Ancestor of the
Capt. William Sims
ancestor William Sims is a difficult man to pin down. His life hints of tantalizing
tales, but specific facts are few. His life is filled with riddles, questions,
and huge blank spaces.
reason that Sim’s life may be difficult to follow is that apparently there are at least three William Sims who served
in the Revolution: one from VA (ours), one from GA, and one from NC. Conflicting and confusing information about William Sims abounds if one is not
William was born in Albemarle Co., VA, 25 Feb 1730/31. Both his parents, Richard
Sims (1676-1746) and Joanna Unknown (1678-?), were born and died in Isle of Wight, VA.
When the family immigrated to the colonies and which ancestor first arrived is unknown.
Sims Mill on Priddy Creek
young man William built the first mill on Priddy’s Creek in Albemarle Co., VA.
This event in itself could make an interesting story, but other than the fact that the mill was built, no information
about it seems to be available. Nevertheless, either the mill must have been
successful or William’s family was wealthy.
are two reasons for this assumption of possible wealth. (1) William married in 1751 when he would have been about twenty years
of age. Possibly he married before building the mill, but having a successful business would have been an attractive asset
in courtship. (2) He is usually identified not only as a “mill owner,” but also as one who “lived at Aspen Grove Plantation, VA”. Aspen Grove was a large plantation. Money, either from his
family or from the mill, would have been necessary to run it.
Aspen Grove Plantation
plantation was built in 1732, when William was a baby. The original owners may
or may not have been his parents, but his parents were born and died in Isle of Wight, VA.
It is unlikely that they owned the plantation but chose not live there.
the case, William was definitely living at Aspen Grove by 1761 when he was thirty years old.
In this year his daughter Joanna was born, and she is documented as “born at Aspen Grove Plantation.” Here again, a few facts lead us to hunger for others. In all the consulted sources,
all the Sims children are listed as born in Albemarle Co., VA. Only Joanna—and in only one source—is listed as born at Aspen Grove Plantation. In that source, none of the other children is even listed. Most sources consulted
simply give Albemarle Co, VA as the birthplace of all the children including Joanna.
If William lived at Aspen Grove, probably all the children were born there. Thus,
we have more questions or riddles. The family’s association with Aspen Grove would be interesting to discover. (Note: In searching for any Sims’ family connection, I discovered that the current
owner of one Aspen Grove plantation in VA is Dr. Walter Lomax, a prominent African-American physician and entrepreneur from
Philadelphia. Interestingly, Dr. Lomax is the great grandson of one of the slaves
who worked at Aspen Grove in earlier times. However, Dr. Lomax’s Aspen
Grove is located in another part of the state, and is not the same plantation as that associated with the Sims family.)
first wife was Annester Stapp (1728/29-c1759) Annester was the daughter of Joshua and Martha “Patsy” Coffey Stapp William and Annester were married 6 Aug 1751 in Orange Co., VA and went on to
have three children: Elizabeth, James, and Lucy.
Annester died c1759 and William remarried on 2 Feb 1761. His second wife
was Agatha Robinson (1737-?). Agatha was the daughter of William Robinson and Agatha Beverly. William and Agatha had
ten children: William, Mary, Joanna (our ancestor),
Nancy, Agatha, Francis, Rosemond, John, Ann and Richard.
For some time there was disagreement over Annester’s and Agatha’s backgrounds. Was Annester’s name Stepp or Stapp? Was
Agatha Annester’s niece… or sister? Was Annester rather than
Agatha actually Joanna’s mother? Generally these problems have been resolved
and dismissed. (The current consensus is given in the paragraph above)
French and Indian War
served during the French and Indian war as a member of Hogg’s Rangers (led by Peter Hogg) and took part in several missions. Hogg ‘s rangers were ultimately under command of young George Washington. (Sim’s future son-in-law, John Dalton [daughter Lucy’s husband], enlisted
in the army under him.) Hogg’s Rangers and other ranger groups in the
pre-revolution and in the revolution itself, were similar to modern day rangers in that they were crack shots, and though
guerilla or Indian warfare was new, they were better at it than most. Some of
the conflicts in which Hogg’s Rangers participated were those concerning Fort Duquesne.
These battles did not go well for the colonists, but they were important to the French and Indian War in that the first
battle and first shots were there.
1740’s the British crown had given huge land grants in the Ohio valley to a group of influential Virginians—including
Deputy Governor Dunwiddie, George Washington, and his brother Lawrence Washington. The
Indians favored the French over the British in the Ohio wilderness area because the French were less likely to settle, and
they treated the Indians more fairly than the British did.
Deputy governor Dunwiddie sent George Washington to the French with a letter of protest, demanding that the French leave the
area. The French refused. On his
trip, Washington noted a very strategic piece of land located where the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers merged to form the
(This land is part of present day downtown
Washington’s recommendation, a small group of troops was sent in January of 1754 to build and defend a fort to be named
Fort Prince George at this strategic place. Work began 17 Feb 1754. Unfortunately the French discovered the small group of soldiers, ran them off, and finished building
the fort themselves, naming it Fort Duquesne after Marquis Duquesne, the governor general of New France.
was in PA when he heard of the surrender of Fort Prince George. He took command
of an expedition to go to the fort, but he ran into a French scouting party along the way on May 28 and attacked it. He inflicted
heavy casualties on the French and Indians and took numerous captives. When some of the French escaped, Washington ordered
the quick construction of Fort Necessity. On July 3 the French struck. After a daylong battle the French forced Washington to surrender but permitted him and his men to leave
the fort if they put down their arms. This first battle of the French and Indiana
War did not go in favor of the colonists, but it shows the hardships and strength of numbers they fought against.
Sandy Creek Expedition
expedition in which Hogg’s Rangers were requested to participate
to be known as the Sandy Creek Expedition. Governor Dunwiddie sent a message
to Washington 14 Dec 1755 saying: “The Cherokees have taken up the Hatchet
against the Shawnanese [sic] and French and have sent 130 of their warriors into New River, and propose to march immediately
to attack and cut off the Shawanese [sic] in their towns. I design they shall
be joined with three companies of rangers and Capt. Hogg’s company, and I propose Colonel Stephens or Major Lewis to
be commander of the part of this expedition.”
in February through March 1756, a party of about 350 men set out with a wagon load of 2000 pounds of dried beef and pack horses
with other food to sustain them in carrying out their mission. They also hunted
game along the way and gathered potatoes from deserted plantations. Unfortunately, midwinter is not the best of times to travel. Hunting and foraging dwindled. The men averaged only about ten miles per day because
of the weather and terrain, and the food soon ran out. The situation was so bad
that both the Cherokees and the soldiers began to desert. Capt William Preston
noted in his journal that the party considered killing and eating the horses. More
and more people deserted. As a military maneuver, the expedition was a complete
failure. No enemies were killed, the French and Shawnees probably had a good
laugh at the British and colonial soldiers’ expense, and the British relations with their allies, the Cherokees, were
damaged. Still, the men who endured would go on to help win the French and Indian
war and many would fight in the Revolution to come. They were strong and determined
another expedition to Fort Duquesne was ordered. Washington was in charge of
the two regiments of Virginia troops, one of which included Capt. Hogg’s company.
The fort was taken, but fighting was fierce and casualties were high. In
just one of the VA regiments six officers and sixty-two privates were killed.
our William Sims was a prominent man or he was an effective soldier who rose through the ranks, for he did achieve the rank
of Captain. He did receive bounty lands.
That much we know. At present his Revolutionary War service still needs
to be uncovered. That is one of our blanks.
In fact, from this point on, we know virtually nothing of William Sims except his date of death, 1797-99, and that
is a span rather than a definite time. Much is left to be discovered.
Most important, however, we do know that by having a daughter named Joanna Sims who
would later marry James Ownby in Rutherford Co., North Carolina, William Sims would become Eli McCarter’s great, great,
great grandfather and our ancestor. (But that just raises
another question. What was Joanna doing in NC?
Some of Williams’ other children who were married later than Joanna were married in Albemarle Co., VA….
More and more curious)
Sims seems definitely a person to be revisited. Hopefully we can unearth more
information about him and answer some of our questions.
William Sims is Papaw's 3-great grandfather. If you are Eli McCarter's great great grandchild, William Sims is
your 7-great grandfather.
Line of Descent from Capt. William Sims to Rev. Eli McCarter
Capt. William Sims (c1730-c1797) + Agatha Robinson (1737-?)
Sims (1761-1859) + James Ownby (1761-1850)
Ownby (1781-1857+ Mary Koone (1793-1881)
Ownby (1814-1886) + Thomas McCarter (1811-1888)
Hill McCarter (1846-1923) + Marriah Reagan (1842-1923)
Eli McCarter (1886-1955) + Mary Elizabeth Hatcher (1889-1969)
Anniversary 1756-2006 The Sandy Creek Expedition” virginia regiment.org
of the French and Indian War.” US History.com
William Sims.” Smokykin.com
James. “Still Running for Freedom.” Blackonomics. Digest for the Blacklist @topica.com
Duquesne” US History.com
Rangers” Looking for a Horsethief.info.htm (This website seems to have been removed from the Internet.)
Donald B. Smoky Mountain Clans, Vol. III, p. 65.
“William Sims.“ hamcomm.com/pafn08.htm