah’s life as he declared:

“In the month of June 1777 according to his recollection he was called into the service as a drafted militia man under Captain John Tutt for a tour of three months. He served as Orderly Sergeant in said Company. He resided then in Culpepper County Virginia, and said Company was collected in said County. The company was marched towards Fredericksburg, and kept moving about through the country around thereabout guarding it from the depredations of the British, Tories, and Negroes, and after Serving out his time he was discharged…….”[12]

On 21 July 1777 James Sims and his wife Phebe deeded to “Martin Nalle son of John” a certain “parcel of land containing one hundred and eighteen acres… in the Great Fork of Rappahanock river Joining on Devils Run.”[13] Martin Nalle the brother of Agatha Nalle Sims was James’ uncle. In 1785 in Culpeper County, Virginia, the Sims tract was sold by James Nalle to Francis Nalle (both brothers of Martin),”.… Land being formerly the property of said Martin Nalle dec’d was given by him by will.…”[14][15]

A copy of the above deed must be procured or Deed Book H pages 475-477 must be consulted to verify the date of this transaction. If James’ statement that he was called to service in June 1777 is correct then he would not have been in Culpeper County in July 1777. Another source lists a different date for this land deed:

“In Deed Book H, page 475, Culpeper, Va., in deed dated Dec. 17, 1779, 11 years after the date of Jeremiah Sims’s will, James Sims and his wife Phoebe, conveyed to Martin Nalle 118 acres of land in Bromfield parish, in the Great Fork of the Rappahannock river. The land had been left to James Sims “by my father”.”[16]

In October 1780 James was again called into service as an Orderly Sergeant for a tour of three months. His wife Phebe was most likely 8 months pregnant with her second child when James marched in the direction of York Town. On 6 November 1780[17] their second son William was born while he was away. As with his first son, James may have missed out on the first two months of his second son’s life.

“On or about the 1st of October 1780 he was again called into the service as a drafted militia man, under according to best of his recollection Captain James Tutt, but whether that was really his name or not, he recollects him to have been a slim spare man. This was for another tour of three months. They were marched in the direction of York Town to aid in the Seige of that place, but before they reached that place Lord Cornwallis had surrendered. They assembled in the County of Culpepper Va and were placed under the Superior Command of Col Slaughter, after serving out his time he was discharged.”[18]

As James and Phebe named their first son after James’ father Jeremiah it is likely that they named their second son after Phebe’s father. This gives us a choice of the following names for Phebe’s father: William Sims, William Nalle, William [–?–] married to an [–?–] Sims, or William [–?–] married to an [–?–] Nalle.

It is believed that following the birth of Jeremiah (1777) and William (1780), James and Phebe’s children were born as follows: Elizabeth (1782), Martin (abt. 1783), Edward (1785), John (1787), Mary (bet. 1788-1792), and Nancy Ann (1793). It is difficult to estimate the years of birth for these children as the ages on the available census records vary from one decade to the next. The possible years of birth for these children will be discussed in later sections dealing with the children of James Sims.

According to Penick, family history relates that James moved to Lowmoor, Virginia, about 1787 where he engaged in rifle making.[19] Although no documentation has been found proving when James moved from Culpeper County, we have found that his wife Phebe died in early January 1794 in Bath County, Virginia.[20] They apparently lived in the Lowmoor/Clifton Forge area which was once part of Botetourt County (formed in 1770), then part of Bath County (formed in 1791 from Augusta, Botetourt, and Greenbrier), and now in Alleghany County (formed in 1822). From this we can assume that James moved from Culpeper County to Botetourt County. Family tradition is that James’ wife was coming home from caring for a sick friend, fell from her horse, and drowned in the Jackson River. We have been able to verify this story with the coroner’s inquest report dated 22 January 1794, which includes the following statement: “Phebe was accidently drowned occasioned by the horse whereon she rode Rearing and plunging and throwing her into the water.”

Phebe Simms
Inquisition Taken
the 22nd of January
1794 Before John
Dean Gent. Coroner
Bath County to wit
                                                   Inquisition indented taken ?
in the County aforesaid on the twenty second day of January in the
year One thousand seven hundred and ninety four before me John Dean a
Gentleman and of the Coroners of the Commonwealth for the County aforesaid
upon view of the body of Phebe Sims late of said County then and there lying
dead; and upon the Oathes of Robert Armstrong Jr., William Morris, John Scott,
John Bird, Andrew Baurland, Thomas Barber, James Armstrong, Robert
McClintic, William McClintic, John Somwalt, Paul Harpole and
Adam Kimberlan, good and lawful men of the County aforesaid, who being
Jurors and charged to inquire on the part of the Commonwealth, when where how
and after what manner the said Phebe Sims came to her death, do say upon their
Oathes, that the said Phebe was accidently drowned occasioned by the horse
whereon she rode Rearing and plunging and throwing her into the water.
The witness whereof as well the aforesaid Coroner as the Jurors aforesaid
have in this Inquisition put their Seals on the day and year aforesaid
and at the place aforesaid.
John Dean               Robt. Armstrong
                                   William Morris
                                   John Scott
                                   John Bird
                                   Andr. Baurland
                                   Thomas Barber
                                   Jas. Armstrong
                                   Robert McClintic
                                   William McClintic
                                   Johannes Zumqualt
                                   Paul Harpole
                                   Adam Kimberlan

In February 1995 Connie Metheny of Millboro, Virginia, became involved in a very interesting project of sorting through old original papers that had been stored in bundles and filed at the court house in Bath County. The Virginia State Library funded the work done to their specifications. The old records dated back to 1790 and the condition was good considering the age. There were cases that involved the Sims family, mostly over debts owed them or that they owed others. These papers will have to be found and perused. Mrs. Metheny did send to Rose Mary Sims Rudy a copy of a case in Judgment – Simms vs. Scott which was located in a file of old law cases for 1795. This verifies that the wife of James Sims had drowned and in this case it seems that John Scott accused the son, Jeremiah Sims, then nearly 17 years old, of causing the accident. James Sims defended his son and brought suit against Scott for one hundred pounds damage.

Sir Please to Issue a Writ vs John Scott for saying my son (Jeremiah)
was the Damn son of a bitch that Drowned his Mother
Col C. Cameron
                                                                  Jas. Sims
Issued for Saying that Jeremiah Simms was the
Damned Son of a Bitch that Drowned his Mother

The Commonwealth of Virginia, to the Sheriff of Bath County, ?
You are hereby commanded to take John Scott
if he be found within your bailiwick , and him safely keep so that you have his
body before the justices of our court, of our said county, at the court-house on the Second
Tuesday in May next to answer Jeremiah Simms by James
Simms his father and ?? of
a plea of Trespass on the case damage one
hundred pounds
and have then there this writ, witness Charles Cameron, clerk of our said court,
at the court-house, the 16th day of April 1794
in the 18th year of the Commonwealth.
                   Chas. Cameron[21]

The story of Phebe Sims’ death has been repeated so many times that some very erroneous information can now be found in genealogy publications. One of these incorrect stories:

“The Settle-Suttle Family” by William Emmett Reese pg 456.
“While living near Clifton Forge, Virginia, Elizabeth (Sims) Johnson was drowned when her horse stumbled and fell while fording the Jackson River. She was returning home after an all night vigil with a sick neighbor. At date of her death, there were nine children in the family, Jeremiah, Jr., Anthony, Martin, William, Mary, Elizabeth, Virginia, Nancy and Dryden. After the sudden death of his wife, the Rev. John Johnson was restless and upon hearing of the illness of his cousin Frances–who had married Joshua Morris and in 1770 established a home in the wilderness of Peter’s Creek in the Kanawha Valley–he decided to visit them, when upon arrival, to his great sorrow, he found that their daughters, Peggy and Betsey had been killed and scalped by Indians.” (This entry is sourced as History of Kanawha County, George W. Atkinson, Charleston, 1876, p.21.)

Unfortunately the above quotation is full of errors and cannot be considered a reliable source. The names in bold italics are incorrect. They should read Phebe Sims and James Sims. Rev. John Johnson and Elizabeth Sims, daughter of James Sims,  were married 2 June 1802 in Kanawha County, (West) Virginia after James Sims settled in the area. Elizabeth Sims Johnson died in Fayette County 1 June 1845, the year of the terrible typhoid epidemic.[22]. Elizabeth Sims and Rev. John Johnson’s children are listed as James, Amy, John Brown Jr., Phebe, William B., Rachel, Hannah, Mary, Elizabeth, Susannah, Harrison, and Barbara. The children listed on page 456 of The Settle-Suttle Family seem to be a mixture of James’ children with his first and second wife as well as some children that have been attributed to him but not proved. We see here that Phebe Sims, the mother, and Elizabeth (Sims) Johnson, the daughter have been confused. “Elizabeth, wife of Rev. John, was noted for her kindness and skill in caring for the sick and needy; a characteristic for which her mother was well known.”[23] From the above we cannot tell when Frances Simms Morris fell sick. She was born in 1755 and died in 1848 as per tombstone and estate settlement. The story related about the daughters being killed and scalped by Indians is also only partly true. According to Mildred Chapman Gibbs in her excellent book, “From Culpepper County to the Teays Valley,” this happened to Henry Morris, brother of Joshua. Same victim daughters – Margaret and Betsey – Peter’s Creek. Henry was born 1747, married to Mary Byrd.  He was a reckless, macho man and settled, against advice, in remote Peter’s Creek, Gauley River, 1791. The 2 girls were sent down a trail to drive the cows home for evening milking, and they were killed and scalped (1792). “The tragedy grieved and embittered him, and vowing no Indian would ever cross his path and live, he avenged the deaths of his daughters many times.” We see from the above that the information that Mr. Reese gives is incorrect. It is not known if Mr. Reese misinterpreted the 1876 source for the Settle history or if it is also incorrect.

According to Maginnis “Joshua and Frances Simms Morris, who were among the first settlers in the Kanawha Valley in 1774, were back in Culpeper County, Virginia, in 1794, when their youngest son John was born. Frances died in the following year, but Joshua and his family continued to reside in Teas Valley, in what was then Kanawha County.”[24] Frances Simms Morris did not die in 1795 as seen in this statement as well as in The History of Fayette County West Virginia 1993, pg. 449.

Another family tradition is that James Sims, learning that his dear cousin Frances Simms Morris, wife of Joshua Morris, was sick, went to Kanawha Valley:

“Following her death (refers to his first wife), James Simms married Nancy Cotton (this should be Elizabeth Cotton). Soon after this marriage, he went to Kanawha Valley to visit a cousin and also visited the Henry Morris home on Peter’s Creek. Henry tried to persuade him to buy near him, but James being a great hunter, said, “No, this section is too thickly settled.” So Henry took him on a hunting expedition down Peter’s Creek, out across the Little Elk Mountain and started down Little Elk Creek where they found signs of bear, deer and wild turkey. James Sims then said, “Henry, if I can buy land on this creek, I’ll be your neighbor soon.” The land belonged to John Jones who lived at what is now Pratt. He had married a Morris and had purchased thousands of acres of land. He at once went to see Mr. Jones and they soon agreed on a price for 500 acres on Little Elk Creek: a plug horse and a flint lock rifle. As soon as he could make arrangements, he moved his family there.”[25]

William H. Maginnis relates the following story:

“In 1795, the year of General Anthony Wayne’s treaty with the Indians at Greenville, Ohio, a James Sims of Culpeper County, Virginia, settled on Gauley River, a few miles from Kanawha Falls. In 1800, a deed recorded in Kanawha County transferred to him from John Jones of Culpeper County 123 acres above a ferry on that stream in what is now Nicholas County.”[26]

The order of events in these stories does not seem to fit. We know that Frances Simms Morris did not die in 1795. If James had visited her then and decided to move to Kanawha at that time why did he buy 240 acres on Bollors Ridge on the waters of Jacksons River on 19 August 1796[27]?

Jas. Simms
240 acres
& defd to
Wm Deane the
28 June 1798
(the above written in left margin)

Robert Brooke Esquire Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia
to all to whom these Presents shall come Greeting Know ye that by
Virtue of an Exchanged Treasury Warrant Number three
hundred and sixty one, issued the twenty second day of April one thousand
seven hundred and eighty eight. There is granted by the said Common=
=wealth unto James Simms, a certain tract or parcel of Land contain=
=ing two hundred and forty Acres by survey bearing date the twenty ninth
day of June one thousand seven hundred eighty nine, Lying and
being in the County of Botetourt on Bollors Ridge on the Waters of
Jacksons River, and is bounded as followeth to Wit Beginning at two
chestnuts on a hill, North twenty four degrees East three hundred and
twenty poles to two Maples on a hill North sixty six degrees West
one hundred and twenty poles to three Locust Bushes, thence South thirty
four degrees West one hundred and twenty four poles to a large black
Oak, thence South twenty degrees West two hundred poles to a Chestnut
thence south sixty six degrees East one hundred and twenty poles
to the beginning, with its appurtenances to have and to hold the said
tract or parcel of Land with its appurtenances to the said James
Simms and his Heirs forever. In Witness whereof the said Robert
Brooke Esquire Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia
hath hereunto set his hand and caused the lesser seal of the
said Commonwealth to be affixed at Richmond on the
Nineteenth day of August In the year of our Lord one
thousand seven hundred and Ninety six, and of the Common=
=wealth the twenty first.
                                                   Robert Brooke[28]

Two months later James remarried. The marriage bond for James Sims and Elizabeth Cotton was signed 25 October 1796, surety Enock Cotton, and with Benjamin Cotton consenting for his daughter Elizabeth. The witnesses were Enock Cotton and Shadrick Cotton. No minister return was filed. From this I have estimated that she was less than 18 years of age placing her birth abt. 1779. Elizabeth is believed to have been the daughter of Benjamin Cotton and Francis Knox. Two years later, in October 1798, James and Elizabeth sold the land on Bollors Ridge to Alice McClintic.

“James Simms & Elizabeth his wife to Alice McClintic
Bath County, Virginia
Land Deed
October 27, 1798

This Indenture made the 27th day of October one
Thousand seven hundred Ninety eight Between James Simms &
Elizabeth his wife of the County of Bath of the one part & Alice Mc
Clintic of the same County of the other part witnesseth that the said
James Simms & Elizabeth his wife for and in Consideration of
five shillings Current Money to them in Hand paid doth bar=
gain & sell unto the said Alice McClintic & her Heirs one Certain
tract or parcel of Land in the said County of Bath containing
two hundred & forty acres on Ballars Ridge on the Waters of
Jacksons River & bounded as follows to Wit Beginning
at two Chestnuts on a hill N 24° E 320 poles to two Maples on a
hill 66° W(?) 120 poles to three Locust Bushes thence S 34° W 124
poles to a large Black Oak thence S 20° W 200 poles to a Ches=
nut Thence S 66° E 120 poles to the Beginning Together with
all its appurtenances To have & to hold the said two hundred
& forty acres of Land with all its appurtenances to to the said
Alice McClintic & her Heirs to the sole use & …….. of her heirs
& assigns forever And the said James Simms & Elizabeth his wife
for Themselves & their heirs doth Covenant with the Alice McClin=
Tic & her Heirs that they the said James Simms & Elizabeth his wife
& their heirs the said Land with the appurtenances unto the said Alice
McClintic & her heirs against all persons whatsoever will for Warrant
& Defend In Witness whereof the said James Simms has hereunto
subscribed his Name & affixed his seal the Day & Year above Written
signed sealed & delivered in
the presence of                                          James Sims
Samuel Vance                                       Elizabeth X Sims
Thos. Milhollin                                                    mark
Wm. ?? Dean

Bath County  ??? Court 1798
This Indenture of Bargain and Sale Between James Simms

and Elizabeth his wife of the one part and Alice McClintic of the o=
ther part proved in Court by the Witnesses thereto and
ordered to be Recorded with the commission & ? exami=
nation of the said Elizabeth ?
                                  Teste   Chas. Cameron CBC

The Commonwealth of Virginia to Samuel Vance & Thomas Milhollin
Gentlemen Greeling(?) whereas James Sims and Elizabeth his wife by
their Certain indenture of Bargain and Sale Bearing date the 27
day of October 1798 have sold and Conveyed unto Alice McClin=
tic two hundred & forty Acres of Land with the appurtenances lying and
being in the said County of Bath and Whereas the said Elizabeth
Sims Cannot Conveniently travel to our County Court of Bath
to make Acknowledgement of the said Conveyance therefore we
do Give unto you or any two or more of you power to receive acknow=
ledgement Which the said Elizabeth Sims shall Make before you
of the said Conveyance aforesaid Contained in the said indenture
which is hereunto annexed and we therefore Command you that
you do personally go to the said Elizabeth Sims and Receive her
Acknowledgement of the same and Examine her privately and apart
from the said James Sims her husband Whether She doth the same
freely and vaulentarily without his persuation or threats and Whether
She be Willing that the same should be Recorded in Our said County
Court of Bath and when you have Received her Acknowledgement
and Examination as aforesaid that you have distinctly and openly Cer=
tify us therefore in our Said County Court under you hand and Seals Sending
their the said indenture & this writ witness Charles Cameron Clerk of our
said Court at the Courthouse of the said County the 13th day of September 1798
and 23rd year of the Commonwealth.
                                                                    ? White  DC

Bath County
By Virtue of this Commission hereunto annexed we the Subscribers

did on the 27th day of Oct. in the year of the Commonwealth and in the year of
our Lord Christ 1798 personally go to the Within Named Elizabeth
Sims and having examined her privately and apart from the Within
named James Sims her husband do certify that she declared that she
freely and vaulenterely acknowledged the Conveyance Contained
in the Indenture hereunto annexed Without his persuation or threats
of her said husband and that she was willing the same should be recor=
ded in the county court of Bath Witness our hands and seals the day
above Mentioned.
                                                                  Samuel Vance
                                                                  Thos. Milhollen”

The location of this land may be near the town of Bolar on the boundary between Bath and Highland County, Virginia. Bolar Gap, Bolar Run, Bolar Spring, and the Jackson River are all in the vicinity of Bolar. Another location could be in the area of Bolar Mountain north of Lake Moomaw and north-northwest of Lowmoor and Clifton Forge.

The relationship between the Sims and the McClintic must be noted here. James’ eldest son Jeremiah married Sarah Milhollen daughter of Thomas Milhollen and Jane McClintic in 1800. Jane was the sister of Alice McClintic’s deceased husband William.

William Griffee Brown wrote in his History of Nicholas County, West Virginia, copyright 1954:

“James Simms, the first of the name to come to Nicholas County, came from Bath County in 1787 and located at the mouth of Little Elk Creek on Gauley River. He was a gunsmith and the Simms rifle was praised for its accuracy.”

From the previously mentioned documents and sources it is more likely that James Sims came to Little Elk Creek, then in Kanawha County, after his marriage to Elizabeth Cotton in 1796 or even after they sold their land in Bath County in 1798 but before 1800 when he bought the tract from John Jones. Another source dates his move to about 1798:

“Then he (William Johnson Sr.) and his sons, William, John, Nelson and James, moved to Gauley River in what is now Nicholas County, W. Va. near and below the mouth of Little Elk about 1798. There William, Jr., married Nancy Sims, a daughter of James Sims, who had also moved on Gauley from Virginia with the Johnsons.”[29]

The first documented proof of James’ residence in Kanawha County is found in the 1800 Jones to Sims land deed:

This Indenture made this Eighth Day of April in the year of
our Lord one Thousand Eight hundred, Between John Jones, of & Frances his
wife of the County Kanawha and State of Virginia of the one part and
James Sims of County & State aforesaid of the other part Witnesseth. The John
Jones & Frances his wife for and in Consideration of the sum of five shilling
to them in hand by the said James Sims the __ whereof they do hereby
acknowledge hath Given Granted Bargained & Sold & by these presents do
give grant bargain & sell unto the said James Sims, his heirs or Assigns
forever a Certain Tract or parcel of land lying & being in the County of
Kanawha Containing one hundred & seventy three acres on Gauley River
above the Ferry and bounded as follows to wit: Beginning at a Lynn &
bank of the South Side of Gauley River at Deer Lick. East of two Lynns to
a Corner in the Pattent?, Running East thirty five poles to a Buckeye ___ South
Sixty Degrees East 198 poles to three bushes on bank of the River north
two hundred poles crossing the river to two White Oaks on a Hill, South seventy
five degrees North one hundred & fifty four poles to a Stake in the ___
___ thence South seventy six poles crossing the river to the Beginning
to have and to hold the said tract of land with Its appurtenances
To the said James Sims, his Heirs or Assigns forever, and the said John Jones &
Frances his wife, for themselves heirs Executors Administrators Doth Covenant &
agree to and with the said the said James Sims, that they will relinquish there
Claim, or Claims to the said James Sims, his heirs forever. In Witness
Whereto the said John Jones & Frances his wife hath hereunto set their
hand & seal this Day and year above written.
                                             John Jones (his mark)
Kanawha County April Court 1800
This Deed from John Jones, & Frances his wife to James Sims was
presented in Court and duly Acknowledged by the said John Jones
and the same is ordered to Record, and that a Commission Issue to
take the private Examination of Frances the said wife To ___ her
right of dower in the Premises.
                                     Teste     John Reynolds Clk[30]

“James Simms” is seen along with his sons “William Simms” and “Martin Simms” on the tax lists of Kanawha County, (West) Virginia in 1809. “Edward Simms”, believed by some researchers to be a son of James Sims, is also found on this tax list.

In 1810 we find “James Simms” in Kanawha County, (West) Virginia, with 1 male 0-10 yo (James Jr.), 1 male over 45 yo (James), 3 females under 10 yo (Margaret, Sarah, Mildred), 1 female 26 and under 45 yo (Elizabeth), and 5 slaves. By 1810 all of James’ children by his first marriage had left home as we see that the children listed with him were all born between 1800 and 1809.[31][32]

In 1820 Hedgman Triplett enumerated the Nicholas County, (West) Virginia Census where we find James Sims with 2 males under 10 yo (Dryden, Charles), 1 male over 45 yo (James), 2 females under 10 yo (Jane & Sarah), 2 females 10 & under 16 yo (Margaret, Mildred), 1 female 26 and under 45 yo (Elizabeth).[33]

In 1830 in Nicholas County, (West) Virginia, we find James Sims with 1 male 5 and under 10 yo (George W.), 2 males 15 and under 20 yo (Dryden & Charles), 1 male 70 and under 80 yo (James), 1 female 15 and under 20 yo (Jane, only unmarried daughter still at home), 1 female 40 under under 50 yo (Elizabeth), and 5 slaves: 1 male 10 and under 20, 1 male 20 and under 30, 2 female 10 and under 24, 1 female  24 & under 36.[34]

Then in 1832 we find James acquiring further land in Nicholas County, (West) Virginia.

“Sims Deed Nicholas County November 1, 1832

John Floyd Esquire, Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia:
TO ALL TO WHOM these Presents shall come, GREETING: KNOW YE, That in conformity with a Survey, made on the eighth day of May 1831, by Virtue of a Land Office Treasury Warrant N° 7425 issued December 14th 1823

there is granted by the said Commonwealth, unto James Sims,

A certain Tract or Parcel of Land, containing Seventy-five acres situated in
Nicholas County, on the South Sides of Gauley River and
bounded as followeth to Wit: Beginning at a lynn and
berch at a dear Lick Corner to his Old Survey East 35
poles to a buckeye Corner to Same S. 60 E. 36 poles to two
berches on the bank of the River Corner Same and James
G. Neil, thence leaving Same and with Neil S. 85 W.
14 poles to an Ash and Sugar tree on the Side of the Moun
=tain Corner Same and with S. 50 W. 108 poles to two
Chestnuts near the top and leaving S. 78 W. 35 poles along
the side of the Mountain to a Stake on the Side of
the Same N. 8 ½ W. 148 poles to the beginning —

TO HAVE AND TO HOLD the said Tract or Parcel of Land, with its appurtenances to the said
James Sims and his
heirs forever.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the said John Floyd Esquire Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, hath hereunto set his Hand, and caused the Lesser Seal of the said Commonwealth to be affixed, at Richmond, on the first day of November is the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty-two and of the Commonwealth the 57th
John Floyd”

In 1834 James appeared before his son William Sims, a Justice of the Peace in the county of Nicholas, and made a declaration that he had served as a soldier in the Revolutionary War.

“A Copy of the
Declaration of
James Sims
State of Virginia
Nicholas County
On this eighteenth day of Febru
=ary 1834 personally appeared before me William Sims
a Justice of the Peace in and for the county of Nicho
=las in the State of Virginia, and as Such a member
of the County Court of Nicholas, which is a Court
of Record, James Sims aged seventy nine years on the
8th day of October next, who being first dully Sworn accor
=ding to law doth on his oath make the following decla
=ration in order to obtain the benefit of the Act of Con
=gress passed June the 7th 1832. That he entered the Ser
=vice of the United States under the following named
officers and Served as herein Stated. In the month of
June 1777 according to his recollection he was called into
the service as a drafted militia man under Captain
John Tutt for a tour of three months. He served as Orderly
Sergeant in said Company. He resided then in Culpepper
County Virginia, and said Company was collected in
said County. The company was marched towards Fred
=ericksburg, and kept moving about through the country
around thereabout guarding it from the depredations of
the British, Tories, and Negroes, and after Serving out
his time he was discharged, but whether it was in
writing or verbally he does not recollect.
On or about the 1st of October 1780 he was again

called into the service as a drafted militia man, under
according to best of his recollection Captain James Tutt, but
whether that was really his name or not, he recollects him
to have been a slim spare man. This was for another tour of
three months. They were marched in the direction of York
Town to aid in the Seige of that place, but before they
reached that place Lord Cornwallis had surrendered.
They assembled in the County of Culpepper Va and
were placed under the Superior Command of Col
Slaughter, after serving out his time he was discharged
but whether in writing or not he does not recollect.
He served in the company as Orderly Sergeant. He was
born in Culpepper County Va on the 8th day of October
1754. He has a record of his age at home. He was
living in Culpepper County Va when called into the
Service where he continued to live until the year 1800.
when he moved to the place of his present residence
in Nicholas County, but which was then Kenhawa County
Va. He was called into the service as a drafted Mili
=tia man. He has stated the names of the officers under

whom he served, and the general circumstances of his
Service according to his recollection in the foregoing
detail. He was discharged from the Service at the
end of both tours, but he does not know whether it
was in writing or not, but if in writing he does
not known what has became of it. He is known to
Jonathan Windsor and Henry Tritt of his neighbourhood
(there being no clergyman who can be procured) who can
certify to his character for veracity and their general
belief of his Services as a Soldier of the Revolution.
He knows of no documentary evidence whereby to prove his
services, and he knows of no person whose testimony he
can procure who can testify to his services. He hereby
relinquishes every claim whatsoever to a pension or annuity
except the present, and declares that his name is not
on the pension roll of the Agency of any State. Sworn
to and subscribed the day and year aforesaid.
James Sims
We Jonathan Windsor and Isaac Collins residing in the

County of Nicholas in the neighbourhood of the aforesaid
James Sims hereby certify that we are well acquainted
with the said James Sims who has subscribed and
Sworn to the above declaration, that we believe
him to be about seventy nine years of age, that he
is reputed and believed in the neighbourhood where
he resides to have been a Soldier of the Revolution and that
we concur in that opinion. Sworn to and Subscribed the
day and year aforesaid.                     Isaac Collins
                                                               Jonathan Windsor
                                                              Henry Tritt

And the said Justice of the Peace do hereby declare my opinion
after the investigation of the matter, and after putting the
interrogatories prescribed by the War Department that the
above named applicant was a revolutionary Soldier and
served as he states, and I do further certify that it appears
to me that Jonathan Windsor and Henry Tritt, who have
signed the preceeding certificate are residents in the neighbour
=hood of the said James Sims and credible persons and that
their statement is entitled to Credit. I further certify that
there is no clergyman residing in the neighbourhood of
the said applicant, and that the said James Sims from
age and bodily infirmity, in my opinion, is unable safely
to attend any Court of Record in his said County. He
resides about 20 miles from the Court House. I further cer
=tify that from a long and intimate acquaintance with the
said applicant, I have generally heard it said that he
was a Revolutionary Soldier and I have no doubt myself.
I further certify that the foregoing are the original
proceedings of myself in the matter of the application of
the said James Sims for a pension. Witness my hand and
seal at the County of Nicholas aforesaid the day and
year aforesaid.
William Sims

I Samuel Price Clerk of the County Court of Nicholas County do
hereby certify that William Sims Esq. Was on the eighteenth
day of this month and yet is a Magistrate in the
said County of Nicholas duly commissioned, qualified
and acting as such that full faith and credit
are due to all his acting and doings as such
and the within signature purporting to his is genuine.

In testimony whereof I have here unto set
my hand and affixed the seal of my said
Office this 20th day of February AD. 1834.
and the 58th year of our Independence
Saml Price”[35]

He was allowed pension for service of six months as sergeant in the Virginia troops, War of the Revolution, on his application. James Sims of Nicholas in the State of Virginia who was a Sergeant in the regiment commanded by Col. Slaughter in the Virginia line was inscribed on the Roll of Virginia at the rate of 30 Dollars per annum to commence 4 March 1831. Arrears in the amount of $90 for the period from 4 March 1831 to the 4 March 1834 and a semi-annual allowance of $15 for the period ending the 4 September 1834 were paid to James Sims for a total of $105.

Penick found further documentation concerning this pension. One document appears to be a statement or letter of reply to the Pension Bureau in 1835 by James Sims after someone (possibly the U.S. Attorney at Winchester) questioned the authenticity of his claim to be a veteran of the Revolution. Penick believed James’ pension was revoked and that he never drew any money.

James Sims Pensioner Serv 9 mo. Receives $30 pension. I the undersigned James Sims in pursuance of the requisites of the Secretary of the War gives the following narrative ________ services as a Soldier in the War of the Revolution & statement of my age to-wit. I am in my 79th year of age. I am a native of Culpepper County & lived in that county during the War of the Revolution. In my nieneteenth or twentieth year of age (I cant tell in what year) I was drafted for 3 mo. & marched from Cupepper Country under Capt. John Tults (?) (don’t recollect the names of his subaltern officers) Capt Tults company was attached to a Regt commanded by Col Jno Slaughter which went from Culpepper. The Regt. Marched to Norfolk. Can’t recollect the names of any towns through which we marched on going to Norfolk. We were discharged at Norfolk in time to get home before the three months expired. In less than one year after the preceding term, (I cant tell in what year) I was drafted again for 3 mo. And hired a substitute whose name was William Noll (?) gave him $500 in continental money and a new rifle gun. In the year in which Cornwallis was captured at Yorktown I was drafted again for 3 mo. Set out from Culpepper under a Capt. Whose name I have forgotten. We were preparing to set out on the march for nearly one week, when the news of Cornwallis’ defeat was received & we were ordered to return home & done so, having been in service this latter term about one week – I was a Sergeant & they ended my services — Saml Price wrote my Declaration to whom I gave this same narrative of my service. That I now give. I agreed to give him $20 if he brought me my money In ______________of all which I hereto subscribe my name. Jany 10, 1835
James      X      Sims

Another document found in the pension file of James Sims:

William Sims, son of James Sims, says that his father gave Price the same account of his service that he has given. (?)

Spencer Hill aged 73 says he has known Sims since he Hill was 10 years old. They were raised and lived in the same neighborhood during the War of the Rev° – never heard of his being in service as a soldier. nor does he believe he ever was. – that Sims has been all his life a boasting & loquacious man. and a great  egotist – & that he never pretended that he was in service until since the passage of the Pension Law. Hill has been a neighbour to him all their lives–

Jos. b. Nutt concurs in the statement given by Hill — they are both respectable men

H. Coby (?)

W. G. Singleton
Jany 15, 1835

James Sims
Nicholas County

Fraud – withdrawn
no money

The original application papers were sent to W. G. Singleton, U.S. District Attorney, at Winchester, Virginia, on 13 March 1835. Upon an examination of his claim by the U.S. District Attorney, his name was dropped from the pension rolls, 21 March 1835, as it was shown that he did not render the alleged service.

James Sims is listed on the Statement of Nicholas County, West Virginia, “a statement showing the names, rank, and other data relating to persons residing in West Virginia counties, who have been inscribed on the pension list under the Act of Congress passed on the 7th of June, 1832.”[36] Information listed as follows: Name: James Sims; Rank: Private; Annual Allowance: $30.00; Sums received: [blank]; Description of Service: Virginia militia; When placed on Pension Roll: 21 April 1833; Commencement of Pension: 4 March 1831; Age: 79.

James Sims was a blacksmith and gunsmith. According to James P. Whister, it was reported by Rev. Donnelley (Beckley newspaper, 24 September 1965) that he owned slaves and used them in his work. Donnelley also reported known guns by Sims, although Mr. Whister wrote that he had never seen any.[37]

Col. Edward Campbell, author of a series of articles which appeared in the Chronicle in 1883, wrote about James Sims:

Going up Gauley River to the mouth of Little Elk, which empties into the river two miles above the ford, we come to the settlement made by J. Windsor. James Sims also made a small improvement at this place. He came from Jackson’s River in Bath County, Virginia. He was a gunsmith and blacksmith, and did but little farming. He had a large family of children, both male and female. Mr. Sims also brought the first darkies that were ever seen in these parts. He had two sons that were also gunsmiths and made the best of rifle guns. As these guns were much in demand with the increasing settlers they did a lucrative business. They both married young, and settled near their father and did some farming in addition to their work on guns. James lived to see his family settled here and elsewhere. His sons, William and Martin, remained here until they were old men and died leaving large families. James Sims was said to be 90 years old when he died.[38]

Col. Edward Campbell, the son of John Campbell and Nancy Hughes, was born in 1800 and acquired the basics of an education from his parents. Shortly after the formation of Nicholas County in 1818, he was appointed a justice of the peace and travelled throughout the county performing legal services for many of the outlying settlers who found it inconvenient if not impossible to make the long trip into Summersville. Campbell possessed an extraordinary memory for names and facts about the earliest inhabitants of Nicholas County, and some sixty years following his days as a travelling justice, he wrote down his reminiscences of the early settlers and the way in which they lived. Campbell’s memoirs have always been held in high esteem by historians, and where validation is possible he has seldom been found in error in any of his remarks.[39]

James reportedly brought eighteen slaves with him to Nicholas County. We have found documentation for at least two of these slaves. Lawrence M. Huddleston, Belle, WV, author of The Huddlestons My Kin had in his possession the original bill of sale from James Sims to John Huddleston for the slave “July Hulen” when June Settle Ciocca visited him at home more than 12 years ago. At the time she did not realize her relationship to James Sims. On 9 February 2002 in an e-mail in which she shared the photo of this bill of sale, she wrote: “Larry told me that James Sims had previously sold July Helen’s mother to the Huddlestons and that both mother and daughter were so heart-broken, he agreed to sell them the child also. Larry had no children and my understanding is that his immense genealogical collection was donated to the archives in Charleston. I would assume that is where this document can now be found.”

“I James Sims of Nicholas County
and state of Virginia have bargain
=ed and sold one yallow girl named July
Hulen aged six years for the sum of
one hundred and eighty dollars to me
in hand paid to John Huddleston of
the county of Fayatt and state
afore sd (said) and will warrent and defend
the title of sd (said) slave to the sd (said) Huddleston
and his heirs forever in witness whereof
I have set my hand and seal this twenty
nineth day of November Eighteen hundred
and thirty three
                                       James Sims       Seal
witnesses present
Joseph McNutt
Elizabeth Tritt
third witness illegible”

Isaac Sims, a slave of James Sims, is documented in three different papers, first:

“1836 James Sims to Isaac Sims
(note in margin “Delivered to Isaac Sims Sept. 9th 1842”)

Know all men by these presents that I James Simms Sr. of the County
of Nicholas and State of Virginia having heretofore made my last
Will and Testament in which I have disposed of all my Estate real
and personal including my slave property except one slave ….
my Negro man Isaac which said Negro slave Isaac I heretofore
intended to emancipate and set free according to the laws of this
Commonwealth upon certain Conditions thereafter to be mentioned
and put to writing. Now this Instrument of writing Witnesseth
that in Consideration of the premises and for others ……
good causes moving me thereto. I do hereby and by virtue and force of these
presents emancipate and set free forever my aforesaid Negro slave Isaac upon
the following condition to wit that is to say that the said Isaac causes to be
paid to me one hundred and fifty dollars good and lawful money of Virginia
fifty dollars of which is to be paid in hand which said fifty dollars is this
day paid to me and the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged fifty dollars
of which the said Isaac shall cause to be paid on or before the 1st day of
April 1836 and fifty dollars the last payment thereof the said Isaac
shall cause to be paid to me on or before the first day of May 1836 and
it is furthermore agreed to on my part and which I hereby in addition
to the foregoing make known that in the event of my death before the
payment of the fifty dollars which is next due after the date of this writing
that then and in that case the said fifty dollars nor the aforesaid fifty
dollars the last instalment or payment above mentioned nor either of
said payments or instalments shall be required or exacted by my heirs,
Executors, administrators or assigns nor shall they or either of them
cause the said Isaac to pay either of said payments or instalments of fifty
dollars nor shall his failure to pay the same in any manner affect or
do away with the force of these presents in emancipating and setting free
the said Isaac after my death according to the laws of this Commonwealth
now in force. And it is furthermore agreed to on my part that in the
event of my death after the payment to me of the aforesaid fifty dollars
which next becomes due after the date of this writing as above mentioned
that then and in that case the last payment or instalment of fifty dollars
the said Isaac shall be exempt from the payment of in the same manner
and to the same effect as I have exempted him from the payment of the
fifty dollars which first becomes due as is mentioned and set forth in the
preceding paragraph. And it is furthermore agreed upon my part
that in the event of the death of the said Isaac before my death that then
and in that case I do hereby promise and agree that any money or monies
or payments which the said Isaac may cause to be made paid to me
or which may have been in any way paid to me on account of the promises
shall be appropriated by me or my heirs Executors ? in cause of my
death, in the following manner: That is to say that whereas the said Isaac
has two children named George Addison and Harriett Jane by his wife
Emily now dead and owned in her life time by Joseph McNutt
and feeling a natural love and affection for his aforesaid children and wishing
to provide for the comfort and happiness of the same I do hereby
promise and agree as before mentioned to appropriate the money
paid to me after his death that happening before mine as above
stated to such use or uses for the benefit of the above named children
of the said Isaac as will best promote their spiritual and temporal
welfare agreeable to their condition and character in this state and
according to the Laws and usages of this Commonwealth. To the
true performance of the above I do hereby bind myself my
heirs Executors Administrators
as witness my hand and seal this 19th day of March 1836
James Sims
Joseph McNutt
John Huddleston
Bernard Hendrick

I have this day received this full consideration
in good and lawful money cald for in this foregoing Instrument of
writing as witness my hand & Seal
James Sims
Joseph McNutt
John Huddleston
Bernard Hendrick”

The second is a letter of manumission for the slave Isaac which is framed and hanging in the Nicholas County Courthouse in Summersville right below the sign that says “Information”. A Morris researcher Sherry Levoy and his husband Robert visited the courthouse and photographed the letter which is transcribed below:

“Know all men by these presents that I James Sims
of the County of Nicholas in consideration of a large
sum of money paid to me by my slave Isaac
as for the additional considerations of his fidelity
to me I have on this day manumitted and let
him the said Isaac free. To remain and continue
from hence forward to all intents and purposes
entirely free and discharged from servitude to
me my heirs and assigns forever. And for the purpose
of removing any difficulty as to the identity of the said
Isaac and to enable him to enjoy his Freedom in
the most absolute and perfect manner. I also hereby
certify and state that the said Isaac was born my
slave, that he has resided with me up to this date
that he is very black, his stature about five feet
five inches, of slender make and about forty three
years old, that he has had his right leg broken
just above his ankle. In testimony whereof I
have hereto set my hand and seal this 26th day of
September 1836.
James Sims
in the presence of
Andrew M. Dickinson
Joseph McNutt
John Huddleston
Edward Rion
Bernerd Hendrick
John Hill”

The original of the third document can be found at the Virginia State Library in the archives division. It reads as follows:


To the Legislature of Virginia

Your Petitioners humbly represent that JAMES SIMS
of the County of Nicholas has recently emancipated ISAAC
a blackman who is desirous of remaining in the Commonwealth,
your Petitioners represent that there are but very few
slaves in the County of Nicholas not exceeding sixty —
nor is there more than one other coloured person in the
County who is free — your Petitioners further state the
said black man ISAAC is an exceedingly honest industrious
and useful man addicted to no vicious habits whatsoever,
but peaceful & inoffensive & meek in all his intercourse
& business with the country — your Petitioners would be
truly gratified should this Legislature in its wisdom think
proper to grant his application — your Petitioners are
well convinced that no mischief can result to the country
by doing so and as a precedent in this part of the state
nothing of evil is to be apprehended.

Saml Price                              David Mays
John H. Robinson                 William Sims
E. S. Duncan                          Robert Hughes Jr
Johnson Reynolds               Edward Sims Jr
Benj. H. Smith                       Jeremiah Sims
P. B. Wethered                       Martin Sims
John McWhorter                   Co. John Sims
Ro Hamilton                          Anderson Sims
L. D. Wilson                           Charles Sims
Addison McLaughlin         William Morris
John McDermott                   Joshua Morris
Thomas Miller                      John H. Morris
Jacob D. McClain                  Thomas Elliott
Thm. Hill                                Aron Loyd
Mathew Hughes                   G. C. Landcraft
Charley Reynolds                William Sims
Robert Hill                              Edward Rion
Harrison A. Low                  William R. Summers
George Reynolds                  Edward Campbell
Andrew Odle                         George Rader Sr
John Kincaid                          John Foster
James Nichols                       Jas. G. Murray
James Walkub                       James Bryant
William Hamrick                 G. W. Grose
John Dunbar                          David Bare
Robert McCutchen               Lemasters Stephenson
William Miller                      Jacob C. Chapman
Allen Ewing                           John Groves
Jacob Drennen                       John G. Stephenson
Joseph Darlington               Jacob Chapman
J. D. Sutton                              Michael Rader
J. M. Alderson                        John Linch
J. McClung                              Andre Skidmore
James R. Henderson           Isaac Gregory
James a. Walker                    Fielding McClung
R. Duffield                              Abner Stephenson
Seth Thayer                            Wm. Bell
Thomas Legg                         Cortes Stephenson
Joshua Stephenson              John Rader
Wm. D. Cottle                        J. G. Neel
Samuel Nichols                    T. B. Thomas
Joel Hamrick                          Alexander Grove
David Stuart                          James Simany
Jefferson Grose                      Joseph McClung
(?) Dorsey                                Daniel Falkler
J. Warren                                Henry (?)
Richard A. Arters                 William Chapman
William Taylor                     David Moore
Wilson Arters                        David R. Hamilton
Philip Duffy                           Moses Hill
R. Kelly                                   Ira Davis
Elij. Lightner                          Jacob Odell
James Lightner                      Wm. Hughs
James Kelly                            Wm. Bryant
J. M. Hamilton                       George Fitzwatters
John McCue                           Andrew Neil
John McClung                       Robert Neil
S. A. Hamilton                      Samuel Hutchison
Edward McClung                George Hardweg
Nathan Groves                     John Morris
Peter Duffy                             John Duffy
J. McMillian                           B. L. Boggs
Wm. Livesay                          M. A. Triplett
Jacob Hutchison                   William M. Boggs
David Hanna                        John Trout
David Peebles                        James Grose
Adam Given                          Robert Keenan
Elverton T. Walker               Isaac Fitzwater
Thomas M. Fitzwater         Nathaniel Hughes
Thomas B. Morris                Hiram S. Marsh
W. Summers Sr.                    S. Backhouse
Henry Morris                         Jos. Montgomry
John Smith                             L. C. Buster
Thomas T. Marton               Thos. Hawkins
Peter Coleman                       Thos. Hines
John Backhouse                    Cyrus Hedge
William Bird                          John Slack
Cornelius Dorsey                 James B. Cole
Pascal Backhouse               Austin McCorgil
Joseph Backhouse                Nathan Huddleston
Jeremy G. Odel                      William Kincaid
Joseph Backhouse                James Settle
William Hillard                    Bolen Ballenger
William Smith                      John Johnson Jr.
Bernard Hendrick                James Likens
Mathew Kaincaid              John P. Huddleston
John Dorsey                           W. Tyree
John Fitzwater                       Hiram Curry
John Dorsey Sr                      P. Keenan
Dryden Sims                          E. Hutson
Hudson N. Dickenson       Henry Montgomery
Miles Hansen                        John Huddleston
Jas. H. Miller                          John Hill
P. W. Buster                            Joseph Huddleston
Pleasant Hawkins               Henry Tritt
Seaton B. Prowsy                  William Huggins
James B. Murray                   Robert Huggins
James J. Sims                         Robert Heuse
(Name Illegible)                    John Heuse
Leonard Cury                        S. A. Masterson
William Johnson                  Joseph W. Nutt
Jno. McNutt                            Jno. Carton
F. T. Hughes                           Adam Johnson
Fenton McMorrow               Wm. Kelly
Job Huddleston                     Taswell W. Hues
Nelson Sims                          Andrew Kenan
Joseph Reams                        (?) Price
Francis Cincaid                    E. R. Hutchison
William Loyd                        Joseph Young
Thos. S. Buster                       Edda Young
Moses Coleman                    William Martin
T. B. Hamilton                       Thos. L. Lewis
John Kincaid                          Wm. Myles
Thos. J. Huddleston            William Kincaid Jr.
John Johnson                         Gataspher Kincaid
Me_?_ J. Conly                      Benjamin Darlington
Levi B. Murrey                       H_?_ Long
Edward Hughs                     Joel Alexander
Joshua Foster

James Sims is last seen on a census in Nicholas County, (West) Virginia in 1840. He is listed as James Sims Sr. with the following persons in his household: 1 male under 5, 1 male 10 and under 15, 1 male 15 and under 20 (George W.), 1 male 80 and under 90 (James), 1 female 50 and under 60 (Elizabeth), 1 male slave 10 and under 24 making a total of 6 members in the household. Four of these persons were employed in agriculture.[41] The two youngest males in the household were likely grandsons of James and Elizabeth.

James Sims’ homestead was located at the mouth of Little Elk Creek on Gauley River at what is now called Swiss, West Virginia. He is buried in the churchyard cemetery of the Sims Memorial M.(Methodist) E.(Episcopalian) Church. The church was built in 1922 on land donated by the Sims family and stands on the spot of his original 2-story log house. [42] The exact site of his grave is now in doubt as the original stone marker was displaced and lost many years ago but it has been said that he is buried near a large cedar tree. It is reasonable to assume that Elizabeth, his second wife, is buried beside him. Richard Morrison, a descendant of James’ youngest son George Washington Sims, visited the cemetery located behind the church. A caretaker told Richard and his wife Nancy that the bodies of many slaves were buried among and along beside the Sims. Their graves are only marked with large creek stones, some lying at the foot of a Sims burial plot. There are two markers in the graveyard for James Sims:

MRIN02312 1754-1838 James Sims
Grave Marker #1
MRIN02312 1754-1845 James Sims
Grave Marker #2

Grave marker #1 was secured from the Veterans Administration in 1979 by George R. Penick, Jr. It shows his date of death as 1838 as that was assumed to have been the year he died by some older family members that Penick spoke with. It would be interesting to learn who placed marker #2 as we now know that James was still living in 1840 at the time of the census.

Documents verifying the dates of death of James Sims and his wife Elizabeth, who died first, have not been found. In 1848 a partition suit was filed in the Circuit Supreme Court of Law and Chancery for Nicholas County, George H. Lee, Judge, seeking to have the court provide for the sale of the 125 acre farm near Beech Glen which was left by James Sims when he died. The problem with this document is 1. we do not know if it is a true transcript of the original or a summary 2. James is listed as having died in 1836 when we know that he was still living in 1840 and 3. there are names listed that may be transcribed incorrectly, for example Sarah Hyphy which may be Sarah Hughes. The year of death may be a typing error as it is 12 years prior to the time that the suit was filed. It is very likely that this should read 1846. Penick’s compilation also discusses this suit and no variations were found in the information he listed and the information found in a typewritten letter dated 8 June 1947 from Willard E. Simms of Cozaddale, Ohio, to John T. Simms, of Charleston, West Virginia found in the DAR file of Virginia Bondurant Johnson.

“Atty John Reynolds filed suit in 1848 in the circuit supreme court of law and chancery for Nicholas County, Geo. H. Lee being judge; seeking to have the court provide for the sale of the 125 acre farm near Beech Glen, I believe, which was left by James Sims when he died in 1836.  The bill of complaint represented that William, Martin, John, James, Dryden, Charles, Washington Sims; Joseph Darlington and Jane (Sims) Darlington, his wife; Joel Settle and Mildred (Sims) Settle, his wife; and Nancy (Sims) Johnson respectfully represent that James Sims, the father of your orators and oratresses departed this life on the ___day of ___1836 intestate and leaving no widow and leaving besides your orators and oratresses to survive him the following heirs at law to-wit: the children of Jeremiah Sims, dec’d (he having died 1824 near Springfield O.) who live in the western country, the names of whom are unknown; also the children of Elizabeth Johnson, dec’d, formerly Elizabeth Sims: to-wit, John Johnson, Wm. Johnson, Harrison Johnson, James Johnson, James Settle and Rachel his wife; William H(?)ale and Amy his wife, John Backhouse and Phoebe his wife; ______Montgomery and Elizabeth his wife; Sarah Hyphy, John Kincaid and Mary his wife; also the children of Mary Hughes, formerly Mary Sims, to-wit, Tazewell Hughes, Andrew Hughes, Nelson Johnson and Elizabeth his wife; Johnson Foster and Mary his wife; also the children of Margaret Hughes, formerly Margaret Sims, to-wit, Matthew Kincaid and Susan his wife; Ann Hughes, Robert Hughes, John Hughes, the last three are infants; also the children of Sarah Foster, formerly Sarah Sims, to-wit, Jordan Hickson and Mariah his wife; James Foster, Peyton Foster, Charles Foster, and Milton Sims, the last three but one are infants, and the same James Sims, the father of your orators and oratresses died seized of a tract of land containing 125 acres in Nicholas county, on the Gauley river, etc., etc.

“The matter was finally settled in the spring term of court 1853. It sold for $183 and the costs approximated $160, thus leaving about $22.50 to be distributed.”[43]

The above clearly lists the following children for James Sims: William, Martin, John, James, Dryden, Charles, Washington, Jane, Mildred, Nancy, Jeremiah (dec’d), Elizabeth (dec’d), Mary (dec’d), Margaret (dec’d), Sarah (dec’d). Using known dates of birth and ages found on the census we have been able to list the children in nearest possible order of birth and determine the mother of each. The order in which the living sons are listed in the suit is also their order of birth; while the living daughters are listed youngest to oldest; the deceased daughters are listed oldest to youngest. Using this information we have been able to group the children with their mother. Note: Edward was not mentioned in the above but has been included in the following lists.

Children of JAMES SIMS and PHEBE [–?–] are:
i.   JEREMIAH SIMS, b. 24 May 1777, Culpeper County, Virginia; d. 19 January 1824, German Township, Clark County, Ohio.
ii.   WILLIAM SIMS SR., b. 6 November 1780, Culpeper County, Virginia; d. 5 October 1854, Nicholas County, (West) Virginia.
iii.   ELIZABETH SIMS, b. Abt. 1782, Culpeper County, Virginia; d. 1 June 1845, Fayette County, (West) Virginia.
iv.   MARTIN SIMS, b. abt. 1783; d. aft. 1853.
v.   EDWARD “NED” SIMS, b. 7 Jun 1785, Virginia; d. 31 Mar 1852 Cass County, Missouri
vi.   JOHN SIMS, b. 15 May 1787; d. October 15, 1869, Kanawha County, West Virginia.
vii.   MARY SIMS, b. Abt. 1787; d. Bef. 1848.
viii.   NANCY ANN SIMS, b. Abt. 1793, Culpeper County, Virginia; d. Bet. 1860 – 1870, Poca District, Kanawha County, West Virginia.

ix.   JAMES SIMS, JR., b. Abt. 1801, Kanawha County, (West) Virginia; died unknown but last seen in 1850 census of Kanawha County, (West) Virginia).
x.   MARGARET SIMS, b. Bet. 1801 – 1804; d. Bef. 1848.
xi.   SARAH SIMS, b. Bet. 1804 – 1806; d. Bet. 1837 – 1848.
xii.   MILDRED SIMS, b. Abt. 1806, Nicholas County, (West) Virginia; d. May 1882, Fayette County, West Virginia.
xiii.   JANE L. SIMS, b. Abt. 1810, Virginia; d. Aft. 1880.
xiv.   CHARLES FULLERTON SIMS, b. 13 August 1815, Swiss, Nicholas County, (West) Virginia; d. 26 April 1891, Swiss, Nicholas County, West Virginia.
xv.   DRYDEN SIMS, b. Abt. 1818, Kanawha County, (West) Virginia; d. Abt. 1880, St. Clair County, Missouri.
xvi.   GEORGE WASHINGTON SIMS, b. Abt. 1821, Nicholas County, (West) Virginia; d. abt. 1920

© Cathy Meder-Dempsey

[1] Declaration of James Sims dated 18 February 1834 in order to obtain the benefits of the Act of Congress passed June 7th, 1832 (Revolutionary War Papers) transcribed from photocopies procured by David Fridley from the National Archives (pension claim file ref. # S 19464).
[2] Culpeper County, Virginia, Will Book A, pg. 466
[3] Culpeper County, Virginia, Will Book A, pg. 466
[4] Transcription courtesy of Rose Mary Sims Rudy (e-mail 13 Jan 2002)
[5] Culpeper County, Virginia, Will Book B, pg.519-522
[6] Culpeper County, Virginia, Will Book B, pg.519-522
[7] Nall Families of America including Nalle, Naul, Nalls. Compiled and published by Sally Nall Dolphin and Charles Fuller Nall. 1978
[8] Estep, Lee. E-mail dated February 7, 2002. Information he found in Culpeper County, VA, Deed Book H, page 189-190.
[9] Owens, Robert. RootsWeb’s WorldConnect Project. John Symes descendents. 25 August 2001. Online 23 October 2001.
[10] A compilation of data on James Sims and his family by George R. Penick, Jr. of Arlington, Virginia, made in 1978, 1979 and 1980. This compilation will be referred to as The Penick Papers. Penick was a descendant of James’ son William.
[11] David Fridley calculated his birthdate from age given at death on tombstone. Jeremiah died 19 January 1824 in German Twp, Clark Co, OH, at 46 years of age. His tombstone records his age as 46 yrs., 7 mos., 26 days. His body was interred in Callison Cemetery in German Twp, Clark Co, OH. Cemetery listing: (link no longer valid). Information transferred to
[12] Declaration of James Sims dated 18 February 1834 in order to obtain the benefits of the Act of Congress passed June 7th, 1832 (Revolutionary War Papers) transcribed from photocopies procured by David Fridley from the National Archives (pension claim file ref. # S 19464).
[13] Culpeper County, VA, Deed Book H pages 475-477.
[14] Nall Families of America including Nalle, Naul, Nalls. Compiled and published by Sally Nall Dolphin and Charles Fuller Nall in 1978. pg. 36-37.
[15] Culpeper County, VA, Deed Book H, pages 162-164.
[16] Maginnis, William H. Notes found in Virginia Bondurant Johnson’s DAR file.
[17] Date taken from tombstone in Beech Glen Cemetery, Beech Glen, Nicholas County, West Virginia (cemetery reading done June 2001 by a contact of Paul Guttman and supplied by him per e-mail February 2002)
[18] Declaration of James Sims dated 18 February 1834 in order to obtain the benefits of the Act of Congress passed June 7th, 1832 (Revolutionary War Papers) transcribed from photocopies procured by David Fridley from the National Archives (pension claim file ref. # S 19464).
[19] The Penick Papers. A compilation of data on James Sims and his family by George R. Penick, Jr. of Arlington, Virginia, made in 1978, 1979 and 1980.
[20] Coroner’s Inquest Report, Photocopy of original document received from Rose Mary Sims Rudy.
[21] Judgment – Simms vs Scott found in a file of old law cases for 1795 by Connie Metheny, Millboro, Virginia, and sent to Rose Mary Sims Rudy August 1, 1995.
[22] The History of Fayette County West Virginia 1993 pg. 33
[23] The History of Fayette County West Virginia 1993 pg. 33
[24] Maginnis, William H. “The Simms Family In Kanawha County – Part I”, West Virginia History: A Quarterly Magazine, Volume VIII, April 1947, Number 3, pages 283-304; published by State Department of Archives and History, Charleston, West Virginia
[25] Ancestors & Descendants of Thomas Sims of Culpeper County, Virgina Edmund Butler of Virginia and Kentucky with Allied Families & Other Culpeper Data. “James Sims of Culpeper, Fayette & Nicholas Cos., (West) Va.”, page 156. Compiled and published by Lela Wolfe Prewitt, Fairfield, Iowa, 1972.
[26] Maginnis, William H. “The Simms Family in Kanawha County – Part I”. West Virginia History: Quarterly Magazine, Volume VIII, April 1947, Number 3, pages 283-304; published by State Department of Archives and History, Charleston, West Virginia
[27] Botetourt County, VA Grants 35, 1795-96 p.641. Found on website: HAYS/SIMS in Land Grants & Will Books from the Library of VA, Digital Files And Other Related Notes
[28] Transcribed from images received from David Fridley on February 11, 2002 per e-mail, downloaded from the Digital Library of the Library of Virginia (
[29] Laidley, William Sydney (1839-1917). History of Charleston and Kanawha County, West Virginia and Representative Citizens, published Chicago IL; Richmond-Arnold Publishing, 1911.
[30] Transcribed from photocopy of page from the Kanawha County (West) Virginia Deed Book A-391 supplied by Rose Mary Sims Rudy in February 2002.
[31] Falin, Becky. US GenWeb Archives. 1810 Kanawha County, WV. Pg 15 Ln #23. 5 August 1998. Online 4 October 2001
[32] 1810 Kanawha County (West)Va Census, compiled by David A. Turner & Sigfus Olafson, published by Kanawha Valley Genealogical society, Inc., P.O. Box 8555, South Charleston, West Virginia 25303, 1991.
[33] Bryant, Neva Jane Stout. USGenWeb Archives. 1820 Federal Census  Nicholas County, Virginia. Page No. 204B. 25 July 2001. Note: transcription has not been proofread. Online 3 October 2001
[34] Bryant, Neva Jane Stout. USGenWeb Archives. 1830 Federal Census Nicholas County, Virginia. 25 July 2001/October 2001. Online 13 November 2001
[35] Declaration of James Sims dated 18 February 1834 in order to obtain the benefits of the Act of Congress passed June 7th, 1832 (Revolutionary War Papers) transcribed from photocopies procured by David Fridley from the National Archives (pension claim file ref. # S 19464).
[36] The West Virginia Heritage Encyclopedia, Volume Nine, Supplemental Series, The Soldiery of West Virginia. Edited and Published by Jim Comstock, Richmond, West Virginia, 1974.
[37] Gunsmiths of West Virginia by James P. Whister, pg. 105
[38] Nicholas County, (West) Virginia Records of the Pioneers 1818-1860, “Early Settlers of Nicholas County, Virginia” by Edward Campbell, pg. 63
[39] Nicholas County, (West) Virginia Records of the Pioneers 1818-1860, “Early Settlers of Nicholas County, Virginia” by Edward Campbell, pg. 54
[40] Transcribed from Nicholas County, (West) Virginia Records of the Pioneers 1818-1860, pages 35-38, received from Rose Mary Sims Rudy by fax on March 20, 2002.
[41] Fridley, David. e-mail dated 10 October 2001 with 1840 census image attached.
[42] The Penick Papers
[43] Hughes, Eve. E-mail dated June 13, 2001. This information, taken from a file containing papers for application for membership in the DAR for Virginia Bondurant Johnson, was passed to her by another researcher.