Rewriting the Biography: The Livelihood of James SIMS (1754-1845)

After working on the census records of James SIMS and his sixteen children I’m taking a break from researching this family. But before we put them to bed for a while, I would like to share information from a post I wrote in 2015 as a guest blogger on Mark Smith’s blog Hampshire County Long Rifles. 

When Mark requested permission to re-post the biography of James SIMS I’d written in 2002 on his blog, I came up with a different idea. I suggested writing a shorter piece on James SIMS and his sons’ work as gunsmiths. It was a wonderful opportunity to focus on an aspect of my ancestor’s life which I knew little about. The original post can be found here: James Sims (1754-1845), Gunsmith of Nicholas County

The Livelihood of James SIMS (1754-1845)

Several articles written between 1883 and 1983 tell of my 5th great-grandfather James SIMS being a gunsmith and blacksmith, however, I would like to begin with an interesting document found which gives another source of income.

The Kanawha Wilderness

Jeff Prechtel Art & Illustration – used with permission.

In the early days when James SIMS lived in the wilderness of western Virginia, the county court of Kanawha offered a bounty for scalps of wolves. On 8 June 1802, James SIMS and his son William SIMS were seen on a list of men who received $2.50 for each wolf-scalp presented.1 These payments were part of the routine work of the Kanawha County court as seen in the record book of the period.

Record Book of Kanawha County, Virginia

There is no mention of how the wolves were killed – by using pits or snares or by gun or other methods. However, Mrs. Ruberta Malva “Bertie” SIMMS WICKER (1871-1971), a daughter of Miletus SIMMS (1832-1927), wrote a three-page letter to Rev. Shirley DONNELLY in 1969, which included the following:2

His (Miletus’) grandfather, William Sims, was a fine gunsmith and lived at the mouth of Little Elk, now Swiss, W. Va. There the family built a log cabin that was two stories high. It had a little ladder arrangement in one corner, where they could climb up to shoot at the wolves which prowled through there at that time. I remember the house very well as I am now 97 years old.

James SIMS gives a new rifle gun to a substitute

Jeff Prechtel Art & Illustration – used with permission.

In 1835 James SIMS was 80 years old. He sent this statement (letter of reply) to the Pension Bureau following questions of the authenticity of his claim of being a veteran of the Revolution. James states he gave a new rifle gun and $500 in continental money to one William NOLL whom he hired as a substitute, most likely about 1775 as James was born in 1754 and was about twenty or twenty-one at the time.

Was NOLL the name he meant to give in the statement? Could the substitute have been a NALL or NALLE?  Perhaps his uncle William NALLE or a NALLE cousin? Was the new rifle given to the substitute one of the first James manufactured as a young man?3

MRIN02312 James Sims RW 27 croppedJames Sims Pensioner Servd 9 mo. Receives $30 pension. I the undersigned James Sims in pursuance of the requisites of the Secretary of the War gives the following narrative of my services as a Soldier in the War of the Revolution & statement of my age to-wit. I am in my 79th year of age. I am a native of Culpepper County & lived in that county during the War of the Revolution. In my nieneteenth or twentieth year of age (I cant tell in what year) I was drafted for 3 mo. & marched from Cupepper Country under Capt. John Tutt (don’t recollect the names of his subaltern officers) Capt Tutts company was attached to a Regt commanded by Col Jno. Slaughter which went from Culpepper. The Regt. Marched to Norfolk. Can’t recollect the names of any towns through which we marched on going to Norfolk. We were discharged at Norfolk in time to get home before the three months expired. In less than one year after the preceding term, (I cant tell in what year) I was drafted again for 3 mo. And hired a substitute whose name was William Noll (?) gave him $500 in continental money and a new rifle gun. In the year in which Cornwallis was captured at Yorktown I was drafted again for 3 mo. Set out from Culpepper under a Capt. whose name I have forgotten. We were preparing to set out on the march for nearly one week, when the news of Cornwallis’ defeat was received & we were ordered to return home & done so, having been in service this latter term about one week – I was a Sergeant & they ended my services — Saml Price wrote my Declaration to whom I gave this same narrative of my service. That I now give. I agreed to give him $20 if he brought me my money In witness of all which I hereto subscribe my name. Jany 10, 1835
His
James      X      Sims
Mark

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

Although James SIMS’ service during the Revolutionary War was not accepted as proof for a pension, the Daughters of the American Revolution have accepted his “providing supplies” and approved him as a Revolutionary War patriot. Were the supplies he provided arms of his own making?

Memoirs of Col. Campbell

Col. Edward Campbell, the son of John Campbell and Nancy Hughes, was born in 1800 and acquired the basics of an education from his parents. Shortly after the formation of Nicholas County in 1818, he was appointed justice of the peace and traveled throughout the county performing legal services for many of the outlying settlers who found it inconvenient if not impossible to make the long trip into Summersville. Campbell possessed an extraordinary memory for names and facts about the earliest inhabitants of Nicholas County, and some sixty years following his days as a traveling justice, he wrote down his reminiscences of the early settlers and the way in which they lived. Campbell’s memoirs have always been held in high esteem by historians, and where validation is possible he has seldom been found in error in any of his remarks. They were published in the Chronicle in 1883.4

As James SIMS had died only 35 years before Col. Campbell’s memoirs were published, one can imagine they had known each other well enough for the Colonel to write the following without embellishing.5

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

An old plug horse and a muzzle-loading rifle

In 1926 J.T. Peters and H.B. Carden, authors of History of Fayette County, West Virginia, wrote that William SIMS, one of the older sons of James SIMS, was a gunsmith of wide fame. They also related a story likely heard from James’ great-grandson Miletus SIMS who was living at the time.6

James Sims, great-grandfather of Miletus Sims (who is now living at Swiss and is 94 years of age), came from Culpepper county, Virginia, in 1795, and bought a 600-acre tract of land from Morris and Jones for which he paid on (sic, one) old plug horse and a muzzle-loading rifle. This tract of land was partly in Nicholas and partly in Fayette county.

No court record of the above transaction has been found. The only land James acquired and retained until his death was the 123 acres of land on Gauley conveyed to him by John JONES for the sum of five shilling on 8 April 1800.7

1800 Land Deed John and Frances Jones to James Sims

Descendants who owned Sims guns

After Indians were driven away from the Kanawha valley about 1794, gunsmiths and hunters were still in demand in this region because of the abundance of wolves, bears and other wild beasts.

Among the gunsmiths and hunters of the period were James Sims of Gauley river and his son, William. 

And so begins newspaper reporter William H. Maginnis’ article written for The Charleston Gazette in 1947.8 Several descendants of James SIMS who owned rifles were interviewed by the reporter.

No known gun made by James had preserved according to Maginnis although several made by his son William, who learned the trade and took over the business from his father, were known to exist and were owned by the following descendants. [Note: Near the turn of the twentieth century several lines down from James SIMS began using SIMMS, with a double M, instead of SIMS for their surname.]

Agnes Eugenia “Jean” SIMMS (1897-1965), the 2nd great-granddaughter of James through his son Charles and the 3rd great-granddaughter of James through his son William, is seen here holding a rifle and a toothpuller made by her ancestor William.

Newspaperarchive.com : accessed 15 February 2006

Mayme Hazel SIMMS (1897-1984), a great-granddaughter of James through his son Charles, got her gun from her father Aaron Floyd SIMMS (1862-1940).

Cecil Ray SIMMS (1897-1979) also owned a Sims gun. Like Mrs. WHITE he was descended twice from James SIMS, a great-grandson through son Charles and a 3rd great-grandson through son William.

The Hughes family on Bell Creek near Swiss also owned one of these family treasures. James SIMS had two daughters who married HUGHES men but only the male descendants of Peggy who married Matthew HUGHES remained in the Swiss area.

Jeff Prechtel Art & Illustration – used with permission.

Mr. Maginnis thought it probable that James SIMS, a native of Culpeper County, may have learned the blacksmith and gunsmith trades before 1780 in Falmouth or Fredericksburg, both in Stafford County, Virginia. Fredericksburg was a center of the iron industry in colonial times.

The reporter also spoke with Eugene Norton SIMMS (1864-?) before his death. Eugene’s father Miletus SIMS (1831-1927), who was about 14 years old when his great-grandfather James SIMS died, described him as “a physical giant, fair of complexion, a great hunter and woodsman and inclined to thrift. He built the best house on Gauley in those days – two story, hewn oak logs and a massive chimney.” 

Sims rifle compared to Honaker and Carper rifles

Rev. Clarence Shirley Donnelly (1895-1982) wrote a well-known column in the Beckley Post-Herald titled “Yesterday and Today.” Several of his columns mentioned James SIMS, his descendants, and his enslaved people.  One of these compared the SIMS rifle with several other fine rifles produced by well-known gunmakers in the area.

His rifles became noted and won an enviable reputation. Some years ago, one of these guns was shown to me but they now have all but disappeared from local circles. The Simms rifle ranked with the fine rifles produced in Raleigh County by James A. Honaker, J. B. Honaker, Joseph Carper, and Samuel Carper, as well as the Henderson rifles of Summers County and the Miller rifles of Monroe County.

Rev. Donnelly wrote of Nicolas County being the early stomping ground of the SIMS family and that James brought enslaved persons and the tools of his blacksmith and gunsmith trades with him when he came with his large family to the area before the county was formed from Kanawha County.9

A plug horse and a flintlock rifle

Lela Wolfe Prewitt who compiled genealogy information on the SIMS families of Culpeper County, Virginia, included an interesting family tradition in her work. It tells of James SIMS, learning of the illness of his dear cousin Frances SIMS, wife of Joshua MORRIS, going to Kanawha Valley about 1796.10

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

Frances SIMS was the daughter of Thomas SIMS Jr. and Mary NALLE. The statement of Frances and James being cousins should not be misconstrued as they were not cousins through their paternal SIMS side. Frances and James were first cousins through their maternal lines – Mary NALLE being a sister of James’ mother Agatha NALLE. After proper analysis, this part of the story appears believable.

However, once again the old plug horse and rifle are seen as part of the land deal.  Since the 1926 telling, the acreage has decreased from 600 to 500 acres in this version but is still four times the amount of land seen on the 1800 deed. Did the story originate in 1800 when James bought the land? Did he offer a horse and rifle instead of hard cash for the land he bought from JONES? Or did Melitus SIMS elaborate on stories told by his father William Jr. or his grandfather William Sr.?

Others who mentioned rifle making

In the late 1970s, George R. Penick Jr. noted that James SIMS moved to Bath County, Virginia, about 1787 where he engaged in rifle making.11

In 1983 James P. Whisker, author of several books on gunsmiths, wrote he had never seen a Sims rifle but heard of them through Rev. Donnelly’s writings.12

Mountain rifle made by William SIMS

Rose Mary Sims Rudy related the following to me in 2002 about a gun known to be in the possession of a descendant in 1993.

I used to correspond with a “relative” who has since died (1998). He sent me this photograph of the “Mountain Rifle that William (Billy Gunsmith) Sims made.” It was in his possession at the time the photo was made in 1993. We talked just before he died and he was giving it to his son!! He was responsible for securing a grave marker for our ancestor James – the date was assumed to be 1838. In correspondence he stated “his great uncle Eugene Simms reported that James was still drawing his RW pension when he died.” He says that the Mountain Rifle has been in the family for many years passed to him by his grandfather and father. William Sims is written on the barrel. His father once told him of a wild hog chasing him up a tree and his brother coming to his rescue with this gun.

1993 photo courtesy of Rose Mary Sims Rudy

Once again a story passed down in the family is in error. James SIMS was not drawing a pension for military service during the Revolutionary War. However much the stories differ from the records found, the rifle theme seems to be consistent from as early as 1883 when Col. Campbell wrote:

He was a gunsmith and blacksmith, and did but little farming.

Occupations on the census

Col. Campbell was a witness from the time James SIMS and his son William SIMS lived while the other persons who wrote about them were not and relied on information passed on to them.

Another source which comes to mind which includes occupations would be the census.

1850 U.S. Federal Census of Nicholas County, Virginia for William Sims, a gunsmith

William SIMS Sr. lived long enough to be enumerated on the 1850 census where his occupation was listed as Gun Smith.13 Previously in 1820 and 1840 when professions were included on the census, he was seen as engaging in manufacturing. His brother Martin SIMS supposedly set up a gun and blacksmith shop with him in Summersville. I have not found the source of this statement or been able to confirm it. In 1820 Martin was seen as engaging in manufacturing on the census while in 1840 and 1850 his employment was farming. Their father James probably turned the business over to William, and perhaps Martin, by 1820 as James was seen employed in agriculture in 1820 and 1840.

Tools of trade in an inventory?

What other documentation would possibly prove the occupations of my 5th great-grandfather James SIMS? An inventory of his estate might include the tools of his trade.

In the Order Book 1844-1871 of Nicholas County, I found entries concerning the appraisers of the estate of the deceased James SIMS as well as an entry made when the appraisement and bill of sale of his estate were presented to the court and ordered to be recorded. Where were they recorded? They were not found in Will Book 1. The book is incomplete. There is a gap between the terms of April 1844 and November 1865 with only one entry for October 1856. Two decades of records which should have been recorded in the will book are missing.

I questioned other researchers familiar with Nicholas County earlier this year. One person who had visited the courthouse said at least two will books are missing and the clerks are unsure of what happened to these books.

James SIMS earned his living as a blacksmith, gunsmith, and farmer as seen in the records, the memoirs of a witness from his time period, and the stories passed down through the family. He also supplemented his income by collecting a bounty for a wolf-scalp. Was this the only time he collected a bounty? Being a great hunter, he likely also secured the necessities of life by hunting game and selling hides.

Regarding the artwork featured in this post

After I wrote the original post for Mark Smith in 2015, he gifted me the original sketches he had commissioned from his artist friend Jeff Prechtel to illustrate the article. Written permission was obtained earlier this year from Jeff Prechtel to use the images of the original sketches.

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

Rewriting the Biography: The Livelihood of James SIMS (1754-1845)

  1.  Kanawha County, West Virginia, County Court Record Book, 1788-1803 (images), FamilySearch (Salt Lake City, Utah : Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1967), FHL Film 530753, DGS 8218841, image 218 of 291, p 395. 1802 James Sims and William Sims on wolf-scalp bounty list. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSG6-X9SZ-Q?i=217&cat=55519 : accessed 13 September 2018). 
  2. Rev. Shirley Donnelly, “Yesterday And Today – Hinton Woman, 97, Writes Well, Spells,” Beckley Post-Herald, Thursday, 9 January 1969, p 4. 
  3.  U.S. Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, 1800-1900 (index and images), Ancestry (Original data: Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15. NARA microfilm publication M804, 2,670 rolls. National Archives, Washington, D.C.), image 243 of 1164. Pension Application File SR19464 for James Sims. (www.ancestry.com : accessed 7 October 2011). 
  4. Edward Campbell, “Early Settlers of Nicholas County, Virginia,” Nicholas County, (West) Virginia Records of the Pioneers 1818-1860, Upper Glade, West Virginia, Webster County Historical Society, Inc., 1985., p 54. 
  5. Ibid., p 63. 
  6. J.T. Peters and H.B. Carden, History of Fayette County, published by the Fayette County Historical Society, Inc., 1926, p 610. 
  7.  Kanawha County (West Virginia), County Clerk, Record of deeds, 1790-1946 (images), FamilySearch, (126 microfilm reels of original records at the Kanawha County courthouse, Charleston, West Virginia), Deed books, v. A-B 1790-1804, image 206 of 468, Deed Book A, p 91. 1800 Land Deed John and Frances Jones to James Sims. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSG6-FSQG-6?i=205&cat=56556 : accessed 6 February 2018). 
  8. William H. Maginnis, “Guns Made by Pioneer on Gauley River, Mute Testimonials of Settlers’ Lives” (The Charleston Gazette, Sunday, 10 August 1947 p. 20). (Newspaperarchive.com : accessed 15 February 2006). 
  9. Rev. Shirley Donnelly, “Nicholas County Had Fine Gunsmith, Too,” Beckley Post Herald, 24 September 1965, page 4. 
  10. Lela Wolfe Prewitt, “James Sims of Culpeper, Fayette & Nicholas Cos., (West) Virginia,” Ancestors & Descendants of Thomas Sims of Culpeper County, Virgina Edmund Butler of Virginia and Kentucky with Allied Families & Other Culpeper Data, compiled and published by Lela Wolfe Prewitt, Fairfield, Iowa, 1972, p. 156. 
  11. George R. Penick Jr., comp., The Penick Papers (a Sims family compilation) (compiled in 1978-1980). 
  12. James P. Whisker, Gunsmiths of West Virginia, 1983, page 105. 
  13.  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). 

Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: Jordan, Winny, and Thomas

While researching the children of my 5th great-grandfather James Sims (1754-1845) of Nicholas County, Virginia (now West Virginia) I found records documenting the slaves of Charles Hunter, father-in-law of James’ son John. Charles Hunter wrote his last will and testament on 3 July 1847; it was proved and recorded a year later on 10 July 1848 in Kanawha County, Virginia (now West Virginia).

The Last Will and Testament of Charles Hunter

1847 Last Will and Testament of Charles Hunter (part 1)

I Charles Hunter do make this my last Will and Testament as follows, to wit, Item. I will and desire that all my personal property of any kind whatsoever be sold by my executor hereafter to be named and equally divided among my six children or their heirs to wit: Polly Forqueran, the heirs of George Hunter, James Hunter, Mildred Sims, Patsy Childers, the heirs of Nancy Cook.1

1847 Last Will and Testament of Charles Hunter (part 2)

Item. I give and bequeath to my son James a bed and bedding. I desire that my daughter Patsy may have my case of liquors at the valuation fixed by the Appraiser. I will and direct my Executor that in the sale of any personal property that the negro woman Winny and her son Thomas be sold together and that they shall not be seperated.
Item. I will and direct that all my real estate be sold and equally divided among my five children or their heirs. Argo.(?) Polly Forqueran, the heirs of George Hunter, James Hunter, Patsey Childers, and the heirs of Nancy Cook having already conveyed One hundred acres of Land to John Sims, which I consider as equal to his part.
Item. I will and direct that whatever property I have devised to my son James, or may devise, may be placed in to the hands of David Childers, who shall act as a Trustee, investing the money or property in some safe manner for his support.
I give to my son James a sorrell colt, two years old.
I do hereby declare this to be my last Will and Testament revoking all others and I hereby appoint John Sims and David Childers my executors. In Witness whereof I have hereonto set my hand and seal this 3rd day of July 1847.
………………………………………………………………………Charles Hunter (his mark)
Signed, sealed and acknowledged
in presence of Ph. R. Thompson
……………………….Lilburn Sims
……………………….Wm. H. Cunningham

At a court held for Kanawha County the 10th day of July 1848
This last Will and Testament of Charles Hunter dec’d was this day proved by the oath of Philip R. Thompson & William H. Cunningham subscribing witness thereto and ordered to be recorded.
Teste H. W. Quarrier Clk2

1848 Bills of Sale

The list of property sold at the estate sale of Charles Hunter decd on the 18th day of August 1848 does not include the enslaved Winny and her son Thomas mentioned in the will.3

On the 20th day of November 1848 another sale was held. David J. W. Clarkson bought 2 negros Tom & Winney for $562 and a Negro man Jordan for $440.50.4

The 1850 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedule

In 1850 D. J. W. Clarkson (David Josiah Wood Clarkson) was living in Kanawha County. He had five enslaved persons: 46 yo female black, 45 yo female black, 22 yo female mulatto, 10 yo female mulatto, and 12 yo male black. He had no adult male. Does this mean Jordan was deceased or sold before 1850? Could the young 12 years old boy be Thomas/Tom? If he is little Tom, which of the two older women may have been Winny as Charles Hunter stipulated Thomas was not to be separated from his mother?

By 1860 Clarkson was still in Kanawha but not found on the slave schedule. There was however a John N. Clarkson (seen in a family tree as David’s brother) on the 1860 Slave Schedule with many slaves. In 1870 David Clarkson was in Lafayette County, Missouri where he died in 1873. His widow Sarah Elizabeth Quarrier was back in Kanawha by 1880.

During the Civil War David J. W. Clarkson was engaged with his brothers in the manufacture of salt. Could knowing his occupation be helpful to anyone searching for Jordan, Winny, and Thomas?

True's statementFollowing my three-part series on the slaves of my 5th great grandfather James Sims during Black History Month in February 2015 I made a commitment to write a post on a monthly basis until I’ve RELEASED all of the names of slaves owned by my ancestors or owned by persons I’ve researched who were relatives or neighbors of my ancestors.

These posts are part of the Slave Name Roll Project (About the Project) administered by Schalene Jennings Dagutis who also blogs at Tangled Roots and Trees.

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

Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING An Unnamed Black Woman


  1.  “West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-4P95-4T?cc=1909099&wc=Q8B7-15W%3A179690301%2C179690302 : 21 June 2016), Kanawha > Will book, v. 001 1820-1858 > image 212 of 377; county courthouses, West Virginia. 
  2.  “West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-4P95-DL?cc=1909099&wc=Q8B7-15W%3A179690301%2C179690302 : 22 June 2016), Kanawha > Will book, v. 001 1820-1858 > image 213 of 377; county courthouses, West Virginia. 
  3.   “West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-4P95-P3?cc=1909099&wc=Q8B7-15W%3A179690301%2C179690302 : 22 June 2016), Kanawha > Will book, v. 001 1820-1858 > image 218+219 of 377; county courthouses, West Virginia. 
  4.  “West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-4P95-8X?cc=1909099&wc=Q8B7-15W%3A179690301%2C179690302 : 22 June 2016), Kanawha > Will book, v. 001 1820-1858 > image 219 of 377; county courthouses, West Virginia. 

Rewriting the Biography: John 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.

John SIMS (1787-1869)

The sixth child of James SIMS and his wife Phebe, if we include Edward whose census data was discussed in the last post, was John born in 1787. He did not have his own household in 1810 and was not yet married.

The 1810 U.S. Federal Census

There is a good possibility the bachelor John SIMS was in the household of Edward SIMS in 1810. An extra male of John’s age was not found in any of the other SIMS households as seen in the posts for James, William, Elizabeth, and Martin. All other children of James SIMS were too young to have their own households in 1810. Could the second male in the household of Edward SIMS be John? Where else or with whom could he have been?

If John was in Edward’s household in 1810, is this an argument for their being brothers and Edward being the son of James SIMS?

1810 U.S. Federal Census of Kanawha County, Virginia for Edward SIMS

1810 U.S. Federal Census 1
Kanawha County, (West) Virginia
Charleston
Sheet 142, Line 6
Name: Edward Sims
Free White Persons – Males – 16 thru 25: 2 (Edward and possibly John)
Free White Persons – Females – Under 10: 2 (Rebecca and Miriam)
Free White Persons – Females – 16 thru 25: 1 (Hannah)
Number of Household Members Under 16: 2
Number of Household Members: 5

The 1820 U.S. Federal Census

John married Mildred HUNTER in April 1811 or 1812 in Kanawha County. There are two entries for the marriage performed by Edward HUGHES, one dated 13 April 1811 and another dated 24 April 1812.

John was in Kanawha County in 1820 with his wife Mildred and three children. Also in the household was a young man 16 thru 25 who is unknown. He was engaged in agriculture along with John. The young man cannot be a child of either John or Mildred.

1820 U.S. Federal Census for Kanawha County, Virginia for John SIMS

1820 U.S. Federal Census 2
Kanawha County, Virginia
Page 21, Line 6
Enumeration Date: August 7, 1820
Name: John Sims
Free White Persons – Males – Under 10: 1 (Lilburn)
Free White Persons – Males – 16 thru 25: 1 (unknown)
Free White Persons – Males – 26 thru 44: 1 (John)
Free White Persons – Females – Under 10: 2 (Mary and Martha)
Free White Persons – Females – 26 thru 44: 1 (Mildred)
Number of Persons – Engaged in Agriculture: 2
Free White Persons – Under 16: 3
Free White Persons – Over 25: 2
Total Free White Persons: 6
Total All Persons – White, Slaves, Colored, Other: 6

The 1830 U.S. Federal Census

A decade later the family of John and Mildred had not increased. Mildred was about 30 years old when her last child Martha was born. She still had a number of childbearing years ahead of her. There were, however, no living children born to her other than Lilburn, Mary, and Martha in the 1830 household. A young man age 15 thru 19 who was not present in 1820 was now seen with the family.

1830 U.S. Federal Census of Kanawha County, Virginia for John SIMS

1830 U.S. Federal Census3
Kanawha County, Virginia
Enumeration Date: 1 June 1830
Name: John Sims
Free White Persons – Males – 15 thru 19: 2 (Lilburn & unknown missing in 1820)
Free White Persons – Males – 40 thru 49: 1 (John)
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 14: 1 (Martha)
Free White Persons – Females – 15 thru 19: 1 (Mary)
Free White Persons – Females – 30 thru 39: 1 (Mildred)
Free White Persons – Under 20: 4
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 2
Total Free White Persons: 6
Total – All Persons (Free White, Slaves, Free Colored): 6

The 1840 U.S. Federal Census

By 1840 all three of the children of John and Mildred had married. Their son Lilburn was not found with his own household. It is possible the young man and woman in the 20 thru 29 years range for male and female in the household of John SIMS are Lilburn and his wife Juliet GILLILAND who had married on 13 January 1840.

The two young boys in the 10 thru 14 and 15 thru 19 categories cannot be children of John and Mildred as they were not with them in 1830. Mildred had a brother and a sister who were deceased and left heirs per the 1847 will of her father Charles HUNTER. Did one of them die before 1840 and the young boys were Mildred’s nephews?

Five persons were engaged in agriculture although only four males were in the household.

1840 U.S. Federal Census of Kanawha County, Virginia for John Sims

1840 U.S. Federal Census4
Kanawha County, Virginia
Sheet 2, Line 30
Enumeration Date: 1 June 1840
Name: Jno Sims
Free White Persons – Males – 10 thru 14: 1 (not seen in 1830)
Free White Persons – Males – 15 thru 19: 1 (not seen in 1830)
Free White Persons – Males – 20 thru 29: 1 (Lilburn)
Free White Persons – Males – 50 thru 59: 1 (John)
Free White Persons – Females – 20 thru 29: 1 (Juliet)
Free White Persons – Females – 40 thru 49: 1 (Mildred)
Persons Employed in Agriculture: 5
Free White Persons – Under 20: 2
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 3
Total Free White Persons: 6
Total All Persons – Free White, Free Colored, Slaves: 6

Mary SIMS and Albert Gallatin WALKER

John and Mildred’s daughter Mary married Albert Gallatin WALKER on 15 December 1830 in Kanawha County. They were the parents of five by the time the 1840 census was enumerated. They had a young man 15 thru 19 in their household who could not be a son of Mary and Albert. Six persons in the household were engaged in agriculture. Is it possible all persons in the household except for baby Mildred and toddler Marcus were working the farm?

1840 U.S. Federal Census of Kanawha County, Virginia for Albert G. WALKER

1840 U.S. Federal Census5
Kanawha County, Virginia
Sheet 4, line 14
Name: Albert G Walker
Free White Persons – Males – Under 5: 1 (Marcus L.)
Free White Persons – Males – 5 thru 9: 2 (John Randolph and Vanhorn B.)
Free White Persons – Males – 15 thru 19: 1 (too old to be a child of this couple)
Free White Persons – Males – 30 thru 39: 1 (Albert G.)
Free White Persons – Females – Under 5: 1 (Mildred Sales)
Free White Persons – Females – 5 thru 9: 1 (Lucy Jane)
Free White Persons – Females – 20 thru 29: 1 (Mary)
Persons Employed in Agriculture: 6
Free White Persons – Under 20: 6
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 2
Total Free White Persons: 8
Total All Persons – Free White, Free Colored, Slaves: 8

Martha SIMS and Thomas J. HUDDLESTON

Johan and Mildred’s youngest daughter Martha married Thomas J. HUDDLESTON on 31 December 1835 in Kanawha County. They named their first two children after the SIMS grandparents, John and Mildred. They were living in Fayette County near other HUDDLESTON families. Thomas was engaged in manufacture and trade.

1840 U.S. Federal Census of Fayette County, Virginia for Thomas HUDDLESTON

1840 U.S. Federal Census6
Fayette County, Virginia
Page 144, line 15
Name: Thomas Huddleston
Free White Persons – Males – Under 5: 1 (John)
Free White Persons – Males – 15 thru 19: 1 (Thomas)
Free White Persons – Females – Under 5: 1 (Mildred)
Free White Persons – Females – 15 thru 19: 1 (Martha)
Persons Employed in Manufacture and Trade: 1
Free White Persons – Under 20: 4
Total Free White Persons: 4
Total All Persons – Free White, Free Colored, Slaves: 4

The 1850 U.S. Federal Census

John and Mildred appear to be raising a grandchild in 1850. Their son Lilburn was widowed before September 1848. As the 1850 census does not include the relationship to head of household further research was needed to prove William H. SIMS seen with John and Mildred was their grandson through their son Lilburn who was living next door.

1850 U.S. Federal Census of Kanawha County, Virginia for John SIMS and his son Lilburn SIMS

1850 U.S. Federal Census7:
Kanawha County, Virginia
Enumerated 6 August 1850
Sheet 22A, lines 116-18
HH #279-283
John Sims 63 M Farmer Virginia
Mildred Sims 60 F Virginia
William H. Sims 11 M attended school Virginia

Lilburn SIMS and Jane SIMS

Lilburn who was likely widowed by 1848 but a death record for his wife Juliet was not found. Jane SIMS, daughter of Edward SIMS and Hannah ROBINSON, on 21 September 1848. If the fathers of the bride and groom Edward and John, were brothers then Lilburn and Jane were first cousins. In 1850 Lilburn’s household included his wife and son as well as his parents-in-law. (see image above)

1850 U.S. Federal Census8
Kanawha County, (West) Virginia
Sheet 22A, lines 116-18
HH #280-284
Lilburn Sims 35 M Farmer Virginia
Jane Sims 25 F Virginia
Charles W. Sims 1 M Virginia
Edward Sims 64 M Virginia
Hannah Sims 60 F Virginia
Aletha Sims 27 F Virginia

Mary SIMS and Albert G. WALKER

Mary and her husband Albert’s family had increased by six children during the 1840s and the family now numbered 13. There were two other WALKER persons in the household.

In W.S. Laidley’s History of Charleston and Kanawha County, West Virginia and Representative Citizens originally published in 1911, John WALKER and Lucy KOCK were given as the parents of Albert G. WALKER. Laidley included the names of their children including a son named James H. Although I have not looked further into Albert’s siblings it appears that James H. WALKER in his household is his brother. I don’t know who Harrit may have been.

1850 U.S. Federal Census of Kanawha County, Virginia for Albert G. WALKER

1850 U.S. Federal Census9
Kanawha County, Virginia
District 29
Sheet 13B, lines 36-42
Sheet 14A, lines 1-8
HH #176-179
Albert G. Walker 45 M Farmer Virginia
Mary Walker 35 F Virginia
John R. Walker 17 M Virginia attended school
Lucy J. Walker 16 F Virginia
V. B. Walker 15 M Virginia attended school
Marcus L. Walker 12 M Virginia attended school
Mildred Walker 10 F Virginia attended school
Courtney Walker 8 F Virginia attended school
Harriet C. Walker 6 F Virginia
Mary A. Walker 5 F Virginia
Adaline Walker 3 F Virginia
Martha Walker 2 F Virginia
Drusilla 9/12 F Virginia
James H. Walker 35 M Virginia
Harrit Walker 60 F Virginia

Martha SIMS and Thomas J. HUDDLESTON

Martha and Thomas had five more children during the 1840s and by the time the 1850 census was enumerated there were seven children in the household. No occupation was listed for Thomas. The family was enumerated in the household prior to Martha’s parents John and Mildred SIMS.

1850 U.S. Federal Census of Kanawha County, Virginia for Thomas HUDDLESTON next door to John SIMS

1850 U.S. Federal Census10
Kanawha County, (West) Virginia
District 29
Sheet 22A, lines 7-15, HH #278-282
Thomas Huddleston 33 M Virginia
Martha Huddleston 26 F
Mildred Huddleston 12 Virginia attended school within the year
John Huddleston 11 M Virginia attended school within the year
Virginia Huddleston 9 F Virginia
Leah Huddleston 7 F Virginia attended school within the year
Drusilla Huddleston 4 F Virginia
Thomas Huddleston 3 M Virginia
Ellen Huddleston 1 F Virginia

The 1860 U.S. Federal Census

John’s wife Mildred died soon after the 1850 census and he remarried very soon after her death. William MARTIN who performed marriages in Kanawha and Putnam counties during the year 1850. During that year he married John SIMS and Elizabeth NEAL, widow of William LILLY. An exact date of the marriage is not given.

Elizabeth had real estate valued at $2,000 while John’s was only $80. Neither of them had a value listed in 1850.

John’s son Lilburn and his younger daughter Martha both had moved to Missouri with their families during the 1850s. They did not travel together nor did they settle in the same place.

1860 U.S. Federal Census for Kanawha County, Virginia, for John SIMS

1860 U.S. Federal Census11:
Kanawha County, Virginia
Page 69, lines 32-33, HH #485-485
John Sims 72 M farmer $80 Virginia
Elizabeth Sims 66 F $2000 Virginia

Lilburn SIMS and Jane SIMS

Lilburn and Jane moved to Cass County, Missouri with Jane’s parents and sister. They likely waited until after the birth of their second son Eugene Edward who was born in Virginia to move. Three children were born in Missouri.

1860 U.S. Federal Census of Cass County, Missouri, for Lilborn (sic) SIMS

1860 U.S. Federal Census12
Cass County, Missouri
Dolan Township, Morris Post Office
Page 105 , lines 8-14, HH #732-732
Lilborn Sims 40 M Farmer $1000 $200 Virginia
Jane Sims 28 F Virginia
Charles Sims 10 M Virginia attended school
Eugene Sims 9 M Virginia attended school
Mary Jane Sims 5 F Missouri attended school
John H. Sims 4 M Missouri
Thomas Sims 2 M Missouri
(Note: James R. Suddarth was living next door)

Mary SIMS and Albert G. WALKER

Mary and Albert had two more children bringing the total number to thirteen. Not all were living at home in 1860. A son was living in Putnam County and listed as a merchant. Two daughters had married and had their own households.

1860 U.S. Federal Census of Kanawha County, Virginia for Albert G. WALKER

1860 U.S. Federal Census13
Kanawha County, Virginia
Enumerated the 9th day of August 1860 by Wm C. Blaine
Carbonvale Post Office
Page, lines, HH #1704-1704
Albert G. Walker 56 M Farmer $2000 $400 Virginia
Mary Walker 46 F Virginia
John R. Walker 28 M Merchant $500 $1500 Virginia
Marcus L. Walker 22 M Clerk Virginia
Mildred S. Walker 18 F Virginia
Harriet E. Walker 17 F Virginia
Mary Walker 16 F Virginia
Adaline Walker 15 F Virginia attended school within the year
Martha Walker 12 F Virginia attended school within the year
Drucilla Walker 11 F Virginia attended school within the year
Calhoun Walker 9 M Virginia attended school within the year
Josaphine Walker 7 F Virginia attended school within the year

Martha SIMS and Thomas J. HUDDLESTON

Martha and Thomas had three more children, two born in Virginia and the last born in Missouri. The census listing is difficult to analyze as several members of the household are seen only with initials. One female may have been missed in 1850 (S.C.) and another may be using her middle name in 1860 (Leah Martha). Several children were not with the parents in 1860 but would be with them in 1870.

1860 U.S. Federal Census of Cooper County, Missouri for T.J. HUDDLESTON

1860 U.S. Federal Census14:
Cooper County, Missouri
Lebanon, Otterville Post Office
Page 22, lines 23-31, HH #141-141
T. J. Huddleston 45 M $0 $50 Virginia
M. Huddleston 41 F Virginia
Martha Huddleston 17 F Virginia[Leah M.??]
S. C. Huddleston 16 F Virginia[not with family in 1850; Sarah in 1870?]
D. Huddleston 14 F Virginia
Thos L. Huddleston 12 M Virginia
Lucy E. Huddleston 7 F Virginia
E. A. Huddleston 6 F Virginia
H. H. Huddleston 2 M Missouri

Before the 1870 U.S. Federal Census

John’s second wife Elizabeth NEAL died 8 April 1861. John SIMS lived to the age of eighty-two years, spending his last days in the home of his daughter Mary and her husband Albert G. WALKER. He died 15 October 1869 in Brownstown, today known as Marmet, in Kanawha County, West Virginia. The death was reported by A. G. Walker, his son-in-law, who was listed as kindred. Albert either did not know or failed to give the names of John’s parents.

Martha, the youngest of John’s children, was last seen in the 1870 census in Walshville, Montgomery County, Illinois. No trace has been found of her or her husband in 1880. Seven children were found in 1880, one child died in 1875, and the three, like their parents, were not found. If anyone has worked on this family group I would appreciate hearing from them.

Lilburn died at the age of 74 in Cass County, Missouri, in 1887 leaving a will in which he named his five sons, his oldest daughter, and the widower of his youngest daughter. He wife inherited all real estate. His son William was named in the will confirming the child with John and Mildred in 1850 was a grandson and son of Lilburn.

Mary, the last living child of John SIMS, died about 1897 at the age of 92 years in Marmet, Kanawha County, West Virginia.

The next installment will be for James and Phebe’s daughter Mary “Polly” SIMS.

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

Rewriting the Biography: John Sims in the U.S. Federal Census

  1. 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 395, Virginia, Kanawha, Charleston, page 119, sheet 142, line 6, Edward Sims (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 February 2018). 
  2. 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_142, image 34, Virginia, Kanawha, page 11, line 6, John Sims. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 21 February 2018). 
  3. 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 0029670, NARA Roll M19_191, Virginia, Kanawha, image 67+68 of 84, page 213A+B, line 21, John Sims. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 March 2018). 
  4. 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 0029689, NARA Roll M704_566, Virginia, Kanawha, page 2A+B, line 30, John Sims. ‎(http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018). 
  5. Ibid., Virginia, Kanawha, image 32+33 of 129, sheet 14, line 14, Albert G. Walker household. ‎(http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 16 May 2018). 
  6. Ibid., Virginia, Fayette, image 11&12 of 54, sheet 144, line 15, Thomas Huddleston household. ‎(http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 18 May 2018). 
  7. 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_954, image 49; Virginia, Kanawha, District 19, image 23 of 271, sheet 22A, lines 16-18, HH #279-283, John Sims household. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 16 May 2018). 
  8. Ibid., Virginia, Kanawha, District 19, image 23 of 271, sheet 22A, lines 19-24, HH #280-284, Lilburn Sims household. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 16 May 2018). 
  9. Ibid., Virginia, Kanawha, District 19, image 6&7 of 271, sheet 13B&14A, lines 36-42 and 1-8, HH #176-179, Albert G. Walker household. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 18 May 2018). 
  10. Ibid., Virginia, Kanawha, District 19, image 23 of 271, sheet 22A, lines 7-15, HH #278-282, Thomas Huddleston household. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 17 May 2018). 
  11. 1860 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Eighth Census of the United States, 1860 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M653, 1,438 rolls, Roll: M653_1356, FHL Film 805356, Virginia, Kanawha, image 70 of 321, page 69, lines 31-32, HH #485-485, John Sims household. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 19 May 2018). 
  12. Ibid., Roll: M653_612, page 801; FHL Film 803612; Missouri, Cass, Dolan, image 31 of 41, page 105, lines 8-14, HH #732-732, Lilborn Sims household. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 19 May 2018). 
  13. Ibid., Roll: M653_1356; Page: 246; FHL Film 805356; Virginia, Kanawha, image 217 of 321, page 246, lines 21-32, HH #1704-1704, Albert G. Walker household. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 19 May 2018). 
  14. Ibid., Roll: M653_616; Page: 678; FHL Film 803616; Missouri, Cooper, Lebanon, image 12 of 54, page 22, lines 23-31, HH #141-141, T. J. Huddleston household. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 19 May 2018). 

52 Ancestors: #37 Nancy Ann SIMS abt. 1793-bet. 1860-1870

52ancestors“The challenge: have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.”

This is entry #37 in Amy Johnson Crow’s Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

52 Ancestors: #37 Nancy Ann SIMS abt. 1793-bet. 1860-1870

My fourth great-grandmother Nancy Ann SIMS (1793-1860s) was the youngest child of James SIMS (1754-1840)  and his first wife Phebe (1755-1794). Their marriage record, which would show Phebe’s maiden name, has not been found. Old family lore, which has not been substantiated, tells of James marrying his cousin. This has led many on a wild goose chase as they only considered that she may have been a SIMS. It is believed that they married before 1777 in Culpeper County, Virginia, as this is where James was known to have been living.

On the 18th day of February 1834, James SIMS personally appeared before the Justice of the Peace of Nicholas County (who happened to be his son William) and gave an oath and made his declaration to obtain the benefit of the Act of Congress passed 7 June 1832 for service rendered during the Revolutionary War. In the statement, he told of his living in Culpeper County in June 1777 when he was drafted.

declaration
James Sims Revolutionary War papers (ancestry.com accessed 7 Oct 2011)

James SIMS and his wife Phebe had seven children before their youngest, Nancy Ann was born about 1793 in Bath County, Virginia.

  • Sib 1: Jeremiah SIMS (1777-1824) born 24 May 1777 in Culpeper County, Virginia
  • Sib 2: William SIMS (1780-1854) born 6 November 1780 in Culpeper County, Virginia
  • Sib 3: Elizabeth SIMS (1782-1845) born 1782 in Culpeper County, Virginia
  • Sib 4: Martin SIMS (1783-1853) born about 1783 in Virginia
  • Sib 5: Edward “Ned” SIMS (1785-1852) born 7 June 1785 in Virginia
  • Sib 6: John SIMS (1787-1869) born 15 May 1787 in Virginia
  • Sib 7: Mary “Polly” SIMS (1788-1824) born between 1788-1792 in Virginia

On 17 December 1779[1] James and Phebe sold 118 acres of land in Bromfield parish, in the Great Fork of the Rappahannock River in Culpeper County, Virginia. The land had been acquired 30 October 1762[2] by Jeremiah SIMS and left to his only child James. It is not known if James and Phebe left Culpeper immediately for the area which would become Bath County, in 1790, where their youngest was born, or if they lived in different locations between 1780 and 1793.

Baby Nancy’s Mother Phebe Dies in a Tragic Accident

Nancy’s mother Phebe died shortly before 22 January 1794 in Clifton Forge, Bath County, Virginia. Nancy, who was seen as 66 years old in the 1860 census, was born in 1794 or earlier. It is more likely that she was born in 1793 and not during the early part of January 1794. Family tradition is that James’ wife was coming home from caring for a sick friend, fell from her horse, and drowned in the Jackson River. I cannot imagine the mother of a newly born baby leaving home to visit a sick friend. The story of the drowning has been verified with the coroner’s inquest report dated 22 January 1794, which includes the following statement: “Phebe was accidently drowned occasioned by the horse whereon she rode rearing and plunging and throwing her into the water.” There is no mention of who was traveling with Phebe when this happened.

MRIN02312 1794-01-22 Phebe Simms Inquisition 3
Bath County, Virginia records, Coroner’s Inquest Report. Photocopy of original courtesy of Rose Mary Sims Rudy, a descendant of James SIMS and Elizabeth COTTON through their son James SIMS Jr. (received per email 9 October 2001)
MRIN02312 1794-01-22 Phebe Simms Inquisition 4
Bath County, Virginia records, Coroner’s Inquest Report. Photocopy of original courtesy of Rose Mary Sims Rudy, a descendant of James SIMS and Elizabeth COTTON through their son James SIMS Jr. (received per email 9 October 2001)

Transcript of the Coroner’s Inquest

Phebe Simms
Inquisition Taken
the 22nd of January
1794 Before John
Dean Gent. Coroner

Bath County to wit

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

Nancy’s Brother Jeremiah is Accused of Causing Phebe’s Death

This was not the last that would be heard of Phebe’s death. Her oldest son Jeremiah SIMS was accused by John SCOTT of causing his mother’s death. His father James defended him and brought suit against Scott demanding damages of 100 pounds.

writ

Sir Please to Issue a Writ vs John Scott for saying my son
was the Dam son of a Bitch that Drowned his Mother
Col. C. Cameron                                              Jas. Sims

MRIN02311 1794-04-16 Jeremiah Simms court case 3MRIN02311 1794-04-16 Jeremiah Simms court case 4

A Stepmother for Nancy Ann

James SIMS married Elizabeth COTTON on 25 October 1796 in Bath County, Virginia. During the first 4 or 5 years of their marriage, they did not have any known children. James was making plans to move to Kanawha County where, in 1800, he bought land “lying & being in the County of Kanawha Containing one hundred & twenty three acres on Gauley River above the Ferry.” This would later be the location of Swiss, Nicholas County, West Virginia, where all of the children of the second marriage were born.

  • Half-Sib 1: James SIMS (1801-1860) born about 1801 in Kanawha County
  • Half-Sib 2: Margaret SIMS (1801-1840) born between 1801-1804 in Kanawha County
  • Half-Sib 3: Sarah SIMS (1804-1837) born between 1804-1806 in Kanawha County
  • Half-Sib 4: Mildred “Milly” SIMS (1806-1882) born about 1806 in Kanawha County
  • Half-Sib 5: Jane L. SIMS (1810-1880) born about 1810 in Kanawha County
  • Half-Sib 6: Charles Fulton SIMS (1815-1891) born 13 August 1815 Kanawha County
  • Half-Sib 7: Dryden SIMS (1818-1880) born about 1818 Kanawha County
  • Half-Sib 8: George Washington “Wash” SIMS (1821-1880) born about 1821 in Nicholas County

Nancy’s Siblings Marry Within Eight Years of Each Other

When Nancy’s father James and her stepmother Elizabeth were beginning to have children, her older siblings were marrying:

  • Martin SIMS married Susannah JOHNSON (1784-1840) on 28 March 1800 in Greenbrier County, (West) Virginia[3]
  • Jeremiah SIMS married Sarah MILHOLLEN (1777-1838) on 26 November 1800 in Bath County, Virginia[4]. Jeremiah had not made the move with the rest of the family and would later move to Ohio.
  • Elizabeth SIMS married John Brown JOHNSON (1777-1861) on 2 June 1802 in Kanawha County, (West) Virginia
  • Edward “Ned” SIMS married Hannah Mary ROBINSON (1786-1858) on 8 August 1805 in Urbana, Champaign County, Ohio
  • William SIMS married Elizabeth WINDSOR (1784-1852) before 1806 in Kanawha County, (West) Virginia [William Sims was the son-in-law of Jonathan Windsor]
  • Mary “Polly” SIMS married John FOWLER ( -1808) on 28 February 1808 in Kanawha County, (West) Virginia. She was widowed during the year and then married Thomas HUGHES (1778-1853) on 25 August 1809 in Kanawha County, (West) Virginia

By the time that the enumerator came around visiting the families all of Nancy siblings except for John were married. Her father James did not have a young lady of her age in his household. I’ve studied all of her siblings’ census listings and only her brother William, the oldest of James’ children living in the area, had a female of the correct age group.

1810censussims
1810 U.S. Federal Census > Virginia > Kanawha (ancestry.com)

1810 U.S. Federal Census
Kanawha County, (West) Virginia
Kanawha
Simms, William
Free White Persons – Males – Under 10: 2 (sons, William Jr. and Jeremiah)
Free White Persons – Males – 26 thru 44: 1 (William)
Free White Persons – Females – Under 10: 1 (daughter Nancy)
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 15: 1 (sister Nancy Ann)
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

Nancy’s absence her in father’s household lead earlier researchers to assume that she married in 1810. This was not the case. Before she would marry it was her brother John’s turn. John SIMS and Mildred HUNTER (1790-1850) were married by Edw. R. HUGHES on 13 April 1811 in Kanawha County, (West) Virginia.

Nancy Marries at about 21 Years of Age

Close to the end of the War of 1812 (18 Jun 1812-24 Dec 1814), Nancy Ann SIMS married William JOHNSON Jr. in Kanawha County, (West) Virginia, on 15 October 1814.  They soon started a family and by 1839 had eleven children:

  1. Nelson JOHNSON (1815-1855) born about 1815
  2. Huldah JOHNSON (1817-1880) born about 1817
  3. Alexander JOHNSON (1819-1887) born 10 June 1819
  4. Mary JOHNSON (1820-1898) born 20 August 1820
  5. John Brown JOHNSON (1823-1902) born 23 December 1823
  6. Amy JOHNSON (1825-1904) born 4 November 1825
  7. Lewis JOHNSON (1828-1845) born 6 March 1828. He died 31 August 1845 of typhoid fever.
  8. Elizabeth JOHNSON (1829-1833) born about 1829. She died at the age of 4 years of flux.
  9. William Hunter JOHNSON (1832-1899) born 27 July 1832
  10. Nancy JOHNSON (1835-1915) born August 1835
  11. Morris Houston JOHNSON (1839-1845) born 21 January 1839. He died 11 August 1845 of typhoid fever.

In 1824, Nancy lost two of her siblings. Her oldest brother Jeremiah, who had gone to Ohio soon after his marriage, died on 12 January 1824 in German Township, Clark County, Ohio, and was buried in Callison Cemetery in that township. Her youngest sister Polly, who had married Thomas HUGHES, died leaving 4 young children. It is very likely that she died in childbirth as her youngest was born about the time that she died.

After the birth in August 1835 of their tenth child Nancy, named after her mother, William and Nancy’s children began to marry. At the time they had only nine living children as four-year-old Elizabeth had died of flux about 1833.

  • Ch 1: Nelson JOHNSON married Elizabeth HUGHES (1817-1900) on 14 September 1837 in Fayette County, (West) Virginia
  • Mary JOHNSON married David Alexander MILLER (1820-1871) on 13 December 1839 in Fayette County, (West) Virginia[5]
  • Huldah JOHNSON married Robert INGRAM (1819-1902) about 1841 in Fayette County (West) Virginia

Another marriage that took place around this time was that of Nancy’s brother Martin who was recently widowed. Martin SIMS married Margaret “Peggy” HUGHES (1801- ) on 6 June 1840 in Fayette County, (West) Virginia

Typhoid Fever Epidemic in 1845

Nancy’s sister Elizabeth, wife of John Brown JOHNSON, died 1 June 1845 in Fayette County, (West) Virginia and was buried in Johnson Cemetery in Kincaid. Their father James SIMS died between 1840-1848 in Swiss, Nicholas County, (West) Virginia.

A typhoid fever epidemic is said to have been raging in 1845. This infectious, often fatal, febrile disease caused by the typhoid bacillus which is usually introduced with food or drink came to plague the JOHNSON family. The disease usually seen in the summer months, characterized by intestinal inflammation and ulceration, quickly took two of Nancy’s youngest boys. Morris Houston died on 11 August and Lewis followed him 20 days later on 31 August.

Nancy’s husband William JOHNSON died 18 December 1845 in Loup Creek, Fayette County, (West) Virginia and was buried in Nichols Cemetery on Loop Creek, also seen as Nichols Hollow Cemetery, Robson.

Following these deaths, the family moved on and there were several more marriages:

  • John Brown JOHNSON married Mary Ann SETTLE (1821-1896) on 14 July 1846 in Fayette County, (West) Virginia
  • Amy JOHNSON married Charles McClung HUFFMAN (1826-1913) in 1849 in Kanawha County, (West) Virginia
  • Alexander JOHNSON married Isabella HUGHES (1827- ) before 1850. He was living in Fayette County at the time of the 1850 census with his wife Isabella and their daughter Lucinda.

Nancy Moves to Sissonville with her Single Children

The 1850 census was enumerated as of 1 June 1850. Nancy, her son William Hunter and her daughter Nancy were missed on this census. Family tradition is that they moved about 1849 from Nancy’s farm in Fayette County to Grapevine in Kanawha County after the death of Nancy’s husband and their father. Nancy’s oldest son Nelson, a cabinet maker, had moved to Madison County, Missouri, before the 1850 census but would return to Kanawha County where he died in 1855.

Once Nancy was settled in Kanawha County the last of her children married:

  • Nancy JOHNSON married William B. MARTIN (1831-1920) on 7 September 1853 in  Kanawha County, (West) Virginia
  • William Hunter JOHNSON married Louisa Lavinia SAMUELS (1839-1884)  on 26 October 1856 in Sissonville, Kanawha County, (West) Virginia

Nancy’s brother John SIMS, whose wife had died after the 1850 census was enumerated, married(2) Elizabeth NEAL, a widow, (1794-1861) in Sept/Oct 1850 in Kanawha County, (West) Virginia.

In the years that followed Nancy lost three more of her siblings: Edward “Ned” SIMS died 31 March 1852 in Cass County, Missouri and was buried in Orient Cemetery in Harrisonville; Martin SIMS died after 1853; and William SIMS died on 15 October 1854 in Nicholas County, (West) Virginia. Only Nancy and her brother John remained.

Nancy lived with her youngest living son, William Hunter JOHNSON, and was seen in his household in 1860. Next door was her son Alexander and a few households away was her daughter Amy HUFFMAN.

1860censusjohnson1
1860 U.S. Federal Census > Virginia > Kanawha > Sissonville > HH #787 and #788
1860censusjohnson2
1860 U.S. Federal Census > Virginia > Kanawha > Sissonville > HH #784

By 1870 we no longer find Nancy Ann SIMS with any of her children and it has been said that she died in the 1860s in the Poca District, Kanawha County, West Virginia. She may have predeceased her last living sibling, John SIMS who died 15 October 1869 in Kanawha County, West Virginia.

Nancy Ann (SIMS) JOHNSON was survived by her children Huldah INGRAM (died between 1880-1900); Alexander JOHNSON (died 8 Apr 1887 in Sissonville); Mary MILLER (died 4 Mar 1898 in Legg District, Kanawha County); William Hunter JOHNSON (died 6 January 1899 in Sissonville); John Brown JOHNSON (died 30 Jul 1902 in Clifton, Kanawha County); Amy HUFFMAN (died 28 Feb 1904 in Sycamore, Clay County); and Nancy MARTIN (died 1 December 1915 in Sissonville). She was also survived by five of her eight half-siblings: Milly SETTLE, Jane DARLINGTON, Charles Fulton SIMS, Dryden SIMS, and Wash SIMS.

Sources:
[1] Culpeper County, Virginia, Land Records, Deed Book H, 1775 – 1778, pages 475-477
[2] Culpeper County, Virginia, Land Records, Deed Book D, 1762 – 1765 c, pages 547-550 (digital copies of photocopies)
[3] Larry Heffner, email dated 10 August 2004 in reply for request of information on marriage papers of Martin Sims and Susanna Johnson in the archives of the Greenbrier Historical Society
[4] Eliza Warwick Wise,  Bath County Marriage Bonds and Ministers Returns 1791-1853, (Bath County Historical Society, Inc. 1978)
[5] Sissonville A Time to Remember, The Sissonville Historical Awareness Committee of The Sissonville Village Association, 1988, pg. 108  (http://www.rootsweb.com/~wvkanawh/Sissonville/index.html)

© 2014 Cathy Meder-Dempsey