Rewriting the Biography: Martin SIMS in the U.S. Federal Census

Rewriting the Biography is an ongoing theme for the rough draft notes of a new/updated biography of my 5th great-grandfather James SIMS (1754-1845) of Nicholas County.

Martin SIMS (abt. 1781-aft. 1853) was the third son of James SIMS and his first wife Phebe. He was the father of six known children, possibly 2-3 more (unknown) children, and at least 34 grandchildren.

The 1790 U.S. Federal Census

In 1790 when the first census was taken, Martin was living with his father James SIMS whose census records were discussed in Rewriting the Biography: James SIMS in the U.S. Federal Census in Bath County, Virginia. They would move to Kanawha County before 1800.

The 1800 U.S. Federal Census

Martin SIMS had married Susannah JOHNSON, daughter of William JOHNSON and Amy NELSON, in 1800 in Greenbrier County which bordered on Kanawha County at the time. The marriage bond for Martin SIMS and Susanna JOHNSON dated 28 March 1800 is on file with the Historical Society of Greenbrier County. There is also a permission slip dated 24 March 1800 signed by Susanna’s father William JOHNSON.1

As he was found on the 1802 tax list of Kanawha County he would have been 21 in 1802, i.e. born about 1781 or earlier.2

The 1810 U.S. Federal Census

In 1810 Martin and Susanna had three children, sons Nelson and John and daughter Sarah.

1810 U.S. Federal Census – Martin SIMS in Kanawha County, Virginia

1810 U.S. Federal Census 3
Kanawha County, (West) Virginia
Kanawha
Sheet 207A, Line 24
Name: Martin Simms
Free White Persons – Males – Under 10: 2 (Nelson & John)
Free White Persons – Males – 26 thru 44: 1 (Martin)
Free White Persons – Females – Under 10: 1 (Sarah)
Free White Persons – Females – 16 thru 25: 1 (Susannah)
Number of Household Members Under 16: 3
Number of Household Members Over 25: 1
Number of Household Members: 5

The 1820 U.S. Federal Census

The part of Kanawha County in which Martin lived became Nicholas County in 1818. He likely lived on the same land as his brother William. They were deeded 135 acres on the Gauley River in 1816 and were paying tax on the land in Nicholas County at the time of the census. The tract was the other half of an original tract of 260 acres which was not deeded by John JONES to James SIMS in 1800. [Land records will be discussed at another time.]

In Martin’s household were his wife, four known sons, an unknown son, and an unknown daughter. Also seen in the age range of his wife Susannah is another young woman. This may be Elizabeth JOHNSON, sister of Susannah, who was not yet married. Martin and another person, likely his oldest son Nelson, were engaged in manufacturing.

1820 U.S. Federal Census – Martin SIMS in Nicholas County, Virginia

1820 U.S. Federal Census 4
Nicholas County, (West) Virginia
Page No. 204A, Sheet 152, Line 18
Enumeration Date: August 7, 1820
Name: Martin Sims
Free White Persons – Males – Under 10: 3 (unknown, James J., and Lewis)
Free White Persons – Males – 10 thru 15: 1 (John)
Free White Persons – Males – 16 thru 25: 1 (Nelson)
Free White Persons – Males – 26 thru 44: 1 (Martin)
Free White Persons – Females – Under 10: 1 (unknown daughter)
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 15: 1 (Sarah)
Free White Persons – Females – 26 thru 44: 2 (Susannah and unknown)
Number of Persons – Engaged in Manufactures: 2
Free White Persons – Under 16: 6
Free White Persons – Over 25: 3
Total Free White Persons: 10
Total All Persons – White, Slaves, Colored, Other: 10

The 1830 U.S. Federal Census

Martin SIMS and his wife Susannah JOHNSON had five sons and a daughter in the 1830 census. The ages of the sons in later census year vary a great deal. However, when comparing to the 1830 and 1840 census it would appear that the unknown son seen in 1820 is likely now in the 15 thru 19 age group. Anderson was the only child born in the 1820s. Lewis, who is seen here as 5 thru 9 (1840 in 15 thru 19), may have been born very late in the 1810s or in 1820 before the census. The unknown daughter born between 1810-1820 is no longer in the household.

1830 U.S. Federal Census – Martin SIMS (bottom) in Nicholas County, Virginia

1830 U.S. Federal Census5
Nicholas County, (West) Virginia
Enumeration Date: 1 June 1830
Name: Martin Sims
Free White Persons – Males – Under 5: 1 (Anderson)
Free White Persons – Males – 5 thru 9: 1 (Lewis)
Free White Persons – Males – 15 thru 19: 2 (James J. & unknown b. 1811-1815)
Free White Persons – Males – 20 thru 29: 1 (John 20-25)
Free White Persons – Males – 40 thru 49: 1 (Martin)
Free White Persons – Females – 20 thru 29: 1 (Sarah 20-25)
Free White Persons – Females – 40 thru 49: 1 (Susannah)
Free White Persons – Under 20: 4
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 4
Total Free White Persons: 8
Total – All Persons (Free White, Slaves, Free Colored): 8

Nelson SIMS and Nancy JONES

Martin and Susannah’s oldest son Nelson had married Nancy JONES in 1828. Before the census, they had one son they named Martin.

1830 U.S. Federal Census – Nelson SIMS (top) in Nicholas County, Virginia

1830 U.S. Federal Census6
Nicholas County, (West) Virginia
Enumeration Date: 1 June 1830
Name: Nelson Sims
Free White Persons – Males – Under 5: 1 (Martin)
Free White Persons – Males – 20 thru 29: 1 (Nelson)
Free White Persons – Females – 15 thru 19: 1 (Nancy)
Free White Persons – Under 20: 2
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 1
Total Free White Persons: 3
Total – All Persons (Free White, Slaves, Free Colored): 3

The 1840 U.S. Federal Census

Martin’s wife Susannah died before 6 June 1840. Her widower Martin married Margaret HUGHES on this date.

The official enumeration day of the 1840 census was 1 June 1840. All questions asked were supposed to refer to that date. The count was due within nine months, but the due date was extended by law to allow completion within eighteen months. ~ Ancestry.com

Margaret appears to have been counted in the household even though the marriage took place after the official enumeration date. Martin’s daughter Sarah was not yet married but she had a daughter Mary J. born about 1839 (she was 17 in 1856 when she married) who may be in the grandfather’s household. The possibility that Margaret HUGHES brought a child into the marriage or that she and Martin had a child should also be considered. The unknown male seen in 1820 and 1830 is not in the household. Was he deceased or had he married and moved to other parts? Without a name or a document listing the names of the children of Martin, it is probably impossible to trace this person.

All of the males in the household were engaged in agriculture. There was one female slave age 36 thru 54 counted. None of the adults in the household could read or write.

1840 U.S. Federal Census – Martin SIMS in Nicholas County, Virginia

1840 U.S. Federal Census7
Nicholas County, (West) Virginia
Sheet 10, Line 5
Enumeration Date: 1 June 1840
Name: Martin Sims
Free White Persons – Males – 10 thru 14: 1 (Anderson)
Free White Persons – Males – 15 thru 19: 1 (Lewis)
Free White Persons – Males – 20 thru 29: 1 (John)
Free White Persons – Males – 50 thru 59: 1 (Martin)
Free White Persons – Females – Under 5: 1 (Mary J. Sprinkle, daughter of Sarah)
Free White Persons – Females – 20 thru 29: 1 (Sarah)
Free White Persons – Females – 30 thru 39: 1 (Margaret, md. June 1840)
Slaves – Females – 36 thru 54: 1
Persons Employed in Agriculture: 4
No. White Persons over 20 Who Cannot Read and Write: 4
Free White Persons – Under 20: 3
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 3
Total Free White Persons: 7
Total Slaves: 1
Total All Persons – Free White, Free Colored, Slaves: 8

Nelson SIMS

Martin’s son Nelson’s family had grown to include a son Thomas and daughters Sarah Jane and Virginia. Nelson was engaged in agriculture and he did not have any slaves.

1840 U.S. Federal Census – Nelson SIMS in Fayette County, Virginia

1840 U.S. Federal Census8
Fayette County, (West) Virginia
Sheet 147, Line 30
Enumeration Date: 1 June 1840
Name: Nelson Sims
Free White Persons – Males – 5 thru 9: 1 (Thomas)
Free White Persons – Males – 10 thru 14: 1 (Martin)
Free White Persons – Males – 30 thru 39: 1 (Nelson)
Free White Persons – Females – Under 5: 1 (Virginia)
Free White Persons – Females – 5 thru 9: 1 (Sarah Jane)
Free White Persons – Females – 20 thru 29: 1 (Nancy)
Persons Employed in Agriculture: 1
Free White Persons – Under 20: 4
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 2
Total Free White Persons: 6
Total All Persons – Free White, Free Colored, Slaves: 6

There was a second census listing for a man named Nelson SIMS in 1840 in Kanawha County. His age is too young to be a match for Nelson seen above. Several tick marks were X-ed out. There were 4 persons in the household: a man and a woman aged 20 thru 29 and one girl and one boy under 5. Three persons were engaged in agriculture, most likely not correct as there was only one male over 20 in the household.

1840 U.S. Federal Census – Nelson SIMS in Kanawha County, Virginia

1840 U.S. Federal Census9
Kanawha County, (West Virginia)
Page 60, Line 29
Enumeration Date: 1 June 1840
Name: Nelson Sims
Free White Persons – Males – Under 5: 1
Free White Persons – Males – 20 thru 29: 1
Free White Persons – Females – Under 5: 1
Free White Persons – Females – 5 thru 9: 1 marked out with an X (looks like *)
Free White Persons – Females – 15 thru 19: 1 marked out with an X (looks like *)
Free White Persons – Females – 20 thru 29: 1
Free White Persons – Females – 30 thru 39: 1 marked out with an X (looks like *)
Persons Employed in Agriculture: 3
Free White Persons – Under 20: 2
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 2
Total Free White Persons: 4
Total All Persons – Free White, Free Colored, Slaves: 4

James J. SIMS and Elizabeth DARLINGTON

Martin’s son James J. SIMS married Elizabeth DARLINGTON in 1832. By the time the census was taken they had three daughters under 5 years of age. James J. was engaged in agriculture.

1840 U.S. Federal Census – James J. SIMS in Fayette County, Virginia

1840 U.S. Federal Census10
Fayette County, (West) Virginia
Sheet 147, Line 3
Enumeration Date: 1 June 1840
Name: James Sims
Free White Persons – Males – 20 thru 29: 1 (James J. Sims)
Free White Persons – Females – Under 5: 3 (Nancy, Mary J., Amanda)
Free White Persons – Females – 20 thru 29: 1 (Elizabeth)
Persons Employed in Agriculture: 1
No. White Persons over 20 Who Cannot Read and Write: 1
Free White Persons – Under 20: 3
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 2
Total Free White Persons: 5
Total All Persons – Free White, Free Colored, Slaves: 5

The 1850 U.S. Federal Census

1850 U.S. Federal Census – Nelson, James, Martin, and Lewis SIMS in Fayette County, Virginia

In 1850 we see Martin SIMS and all of his children except for his youngest son Anderson on the same page of the census. One household after the other suggesting they lived on the same land or very close to each other. Only Martin has the value of real estate listed which likely means his sons were living on his property. On the census page, they are listed in this order: Nelson, James, Martin, and Lewis but are discussed below by age.

Note: In households #171-171 to #174-174 are Martin’s brother William and his son Edward and Martin and William’s half-brothers George W. and Charles. William and Charles own land. The land owned by the SIMS family was originally in Nicholas County but with the formation of Fayette County, a large part was on the Fayette side of the Gauley River.

Martin SIMS

Martin was 60 years old and a farmer. He owned real estate valued at $1000. In his household was his daughter Sarah, seen here as Sally, with her two daughters Mary and Hannah. Sarah had married George W. Sprinkle in 1840.  No trace has been found of her husband.

Also in the household was Martin’s second oldest son John who had not yet married. Missing is Martin’s second wife Margaret.

1850 U.S. Federal Census11
Fayette County, (West) Virginia
14th District
Enumerated on the 2nd day of August 1850
Sheet 343B, Lines 22-26, HH #177-177
Martin Sims 60 M Farmer $1000 cannot read & write
Sally Sprinker (sic) 40 F cannot read & write
Mary Sprinker (sic)  8 F
Hannah Sprinker (sic) 7 M
John Sims 40 M Laborer cannot read & write

Margaret was seen in the 30 thru 39 years group in the 1840 census listing. She would be 40 thru 49 years in 1850 if still living. On 19 November 1849 Martin and his wife Margaret sold two tracts of land to Fenton MORRIS. This establishes her being alive without a year of the 1850 census. She was not found on the Mortality Schedule in 1850.

1850 U.S. Federal Census – Margaret SIMS in the KINCAID household in Fayette County, Virginia

Four households away from Martin SIMS (a McNutt and an O’Dell family are listed in between) were Francis KINCAID and his wife Ann HUGHES. In their household was Margaret SIMS age 49. Was she Martin’s wife? Why was she with the KINCAID couple? Ann was Margaret’s younger sister. Ann’s husband Francis would die before March 1852 after making his will in April 1851. Was Margaret helping out at her sister’s or was she separated from Martin?

1850 U.S. Federal Census12
Fayette County, (West) Virginia
The 14th District
Enumerated on the 2nd day of August 1850
Sheets 343B+344A, Lines 42 and 1-2, HH #181-181
Francis Kincaid 41 M Farmer Virginia
Ann Kincaid 40 F Virginia cannot read & write
Margaret Sims 49 F Virginia cannot read & write

Nelson SIMS

Nelson and his wife Nancy had three more daughters in the 1840s. Nelson was working as a farmer but not on his own land as he did not own real estate. His sons were laborers.

1850 U.S. Federal Census13
Fayette County, (West) Virginia
The 14th District
Enumerated on the 2nd day of August 1850
Sheet 343B, Lines 5-13, HH #175-175
Nelson Sims 40 M Farmer cannot read or write
Nancy Sims 30 (sic) F cannot read or write
Martin Sims 20 M Laborer
Thomas Sims 17 M Laborer
Sarah Jane Sims 15 F
Virginia Sims 12 F
Nancy A. Sims 9 F (sic, Margaret in later years)
Jinnetta Sims 7 F
Unice A. Sims 2 F

James J. SIMS

James J. SIMS and his wife Elizabeth had three more children in the 1840s. Charles, William A., and Manerva. Daughter Amanda is seen here as 9. I counted her in the 1840 census as, later in 1860, she was enumerated as being 20 years old, i.e. born 1840. James is working as a farmer but like his brother Nelson, he did not own property.

1850 U. S. Federal Census14
Fayette County, (West) Virginia
The 14th District
Enumerated on the 2nd day of August 1850
Sheet 343B, Lines 14-21, HH #176-176
James Sims 36 M Farmer Virginia
Elizabeth Sims 36 F Virginia
Nancy Sims 14 F Virginia
Mary J. Sims 12 F Virginia
Amanda Sims 9 F Virginia
Charles Sims 8 M Virginia
William A. Sims 4 M Virginia
Manerva Sims 1 F Virginia

Lewis SIMS and Caroline J. TUCKER

Lewis SIMS married Caroline J. TUCKER on 16 June 1849. They had an unnamed child born in May 1850 (1-month-old at the time of census enumerated as of 1 June 1850). The gender of the child is blank but looks like ditto marks close to the lower line indicating female. However, Lewis and Caroline’s oldest known child was a boy who died of croup in 1857. His age at death (which may not be correct) place his birth in January 1849 before his parents’ marriage.

Lewis worked as a farmer and did not have real estate.

1850 U.S. Federal Census15
Fayette County, (West) Virginia
The 14th District
Enumerated on the 2nd day of August 1850
Sheet 343B, Lines27-29, HH #178-178
Lewis Sims 29 M Farmer Virginia
C. J. Sims 23 F Virginia
__ Sims 1/12 ” (not named) Virginia

 Anderson SIMS and Elizabeth UNDERWOOD

Anderson SIMS is the only child of Martin and Susannah not living in Fayette County in 1850. Anderson married Elizabeth UNDERWOOD on 11 March 1850 in Nicholas County where they lived at the time of the census. The column for married within the census year was not checked.

Was Elizabeth a widow and did she bring three children into the marriage? Why are they enumerated as SIMS in 1850? No trace of Ann after 1850 and none of the boys James and John after 1860 was found.

Anderson was a farmer and did not own real estate.

1850 U.S. Federal Census – Anderson SIMS in Nicholas County, Virginia

1850 U.S. Federal Census16
Nicholas County, (West) Virginia
The 43rd District (Western crossed out)
Sheet 382A, Lines 19-23, HH #548-548
Anderson Sims 26 M Farmer Virginia
Elizabeth Sims 35 F Virginia
Ann Sims 12 F Virginia
James Sims 8 M Virginia
John Sims 6 F Virginia

The 1860 U.S. Federal Census

Martin and his second wife Margaret have not been found in the 1860 census. No record of death was found for either of them.

“Martin V. Sims, son of the pioneer James Sims, owned about 200 acres of land extending from Rich Creek to a point on the opposite side of the river from Swiss. Nelson, James, Anderson and Lewis Sims, sons of Martin Sims, inherited this tract of land but afterwards disposed of same and moved elsewhere.”17

The information quoted from a history of Fayette County published in 1926 does not indicate when Martin SIMS died. An entry two paragraphs prior to this one concerning his father James SIMS is exaggerated. Can this statement be taken seriously?

The Fayette County will book for the years 1832-1866, as well as the Nicholas County will book for the years 1820-1899, were checked for a possible will, inventory, appraisement and/or sale bill of personal property which would help to narrow down the possible death of Martin SIMS. Nothing was found.

Land deeds of Nicholas County were consulted. In 1849 Martin and his wife Margaret sold 190 acres to Fenton MORRIS. In 1850 Martin was seen with real estate valued at $1000. This land must have been entirely in Fayette County as there is no record in Nicholas for a tract of land sold by the sons of Martin as noted above. Land records for Fayette County are not online.

On the  1860 census, Nelson SIMS was found in Nicholas County, James J. SIMS was still in Fayette County, and Lewis SIMS was in Kanawha County. Anderson SIMS, who was already in Nicholas County in 1850, was still there in 1860. John SIMS, who was not mentioned in the above statement, has not been definitely found (1860 and 1870 census records found are inconsistent). Daughter Sarah SPRINKLE, not mentioned above, was in Nicholas County.

The statement appears to have a notion of truth about the sons moving elsewhere after they disposed of the land. As the children were not living in Fayette County, with the exception of James J., I believe Martin must have died in the 1850s and before the 1860 census.

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


  1. Larry Heffner, email dated 10 August 2004 in reply to a request for information on marriage papers of Martin Sims and Susanna Johnson in the archives of the Greenbrier Historical Society. 
  2. 1790 / 1800 Virginia Tax List Censuses (Binns Genealogy, original records from Library of Virgina, Richmond, Virginia or Family History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah), Kanawha, Personal Tax List, page 21, line 1. Martin Sims.(http://www.binnsgenealogy.com/VirginiaTaxListCensuses/Kanawha/1802Personal/21.jpg : accessed 13 March 2018). 
  3. 1810 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Third Census of the United States, 1810 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. NARA microfilm publication M252, 71 rolls, FHL 0181429, roll 69, image 405, Virginia, Kanawha, Kanawha, page 129, sheet 207A, line 24, Martin Simms (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 6 February 2018). 
  4. 1820 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Fourth Census of the United States, 1820 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M33, 142 rolls, NARA Roll M33_130, image 388, Virginia, Nicholas, page 204A, line 18, Martin Sims. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 21 February 2018). 
  5. 1830 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), <i>Ancestry</i>, citing Fifth Census of the United States, 1830 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. NARA microfilm publication M19, 201 rolls, FHL Film: 0029677, NARA Rol M19_198, Nicholas, Virginia, image 35+36 of 42, page 189A+B, line 16, Martin Sims. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 March 2018). 
  6. Ibid., Nicholas, Virginia, image 35+36 of 42, page 189A+B, line 15, Nelson Sims. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 March 2018). 
  7. 1840 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), <i>Ancestry</i>, citing Sixth Census of the United States, 1840 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M704, 580 rolls, FHL Film 0029690, NARA Roll M704_571, Virginia, Nicholas, image 26+27 of 67, page 10A+B, line 5, Martin Sims. ‎(http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018). 
  8. Ibid., FHL Film 0029689, NARA Roll M704_566, Virginia, Kanawha page 60A+B, line 29, Nelson Sims. ‎(http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018). 
  9. Ibid., FHL Film 0029689, NARA Roll M704_566, Virginia, Kanawha page 60A+B, line 29, Nelson Sims. ‎(http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018). 
  10. Ibid., FHL Film 0029685, NARA Roll M704_555, Virginia, Fayette page 147A, line 3, James Sims. ‎(http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018). 
  11. 1850 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), <i>Ancestry</i>, citing Seventh Census of the United States, 1850 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration,Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M432, 1009 rolls, Roll M432_943 image 292, Virginia, Fayette County, Western District, image 28 of 91, page 343B, lines 22-26, HH#177-177 Martin Sims. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 21 April 2018). 
  12. Ibid., Virginia, Fayette County, Western District, image 28+29 of 91, page 343B and 344A, lines 42 and 1-2, HH#1817-181 Francis Kincaid. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 21 April 2018). 
  13. Ibid., Virginia, Fayette County, Western District, image 28 of 91, page 343B, lines 5-13, HH#175-175 Nelson Sims. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 21 April 2018). 
  14. Ibid., lines 14-21, HH#176-176 James Sims. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 21 April 2018). 
  15. Ibid., lines 27-29, HH#178-178 Lewis Sims. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 21 April 2018). 
  16. 1850 Census, Virginia, Nicholas County, Western District, image 85 of 93, sheet 382A, lines 19-23, HH#548-548 Anderson Sims. “.” (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 21 April 2018). 
  17. J.T. Peters and H.B. Carden, History of Fayette County, West Virginia, copyright Fayette County Historical Society, Inc., 1926, printed by Jarrett Printing Company, Charleston, West Virginia, p. 610 
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Rewriting the Biography: The Windsor Connection

Rewriting the Biography is an ongoing theme for the rough draft notes of a new/updated biography of my 5th great-grandfather James SIMS (1754-1845) of Nicholas County.

In my last post Rewriting the Biography: William SIMS Sr. in the U.S. Federal Census, I left a doubt I had concerning the wife of William SIMS Sr.:

William married Elizabeth WINDSOR around 1805 or earlier. No record of the marriage has been found nor any record confirming her maiden name.

I questioned her maiden name being WINDSOR as I have not found a marriage record nor did I have any records which include her maiden name. Also, the fact that her son Jonathan married Elizabeth WINDSOR, daughter of Benjamin “Benijah” WINDSOR and Mary “Polly” CHILDRESS, had me wondering if there may be a case of mistaken identity.

I did not expect to find the answer in the near future. Over the years my group of SIMS researchers has gotten smaller. Several members are now deceased while others are not as actively working on their genealogies. We’ve kept in touch but in recent years little new information has been exchanged.

In 2002 David Fridley, one of my original SIMS researchers, was the first person to read my draft of the biography of James SIMS and made a dozen or so comments, mostly editorial, which were very helpful. He also encouraged me to share it by offering to post it on his website. I admire David and his influence has made me a better genealogist. He is amazingly meticulous about citing his sources and re-evaluating information in his family tree.

In 2014 during my first year blogging, David wrote to me following my post 52 Ancestors: #36 William JOHNSON Jr. 1793-1845 about a correction he felt I should know about:

At the time you were posting this, I was trying to tie some Phillips lines together, and one in question was a woman who had married Charles C. Windsor (b. c. 1830), son of Charles and Elizabeth Windsor. I hadn’t worked on the early Fayette Co. Johnsons in quite some time, but I decided to flesh out the census information on Charles C.’s early years, since I had in my database that Elizabeth (or as I had it “Mary Elizabeth ‘Polly’ Childress Windsor”) was the second wife of John Brown Johnson. I found, though, that Charles and Elizabeth (Childress) Windsor appeared in the Fayette Co. censuses up through 1860, so I was a bit confused as to how she could have been John Brown Johnson’s second wife. I have a number of other Windsors intermarried into the Sims, Johnsons, Blakes, Treadways, etc., so I spent a bit of time trying to figure out their relationships so I might determine where this discrepancy over John Brown Johnson’s second wife came from.

What I found was that my information was wrong: Charles Windsor married Elizabeth Childress, while his brother Benjamin Windsor married Mary ‘Polly’ Childress, sister of Elizabeth. Benjamin died in 1829 in Kanawha Co. (probate material available) and it was his widow who remarried to John Brown Johnson. Although I can’t find her or John in 1860, she is listed as Mary Johnson, age 82, b. VA, with her daughter Emeretta Windsor Brown in Gallipolis, Gallia Co, OH in 1870.

I’d filed away this email without following up on the correction. David had also included two attachments to support his corrections. One was a post by James Windsor to the Windsor Family Genealogy Forum on the old Genealogy.com website. James Windsor’s information helped David correct the errors he (we) had concerning Polly WINDSOR who had married John Brown JOHNSON after the death of his wife Elizabeth SIMS, a daughter of James SIMS. Mr. Windsor also noted in his post that William “Billy the Gunsmith” SIMS married Elizabeth WINDSOR, daughter of Jonathan and Mary WINDSOR. Benjamin, Elizabeth, and Charles were all children of Jonathan WINDSOR, born 1750 in Charles County, Maryland, and died after 1837 in Kanawha County.

The second attachment was even more interesting. David wrote:

I’m also attaching a transcript of Jonathan’s Revolutionary War application, which has some interesting items as well, including mention of “William Sims, the Son in Law of Windsor,” establishing that Elizabeth was his daughter. It also notes that James Sims was familiar with him and his service in the Revolution.

How could I have overlooked inputting this important information into my genealogy database? How did I happen to find it so quickly after writing my last post?

Amy Cohen of Brotmanblog: A Family Journey gets the credit for my checking David’s emails. She has the most interesting questions when commenting on my posts. I wanted to mention David Fridley in my reply to her and went into his email folder to be sure I remembered all my dates correctly. That’s when I found his email with the subject line: Windsor-Sims-Johnson.

As the information concerning William SIMS being the son-in-law of Jonathan WINDSOR was found in a transcript of the pension file, I wanted to confirm this by finding the original record.

On Ancestry, I found the entire Revolutionary War Pension Application File for Jonathan WINDSOR (Service Number R.11703).1 Forty-two images for a pension which in the end was rejected. His claim was not allowed as he did not render six months military service in a regularly organized corps as was required by the pension laws.

Even though the pension was rejected the file holds the answer to the parentage of William SIMS Sr.’s wife Elizabeth WINDSOR.

Jonathan WINDSOR’s pension application begins as follows:

On this eighteenth day of February 1834 personally appeared before me William Sims a justice of the peace in and for the county of Nicholas in the state of Virginia and as such a member of the County Court of Nicholas which is a court of record, Jonathan Winsor aged eighty four years on the 8 day of October next who being first duly sworn according to Law doth on his oath make the following declaration in order to obtain the benefit of the act of Congress passed June 7th 1832.

The declaration continues with his service during the war, his birth date and place, and how he came to live in Nicholas County. He gave character witnesses:

He is known to James Sims and Isaac Collins of his neighbourhood, there being no clergyman of his neighbourhood who can testify to his character for veracity and their general belief of his services as a soldier of the revolution.

Jonathan WINDSOR’s statement and signature are followed by my 5th great-grandfather James SIMS and Isaac COLLINS’ sworn statement:

We James Sims and Isaac Collins residing in the neighbourhood of the aforesaid Jonathan Windsor hereby certify that we are well acquainted with the said Jonathan Windson who has subscribed and sworn to the above declaration that we believe him to be about eighty four 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 & year aforesaid.
James Sims    Isaac Collins

Also in the file is this statement concerning Jonathan WINDSOR’s son-in-law William SIMS:

I called at the Home of William Sims, the Son in Law of Windsor – haveing understood that the Windsor was to be found there. Windsor however was from home distant 40 or 50 miles and not expected to return soon – Sims informed me that he had frequently heard his father in Law Windsor detail his services as a soldier. the detail in substance was that during the war of the Revolution he was forted at different forts in Greenbrier county – at the several forts at which he was stationed the inhabitants cult their families land – the people of the Forts excludeing himself were clearing lands & cultivateing corn and would beat off the Indians when assailed by them which attacks of Indians were frequent. Sims never heard his father in Law say he was in regular service or under any regular officer — the neighbourhood opinion so far as I could collect it is decidedly against Windsor –
W. G Singleton
Jany 15, 1835 

The WINDSOR Connection

James SIMS and Jonathan WINDSOR knew each other. Their children, William SIMS and Elizabeth WINDSOR married. Jonathan also had a son Benjamin who was the father of the younger Elizabeth WINDSOR. Elizabeth, daughter of Benjamin, and Jonathan, son of Elizabeth, were first cousins and married on 30 December 1832 in Kanawha County.

It is interesting to note that on the same day Jonathan WINDSOR came before William SIMS, Justice of the Peace, to make his declaration for his Revolutionary War pension, my 5th great-grandfather James SIMS did the same. Jonathan WINDSOR testified on James’ behalf along with Isaac COLLINS.

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


  1. “U.S. Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, 1800-1900,” (index and images), <i>Ancestry.com</i>, citing original data: Records of the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15. National Archives, Washington, D.C. (NARA microfilm publication M804, 2,670 rolls), Roll 2614, images 220 thru 262. Jonathan Windsor, pension file number R.11703. (Ancestry.com : accessed 17 April 2018). 

Rewriting the Biography: William SIMS Sr. in the U.S. Federal Census

Rewriting the Biography is an ongoing theme for the rough draft notes of a new/updated biography of my 5th great-grandfather James SIMS (1754-1845) of Nicholas County.

William SIMS Sr. (1780-1854) was the second son of James SIMS and his first wife Phebe. He was the father of seven children and thirty-one grandchildren.

The 1790 U.S. Federal Census

In 1790 when the first census was taken, William was living with his father James SIMS whose census records were discussed in Rewriting the Biography: James SIMS in the U.S. Federal Census.

The 1800 U.S. Federal Census

This census is lost for Virginia. As a substitute, the 1802 Tax List for Kanawha County is being used. James SIMS’ second son William was found on the 1802 Tax List with one male over 16 years of age and one horse.1

1802 Kanawha County Tax List

William was 21 years of age or older as he was the person named on the list. Depending on the date the tax list was made up he would have been about 22 years of age in 1802 which matches the 6 November 1780 date of birth read on his grave marker in the Old Simms Cemetery in Beech Glen.2

The 1810 U.S. Federal Census

William married Elizabeth WINDSOR around 1805 or earlier. No record of the marriage has been found nor any record confirming her maiden name.3

Update (18 April 2018)Rewriting the Biography: The Windsor Connection

By 1810 William and Elizabeth had a daughter Nancy (b. abt. 1805) and two sons, William Jr. (b. 2 Feb 1807) and Jeremiah (b. abt. 1809, 1850 age 41).

Also living in their household was a young female age 10 thru 15. This young lady may have been William’s sister Nancy Ann, my 4th great-grandmother. James SIMS’ youngest daughter Nancy Ann was born about 1793 shortly before her mother’s death. She was not found with her father and step-mother in 1810. If the female in William’s household was Nancy Ann, her age would have placed her in the same group as her sister-in-law Elizabeth (16 thru 25) instead of the 10 thru 15 group.

1810 U.S. Federal Census – William Sims

1810 U.S. Federal Census 4
Kanawha County, (West) Virginia
Kanawha
Sheet 207A, Line 25
Simms, William
Free White Persons – Males – Under 10: 2 (William Jr. and Jeremiah)
Free White Persons – Males – 26 thru 44: 1 (William)
Free White Persons – Females – Under 10: 1 (Nancy)
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 15: 1 (poss. sister Nancy Ann SIMS)
Free White Persons – Females – 16 thru 25: 1 (Elizabeth)
Number of Household Members Under 16: 4
Number of Household Members Over 25: 1
Number of Household Members: 6

The 1820 U.S. Federal Census

William would have been 40 years old at the time of the 1820 census. His wife Elizabeth was nearly 3 1/2 years younger. They had six children at the time. Also in the household was a young man 16 thru 25 years old. Could this be William’s half-brother James Jr. who was missing in his father James’ household? Two persons in the household were engaged in manufacturing. William, as well as his brother Martin who had his own household, were well-known rifle makers. James Jr. may have been apprenticing with his older half-brother William.

This census listing helped to narrow the time of their marriage and births of their oldest children. While in 1810 the children were under 10 years old, this listing showed the three children born before 1810 were 10 thru 15 in 1820, i.e. born between 1805-1810. The marriage would have taken place 1805 or earlier.

1820 U.S. Federal Census – William Sims

1820 U.S. Federal Census 5
Nicholas County, (West) Virginia
Page No. 204A, Sheet 152, Line 17
Enumeration Date: 7 August 1820
Name: William Sims
Free White Persons – Males – Under 10: 2 (Jonathan & Edward)
Free White Persons – Males – 10 thru 15: 2 (William Jr. & Jeremiah)
Free White Persons – Males – 16 thru 25: 1 (poss. brother James)
Free White Persons – Males – 26 thru 44: 1 (William)
Free White Persons – Females – Under 10: 1 (Miriam)
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 15: 1 (Nancy)
Free White Persons – Females – 26 thru 44: 1 (Elizabeth)
Number of Persons – Engaged in Manufactures: 2
Free White Persons – Under 16: 6
Free White Persons – Over 25: 2
Total Free White Persons: 9
Total All Persons – White, Slaves, Colored, Other: 9

The 1830 U.S. Federal Census

William SIMS and his wife Elizabeth

William and his wife Elizabeth had their last child shortly after the 1820 census -a daughter who shows up on the 1830 census as being 10 thru 14. She was likely born in 1820 following the census. With this child, the family grew by one to nine. There were three sons and two daughters at home and two had married within the decade and had their own households.

1830 U.S. Federal Census – William Sims and William Sims Jr.

1830 U.S. Federal Census6
Nicholas County, (West) Virginia
Sheets 189A & 189B, Line 13
Enumeration Date: 1 June 1830
Name: William Sims
Free White Persons – Males – 10 thru 14: 1 (Edward)
Free White Persons – Males – 15 thru 19: 1 (Jonathan)
Free White Persons – Males – 20 thru 29: 1 (Jeremiah)
Free White Persons – Males – 50 thru 59: 1 (William)
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 14: 1 (unknown, poss. b. 1820)
Free White Persons – Females – 15 thru 19: 1 (Miriam)
Free White Persons – Females – 40 thru 49: 1 (Elizabeth)
Free White Persons – Under 20: 4
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 2
Total Free White Persons: 7
Total – All Persons (Free White, Slaves, Free Colored): 7

Nancy SIMS and James Graham NEIL

William and Elizabeth’s oldest daughter Nancy was found in the 1830 census in the household of James G. NEIL. Nancy married James Graham NEIL in 1825 and gave birth to two sons before the census. They were William and Elizabeth’s first grandchildren. Also in the household was a male in the same age group as James.

1830 U.S. Federal Census7
Nicholas County, (West) Virginia
Sheets 186A & 186B, Line 9
Enumeration Date: 1 June 1830
Name: James G. Neil
Free White Persons – Males – Under 5: 2 (Randolph and Benjamin)
Free White Persons – Males – 20 thru 29: 2 (James and unknown)
Free White Persons – Females – 20 thru 29: 1 (Nancy)
Slaves – Males – 10 thru 23: 1 (unknown)
Free White Persons – Under 20: 2
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 3
Total Free White Persons: 5
Total Slaves: 1
Total – All Persons (Free White, Slaves, Free Colored): 6

William SIMS Jr. And Elizabeth DORSEY

William and Elizabeth’s oldest son William Jr. married Elizabeth DORSEY on 30 May 1830. This was two days before the enumeration date of the census – William Jr. was found with his young bride. They were the only two persons in the household.

1830 U.S. Federal Census8
Nicholas County, (West) Virginia
Sheet 189A & 189B, Line 12
Enumeration Date: 1 June 1830
Name: William Sims Junior
Free White Persons – Males – 20 thru 29: 1 (William Jr.)
Free White Persons – Females – 20 thru 29: 1 (Elizabeth)
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 2
Total Free White Persons: 2
Total – All Persons (Free White, Slaves, Free Colored): 2

The 1840 U.S. Federal Census

William SIMS and his wife Elizabeth

William Sr. was listed in the 60 thru 69 age group in 1840 but would not turn 60 until later in the year. His wife Elizabeth was 56. They had two sons living at home, Jeremiah and Edward. Only two persons were engaged in agriculture. Why not three as there were three men in the household? The 1850 census would hold the answer.

1840 U.S. Federal Census – William Sims

1840 U.S. Federal Census9
Nicholas County, (West) Virginia
Sheet 10, Line 4
Enumeration Date: 1 June 1840
Name: William Sims Sr.
Free White Persons – Males – 20 thru 29: 1 (Edward)
Free White Persons – Males – 30 thru 39: 1 (Jeremiah)
Free White Persons – Males – 60 thru 69: 1 (William)
Free White Persons – Females – 50 thru 59: 1 (Elizabeth)
Persons Employed in Agriculture: 2
Persons Employed in Manufacture and Trade: 1
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 2
Total Free White Persons: 4
Total All Persons – Free White, Free Colored, Slaves: 4

Nancy SIMS and James G. NEIL

William and Elizabeth’s oldest daughter Nancy was found in her husband James G. NEIL’s household. They were now the parents of seven children. James was engaged in agriculture, likely with his two oldest sons.

Nancy and James named their first daughter Elizabeth Jane, likely after both grandmothers, Elizabeth SIMS and Jane NEIL. Their third son was named after his paternal grandfather Samuel NEIL. When would they name a son after his maternal grandfather?

1840 U.S. Federal Census10
Nicholas County, (West) Virginia
Sheet 5, line 8
Name: James G. Neil (page 4A&B, image 08-09)
Free White Persons – Males – Under 5: 1 (Samuel)
Free White Persons – Males – 10 thru 14: 2 (Benjamin and Randolph)
Free White Persons – Males – 30 thru 39: 1 (James G. Neil)
Free White Persons – Females – Under 5: 1 (Vicella)
Free White Persons – Females – 5 thru 9: 3 (Elizabeth, Miriam, & Betty)
Free White Persons – Females – 30 thru 39: 1 (Nancy Sims Neil)
Persons Employed in Agriculture: 3
Free White Persons – Under 20: 7
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 2
Total Free White Persons: 9
Total All Persons – Free White, Free Colored, Slaves: 9

William SIMS Jr. and Elizabeth DORSEY

William Jr. and his wife Elizabeth (I wonder how they kept all these women named Elizabeth apart) had been quite busy in the children department. Five children were born in six years. William farmed to feed his family of nine and did not have any other help. He did not move from Nicholas to Fayette County following the 1830 census. With the creation of Fayette County in February 1831, from parts of Greenbrier, Kanawha, Nicholas, and Logan counties, the land he lived on became part of the new county.

1840 U.S. Federal Census11
Fayette County, (West) Virginia
Sheet 147, Line 7
Enumeration Date: 1 June 1840
Name: William Sims
Free White Persons – Males – Under 5: 1 (William)
Free White Persons – Males – 5 thru 9: 2 (Miletus & John)
Free White Persons – Males – 10 thru 14: 1 (Franklin)
Free White Persons – Males – 30 thru 39: 1 (William)
Free White Persons – Females – 5 thru 9: 1 (Nancy)
Free White Persons – Females – 30 thru 39: 1 (Elizabeth)
Persons Employed in Agriculture: 1
Free White Persons – Under 20: 5
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 2
Total Free White Persons: 7
Total All Persons – Free White, Free Colored, Slaves: 7

Jonathan SIMS and Elizabeth WINDSOR

William and Elizabeth’s third oldest son Jonathan married Elizabeth “Betsy” WINDSOR on 30 December 1832 in Kanawha County. Jonathan and Elizabeth had two sons and a daughter by the time the census was taken in 1840. The enumerator likely made a mistake in the column for males 30 thru 39 and placed an X over the 1 making it look like an * asterisk. The same mistake may not have been caught for the two females in the household. Jonathan’s wife Elizabeth was only 26 but found in the 30 thru 39 age group and daughter Emeline was 6 and in the 10 thru 14 group. The fact that three persons were employed in agriculture may also be an error as there were only two adults in the household.

Jonathan and Elizabeth lived in Kanawha County, likely near Betsy’s family who owned land in the county. Betsy was the daughter of Benjamin “Benijah” WINDSOR and Mary “Polly” CHILDRESS.

1840 U.S. Federal Census12
Kanawha County, (West) Virginia
Sheet 16, Line 30
Enumeration Date: 1 June 1840
Name: Jonathan Sims
Free White Persons – Males – Under 5: 2 (Newton and Thomas)
Free White Persons – Males – 20 thru 29: 1 (Jonathan)
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 14: 1 (Emeline 6)
Free White Persons – Females – 30 thru 39: 1 (Elizabeth 26)
Persons Employed in Agriculture: 3
Free White Persons – Under 20: 3
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 2
Total Free White Persons: 5
Total All Persons – Free White, Free Colored, Slaves: 5

Miriam SIMS and Andrew NEIL

William and Elizabeth’s second oldest daughter Miriam married Andrew NEIL, a younger brother of James G. NEIL, on 8 October 1833 and was seen in his household with two daughters and two sons. Andrew was engaged in agriculture. Miriam and Andrew named their children after the grandparents, William and Elizabeth SIMS and Samuel and Jane NEIL.

1840 U.S. Federal Census13
Nicholas County, (West) Virginia
Sheet 6 & 7, Line 5
Name: Andrew Neil
Free White Persons – Males – Under 5: 1 (Samuel)
Free White Persons – Males – 5 thru 9: 1 (William)
Free White Persons – Males – 20 thru 29: 1 (Andrew)
Free White Persons – Females – Under 5: 2 (Elizabeth and Jane)
Free White Persons – Females – 20 thru 29: 1 (Miriam)
Persons Employed in Agriculture: 1
Free White Persons – Under 20: 4
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 2
Total Free White Persons: 6
Total All Persons – Free White, Free Colored, Slaves: 6

An Unnamed Daughter

William and Elizabeth also had a daughter born likely in 1820 after the census and seen with them in the 1830 census. By 1840 she was no longer with her parents. It is possible this child did not survive. In November 2001 marriages of Sims and Simms persons in Nicholas County were checked and no possible match for this woman was found.14

The 1850 U.S. Federal Census

William SIMS and his wife Elizabeth

William, listed as a gunsmith on the 1850 census, was 70 and his wife Elizabeth was 67. In their household was their son Jeremiah who was 41 years old and did not have an occupation. He owned land valued at $400 while his father’s was worth $1500. Was Jeremiah in some way infirm and unable to work? Is this the reason only 2 of the 3 men in the William SIMS household in 1840 were working?

1850 U.S. Federal Census – William Sims

1850 U.S. Federal Census15
Nicholas County, (West) Virginia
The 43rd District (Western marked out)
Enumerated 12 August 1850 by D. O. Kelley Ass’t Marshal
Sheet No. 360A, Lines 33-35, HH #272-272
William Sims 70 M Gunsmith 1500 Virginia
Elizabeth Sims 67 F Virginia
Jeremiah Sims 41 M None 400 Virginia

Nancy SIMS and James G. NEIL

William’s oldest daughter Nancy was with her husband James G. Neil at the time of the 1850 census. At least this is what I thought considering the 1850 census listing where James is seen with a wife named Nancy. At first glance, I did not question the gap between the youngest and second youngest child.

However, a record from 1846 found in the Order Books of Nicholas County may indicate Nancy died before 9 April 1846. The document will be shared and discussed in a separate post. If I am interpreting it correctly, Nancy in the 1850 census is a new wife and mother of the youngest child. No record of marriage was found for James G. NEIL around 1846-1849. It must be noted there are gaps in the marriage records from the 1830s to 1860s and death records are only available starting in 1853 for Nicholas County.

Earlier in this post, I mentioned that James and Nancy had named Samuel, their third son, after the paternal grandfather. In the 1850 census listing, we see a son named William, likely named after the maternal grandfather.

1850 U.S. Federal Census16
Nicholas County, (West) Virginia
The 43rd District (Western marked out)
Enumerated on 2 Sept 1850 by D. Oliver Kelly Ass’t Marshal
Sheet 374B, Lines 32-42, HH# 457-457
James G. Neil 47 M W Farmer $4000 Virginia
Nancy Neil 44 F W Virginia
Benjamin Neil 22 M W Farmer $100 Virginia
Elizabeth Neil 20 F W Virginia
Miram Neil 18 F W Virginia
Betty Neil 16 F W Virginia
Vizilla Neil 14 F W Virginia
Samuel Neil 10 M W Virginia
William Neil 9 M W Virginia
Sarah Neil 7 F W Virginia
Mary Neil 1 F W Virginia

William SIMS Jr. and Elizabeth DORSEY

William Jr. and Elizabeth had one more child after the 1840 census. By 1850 the family had grown to include two adults and six children. William’s land which he farmed was valued at $500.

1850 U.S. Federal Census17
Fayette County, (West) Virginia
The 14th District
Enumerated on the 1st day of August 1850 by J. B. Hamilton
Sheet 343A, lines 24-31, HH # 171-171
Wm. Sims 43 M Farmer $500 Virginia
Elizabeth Sims 48 F Virginia
F. P. Sims 19 M Laborer Virginia
Miletus Sims 18 M Laborer Virginia
John Sims 17 M Laborer Virginia
Nancy Sims 15 F Virginia
Wm. Sims 13 M Virginia
Emeretta Sims 8 F Virginia

Jonathan SIMS and Elizabeth WINDSOR

Jonathan and Betsy’s family grew to include four more children. Jonathan was a blacksmith and owned land valued at $200. Their youngest child on the 1850 census was listed as Tiny, she would later be found as Caroline J. Two of their daughters, Mary and Virginia, were enumerated as deaf and dumb.

1850 U.S. Federal Census18
Nicholas County, (West) Virginia
The 43rd District (Western marked out)
Sheet No. 371A, Lines 31-40, HH #413-413
Jonathan Sims 37 M W Blacksmith $200 Virginia
Elizabeth Sims 36 F W Virginia
Emeline Sims 15 F W Virginia
Newton Sims 13 M W Virginia
Thomas Sims 11 M W Virginia
Mary Sims 9 F W Virginia deaf & dumb
Virginia Sims 7 F W Virginia deaf & dumb
William Sims 3 M W Virginia
Tiny Sims 2 F W Virginia
Alexander Johnston 34 M W Mail Carrier Virginia

Miriam SIMS and Andrew NEIL

Miriam SIMS died sometime following the 1840 census. Her widower Andrew NEIL married Elizabeth HAMRICK about 1842. Andrew died in June 1850 leaving a widow with two sets of twins. The widow had the twins as well as three of Miriam’s children in her household in 1850. Miriam’s youngest daughter Jane may have died between the 1840 and 1850 census.

1850 Mortality Schedule19
Nicholas County, (West) Virginia
Name: Neil, Andrew, male, born in Virginia, died at the age of 39 in June 1850 of consumption; occupation farmer; ID #MRT197_243597

Correction: Letters of Administration and Appraisement of the estate of Andrew NEIL were ordered in July 1849, therefore, his death was in June 1849 and not 1850.

1850 U.S. Federal Census20
Nicholas County, (West) Virginia
The Western District (District 43)
Enumerated by me, on the 15th day of August 1850. D. Oliver Kelly, Ass’t Marshal
Sheet 362A, Lines 31-40, HH #297-297
Elizabeth Neil F 33 $1000 Virginia
William Neil M 15 Farmer Virginia
Samuel Neil M 14 Virginia
Elizabeth Neil F 12 Virginia
James Neil M 7 Virginia
Nancy Neil F 7 Virginia
Robert Neil M 5 Virginia
Gilson Neil M 5 Virginia
Morris Hamrick M 27 M Farmer $50
Sarah Hamrick 18 F Virginia

Edward SIMS and Rhoda COCHRAN

William and Elizabeth’s youngest son Edward, also known as Ned, lived next door to his older brother William Jr. in 1850. Edward SIMS married Rhoda COCHRAN in 1847. Edward was almost twice as old as Rhoda. By 1850 she had given him two children, a son David J. and a daughter Mary Jane.

1850 U.S. Federal Census21
Fayette County, (West) Virginia
The 43rd District (Western marked out)
Enumerated on the 15th day of August 1850 by J. B. Hamilton
Sheet 343A, Lines 24-31, HH #172
Edward Sims 33 M Farmer Virginia
Rhoda Sims 17 F Virginia
David Sims 1 M Virginia
Mary J. Sims 1/12 F Virginia

The years after the 1850 U.S. Federal Census

The years following the 1850 census brought much change to the family constellation.

Elizabeth died on 20 April 1852 and William on 15 October 1854. Their son Jeremiah, released from the payment of county and parish levies in August 1853, died before 1860. Their youngest son Edward died around July 1855 in the home of his wife’s sister Fannie COCHRAN and brother-in-law Alexander WAUGH in a part of Nicholas County which would become Clay County in 1858.

Three more grandchildren were born after the 1850 census: Andrew Dixon SIMS and Sarah F. (Fannie) SIMS, both children of Edward, and Henderson P. SIMS, son of Jonathan.

The only living children of William and Elizabeth were their sons William Jr. who lived to be 80 years old, dying in 1887, and Jonathan who died in 1889 at the age of 77 years.

The next child of James and Phebe SIMS was Martin who will be discussed in the next post.

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


  1. 1790 / 1800 Virginia Tax List Censuses (Binns Genealogy, original records from Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia or Family History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah), Kanawha, Personal Tax List, page 21, line 11, William Sims (http://www.binnsgenealogy.com/VirginiaTaxListCensuses/Kanawha/1802Personal/21.jpg : accessed 13 March 2018). 
  2. Paul Guttman (1949-2006), a member of my Sims research group in 2001-2002 who worked with me when I wrote the original biography of James SIMS (1754-1845), was in contact with cousins who lived in the Beech Glen area in 2001. The Old Simms Cemetery (aka Sims Family Cemetery on Find A Grave) was visited on a rainy day and a list of the Sims/Simms markers was sent in an email to Paul on 25 June 2001. No photographs of the markers were taken. 
  3. William and Elizabeth’s son Jonathan married a lady named Elizabeth WINDSOR. This makes me question the maiden name of Elizabeth who married Williams SIMS. Further research is needed to prove/disprove her maiden name. Update (18 April 2018)Rewriting the Biography: The Windsor Connection 
  4. 1810 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Third Census of the United States, 1810 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. NARA microfilm publication M252, 71 rolls, FHL 0181429, roll 69, image 405, Virginia, Kanawha, Kanawha, page 129, sheet 207A, line 25, William Simms (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 6 February 2018). 
  5. 1820 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Fourth Census of the United States, 1820 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M33, 142 rolls, NARA Roll M33_130, image 388, Virginia, Nicholas, page 204A, line 17, William Sims. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 14 April 2018). 
  6. 1830 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Fifth Census of the United States, 1830 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. NARA microfilm publication M19, 201 rolls, FHL Film: 0029677, NARA Rol M19_198, Virginia, Nicholas, image 35+36 of 42, page 189A+B, line 13, William Sims Sr. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 March 2018). 
  7. Ibid., Virginia, Nicholas, image 29+30 of 42, page 186A+B, line 9, James G. Neil. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 March 2018). 
  8. Ibid., Virginia, Nicholas, image 35+36 of 42, page 189, line 14, William Sims Jr. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 March 2018). 
  9. 1840 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Sixth Census of the United States, 1840 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M704, 580 rolls, FHL Film 0029690, NARA Roll M704_571, Virginia, Nicholas, image 26+27 of 67, page 10, line 4, William Sims Sr. ‎(http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018). 
  10. Ibid., Virginia, Nicholas, No township, image 16&17 of 37, page 5, line 8, James G. Neil household. ‎(http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 15 April 2018). 
  11. Ibid., Virginia, Fayette, page 147, line 7, William Sims. ‎(http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018). 
  12. Ibid., Virginia, Kanawha, page 16, line 30, Jonathan Sims. ‎(http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018). 
  13. Ibid., Virginia, Nicholas, No township, image 20&21 of 37, page 7, line 5, Andrew Neil household. ‎(http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 15 April 2018). 
  14. Neva Jane Stout Bryant, (abstracted and compiled by), SIMMS/SIMS Marriages, Nicholas County, West Virginia 1817-1933, (abstracted from James S. & Evelyn E. Blake, Early Nicholas County (West) Virginia Marriage Bonds (& Records) 1818-1864; Wes Cochran, Nicholas Co WV Marriages 1817-1903; Wes Cochran, Nicholas Co. WV Marriages 1903-1933). 
  15. 1850 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Seventh Census of the United States, 1850 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration,Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M432, 1009 rolls, Roll M432_963, Virginia, Nicholas County, District 43, sheet 360A, lines 33-35, HH #272-272, William Sims household. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 14 April 2018). 
  16. Ibid., Virginia, Nicholas County, District 43, sheet 374B, lines 32-42, HH #457-457, James G. Neil household. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 14 April 2018). 
  17. Ibid., Roll M432_943, Virginia, Fayette County, District 14, image 27 of 91, sheet 343A, lines 24-31, HH # 171-171, Wm. Sims household. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 14 April 2018). 
  18. Ibid., Roll M432_963, Virginia, Nicholas County, Western District, image 63 of 93, sheet 371A, lines 31-40, HH #413-413, Jonathan Sims household. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 14 April 2018). 
  19. U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedules Index, Ancestry, Jackson, Ron V., Accelerated Indexing Systems, comp.. AIS Mortality Schedules Index. Compiled and digitized by Mr. Jackson and AIS from microfilmed schedules of the U.S. Federal Decennial Census, territorial/state censuses, and/or census substitutes. 
  20. 1850 U.S. Federal Census, Roll M432_963, Virginia, Nicholas County, Western District, image 45 of 93, sheet 362A, lines 31-40, HH #297-297, Elizabeth Neil household. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 14 April 2018). 
  21. Ibid., Roll M432_943, Virginia, Fayette County, District 14, image 27 of 91, sheet 343A, lines 24-31, HH # 171-171, Wm. Sims household. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 14 April 2018). 

Rewriting the Biography: Jeremiah SIMS in the U.S. Federal Census

Rewriting the Biography is an ongoing theme for the rough draft notes of a new/updated biography of my 5th great-grandfather James SIMS (1754-1845) of Nicholas County.

In my last post in this series, I analyzed the census records of James SIMS (1754-1845). I will now continue with his children beginning with his oldest son from his first marriage to Phebe (maiden name unknown). Jeremiah SIMS (1777-1824) did not move to Kanawha County, Virginia, with his father, stepmother, and siblings prior to 1800. He remained in Bath County, Virginia, where he married Sarah MILHOLLIN on 26 November 1800.

1800 U.S. Federal Census

As was mentioned in the previous post the 1800 census schedules for Virginia were lost. There are no online tax lists for Bath County for the time period around 1800.

The 1810 U.S. Federal Census

Jeremiah moved to Ohio around 1804. An 1810 census listing for Jeremiah is unavailable as all of Ohio except Washington County were lost. I was able to use the Virginia tax lists to substitute for the missing Virginia census of 1790 and 1800 for Jeremiah’s father James. Are similar records available for Ohio to substitute for the 1810 census?

I found in the FamilySearch catalog the book Ohio 1810 tax duplicate arranged in a state-wide alphabetical list of names of taxpayers : with an index of names of original entries compiled by Gerald M. Petty and published in 1976. It is available at the Family History Library and on microfilm but not online.

I also located the Tax records of Ohio, 1801-1814 and Duplicate tax records : 1816-1838 for Champaign County, Ohio in the FamilySearch catalog. More time and research is needed to find Jeremiah SIMS on the tax lists. I was unable to locate him on my first perusable of the tax records of Champaign for the years around 1810.

Could it be the land Jeremiah owned in Clark County, Ohio, after the county was formed on 26 December 1817, was not part of Champaign County? I checked the formation map for Ohio counties and found that Clark County was formed for the most part from Champaign County in the north, a small part of Greene County in the south, and a small part of Madison County in the east. German Township where Jeremiah’s land lay is located in the northern part of Clark County, bordering on Champaign County.

The 1820 U.S. Federal Census

Jeremiah was found on Duplicate tax record : 1818-1838 in Clark County for the years 1818 and later. Although these records will be useful later when his land holdings are studied, they will not be discussed at this time as a listing was found for Jeremiah SIMS in the 1820 census.

Jeremiah was the head of a household in German Township of Clark County. He was 43 years old and engaged in manufacturing. David Fridley, a member of my Sims group of researchers who helped with the original biography years ago, wrote, “given his family history, he was likely a gunsmith or blacksmith as his father and brothers were.”

Jeremiah appears to have had six children at home, five males and one female. One of the older males has not been identified. His wife Sarah was also 43 years old.

1820 U.S. Federal Census, Ohio, Clark, German Township, Jeremiah Sims

1820 U.S. Federal Census 1
Clark County, Ohio
Green, German Township
Page 18, Line 41
Enumeration Date: August 7, 1820
Name: Jeremiah Sims
Free White Persons – Males – Under 10: 2 (James Sanford & Jeremiah)
Free White Persons – Males – 10 thru 15: 1 (William)
Free White Persons – Males – 16 thru 25: 2 (Thomas & unknown)
Free White Persons – Males – 26 thru 44: 1 (Jeremiah)
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 15: 1 (Phebe)
Free White Persons – Females – 26 thru 44: 1 (Sarah)
Free Colored Persons: 2 + 1
Number of Persons – Engaged in Manufactures: 1
Free White Persons – Under 16: 4
Free White Persons – Over 25: 2
Total Free White Persons: 8
Total Slaves: 3
Total All Persons – White, Slaves, Colored, Other: 11

Also in the household were three free colored persons. Ohio abolished slavery when the state was formed in 1803, therefore, they had to have been free persons and not slaves. This was discussed in my post: Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: Mary, Isaac, Charles, and John.

The 1830 U.S. Federal Census

Jeremiah died in 1824. He was only 46 years old. In 1830, his widow Sarah had in her household their daughter Phebe (named after Jeremiah’s mother), son James (named after Jeremiah’s father), and son Jeremiah (named after his father or great-grandfather).

1830 U.S. Federal Census, Ohio, Clark County, Sarah Simms and William Sims on page 147 (right)
1830 U.S. Federal Census, Ohio, Clark County, Sarah Simms and William Sims on page 147 (left)

1830 U.S. Federal Census 2
Clark County, Ohio
German Township
Sheets 147A & 147B, Line 1
Enumeration Date: 1 June 1830
Name: Sarah Simms
Free White Persons – Males – 15 thru 19: 2 (James Sandford & Jeremiah)
Free White Persons – Females – 20 thru 29: 1 (Phebe)
Free White Persons – Females – 50 thru 59: 1 (Sarah)
Free White Persons – Under 20: 2
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 1
Total Free White Persons: 4
Total – All Persons (Free White, Slaves, Free Colored): 4

Not with Sarah was the oldest son Thomas who was named after Sarah’s father, Thomas MILHOLLIN. He was not found in the 1830 census. He married Sarah DONOVAN in 1822 and had at least three children by 1830.

Jeremiah and Sarah’s second son William, perhaps named after Jeremiah’s oldest brother, was married and living with his young wife Eliza DONOVAN in Clark County. Eliza was likely a sister of Sarah DONOVAN who married William’s brother Thomas. The 1830 census was in alphabetical order and not by order of visit by the enumerator. It is probable that William and his young wife were living close to his mother Sarah or even with her and his siblings.

1830 U.S. Federal Census 3
Clark County, Ohio
German Township
Sheet 147A & 147B, Line 2
Enumeration Date: 1 June 1830
Name: William Sims
Free White Persons – Males – 20 thru 29: 1 (William)
Free White Persons – Females – 15 thru 19: 1 (Eliza)
Free White Persons – Under 20: 1
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 1
Total Free White Persons: 2
Total – All Persons (Free White, Slaves, Free Colored): 2

Several months after the 1830 census was enumerated some deadly sickness fell upon the SIMS family in Clark County. William died on 22 September 1830 followed by his sister Phebe eight days later. William had been married barely thirteen months. A little over a month later, his youngest brother Jeremiah died on 5 November 1830. The mother Sarah was left with only two sons, James who was still at home a few months earlier and Thomas who was not found in the 1830 census.

Jeremiah’s widow Sarah died on 6 November 1838 in German Township in Clark County. Her son James had married Jane Perry SIDES in 1832.

By 1840 the only two living sons of Jeremiah SIMS had gone separate ways. Thomas was living with his family in Greenup County, Kentucky, and James was with his family in Logan County, Ohio. James, a farmer, would remain in Logan County until his death in 1887. His older brother Thomas, a physician, moved his family to Platte County, Missouri before 1850 and then to Daviess County, Missouri before 1860.

The next child of James and Phebe SIMS was William who will be discussed in the next post.

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


  1. 1820 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Fourth Census of the United States, 1820 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M33, 142 rolls, NARA Roll M33_88, image: 33, page 18, Ohio, Clark, Green, German, image 3 of 3, line 41, Jeremiah Sims (ancestry.com : accessed 21 February 2018). 
  2. 1830 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), <i>Ancestry</i>, citing Fifth Census of the United States, 1830 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. NARA microfilm publication M19, 201 rolls, FHL Film 0337939, NARA Roll M19_128, Ohio, Clark, German, image 3+4 of 18, page 147A+B, line 1, Sarah Simms. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 March 2018). 
  3. Ibid., line 2, William Sims. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 March 2018). 

Rewriting the Biography: James SIMS in the U.S. Federal Census

Rewriting the Biography is an ongoing theme for the rough draft notes of a new/updated biography of my 5th great-grandfather James SIMS (1754-1845) of Nicholas County.

I would like to begin this new series of notes with an analysis of the households of James SIMS and his sixteen children in the U.S. Federal Census from 1810 to 1880.

Generally, when doing census work I start with the most recent and work my way back to the earliest listing, hopefully finding the person of interest with his or her parents.

My 5th great-grandfather James SIMS died before the 1850 census. He was born in 1754 far too early to be found on a census with his parents. As will be seen, even the children of his first marriage born between 1777 and 1794 were not found with him, be it only tick marks, on the pre-1850 census. The reason being six of the eight children were already married and had their own households in 1810.

James was found on four pre-1850 census sheets: 1810, 1820, 1830, and 1840. This was only possible as he was the head of a household. He died between 12 August 1845 and 10 March 18461 missing the 1850 census, which would include his place of birth, by about four to five years. However, four of his youngest children from his second marriage lived long enough to be enumerated on the 1880 census, the first to include the place of birth for parents. Three of the four children had Virginia as the place of birth for their father James SIMS. Only daughter Jane’s listing shows West Virginia which is incorrect as the state was only formed in 1863, 109 years after James’ birth.

In the weeks to come, I will be analyzing the census records of James SIMS’ sixteen children in order of birth. Today I would like to start with James’ listings.

Census Analysis for James Sims 1754-1845

The 1790 and 1800 U.S. Federal Census

In 1830, Congress passed a law requiring the return of all decennial censuses from 1790-1830. At the time it was discovered that many of the schedules had been lost or destroyed. Virginia is one of the states with a complete loss of the census schedules for 1790 and 1800.  Tax lists can be used to re-create the schedules which were lost.

1790 U.S. Federal Census substitute: 1789 Tax List

It is known that James SIMS owned land in Bath County, Virginia, and lived there before going farther west. Bath County was created in 1790 from parts of Augusta, Botetourt, and Greenbrier counties.

1789 Tax List B for Botetourt County, Virginia (headings)

On 6 October 1789, James SIMS was in William Davidson’s district in Botetourt County and listed on the Personal Property Tax List B. To be a bit more certain this was the correct person I looked up Benjamin COTTON who would become James SIMS’ father-in-law in 1796. He was also found on the tax list of Botetourt in 1789.

1789 Tax List B for Botetourt County, Virginia

James SIMS was listed with 1 white, 1 black over 16 years of age, and 1 horse.2 The fact that he was a known slaveholder gives some support to this being his tax record.

1800 U.S. Federal Census substitute: 1802 Tax List
1802 Tax List for Kanawha County, Virginia (headers)

In 1802 we find James SIMS on the list of taxable property within the County of Kenhawa (Kanawha) of which Fleming Cobbs was the commissioner.3

1802 Tax List for Kanawha County, Virginia

James SIMS was listed with 1 white person over the age of 16 years and 3 horses. The two columns for blacks over 12 and over 16 are empty. The slave who was with him in 1789 would have been 29 years or older in 1802. As no slave was listed on the 1802 tax list, this brings up questions which need to be researched. Did James SIMS bring slaves with him when he moved from Bath County to Kanawha County? Or did he acquire the slaves seen in later census schedules only after 1802?

In 1802 James’ oldest sons Martin and William were also seen on this list indicating they were 21 years of age or older. In James’ household, there was one son who would turn 17 during the year, Edward born in June 1785. There is no date listed on any of the 24 pages of the Kanawha tax list.

If the tax list was drawn up after Edward turned 17 why was he not counted? Conclusive evidence that Edward was a son of James has not to date been found. He will, therefore, be included in this census work as well as future posts in relation to the James SIMS family.

The 1810 U.S. Federal Census

Column headers for the 1810 census of Kanawha County, Virginia.

In 1810 James SIMS was 56 years old had been married 16 years to his second wife Elizabeth COTTON. If she bore him children in the first four years of the marriage, they did not survive as no children age 10 years or older were seen on the 1810 census.

1810 U.S. Federal Census for Kanawha County, Virginia. Sheet 207A/132 (penned in) with the SIMMS households at the bottom.

In 1810 when the census was taken, James SIMS and his children were found in Kanawha County in western Virginia. Only one child, his oldest son Jeremiah (1777-1824) had remained in Bath County when the SIMS family moved to Kanawha. Jeremiah moved to Champaign County, Ohio around 1804.

1810 U.S. Federal Census, Kanawha County, Virginia

James was seen on the bottom of sheet 207A followed by his sons Martin and William from his first marriage. In James’ household were his second wife, their four children, and five enslaved persons.

1810 U.S. Federal Census 4
Kanawha County, (West) Virginia
Kanawha
Sheet 207A, Line 23
Name: James Simms
Free White Persons – Males – Under 10: 1 (James Jr.)
Free White Persons – Males – 45 and over: 1 (James)
Free White Persons – Females – Under 10: 3 (Margaret, Sarah, Mildred)
Free White Persons – Females – 26 thru 44: 1 (Elizabeth)
Numbers of Slaves: 5 (Isaac, Jude, Fanny, Robert, and ?)
Number of Household Members Under 16: 4
Number of Household Members Over 25: 2
Number of Household Members: 11

In 1810 James SIMS had a dozen living children. Eight of these children were from his first marriage. Six of these were married and had their own households. The remaining two would marry after 1810 and did not have their own households. As each of the children are discussed in future posts we will see the two unmarried children were likely in siblings’ households.

The 1820 U.S. Federal Census

In 1820 only James’ son John was still in Kanawha County. Had James and his married children pulled up stakes and left the area?

One of the first things I was taught when I began doing genealogy research for my American families was to consider the formation of new counties and the changing county lines of established counties.

Nicholas County, West Virginia, was originally created by an act of the Virginia General Assembly on 30 January 1818, from parts of Greenbrier, Kanawha and Randolph counties. This was 45 years before West Virginia became a state. The county’s boundaries were disputed and altered to its current status by another act of the Assembly on 29 January 1820. The county was named in honor of Wilson Cary Nicholas (1761-1820) who was Governor of Virginia 1814-1816.

Therefore, in 1820 James SIMS, his wife, and their minor children were found in Nicholas County on the same land he bought in 1800 in what was then Kanawha County.

1820 U.S. Federal Census, Nicholas County, Virginia

When the census was taken the information was recorded as of 7 August 1820. (As can be seen in the image above, it was not the easiest to decipher.) James was 66 years old and his wife Elizabeth was less than 45 years old (likely 36-39 as will be seen below per 1830 census). They had two sons and four daughters at home. Their oldest son James was about 19 years old and not seen in this listing. Also in the household were nine slaves, two of whom were young men 14 thru 25 years of age. Three persons in the household were engaged in agriculture. As most of the children were under 10 years old with the exception of two daughters who were 10 thru 15, the three persons engaged in agriculture could only have been James and the two enslaved men. These two men were likely Isaac SIMS and perhaps his brother Robert.

1820 U.S. Federal Census 5
Nicholas County, (West) Virginia
Page No. 204A, Sheet 152, Line 19
Enumeration Date: 7 August 1820
Name: James Sims
Free White Persons – Males – Under 10: 2 (Dryden, Charles)
Free White Persons – Males – 45 and over: 1 (James)
Free White Persons – Females – Under 10: 2 (Jane & Sarah)
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 15: 2 (Margaret, Mildred)
Free White Persons – Females – 26 thru 44: 1 (Elizabeth)
Slaves – Males – Under 14: 2 (unknown)
Slaves – Males – 14 thru 25: 2 (Isaac and Robert)
Slaves – Females – Under 14: 3 (unknown)
Slaves – Females – 14 thru 25: 2 (Jude and Fanny)
Number of Persons – Engaged in Agriculture: 3
Free White Persons – Under 16: 6
Free White Persons – Over 25: 2
Total Free White Persons: 8
Total Slaves: 9
Total All Persons – White, Slaves, Colored, Other: 17

Slaves of the Sims family, black Jude and black Fanny were members of the senior class of the Bethel Methodist Church at Poe on Laurel Creek in 1821.6 The five young male and female slaves under 14 were likely not yet born in 1810 when only five slaves were counted on the census.

The 1830 U.S. Federal Census

The decade between the 1820 and 1830 census brought a change in the statistics of the family of James SIMS. His wife Elizabeth gave birth to their eighth and last child about the same time their oldest son James Jr. married Elizabeth STANLEY. This was in 1821. James was now the father of sixteen children born from 1777 to 1821. A range of 44 years.

Besides James Jr., three of James and Elizabeth’s daughters married during the decade. Margaret in 1822, Sarah in 1825, and Milly in 1826. Four children were still at home, a daughter and three young sons. James was by this time 75 years old and Elizabeth was in her late forties.

1830 U.S. Federal Census, Nicholas County, Virginia

1830 U.S. Federal Census 7
Nicholas County, (West) Virginia
Enumeration Date: 1 June 1830
Name: James Sims
Free White Persons – Males – 5 thru 9: 1 (George W.)
Free White Persons – Males – 15 thru 19: 2 (Dryden & Charles)
Free White Persons – Males – 70 thru 79: 1 (James)
Free White Persons – Females – 15 thru 19: 1 (Jane)
Free White Persons – Females – 40 thru 49: 1 (Elizabeth 46-49)
Slaves – Males – 10 thru 23: 1 (1 of 2 seen in 1820?)
Slaves – Males – 24 thru 35: 1 (Isaac?)
Slaves – Females – 10 thru 23: 2 (July Helen and another from 1820?)
Slaves – Females – 24 thru 35: 1 (Jude or Fanny)
Free White Persons – Under 20: 4
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 1
Total Free White Persons: 6
Total Slaves: 5
Total – All Persons (Free White, Slaves, Free Colored): 11

The 1840 U.S. Federal Census

During the 1830s the last single daughter of James and Elizabeth was married as well as one of their three unmarried sons. Jane married Joseph DARLINGTON in 1831 and Dryden married Rebecca BAYS in 1837. This left two unmarried sons Charles, who had his own household, and George.

James, Elizabeth, their youngest son George, two young boys who may be grandsons, and a young slave made up the household. Four persons were engaged in agriculture. James was by this time 86 years old. Was he included in the count of working persons? It seems likely as only 5 males were in the household with the youngest being under 5 years of age.

The decline in the number of slaves in the household in 1830 to only one in 1840 can be explained. By March 1836 James SIMS had disposed of all slaves with the exception of Isaac who he emancipated in July 1836.8

The sale of one woman slave was recounted to June Settle Ciocca by Lawrence M. Huddleston in 1990. In 1833 a young girl July Hulen (per bill of sale) was sold by James SIMS to John HUDDLESTON. July Helen’s mother had been sold to the Huddlestons earlier and both mother and daughter were so heart-broken that James SIMS agreed to sell the child as well. Mr. Huddleston was in possession of the bill of sale for the young girl.9

1840 U.S. Federal Census 10
Nicholas County, (West) Virginia
Enumeration Date: 1 June 1840
Name: James Sims Sr.
Free White Persons – Males – Under 5: 1 (unknown)
Free White Persons – Males – 10 thru 14: 1 (unknown)
Free White Persons – Males – 15 thru 19: 1 (George W.)
Free White Persons – Males – 80 thru 89: 1 (James)
Free White Persons – Females – 50 thru 59: 1 (Elizabeth)
Slaves – Males – 10 thru 23: 1 (poss. a male age 20 thru 23 from 1830)
Persons Employed in Agriculture: 4
Free White Persons – Under 20: 3
Total Free White Persons: 5
Total Slaves: 1
Total All Persons – Free White, Free Colored, Slaves: 6

James SIMS’ wife Elizabeth predeceased him and like James would not be found in the 1850 census. Elizabeth’s date of death is unknown. James lived to see his last two children marry: Charles married Minerva J. SUMMERS in 1842 and George married Margaret Jane DORSEY in 1845.

Coming next…

The census work of James SIMS and his first wife Phebe’s oldest son Jeremiah SIMS.

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


  1. The range for the date of death was explained in Rewriting the Biography: When Did James Sims Die? 
  2. 1790 / 1800 Virginia Tax List Censuses (Binns Genealogy, original records from Library of Virgina, Richmond, Virginia or Family History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah), Botetourt, 1789 Personal Tax List B, page 13. (http://www.binnsgenealogy.com/VirginiaTaxListCensuses/Botetourt/1789PersonalB/13.jpg : accessed 13 March 2018). 
  3. Ibid., Kanawha, 1802 Personal Tax List, image 21. (http://www.binnsgenealogy.com/VirginiaTaxListCensuses/Kanawha/1802Personal/21.jpg : accessed 13 March 2018). 
  4. 1810 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Third Census of the United States, 1810 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. NARA microfilm publication M252, 71 rolls, FHL 0181429, roll 69, image 405, Virginia, Kanawha, Kanawha, page 129, sheet 207A, line 23, James Simms (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 6 February 2018). 
  5. 1820 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Fourth Census of the United States, 1820 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M33, 142 rolls, NARA Roll M33_130, image 388, Virginia, Nicholas, page 204A, line 19, James Sims. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 21 February 2018). 
  6. William Griffee Brown, History of Nicholas County, West Virginia, Dietz Press, 1954, p. 166. 
  7. 1830 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Fifth Census of the United States, 1830 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. NARA microfilm publication M19, 201 rolls, FHL Film: 0029677, NARA Roll M19_198, Nicholas, Virginia, image 35+36 of 42, page 189A+B, line 17, James Sims. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 March 2018). 
  8. Isaac SIMS was featured in Black History Month: The Slaves of James SIMS, Part 2 and Black History Month: The Slaves of James SIMS, Part 3 
  9. A photo of the bill of sale for  July Hulen can be found in Black History Month: The Slaves of James SIMS, Part 1 
  10. 1840 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), <i>Ancestry</i>, citing Sixth Census of the United States, 1840 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M704, 580 rolls, FHL Film 0029690, NARA Roll M704_571, Virginia, Nicholas, image 26+27 of 67, page 10A+B, line 8, James Sims. ‎(http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018). 

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

Nearly four years ago Ellen Claytor found James C. CROUSE Sr. (1920-1944) in my online GEDCOM at RootsWeb WorldConnect. Her son had bought a house and found a flat marble marker for James in his garage. Why was the marker in her son’s garage and what could they do to get it back where it belonged?

I wrote my first post on The Mystery of James C. Crouse Sr.’s Grave Marker on 4 May 2014 followed by Part 2 only a few days later.

The first post included a biography of James C. CROUSE Sr. who began his military 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. Four years later his body was returned to West Virginia and buried in Huse Memorial Cemetery in Fayetteville. His father S. J. Crouse applied for a flat marble marker for the unmarked grave.

The marker found in the garage by J. Claytor.

I found James’ granddaughter Marian Crouse Walraven on Facebook. She was shocked to learn her grandfather’s marker had been found in someone’s garage as she knew there was a marker on his grave.

Was the original marker delivered to the wrong cemetery? Was the family contacted? Did they request a new marker when the one they applied for didn’t show up at the cemetery of burial? Was the home the marker was found in previously owned by a member of the Crouse family?

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.

James’ story spans two continents; my part in the story also spans two continents. What are the chances a mother in Ohio would contact a genealogist in Luxembourg — one of the countries the Battle of the Bulge took place in?

The follow-up a few days later was expected as I had a few people checking things out for me. Anita McClung and Sandra Humphries Raedel, research buddies and members of the Facebook group Fayette County West Virginia Genealogy, were the first to help confirm the burial location. Fayetteville Huse Memorial Park and Mausoleum has a Facebook page and at the time did photo requests of markers.

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 (the Notes section of their page had a list of burials with location). A few days later I received 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.

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.”

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

After seeing both markers we speculated the marker found in the garage was most likely the one which had been on the grave of James C. CROUSE Sr. from 1949 until the burial of his son in 1997. But the question remained – how did the marker end up in the garage?

On February 8, 2018, I received a message on my Facebook page Opening Doors in Brick Walls from Bill Wise of Oak Hill, West Virginia. He wanted me to give him a call in regards to the marker of James CROUSE. Due to the time difference and my making our traditional Berliner and Verwurelter that day, Bill got back to me with a longer message instead of waiting for me to call.

Long story short. James Crouse [Jr., the son of James CROUSE Sr.] was married to my aunt Eugenia. Her sister Vickie Jane Wise/Wade is my mother. The garage that the marker was found in was their parents’ house. William Ralph and Lucy Lee Wise. The house was left of my mother upon their death. And upon my parents’ deaths…Vicki and Larry Wade…the house was left to me and I sold very soon after that. Believe it was 2013.

When my cousin Jim passed away in 1997 he wanted to be buried with his father James. There was a new stone with both of their names on it put in place of the original. My dad worked for the town of Fayetteville which dug the graves and maintained the cemetery. He brought the stone home. Where it sat in the garage all this time. When I sold the property I had to get out fairly quickly. To be honest with you I had not thought about that stone until I was researching my uncle last night and saw your story. In my haste to get out, I probably left more than just that on the property. So not really what you would call a mystery but it was an interesting read.

Marian, the granddaughter of James Crouse Sr., is Bill’s 1C1R and he wanted to know if he and I were also related. Marian and I are 6C1R – and that five times. Bill is not related to me through any of Marian’s and my common ancestors. I did a quick check of his Wise line and we do not appear to be related.

I’m glad Bill found my blog while researching his uncle James CROUSE. Even more, I am so excited he took the time to get in touch with me and tell me the story of why the marker was found in the garage of the new homeowner. I contacted both Marian and Jaymie to let them know the new development and they read the draft of this post before it was published.

James CROUSE’s body was returned to US soil four years after he was killed. It also took four years to learn why the marker from his grave was stored in a garage. Case SOLVED. Isn’t blogging the best?

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

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,(https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9V1-FJ1R?i=36&cat=99534 : 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), (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9V1-FJB1?i=53&cat=99534 : 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), (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9V1-FJB6?i=54&cat=99534 : 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, (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9V1-FJY3?i=66&cat=99534 : 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, (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9V1-FJY6?i=68&cat=99534 : 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. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9V1-FJY4?i=80&cat=99534 : 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
Ancestry.com. 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
Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942
walter-farmer-roop-wwii-card-back
Ancestry.com. 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.

1928-jodie-wv-usgs-map-fayetteville-quadrangle
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.

tipple
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.

buckrunbywalterfroop

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.

richcreekno2mine1richcreekno2mine2richcreekno2mine3

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.

mrin00030-1952-01-19-when-we-retire-by-walter-farmer-roop
“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.

bestwishescathy1

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

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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.

EUGENE ONE  DEMPSEY
February 1982

© Eugene N. Dempsey