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.

U.S. Federal Census Analysis for William SIMS

  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). 
Advertisements

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.

U.S. Federal Census Analysis of James SIMS 1754-1845

  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).