Thursday, October 24, 2013

My dad’s marker

Thanks to Find A Grave volunteer Nancy Stone for this photo of my dad’s memorial marker at Matecumbe Memorial Gardens in Islamorada, Florida.  You can read Take the time to ask permission if you want to know why Nancy went out and snapped the photo for me.

Simmons, Thomas 2004Photograph by Nancy Stone, used with permission

My dad was born 21 July 1937 in Lamar County, Mississippi to William Houston Simmons and Docia Leora Perry.  He was the third child of six.  He was born into a farming family in a rural area.  After graduating high school in 1955 he joined the Air Force “to see the world.” He never looked back.

My dad did not share my love of genealogy because his childhood was not a happy time.  His family was very poor and they lived in a shack with no plumbing.  He remembered having to pick cotton as a child and he wore old hand-me-down clothes and walked to school barefoot.  He remembers the other kids teasing him.  When he joined the Air Force he left that life behind him forever and he really wasn’t interested in anything that had to do with the state of Mississippi or his past.

I think this is such a shame because his family was one of the founding families in Mississippi.  His 3rd great-grandfather James Simmons migrated to the Mississippi Territory from South Carolina shortly after the territory was officially open for settlement in 1798.  I think that is something to be proud of.  

The point is, there are going to be people in your family that have reasons why they don’t want to talk about their past or their relationships and that is okay.   Just because I find my family history fascinating doesn’t mean my father did.  He just wanted to forget all about it and I had to respect that.  There was no point in me asking him a bunch of questions that would just bring up bad memories for him.  I managed to get the information I needed elsewhere. 

Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis


  1. Michele,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a great weekend!