John Joseph Simons




John Joseph Simons

John Joseph Simons was born 19 Jun 1793 in Charleston, South Carolina.  He married Mary Lynch Coachman 07 May 1812 in Rock Point, Georgetown District, South Carolina, daughter of Joseph Coachman and Margaret Belin.  She was born 08 Oct 1792 in Georgetown.

The 50 year period following the Revolution was the zenith of the wealthy rice plantation society and an aristocratic faction based on the production of the crop emerged. Although cotton ruled the Southern economy after the invention of the cotton gin, when the majority of Southern planters began to concentrate on the production of that crop, the relatively small Georgetown district north of Charleston remained devoted to rice.  Many of the families that made up this aristocracy are our families, Simons, Belin, Britton, and Coachman.  It was in this world that John Joseph grew up, after losing both of his parents at the age of nine.  Writing to his son, Allard, in 1857, Joe (as he was known as an adult) tells the story of his early life:

"Your Grandfather left a nice property for us, a large estate of laced stock and Negroes with a good deal of money at interest and not one dollar was he in debt.  We, his four children, went to live with our half brother, Henry Britton, who lived a short distance from my father’s plantation.  Never shall I forget whilst I live the first night I stayed at my half brother’s after leaving our place when our Dear Mother died.  I was her pet.  The Baby and my father's only son.  Being used to fondling on my beloved mother and at night I slept in her arms.  The first night at my brother's with heart rending sobs and crying did this night pass away.  I would doze then awake call for mother, oh mother, but my eldest sister, Mary, was now my only consolation.  True then I was nine years old, just old enough to feel my great bereavement and loss.  My sister was now my only refuge in my distress.  Thus in this way did the year of 1802 pass.  

“In the year 1803 I was sent to school with my youngest sister some 15 miles from home.  We boarded at the house of a William Cooper, one of my Father's executors, he was much of a gentleman and was great wealthy.  He was as kind to us as if he had been our relation.  We continued at school most of this year.  Our teacher's name was McCutcheon he taught nothing but reading writing and arithmetic all after the ancient method.  Our spelling books was Dilworth's and our arithmetic was Paccieds Millins and Pence.  Thus did the year of 1803 pass. At the end of every two weeks our half brother would send for us to go and visit home where we four children, myself and three sisters would meet and where Monday morning would arrive for us to separate for we only stayed from Saturday till Monday together. How I would shed tears and embrace my sisters that I had to leave behind but we passed the year 1803 in this way.  The school I think broke up the later part of this year and we returned to live with our half brother again. . . .[J.J. then relates the marriage of his eldest sister, Mary, her death and the death of her children]. Thus in a short time was my dear sister's family was entirely extinct and gone.  From the marriage of my sister, Mary, till the marriage of my second sister Elizabeth Aliss, we still lived with our half brother who was quite wealthy, everything in the greatest abundance.  He was kind to us.  This now brings me to record my second sister's marriage, the birth of her only child, her death and all of the family as on record . . .   

“Sometime before the death of my last named sister Elizabeth, our half brother moved from Georgetown District to Sumter District a distance of some 80 miles. Consequently myself and my youngest sister Charlotte was obliged to go with him.  Our time during this period and the marriage of my sister Charlotte, my youngest sister was passed drearily enough.  I was put to school to a man that was but a poor scholar though I will have to go back to the year 1806.  During this year I was sent to school to an Academy near State Borough.  Our teacher was an eminent scholar his name was Jonell Roberts, a Baptist minister, in every way qualified to teach me various languages.  Here the far famed Bishop Capers was a school mate of mine, with the eminent preacher Isaac C. Postell.  I only went to this school six months and returned to my brothers in Georgetown district a short time before his move to Sumter District. . .  

“This now brings me to record myself after the marriage of my youngest sister which was in the year 1808.  I still continued to live with my brother and went to 2 other schools but made but little advancement in education.  The last school I attended was in Sumter District.  I boarded at the house of a man by the name of Charles T. Gordon.  At this man's house I was treated as kindly as though he was a near relation.  He had two sons, twins, that I formed friendship with that lasted till their deaths.  But my friends Benjamin E and James F Gordon have been in their tombs many years.  As I shall perhaps not say but little more of these two friends of my youth, I will say in conclusion this about them.  They were what few are now a days friends in whom I could trust.  Rest there dear friends till we meet in the better world than this.

“After I left school near Charles T. Gordon's I still called my half brother Henry Britton's house my home.  It was in the latter part of the year 1810 or in the summer of that year in company with my esteemed friend Benjamin P. Gordon that I attended a Methodist camp meeting some few miles from my brother's.  This was the first meeting of the kind I was ever at.  I was taught and raised by Presbyterians and instructed in their doctrine.  But I could not agree with their doctrine at this camp meeting there I perceived my first serious impression this was before Bishop William Cassers was a preacher.  After staying at this camp meeting a few days, I returned to my brother's.  The next year was 1811.  I was advised by my brother to go to school to be a Presbyterian preacher which I did, but a difficulty took place with this man's son and myself.  I left his school.  I had rather not call names.

“The time now draws near for me to leave my brother and return to my own estate in Georgetown District where my beloved father's remains was laid.  I accordingly left my brother some time in the fall of 1810 and the first of the year sometime in January of this year I joined the Methodist Church.  I spent most of my time with one of my principal executors who lived on the banks of Black River some 10 or 12 miles from Georgetown.  This man's name was Francis Greece.  He possessed a fine fortune.  I often visited my plantation where I owned a large body of land some 12 or 14 Negroes a find stock of hog, cattle and horses.  At this man's house, that is Francis Greece, there often was much company of the first families in the state of South Carolina.  Amongst this company of noble visitors was a young lady, a daughter of Captain Joseph Coachman, this young lady was a lady of the highest standing in the State.  Her name was Mary Lynch.  I must here confess on first sight I fell in love and my love was a pure as the unclouded noon day's.  Though timid and backward I addressed her sometime in the first of the year 1812 and on the 7 day of May we were married. . . . 

“Your dear mother and myself was married as recorded the 7th of May 1812 on the banks of Old Black River at a place called Rock Point, Georgetown District 11 miles of Georgetown.  My own fine plantation was some 8 or 9 miles from this place.  We spent the year partly with your honoured grandfather, Joseph Coachman, at this beautiful place Rock Point and partly at my own place.  We had as fine a house and gig with our servants to attend us as there was in the country.  Yet astonishing to relate I did not know when I was well off (the beginning of discontent).  We were surrounded by affluence everything in the greatest of plenty.  Thus passed the first two years of our happy life.  Oh happy hours though hast fled, but the recollection of those hours often brings a heartfelt sigh but had I my life to live again. . . . 

“Well, now I have come to the most wonderful period of my life.  Some happy hours and good many of them too and some heart rending ones, but in order that you and all my numerous children and grandchildren may in years to come benefit by the perusal of this little work I will take pains to record all positiveness as particular as my memory will favor me with the help of your dear mother.  Mind now as you read the evil of a discontented mind.

“I purchased a piece of land for $1000.  77 acres about 1 1/2 miles of this place we rented on.  This place which was near a large swamp called Rock Bluff.  I had a good house built and I had a fine rock chimney put to the house.  There your two brothers, Henry and Shadrach, were born.  I lived here five or six years and I must say I enjoyed myself very well.  I had a good stock and some fine horses and applied myself to business closely worked in far with my own hands and was tolerable wealthy.

“I had a turn of the fever often but generally we had but little sickness whilst living at this place.  Every fall I visited the city Charleston with my brother's wagon and my own wagon in order to sell our crops of cotton and get our necessaries of coffee, sugar and other articles.  It was 110 miles to Charleston which took up 18 to 14 days.  This was the only method farmers had to carry their crops to market for it was many years before the invention of steam cars.  Cotton then bore a fine price.  I have gotten as high as 31 1/4 cents per pound for cotton and often 23 to 17 cents which enabled me to get any article I wished in the City of Charleston.  Thus I was well situated but awful to relate I did not know it.  Near about this time peace was made between England and the United States and the Indians sold their lands to our government that is a part of the Creek Indians.  Those lands consisted of land where the state of Alabama now stands. 

“Many people hearing of the rich lands of Alabama were fixing up for the west.  Finally in the year 1821, the later part of this year, I offered my place called Rochelecliff for sale and at last got just what I gave for it only one thousand dollars.  This enabled me to extricate myself from debt for I did not live a careful of debts as I ought to have lived.  In the month of January 1822, I had an auction of my household furniture with plantation tools and stores.  Mind here now the evil of discontent.  Guard against it with all of your might, for had I have stayed in South Carolina in all probability I would have now been well off in property and happy.  But to return my adventure as follows - after making necessary arrangements I was compelled to sell 2 of my Negroes.  A fellow who did not wish to leave his wife and a fine little girl.  I prepared to take up our march for the far west.  I had a wagon and 4 horses, a gig and one horse, 11 Negroes, your dear mother and five children.  Your brother Shadrach then an infant of some 12 or so days. 

“Finally the day arrived for us to bid adieu to all relations and friends which was the 19th day of February 1822.  We started for the new state of Alabama then only settled about 3 years by the whites.  You have but little idea of the feeling of a long farewell to all.  This we felt we parted with relations and friends them that have many years since gone to there final homes.  What a wrong step I here took done the very thing I ought not to have done, but to return to my recital as follows - The first day we only got some 10 or 12 miles.  Never shall I forget the heart rending tears of my Negroes parting for our friends and relations.  The second day we camped between the town of Caraece and the Watree River.  We had a good cloth tent.  We encamped in a lane but a little way from the river in the night there arose an awful cloud and it rained with great force with much thunder and lighting. . . .

J.J. Simons’ story ends with this cliffhanger.  We don’t know if he ever finished it.  He was writing towards the end of his life, in 1857.  We don’t know the exact date of his death but he is not found on the 1860 census.

We do know that J.J. arrived in Montgomery County, Alabama and was living there in 1824 when a relative of his, S.N. Snow, wrote a letter home to his uncle, Benjamin Britton and mentions that J.J. and his family were doing well.  Between 1830 and 1842, the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole were slowly removed from their homelands in the Southeastern United States via a number of treaties and resettled in Indian Territory, part of what would become the state of Oklahoma. In 1830, when these lands were opened to white settlement, J.J. purchased a land grant of 80 acres in Lowndes County, Alabama that had been formed from Montgomery County.  Four years later, in 1834, he added an additional 40 acres to his holdings.  However, wanderlust or, perhaps a desire to find the life he had left in South Carolina caused him to pick up stakes and the 1840 census finds him and his family living in Haywood County, Tennessee.  Finally, by 1850, he had moved, one more time, to Chickasaw County, Mississippi.  The 1850 census shows him as a farmer who owned no land.

Children of John Joseph Simons and Mary Lynch Coachman were:

1.  Mary Charlotte Simons was born 08 Jun 1813 in Georgetown District, South Carolina, and died 20 Aug 1901 in Bosque Co., Texas.  She married James Clark Cooper 21 Feb 1833 in Lowndes Co., Alabama.  He was the son of John Cooper and Mary Williams.  He was born 11 Aug 1811 in North Carolina and died 04 Nov 1885 in Bosque Co., Texas.  Mary Charlotte and James Clark Cooper raised eight children: Mary Aliss, Susan Francis, Elizabeth, Martha Sophia, Charles Sherwood, Joseph, Mary Ann, and Benjamin.

2.  Elizabeth Ann Simons was born 25 Dec 1814 in Georgetown District, South Carolina and died unmarried.

3.  Joseph Coachman Simons was born 04 Oct 1816 in Sumter District, South Carolina and died 27 Jul 1901 in Clay Co., Mississippi.  His tombstone, in Cedar Bluff, Mississippi bears a Masonic symbol.  Together with his brother, Elias, he served in the 44th Mississippi Infantry during the Civil War.  It is said that he was a musician.  He was also a member of the Hebron Baptist Church in Henryville, Mississippi.  He was a carpenter by trade.  He married Nancy Melviny Bryant 07 Sep 1854.  She was born 01 Apr 1835 in Duplin Co., North Carolina and died 06 Nov 1926 in Karnak, Texas.  Joseph Coachman and Nancy Melviny Coachman had six children:  John Stephen, Cullen, Mary, Enoch Dickson, Robert E. Lee, and Dewitt Clinton.

4.  Henry James Simons was born 12 Nov 1818 in Sumter County, South Carolina.  He married Margaret Wier Bradley 23 Feb 1842 in Yorkville, Gibson Co, Tennessee.  She was born 1820 in Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, N.C., and died after 1880, probably in Dallas County, Texas.  Henry and his family will be the subject of Generation 4.

5.  Shadrach John Simons was born 21 Feb 1821 in Sumter District, South Carolina.  He married Elizabeth M Neal 02 Aug 1855 in Calhoun, Mississippi.  She was born 1830 in Alabama.  Shadrach was a Methodist Minister and, I think, the only one of J.J.’s sons who may not have served in the Confederacy.  Shadrach and Elizabeth Neal Simons had two known children, William and Mary.

6.  Benjamin Isaac Simons was born 18 Dec 1823 in Montgomery, Alabama and died at the age of 10 on 02 Aug 1834 in Lowndes Co., Alabama.

7.  Margaret Hannah Simons was born 13 Jan 1827 in Montgomery, Alabama.  She married Grey Ellis 21 Nov 1855 in Chickasaw, Mississippi where they raised one son, William.

8.  Martha Dew Simons was born 21 Nov 1828 in Montgomery, Alabama and died without heirs.  She first married a Mr. Blue in Calhoun, Mississippi.  She married second, Samuel P. Otterson 22 Jan 1854 in Chickasaw, Mississippi.

9.  Allard Belin Simons was born 17 Feb 1831 in Gadsden Co, Florida, and died 20 Feb 1905.  He married first Sarah A. J. Neel 01 Feb 1856 in Calhoun, Mississippi.  She died 14 Jan 1857.  He then married second Sarah Adeline Gable 15 Sep 1859.  She was born 10 Feb 1841, and died 07 Jun 1864 in Memphis, Shelby Co., Tennessee.  His third wife was Nancy Jane Hayes who he married in Matoon, Coles County, Illinois on 30 Mar 1865.  She was born 14 May 1846 in Mattoon, Coles, Illinois, and died 07 Dec 1922 in Tunica, Tunica, Mississippi.  Allard enlisted in the 2nd Mississippi Calvary Regiment but family tradition says that he deserted and went to Illinois, helping a black family escape north.  There he met and married his third wife before returning to Mississippi after the war.  Like his brother, Shadrach, he was a Methodist Minister.  By Sarah Gable, Allard had four children: Nancy Madaline, Nancy Mary Magdalene, Mollie Sarah and Julia Sivannes.  Nancy Mary Magdalene and Julia Sivannes both died in infancy.  Allard and Nancy Bryant had ten children.  They were Shadrach Ephriam, Mary Lynch, Almeter Blanche, Emma McDonald, Allard Byron, Mattie, Elizabeth, Joseph, Belin and Pearl.

10.  Elias Bronnell Simons was born 01 Mar 1834 in Lowndes County, Alabama, and died 20 Dec 1906 in Artesia, Eddy County, New Mexico from pneumonia.  He married Dorothea Mitchell Maples 26 Dec 1856 in Sumter, South Carolina.  She was born 13 Mar 1838 in Sumter County, South Carolina and died 31 Oct 1917 in Cottonwood, Eddy County., New Mexico.  He met and married his wife, Dorthea, while attending school in South Carolina.   Having served with his brother, Joseph, in the 44th Mississippi Infantry during the Civil War, he went to Texas but it was some time before he got enough money to send for his family.  According to his daughter, Ella, she was 11 when she arrived in Texas at Galveston.  He was a large portly man who joined the Masons in 1861 and was a Master Mason at the time of his death.  After spending some 20 years in Texas, the family moved further west to Eddy County, New Mexico where Elias spent his remaining years.  Elias and Dorthea had two daughters, Ella and Edna Alabama.

 11.  Sarah Jane Simons was born 17 Oct 1836 in Haywood County, Tennessee and died 02 Feb 1878 in Calhoun County, Mississippi.  She married Joseph Gable on 18 Jan 1859 in Calhoun, Mississippi.  He was born 28 May 1833 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and died 24 Jun 1908 in Calhoun County, Mississippi.  Sarah Jane and Joseph Gable were the parents of seven children:  Andrew Marion, Mary Dorothea, Louvenia Rebecca, Joseph Moses, Lela Barbara, Sarah Elizabeth and Thomas Whitfield.


Nicholaus von Beckenbach (1705 - ca 1750)

Johann Christian Beckenbach (1739 - ca 1790)

Johann George Beckenbach (1772 - 1834)

Johann Jacob Beckenbach (1797 - ca 1850)

Peter Beckenbach (1836 - 1878)

Charlie Geiger Beckenbach (1869 - 1932)

Edwin Ford Beckenbach (1906 - 1982)


John Simons (1715 - 1780)

Shadrach Simons (1758 - 1801)

John Joseph Simons (1793 - ca 1858)

Henry James Simons (1818 - ca 1870)

John James Simons (1842 - 1969)

James Elmo Simons (1870 - 1935)

Madelene Shelby Simons (1913 - 1985)


Heinrich Dufe (ca 1760 - ca 1810)

Peter Joseph Dufe (1784 - 1846)

Peter Duffy (1815 - 1883)

Peter J Duffy (1851 - 1924)

Annie Elizabeth Duffy (1877 - 1935)


William Peake (ca 1800 - ca 1832)

Joseph Peake (1826 - 1876)

Lucy Charlotte Peake (1851 - 1883)


James Bradley (1720 - 1788)

Francis Bradley (1743 - 1780)

James Alexander Bradley (1768 - 1839)

Margaret Weir Bradley (1813 - ca 1880)


Shelby Phillip (ca 1650 - 1731)

Evan Shelby (ca 1690 - 1751)

Moses Shelby (1728 - 1776)

Evan Shelby (1748 - 1825)

Moses Shelby (1784 - 1826)

James Madison Shelby (1814 - 1889)

Jane Eliza Shelby (1846 - 1902)


Michael Vogg (ca 1800 - ca 1845)

John Frederick Vogg (1824 - 1901)

Margaret Vogg (1856 - 1878)


Alexander Coachman (ca 1640 - 1671)

Tilney Coachman (ca 1660 - 1716)

John Coachman (1700 - 1750)

James Coachman (1732 - 1789)

Joseph Coachman (1761 - 1814)

Mary Lynch Coachman (1792 - ca 1857)


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