From the files of Stephen M. Lawson

The Brothers Sims

Pariss Sims and Keziah Royster

Robert Sims and Frances Howard Merritt

Sarah M. Sims and C. M. Lawson

Mordecai S. Lawson and Elizabeth Caroline Turman

James Martin Lawson and Lucy Jane Freeman

Donald VanHoosier Lawson and Iva Melvina Freeman

Stephen Martin Lawson

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The Sims Family in America

The principal source for the SIMS family is The Pariss Sims Family and Related Families 1765-1965, by Almon J. Sims (Knoxville, TN, 1965), along with the earlier 1948 Edition. It is supplemented by information gleaned from the pages of The Wayne County Historiam - The Journal of The Wayne County Historical Society (Collinwood, TN, 1988 to present), and Wayne County, Tennessee 1817-1995 History and Families, by The Wayne County Historical Society (Paducah, KY, 1995). Additional information has been contributed by a number of SIMS cousins. The extensive family outlines shared by Betty (Turman) Sandell in the early 1980s is the foundation on which this line was constructed.

The Brothers Sims

This branch of the SIMS family is of Scot-Irish-Presbyterian origins in the Ulster Settlement of Northern Ireland sponsored by James I of England (1607-1611). The matriarch of the family, who was possibly of the PARRISH family, was widowed by 1765 after having many children. Evidence suggests that the older sons emigrated to America prior to 1765, settling first in PA, but soon relocating to Culpeper and Henry Cos., VA. The younger sons emgigrated to America about 1765 with their mother. The names of the SIMS daughters has not been determined, and the names of the SIMS sons is uncertain, but probably included the following, and possibly others. Further information on descendants of some of the brothers of Pariss SIMS is available.

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Pariss and Keziah (Royster) Sims

Pariss SIMS - b. about 1750, Belfast, Northern Ireland; d. about 1833, Giles Co., TN; bur. English Cemetery Campbellsville, Giles Co., TN [photo]. Older brothers of Pariss came to America prior to 1765, and first settled in PA but soon removing to Culpepper and Henry Cos., VA. Pariss, who arrived in America about 1765 with his mother and brothers Abraham and Robert, was a Revolutionary War soldier (NSSAR National Number 127981). Family tradition maintains that he served eight years, was one of Gen. Washington's 'Life Guards', and was with Washington at Valley Forge and at the Crossing of the Delaware. After the Rev. War, Pariss settled in Granville Co., NC where he married in 1782, and moved to Salisbury District, near Salem (now Winston-Salem), NC. The family migrated to the middle fork of Lynn Creek, Giles Co., TN in 1807. (Various sources provide the name Pariss Henry SIMS, but without further justification for using the middle name.)

Keziah ROYSTER - b. about 1760-1770, possibly in Granville Co., NC; d. about 1833, Giles Co., TN; bur. English Cemetery, Campbellsville, Giles Co., TN. Documentary evidence of Keziah's surname, other than family letters and tradition, is desired. A monument for Pariss and Keziah, erected in May 1974, reads: In Memory of Pariss Sims of Ireland and North Carolina, Revolutionary War Soldier and Pioneer Settler in Giles County - 1750-1833; and his Beloved Wife, Keziah Royster Sims, 1762-1833.

Children of Pariss and Keziah Sims

  1. Robert - b. May 14, 1783, Salisbury District, near Salem (now Winston-Salem), NC; d. Mar. 21, 1842, Hutton Hollow, Wayne Co., TN; bur. Brown Cemetery, Wayne Co., TN.
  2. Sally - b. 1784, Salisbury District, NC. Married Dec. 10, 1809, William RUTLEDGE of Giles Co., TN, then removed to IN.
  3. Patsy - b. about 1786, Salisbury District, NC. Unmarried.
  4. Abraham - b. about 1788, Salisbury District, NC; d. about 1834, Muscle Shoals, AL; bur. Macon Co., TN. He died in a cave-in while working on a Government Canal. Married Mar. 13, 1816, Sumner Co., TN, Nancy KEENE. Children: Paris Lindsey married first Margaret TURNBO, and second Margaret McGLAMERY; Francis Marion 'Frank' married Mary; and Edmond married.
  5. Mathew - b. Apr. 4, 1790, Salisbury District, NC; d. 1859, Lawrence Co., MO. Another source gives his birth as Jul. 4, 1790. Mathew, a Minister, settled near Florence, AL, and moved to Fayette Co., TN about 1826. He married Lucy (d. Jun 1859, Greene Co., MO), but may have had his first two children by a former marriage. The names of most children have been shared by a descendant of Matilda (SIMS) ZUSKY (married surname also found as ZIRSCHKY AND SUSSKY). Children: Cynthia married John OGLE; Jemima; Matilda married first Daniel ZUSKY, second Jeremiah HAMBY, third Willis CLAYTON, and fourth James T. GILLASPY; James married Elizabeth DODSON/DONSON; Dr. John married Miss McCULLOUGH; Emeline; Sally; Martha married Erastus WHITE; William married Julia COOK.
  6. Martin Edward - b. about 1792, Salisbury District, NC; d. about 1875, Bedford Co., TN. Married Charlotte BRYANS, daughter of Edward BRYEANS/BRYANS. Deed Book NN, page 187 of Bedford Co., TN has an entry dated Mar. 15, 1843 which includes: "Martin Sims and his wife Charlotte formerly Charlotte Bryeans one part and Jabus Nowlin and his wife Mary L. formerly Mary L. Bryeans other part, all of Bedford Co., TN. The above parties at the demise of Edward Bryeans, late of Bedford Co., became possessed as tenants in common as the heirs &c of Edward Bryean.... William J. Bryeans as the other and only remaining legatee."  The children of Martin and Charlotte were probably all born in Bedford Co., TN. Children: John; Sally married William H. GRIFFIN; William J.; Mathew H. married Mary B. GUEST; Isabel; Edward; Martin William 'M. W.' (or Martin Edward 'Mart') married second Sarah IRVING; James; and Mary E. C.
  7. John - b. about 1794, Salisbury District, NC. Married Miss ALLEN and settled near Fulton, Itawamba Co., MS. Children: Reuben married twice; James; and William Allen.
  8. William - b. about 1800, Salisbury District, NC. Married Miss CARROLL of Williamson Co., TN about 1827 and moved to Itawamba Co., MS about 1856. Children of William SIMS: Sarah J. married William WALTON; Mary Deborah married Lang WALTON; Amanda C. married William ROGERS; Melissa never married; Washington L. married twice; William J. married Mary Ann MOBLEY; John A. died in the Civil War; and Elizabeth married John SHEFFIELD.
  9. Judith - b. 1803, Salisbury District, NC; d. 1855, Giles Co., TN; bur. English Cemetery, Campbellsville, Giles Co., TN. Married about 1830 Joseph BROWNLOW of Giles Co., TN, son of James BROWNLOW, and possibly a near relative of Gov. W. G. 'Parson' BROWNLOW of TN (1865-1869). Joseph and two of their children are also buried in English Cemetery. Children include: Robert Sims married.

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Robert and Frances Howard (Merritt) Sims

Robert SIMS - b. May 14, 1783, near Salem (now Winston-Salem), Salisbury District, NC; d. Mar. 21, 1842, Hutton Hollow, Wayne Co., TN; bur. Brown Cemetery, Wayne Co., TN. Brown Cemetery is on a knoll on the east side of the Hutton Hollow, about a mile from Hardin's Creek and two miles from Philadelphia Baptist Church. The son of Pariss SIMS and Keziah ROYSTER, Robert was in Stokes Co., NC at the time of the 1790 and 1800 censuses, and left NC Nov. 1, 1819 for Giles Co., TN, settling in the vicinity of Lynnville; moved from Giles Co. to Wayne Co. in 1834, settling on the John LAWSON place on Bear Creek, branch of Weatherford fork of Indian Creek; having trouble with a neighbor over a dog getting in the milk in the spring house he sold out and moved to Hardin's Creek where he died. Deed records of Wayne Co. show that the Bear Creek property, 55 acres in District 7 Range 10 Section 3, was purchased by Robert SIMS from Harrison CHRISTIAN on Feb. 4, 1837 for $360. Robert sold the property to his son Matthew J. SIMS on Jun. 10, 1837 for $600, and Matthew deeded the land on Jun. 29, 1839 to James A. LAWSON for the same amount. He appears in the 1840 census of Wayne Co., TN. The 1860 and 1870 Agriculture Schedules of Wayne County, TN includes the farms of three children and seven grandchildren of Robert Sims and Frances Howard Merritt. Married Feb. 14, 1813, NC.

Frances Howard MERRITT - b. Mar. 7, 1797, NC; d. Nov. 28, 1871, Wayne Co., TN; bur. Sims graveyard, Wayne Co., TN. Sims graveyard is on a hill on the Shields SIMS farm, on Fall Branch (south of the confluence of Downing Drive with waterfall). An orphan of English descent, Frances was also known as 'Franky'. After the death of her husband, she moved to the Bud SCOTT farm on Indian Creek, thence to the J. D. COPELAND place on the head of the creek, where she died. Franky appears in the 1850 census of Wayne Co., TN, as F. H. SIMS, age 55, with children George W., A. M., and Martha, and in the 1860 and 1870 censuses of Wayne Co., TN, in households with unmarried children Abraham Martin SIMS and Martha A. SIMS.

Sketch by Abraham Martin Sims, son of Robert and Franky

Father and mother were poor. Their wealth was their children. Mother lived to see all her children grown and what was wealth to her, all had a clean record. Father had a fair common school education, mother had no school advantage.

We were raised in the country, had the benefits of a loghouse school about three months in the year. We grew what we ate, wore clothes made at home. Generally our shoes were made at home, leather tanned in a trough.

My grand-father [Pariss] and mother are buried in Giles County, Tenn. I never saw but one uncle of grand-father's family [Martin].

There had been two of my nephews medical doctors, one brother studied law [Robert W.] and one nephew studied law and was a politician [Congressman T. W. Sims].

Father, Robert Sims, was born May 14, 1783 - Died March 24, 1842. Married Frances H. Merritt, born March 1797 - Died Nov. 28, 1871. They were married Feb. 16, 1813 <sic>. Both were born in North Carolina, where they married and where three of their children were born. They migrated to Giles County, Tennessee, and lived there until seven children were born when they moved to Wayne County, about 1833 and settled on Bear Creek. Bought a place owned by John Lawson, deceased. Having trouble in the courts sold and bought on Hardin's Creek in what is known as the Hutton Hollow, where he died March 24, 1842 and is buried on a side of the hill overlooking the raod just below the old Brown place in what is known as the Brown graveyard.

Mother bought on this Creek a farm known as the Bud Scott place which joined the Frank Parker farm near the old Indian Creek Baptist Church. She sold this and bought the J. D. Copeland place on Dry Creek where she died in 1871. I owned that place for a time.

Children of Robert and Franky Sims

  1. Sarah M. 'Sallye' - b. Jan. 9, 1814, Stokes Co., NC; d. Apr. 27, 1885, Muscogee, Creek Nation, Indian Territory. Married C. M. LAWSON.
  2. Matthew Joseph - b. Jun. 9, 1816, Salem, NC; d. Jan. 16, 1890, Wayne Co., TN; bur. Sims graveyard. [Sketch from Goodspeed] A farmer, school teacher, merchant in Waynesboro after the Civil War, and Circuit Court Clerk of Wayne County 1865-1875. Operated a tannery on the Green River. Matthew purchased 55 acres on Bear Creek from his father on Jun. 10, 1837, and deeded the same to James A. LAWSON on Jun. 29, 1839. Married Mar. 21, 1837 Dorothy Turley GREESON (b. Jan. 15, 1817; d. Aug. 9, 1896; bur. Sims graveyard), daughter of Henry GREESON and Betsy COOK, German emigrants to Bedford Co., TN, thence to Wayne County. The farms of Matthew and five of his children appear in the 1860 and 1870 Agriculture Schedules of Wayne County. Children: Hartwell Ebenezer John Shields [Sketch from Goodspeed] married Edith Melinda Caroline YOUNGBLOOD; Elizabeth married first William G. YOUNGBLOOD, and second Jim MCWILLIAMS; Matthew Joseph married Lydia Hannah J. YOUNGBLOOD; Robert Henry Clay [Sketch from Goodspeed] married Jemima Catharine COPELAND [photos]; Zachary Taylor married Sarah W. 'Sally' PHILLIPS; Sam Winfield Scott married first Mary HORTON, and second Alice BREWER; Dorothy A. 'Sis' married John TURMAN (great granddaughter Ruth SHACKLETT RUDY became a DAR member); Sarah Mahulda C. 'Hulda' married Josiah 'Joe' YOUNGBLOOD; Malinda T. 'Cricket' married first Frank HELTON, and second Mr. PULLEY; and perhaps Nancy E.
  3. Robert William - b. Jul. 8, 1819, NC; d. Dec. 10, 1905, Crockett Co., TN. Practiced law and farmed. Married first Dec. 10, 1843 Margaret Jane GREEN (four children), second about 1853 Nannie MITCHELL (two children), and third Sarah KING (three children). Children of Robert and Margaret: Virginia married Capt. William BIRDSONG; Dr. John Emmett; Lambertine 'Teen' married first Margaret Elizabeth KEY, and second Sally GIBSON; and Margaret Jane married William Jackson THOMPSON. Children of Robert and Harriet: Bascom; and Leona. Children of Robert and Sarah: Henry Kent married first Dora TAYLOR, and second Cora B. NANCE; Develemon 'Belle' married John C. COX; and another child.
  4. Abby Caroline - b. Jul. 3, 1822, Giles Co., TN; d. Aug. 14, 1886. Married Nov. 6, 1842 Joseph SUTHERLAND (b. Mar. 4, 1815, Lincoln Co., TN; d. Jun. 19, 1907, Benton Co., MO). They resided at Warsaw, MO. Children: Dr. William Walter married Annie Naomi Adelade NELSON; Martha 'Matt' Ann; Irene; Margaret; James Franklin married (granddaughter Mrs. Virginia SWEENEY is DAR member); and Marcus 'Mark' married.
  5. Frances Jane - b. Mar. 2, 1825, Giles Co., TN; d. Mar. 28, 1851; bur. King graveyard. Unmarried.
  6. Margaret 'Peggy' Ann - b. Oct. 19, 1827, Giles Co., TN; d. Jan. 29, 1901, Wayne Co., TN. [Sketch from Goodspeed] Married Aug. 22, 1846 John William YOUNGBLOOD (b. Mar. 7, 1819, Wayne Co., TN; d. Dec. 6, 1874, West Plains, Howell Co., MO), son of William YOUNGBLOOD and Edith REED. Their son Matthew was manager of the mercantile business of J. & H. Youngblood at Clifton, TN, which was established in Sep. 1885. Children: Louisa Caroline m. William J. HORTON; Mary Jane married Anderson LEE, a nephew of Gen. Robert E. LEE; James A. 'Jim'; Josiah 'Joe' m. Sarah Mahulda C. 'Hulda' SIMS, daughter of Matthew Joseph SIMS and Dorothy Turley GREESON; Matthew 'Matt'; Lydia T. 'Lizzie'; and Frances M.
  7. George Washington - b. Feb. 22, 1831, Giles Co., TN; d. Apr. 9, 1894, Mineral Wells, TX. One of first photographers in Wayne Co., TN. Married first Jul. 6, 1851 Sarah Jane WHITSON (b. 1820) and had children: Congressman Thetus Willrette SIMS married Nannie KITTRELL; Mary; and Alma. George married again and had additional children: Wesley; Asilie; Albert; and Victor.
  8. Abraham Martin 'Uncle Mart' - b. Jun. 13, 1834, Wayne Co., TN; d. Sep 29, 1913, Wayne Co., TN; bur. Sims graveyard. [Sketch from Goodspeed] Served as a private in the Tenth Tenn. Infantry in 1863. Abraham's farm is included in the 1860 Agriculture Schedule of Wayne County. Practiced law, farmed, and established the Sims, TN post office. He and his family were members of the Missionary Baptist Church. Married Sep. 26, 1875 Hannah STOOKSBERRY (b. Apr. 17, 1851; d. May 7, 1929; bur. Sims graveyard), daughter of Robert STOOKSBERRY and Jane SHARP. Children: Judge Joseph married Ora E. KING; Robert Martin married first Naomi SUDDUTH, and second Edith ROSS; Mary O.; Arthur died young; Zella Belle married Jasper T. BROMLEY; and Frances Jane.
  9. Martha A. - b. Mar. 11, 1839, Wayne Co., TN; d. Aug. 17, 1914, Lawrence Co., TN; bur. Sims graveyard, Wayne Co., TN. Unmarried.

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