Monday, September 14, 2015

Another brick in the wall

My son loves Pink Floyd and can play all of their guitar solos so I hear Pink Floyd all of the time.  I was singing my version of  Another Brick in the Wall today—Another brick in the Wall… crumbles.

I have told you before that I love federal land entry files because you never know what you might find.  I found a very important clue in one today.

In the very early days of the Mississippi Territory there were three groups of Simmons’.  There was a group in the Natchez area, a group in Marion County, and a group in Perry County (my brick wall Simmons is here).  Keeping these three groups separate is a bit of a challenge and of course the possibility exists that they are all related somehow.  To complicate things the name James Simmons (my brick wall) pops up in all three areas.

I have all of the land entry file for my James Simmons already.  There are land entry files for a James Simmons and a Ralph Simmons in Marion County as well so I went ahead and had them pulled.  I already have some stuff on Ralph.  He is pretty easy to follow because there is only one Ralph.  I already knew that this James Simmons wasn’t my guy but would there be a clue in his land entry file that might help me?  There was and it was a single sentence.


James Simmons bought land in Marion County but he was from Amite County.  That puts him closer to Natchez than to Perry County which is a big clue.  My James Simmons migrated from South Carolina around 1805ish?  The James Simmons of Natchez was in Natchez much earlier, before the Mississippi Territory was officially opened for settlement.  It is more likely that the Amite County James Simmons was from the Natchez group and that he was migrating eastward while my guy was migrating westward into Mississippi from South Carolina.

My next stop was the Amite County records.  FamilySearch has a lot of the Mississippi Department of Archives records online and it happens to be one of my favorite record groups.  I opened up the Amite County records and the earliest record is a 1810 tax roll.  I have never looked at the Amite County records before because I never had a Simmons there.  Well now I do.  In 1810 I found a Vincen Simmons.  This is a completely new name and it is a more uncommon name making him easier to trace.  There was also a Robert Simmons and a John Simmons and a Willis Simmons.  Willis Simmons?  Well, well, well, there’s a name I know. 


Willis was a known associate of Ralph’s in Marion County.  So it looks like James, Ralph and Willis were all closely related (I had suspected that Ralph and Willis were) and it is more likely they were related to the Natchez bunch.  I had never been able to make any connection between Ralph and Willis and my James in Perry County.

This may not seem like a lot but it is important for me to be able to place every Simmons that was in the Mississippi Territory during these early years into their correct family groups (a mini One-Name Study if you will) and now I have been led to several Simmons’ I didn’t even know about. Mississippi has a lot of burned counties so I am a bit limited in the records department.  Every little scrap if information can find is very important, even a tax roll that has nothing but 1 pole.

I am hoping that DNA will eventually play into this. With the DNA evidence I have so far it appears that my James’ family came from Virginia originally, at least one generation back from when James was born.  I would like to find a descendant from the Natchez bunch to see what their DNA looks like. If their DNA is a match I can say that all three groups in Mississippi were related somewhere, probably back at least a generation and most likely in Virginia.  If their DNA isn’t a match then I know I am working with two distinct groups. 


Copyright © 2015 Michèle Simmons Lewis


  1. I am working on a Correy familiy in Pennsylvania in the 1700's and will likely have to do something similar. There are so many similar names & they are in a few different places. Maybe they are all related, but maybe they aren't. I think I'll have to study all of them to figure it out. Thanks for sharing part of how you are sorting these men!