Rewriting the Biography: James SIMS Jr. 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.

James SIMS and his second wife Elizabeth COTTON’s first known child was a son, James, born about 1801. James and Elizabeth were married in Bath County, Virginia, in October 1796 and moved to Kanawha County by 1800. This was where young James was born.

The 1810 U.S. Federal Census

James SIMS Jr. was the young boy under the age of 10 with his parents in 1810. He had by this time three younger sisters as seen in the analysis of his father James SIMS’ census records.

1810 U.S. Federal Census of Kanawha County, Virginia for James Simms (top line)

1810 U.S. Federal Census 1
Kanawha County, 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, Black Jude, Black Fanny, Robert, and ?)
Number of Household Members Under 16: 4
Number of Household Members Over 25: 2
Number of Household Members: 11

The 1820 U.S. Federal Census

By 1820 James was no longer showing up in the census with his parents. His half-brother William, the second oldest son of James Sr., was married with six children at the time of the 1820 census. Also in the household was a young man 16 thru 25 years old. Could this be James Jr.?

Two persons in the William SIMS household were engaged in manufactures. William may have been apprenticing his young half-brother James. William, as well as his brother Martin, were well-known rifle makers.

1820 U.S. Federal Census of Nicholas County, Virginia for William Sims

1820 U.S. Federal Census 2
Nicholas County, 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

James SIMS Jr. married Elizabeth STANLEY in Kanawha County, Virginia, on 26 August 1821. By 1 June 1830, they had two daughters and a son. Their first child, Susan, if born after the date of marriage, should be seen here in the 5 thru 9 years range. Her age would continue to fluctuate in 1840 through 1860. James’ occupation was not indicated on this census listing.

1830 U.S. Federal Census of Kanawha County, Virginia for James Sims Jr.

1830 U.S. Federal Census3
Kanawha County, Virginia
Sheet 213A&B Line 17
Enumeration Date: 1 June 1830
Name: James Sims
Free White Persons – Males – Under 5: 1 (James Wesley age 4)
Free White Persons – Males – 20 thru 29: 1 (James age 29)
Free White Persons – Females – Under 5: 1 (Seneth age 1)
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 14: 1 (Susan 1850 age 23, 1860 age 40)
Free White Persons – Females – 20 thru 29: 1 (Elizabeth)
Free White Persons – Under 20: 3
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 2
Total Free White Persons: 5
Total – All Persons (Free White, Slaves, Free Colored): 5

The 1840 U.S. Federal Census

By 1840 the family of James and Elizabeth grew by two daughters and two sons. According to this listing, everyone in the family was engaged in farming except for two persons. They could only be the two youngest children who were under 5 years old. In the 30 thru 39 years range with James is a second male who remains unknown.

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

1840 U.S. Federal Census4
Kanawha County, Virginia
Sheet 51A&B, Line 13
Enumeration Date: 1 June 1840
Name: James Sims
Free White Persons – Males – Under 5: 1 (John)
Free White Persons – Males – 5 thru 9: 2 (William and James)
Free White Persons – Males – 30 thru 39: 2 (James and unknown)
Free White Persons – Females – Under 5: 1 (Nancy)
Free White Persons – Females – 5 thru 9: 2 (Rachel and Seneth)
Free White Persons – Females – 15 thru 19: 1 (Susan)
Free White Persons – Females – 30 thru 39: 1 (Elizabeth)
Persons Employed in Agriculture: 8
Free White Persons – Under 20: 7
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 3
Total Free White Persons: 10
Total All Persons – Free White, Free Colored, Slaves: 10
Note: Annotated ages are from the 1850 census.

The 1850 U.S. Federal Census

In 1850 we finally see the names of the children of James and Elizabeth on the census sheet. Two more sons were born during the 1840s bringing the total children to nine. Only eight of these were living at home. The missing child was their oldest son James Wesley SIMS who married in October 1848.

James and Elizabeth’s daughter Nancy was enumerated as being deaf in 1850. This fact would later be useful in finding the 1860 census listing.

1850 U.S. Federal Census of Kanawha County, Virginia for James Sims household (part 1)
1850 U.S. Federal Census of Kanawha County, Virginia for James Sims household (part 2)

1850 U.S. Federal Census5
Kanawha County, Virginia
District No. 29
Enumerated by me, on the 25th day of June 1850, A.P. Fry Ass’t Marshall
Sheet 102A, Lines 39-42, Sheet 102B, Lines 1-6, HH #1476-1510
James Sims 49 M Farmer Virginia cannot read & write
Elizabeth Sims 47 F Virginia
Seneth Sims 21 F Virginia
Rachael Sims 18 F Virginia
Susan Sims 23 F Virginia
William H. Sims 16 M Laborer Virginia
Nancy Sims 12 F Virginia deaf
John E. Sims 10 M Virginia attended school within the year
Charles Sims 7 M Virginia attended school within the year
Daniel S. Sims 2 M Virginia

As mentioned above, James Wesley SIMS married in 1848 and was seen with his wife Sarah Jane HALL and their first child, a daughter Elizabeth. They lived next door to Sarah Jane’s parents and siblings and a little more than a dozen households away from James’ parents. James W. was working as a laborer and could not read and write.

1850 U.S. Federal Census of Kanawha County, Virginia for James W. Sims household

1850 U.S. Federal Census6
Kanawha County, Virginia
District No. 29
Enumerated by me, on the 24th day of June, 1850, A.P. Fry Ass’t Marhall
Sheet 101A, Lines 39-41, HH #1462-1495
James W. Sims 23 M Laborer Virginia cannot read & write
Sarah J. Sims 18 F Virginia
Elizabeth Sims 9/12 F Virginia

The 1860 U.S. Federal Census

James SIMS and his family moved to Texas during the 1850s according to family tradition leaving only son James Wesley SIMS in (West) Virginia. This would mean the eight children seen in the 1850 census went to Texas with James and Elizabeth. Texas is a huge state. If the story is true, where in Texas did they settle?

Four of the children were found in two households in Colorado County, Texas. Nancy Jane, the youngest daughter who was seen as deaf in 1850, married John A. PIERCE in Colorado County in 1857. She was listed in 1860 as deaf & dumb. Next door are her brother John E., seen as Everete, her oldest sister Susan, and her brother Charles W.

1860 U.S. Federal Census of Colorado County, Texas for John A. Pierce and Everete Sims households

1860 U.S. Federal Census7, 8
Colorado County, Texas
Columbus Post Office
Enumerated by me on the 9th day of July, 1860. George W. Breeding, Ass’t Marshall.
Sheet No. 146B, Lines 31-33, HH #412-391
John A. Pierce 32 M Gunright $1000 $450 Tennessee
Nancy Pierce 21 F Virginia deaf & dumb
Charles Pierce 10/12 Texas
Sheet No. 146B, Lines 34-36, HH #413-392
Everete Sims 20 M Farmer Virginia
Susan Sims 40 F Virginia
Charles Sims 19 M Virginia

Another SIMS marriage had taken place in Colorado County in 1852 placing the move from Kanawha to Texas at between 1850-1852. Rachel E. SIMS married James W. ALLEN on 11 September 1852. By 1860 they were living in Houston County, Texas, and had three children.

1860 U.S. Federal Census of Houston County, Texas for the James W. Allen household

1860 U.S. Federal Census9
Houston County, Texas
Elkhart Post Office
Page No. 135, Lines 15-19, HH #960-886
James W. Allen 31 M Brickmason $250 $0 Tennessee
R. E. Allen 28 F Housewife Virginia
James W. Allen 7 M Texas
Mary Allen 3 F Texas
Julia Allen 1 F Texas

Three of the children of James SIMS Jr. were not located in 1860 or later census years: Seneth, William H. and Daniel S. Did they marry? Do they have descendants?

Where were James SIMS Jr. and his wife?

Where were James SIMS Jr. and his wife Elizabeth STANLEY? From the two marriages found in Colorado County, it can be assumed the family was in the county as early as 11 September 1852 when Rachel married. Unfortunately, the marriage records of both girls do not include the names of the parents or if they were living.

1860 Mortality Schedule of Colorado County, Texas (top of page)
1860 Mortality Schedule of Colorado County, Texas (bottom of page)

1860 U.S. Federal Census10
Colorado County, Texas
Schedule 3: Persons Who Died During the Year Ending June 1, 1860
Page 5, Line 32
Elizabeth Sims (59, female, widowed, born in Virginia, died in May of “rising in the head” after an illness of six months)

On Schedule 3, also known as the mortality schedule, of the 1860 census for Colorado County a widowed Elizabeth SIMS age 59 and born in Virginia was found. She died in May of “rising in the head” after an illness of six months. The dreadful “rising in the head” is also known as an ear abscess.11

As the children were found in this county it is possible this woman was James SIMS’ wife Elizabeth STANLEY. Her age is off by two years compared to the 1850 census but Virginia as her place of birth is correct. James SIMS likely died before her as she was listed as a widow.

The names found in Colorado County in 1860 match the names found in the SIMS family in 1850. Four of the children were found living together and/or next door. The daughter Nancy was seen as deaf in 1850 and deaf and dumb in 1860. Nancy and Rachel married in Colorado County.  Is this conclusive evidence that these SIMS in Texas were the James SIMS family formerly of Kanawha County in old Virginia?

The only child to remain in western Virginia was the oldest son James Wesley SIMS. In 1850 he had a daughter Elizabeth, likely named after his mother. She was no longer with the family in 1860. Although no record of death has been found in Kanawha or Putnam, it is assumed she died between 1850-1860. Two sons were born to Sarah Jane during the decade prior to the 1860 census. William James was born while they were living in Kanawha and Thomas was born in Buffalo in Putnam County where the family settled in the mid-1850s. James Wesley was working as a laborer at this time.

1860 U.S. Federal Census of Putnam County, Virginia for the J. W. Sims household

1860 U.S. Federal census12
Putnam County, (West) Virginia
Buffalo Post Office (790)
Enumerated the 5th day of July 1860, W. E. Herndon, Ass’t Marshal
HH #630-553
J. W. Sims 33 M Laborer Virginia
S. Sims 29 F Virginia
W. J. Sims 7 M Virginia
T. Sims 2 M Virginia

The 1870 U.S. Federal Census

James SIMS and his wife Elizabeth STANLEY died in Texas before the enumeration of the 1860 census. Three of their children have, up to now, not been located in 1860 or later: Seneth, William H., and Charles W.

Susan and her brothers, John Everete and Charles W., who had been living together in 1860 have not been found in the 1870 census or later. Charles W. SIMS was one of the 517 Colorado County men who were identified as Confederate soldiers.

Simms, Charles W. (private) age 19 in 1860; enrolled in Company A, 5th Texas Cavalry, on August 17, 1861 at Columbus; discharged for medical reasons, about October 1861; enlisted in Company F, 35th Texas Cavalry, on April 10, 1862; left with illness, April 24, 1863; returned to company; arrested by civil authorities in Brazoria County, May 1864; hospitalized in Tyler, October 15, 1864.13

Nancy Jane SIMS likely died following the birth of a daughter seen as Sallie age 2 in 1870 or in the period between the birth and the 1870 census. No death record has been found for Nancy Jane. She left a widower, two sons, and a daughter.

The only child of James and Elizabeth known to be living in Texas in 1870 was their daughter Rachel E. (SIMS) PIERCE. She was widowed and living in Nacogdoches County, Texas. Rachel was a challenge to research and without the help of one of her descendants, it may have never been known she was married 3 (proven) or 4 times and died in 1918 in Waelder, Gonzales County, Texas.

James Wesley SIMS who remained in old Virginia was a riverboat pilot who ferried soldiers and supplies from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Charlestown, Virginia, during the Civil War. Supplies were stored in Gallipolis, Ohio, just across from Putnam County were he lived.

A daughter Caroline had been born soon after the 1860 census. In 1864 his second son Thomas died of scarlet fever. After the war, James W. moved his family across the Ohio River to Gallia County, Ohio. Another daughter Melinda, named after the maternal grandmother, was born just before the 1870 census in Gallia. James and Sarah Jane would remain in the county until his death in 1897. The three living children married in Gallia County: James William in 1875, Caroline in 1879, and Melinda, who was known as Linnie, in 1896. James W.’s widow Sarah Jane lived with her youngest daughter until her death in 1910 in Coshocton County, Ohio.

Like Jeremiah, the oldest son of James SIMS (1754-1845), James Jr., the oldest son from James’ second marriage, left the family he grew up with. Jeremiah moved to Ohio while James moved to Texas. None of their descendants remained in the area the elder James SIMS chose for his family when he moved to the Kanawha area (later Nicholas County) at the turn of the 19th century.

Coming next, Margaret SIMS. She was my 4th great-grandaunt and the mother of my great-granduncle. How could that be?

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

Rewriting the Biography: James SIMS Jr. 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 405, Virginia, Kanawha, Kanawha, page 129, sheet 207A, line 23, James Simms (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 6 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_130, image 388, Virginia, Nicholas, page 204A, line 17, William Sims. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 21 February 2018). 
  3. 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 0029670, NARA Roll M19_191, Virginia, Kanawha, image 67+68 of 84, page 213A+B, line 17, James Sims. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 March 2018). 
  4. 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 0029689, NARA Roll M704_566, Virginia, Kanawha, page 51A+B, line 13, James Sims. ‎(http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018). 
  5. 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_954; image 207; Virginia, Kanawha, image 181 of 271, sheet 102A, lines 39-42, sheet 102B, lines 1-6, HH #1476-1510, James Sims household. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 21 June 2018). 
  6.  Ibid., Virginia, Kanawha, image 179 of 271, sheet 101A, lines 39-41, HH #1462-1495, James W. Sims household. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 28 June 2018). 
  7.  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_1291; FHL Film: 805291; Texas, Colorado, image 58 of 102, page 146, lines 31-33, HH #412-391, John Pierce household. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 21 June 2018). 
  8.  Ibid., Roll: M653_1291; FHL Film: 805291; Texas, Colorado, image 58 of 102, page 146, lines 34-36, HH #413-392, Everete Sims household. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 21 June 2018). 
  9.  Ibid., Roll: M653_1297; FHL Film: 805297; Texas, Houston, Beat 12, image 9 of 9, page 276, lines 15-19, HH #960-886, James W. Allen household. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 21 June 2018). 
  10.  Mortality schedules of Texas (1850, 1860, 1870, 1880); mortality schedules of Utah (1870), (database with images), FamilySearch, Mortality schedules, 1850; 1860, Anderson County – Titus County (continued) (NARA Series T1134, Roll 54), Film 1421044, DGS 4206503, image 344 of 717, Texas, Colorado, page 5, line 32, Elizabeth Sims. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-XXX3-WZ8?cat=343874 : accessed 27 June 2018). 
  11. Francis Marion Walters, The principles of health control, Revised edition, Boston: D.C. Heath & Co. (1920), pg. 329. (https://archive.org/stream/cu31924003704388#page/n343/mode/2up/search/rising+in+the+head : accessed 29 June 2018) 
  12.  1860 Census, Roll: M653_1373; FHL Film: 805373; Page: 790; Virginia, Putnam, Buffalo, image 2 of 8, page no. 86, lines 2-5, HH #630-553, J. W. Sims household. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 29 June 2018). 
  13.  Bill Stein, Dorothy Albrecht, Ernest Mae Seaholm, and Tracey Wegenhoft (compilers), Colorado County Confederate Soldiers, Nesbitt Memorial Library, Columbus, Texas; Originally appeared in Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, vol. 7, no. 2, pp. 111-142; (http://www.columbustexaslibrary.net/local-history-and-genealogy-material/military-history/colorado-county-confederate-soldiers.html : accessed 28 June 2018)