James Sammons and Sarah E. Way

History of Sarah Ellen Way
James Samons/Sammons

(son of Edmund and Ann Mariah Hays Sammons)

On back of picture: "Must have been a picnic in Vishnu" [a resort area]
Back row: Lena Sammons, Ed Sammons, -?-, -?- (Probably a Sammons)
Front row: Grace Broadhead (neighbor), Ruth Sammons, -?-, Louisa Sammons, -?-, Maggie Sammons,
-?-, Ida Sammons (Two old ladies probably Sammons relatives)

(L to R) Ed Beckwith, Ed Sammons and Em Furchtbar,
all dressed up for what looks like a day excursion that included a picnic lunch.

From the writings of Doris E. Barb Pogue, 1933: The Way Family History

Sarah Ellen Way was the daughter and eldest child of Alvis Way (born about 1816 in North Carolina) and Martha Barlow (born in Kentucky). Alvis and Martha were married June 17, 1839. Alvis practiced the trade of joiner, we believe it was called, the making of coffins and cabinets, and tried his hand at making a few fiddles.

Martha had been a bound girl and was brought to this state by a family called Moss. We have heard her described as a small, dark-haired, blue-eyed woman, neat and bustling.

Alvis and Martha were the parents of four children:

Enoch – born circa 1838 Hancock County, Illinois
Sarah Ellen - born May 15, 1840 Hancock County, Illinois
Charles Kimball – born in 1842 Hancock County, Illinois
Alvis Warren – born in 1851 Hancock County, Illinois

Alvis died between 1850 and 1851, when Martha was yet pregnant with Alvis Warren. His death was due to pneumonia after a hunt for ducks on a prairie pond. The good land he owned passed out of family hands, likely because he was still in debt over the land and his widow could not pay off the remaining mortgage. The children were not old enough to help her farm or make their way by other means.

[A lengthy search through the 1850 Illinois Census has not turned up a listing for Alvis and his family. Alvis is listed in the 1842 Nauvoo, Illinois, Tax Index, as the owner of 80 acres in Hancock County, coordinates 5N5W. Unless he was already dead in November of 1850, he should have been in the Census.]

In those days a widow with little children was certainly out of luck. All she could possibly do was to marry again as soon as she could find anyone willing to buy shoes for her family. Martha Barlow Way married a man named Calvin Powell, who apparently had little intention of buying shoes or anything else for the Way children. Grandfather Way used to tell of going barefoot in the winter.

[McDonough County marriage license #139 was issued to Calvin Powell and Mrs. Mary Ann Way on August 21, 1851. Hancock County marriage license #1855 was issued to Calvin Powell and Martha Ann Way on March 11, 1852.]

After their marriage, Martha and Mr. Powell moved near Carthage, Illinois. Enoch Way remembered and told of a trip that his mother made to visit neighbors in this vicinity. She walked the entire distance, twelve miles, carrying baby Alvis Warren in her arms most of the way, Enoch trudging by her side. Their stepfather’s cruelty soon forced all the Way children out of the Powell home. While we have always felt that Grandmother Martha did not show the proper spirit and follow them, in fairness, one may surmise that her spirit had been crushed early in life when she became bound.

Sarah, at fifteen, married Jim Sammons in November of 1855, and took her four-year-old brother Alvis Warren to live with her. We believe this happened at the time the Way land was sold, for one of our Sammons cousins told us that when her mother, Sarah, was asked to choose a guardian, she chose Jim Sammons and married him. Jim Sammons owned a piece of land with a house on it. He told Sarah that she could bring her little brother with her.

Charles and Enoch grew up by the grace of God and a tough constitution. They lived wherever anyone would shelter an extra child, and probably were often under the Sammons’ roof.

When the Civil War erupted, Charles Kimball, then nineteen, Enoch, fifteen, and Jim volunteered. Charles served as a Corporal in the 64th Illinois Infantry, Company A, and was in the Battle of Corinth and Big Shanty, Georgia, where he was shot through the leg. Enoch also served in the 64th Illinois Infantry, in Company F. Jim enlisted in Co. K of the 118th Illinois Volunteer Infantry on August 15, 1862.

We never knew her personally, yet we have always admired Aunt Sarah Way, in spite of some extremely unfavorable reports that she was a cross, nagging woman. Her lot in life was such as would sour almost any disposition! Even if she had done nothing else, remember that she saw to the well being of her brothers when their mother could or would not.

Aunt Sarah was in her early twenties at the beginning of the Civil War and already had two or three children. She and our great-great-Grandmothers Betsey Beckwith Woods and Malinda Stefler Jones were close neighbors during those trying years. Sarah and Grandmother Betsey had no love for each other, but Grandma Jones always remembered with affectionate gratitude the kindnesses shown to her by Aunt Sarah. Grandmother Malinda was an old woman at the time, living on her farm with only her little grand-daughter Mary Ellen Weir (who later became our grandfather Way’s wife and our grandmother).

Country people took their grain to the mills along the creeks and brought back their flour. Over fifty percent of the able-bodied men in Hancock County were involved in the war. There was hardly a neighbor man left to take old lady Jones’ wheat to mill. Aunt Sarah, a strong, willing young woman, slung her own grain sacks across the back of her horse, then obligingly stopped and took yet another sack for Grandma Jones, placing it on top of her own. Mary Ellen remembered that Sarah appeared to easily lift the heavy bags of wheat. In fact, Sarah boasted that she could, "stand in a half-bushel and shoulder a two-bushel bag of wheat" - one hundred and twenty pounds!

Sarah and another woman joined forces during the War and lived together to help each other. And many were their trials: trying to farm, taking care of the Sammons’ cattle and horses, keeping the bushwhackers from stealing the livestock, all the while wresting from the earth a living for themselves and their young children.

Once, a band of bushwhackers did try to actually invade their house. All doors but one could be barred. At this door, intrepid Aunt Sarah stood guard with a kettle of hot coals from the fireplace. When the leader of the band attempted to enter, he was met with a really warm welcome. It proved too warm for the cowardly ruffian, who beat a hasty and painful retreat.

In the first year of the War, Aunt Sarah received word that her husband was very sick in an army front hospital in southern Illinois. Such hospitals often meant the end of sick men in those days and this one had an evil reputation. Sarah made a long, difficult and dangerous train journey and stayed at his bedside, nursing him until he was well; she was, indeed, a devoted and energetic wife. Her stories of the horrors of that tent hospital made the blood run cold. Jim was either hospitalized for a very long time, or he went back into service, because he wasn’t discharged until March 12, 1864, at Port Hudson, Louisiana. His military pension records give no specific details of his service except that he was thought to have contracted arthritis on a march from Vicksburg, Mississippi.

We well remember Uncle Jim, as we always called him, and he was an interesting and certainly intelligent man. We don’t think he was unkind, but we cannot believe he really did appreciate Sarah. Upon reading a draft of this history, Mother said that Jim was probably more kind to her than Sarah was to herself and that, at the very least, he was patient with Sarah in her long and impatiently borne invalidism, which began when Sarah was probably not much more than forty.

Considering the feats of hard labor she performed, we are not surprised that Sarah was forced to take to her bed in middle age and lie there, a cripple, for many years. We have heard it unthinkingly said that she "did this for spite". To spite whom? Certainly a woman of her unyielding courage and enterprise must have been the one who was most ‘spited’ in such a case. That she nagged and scolded her family might have been true; none of them ever came up to her measure, and we expect they may have bested whatever patience she had. She ruled them as firmly as she could from her bed, passing on to her girls her own good cooking skills and trying to instruct them about housekeeping. It would have been a vexation to lie in shabby surroundings when she loved to have things pretty and neat.

Uncle Jim was, in some respects, a parsimonious man, but he did spend money on doctors’ bills for Sarah. When she was getting to be an old woman, she finally found a doctor who helped her condition. She was able to get into a wheelchair and, we believe, was even able to get around to some extent on her own two feet.

Grandmother Mary Ellen, married by this time to Grandfather Charles Way, liked and sympathized with her sister-in-law. That being the case, we think there must have been a good deal to admire about Aunt Sarah, as Grandmother Way was rather hard to please.

Sarah had one very bad fault in her management of children: she was determined that her daughters should marry wealthy men, regardless of all other considerations. She persistently and all too successfully interfered in the selections of their husbands, and this was the cause of some rather tragic chapters in their lives.

Jim and Sarah, along with Jim's mother, are all buried in the Willis Cemetery in Hancock Township, Hancock County, Illinois.  Visit the WILLIS CEMETERY Page

Charles W. Sammons was the man whom Jesse Beckwith came so near to doing away with, because Charles once gave him a beating (quite possibly deserved). The hard feelings between the Sammons and the Beckwiths were augmented when Aunt Lil sued Jim Sammons for a big store bill that his daughters – without his consent - had contracted at the Weakley store in Joetta.

Charles married a woman named Lena Price.  After she was widowed, at the age of 33 she married our young uncle Roscoe Barb, 20.

Edmond Sammons married Mary Sennett. She died young, leaving her five children motherless. Ed was a remarkably good storyteller, a faculty that he inherited from his father. He never drew on his imagination for material; he observed and remembered the funny, strange and amusing incidents of a lifetime. He was an artist at relating them.

Marriage of James Sammons and Sarah E. Way
November 1, 1855

Ann Mariah Hays Sammons Pennington, Sarah Ellen Way & James 'Jim Sammons
From the Marcia Farina Collection - submitted March 19, 2003

Notes from CR:

Descendants of James 'Jim' Sammons

1  James 'Jim' Sammons b: 24 May 1835 in Morgan Co IL d: 12 Nov 1915 Willis Cem-Hancock Co IL
.. +Sarah Ellen Way b: 15 May 1840 Hancock Co IL m: 01 Nov 1855 Hancock Co IL d: 01 Feb 1903 
    in Joetta, Hancock Co, IL Willis Cem-Hancock Co IL
..... 2  Mary Jane Sammons b: 15 Apr 1858 d: 17 Mar 1923 
..... 2  Edmond Sammons b: 11 Oct 1860 d: 18 Dec 1930 
.........  +Mary Sennett d: Jun 1903 
..... 2  Charles William Sammons b: 20 Mar 1863 d: 29 Sep 1911 
.........  +Lena May Price b: Mar 1878 d: 1954 
..... 2  Ruth E Sammons b: 1867 
..... 2  Louisa 'Lou' Sammons b: 1869 d: 1945 
..... 2  Steven Arthur Sammons b: 21 Feb 1870 d: 12 Jan 1882 
..... 2  Ida May Sammons b: Abt. 1873 d: 1962
.........  +William Edward Yetter b: 08 Jul 1859 m: 26 Oct 1896 in Hancock Co IL 
            d: 15 Feb 1933 
*2nd Wife of James 'Jim' Sammons: 
.. +Lucy Adelia Rhod/Rhodes b: Abt. 1857 m: 03 Dec 1908 in Lancaster MO-Schuyler Co 

Sammons in Civil War listed in Illinois 
Illinois Civil War Veterans Database Search

The above list has Co A. I have James Sammons enlisted in Co. K of the 118th Illinois Volunteer 
Infantry on 15 August 1862 and was discharged on 12 March 1864 at Port Hudson, Louisiana.  

1860 Schuyler Co.-Independence Twp. Lancaster MO 
house 547/539 shows Mariah age 50, living with Mary age 17, Gilbert age 12, and Deris.
Next door in house 548/540 Jacob Sammons age 28 living alone.
house 549/541 Joseph Glendening age 30 Elizabeth 30, Martha 14, Sidney 13, William 6, 
Mary 3, Joseph 1/12. 
house 550/542 George Sammons age 27 with Jane 29, Abner, John, Newton, Julian, Sintha, 
and Mary J Sanders.

1850 Hancock Co Illinois Census  172/172
Sammons, Edward   55 M Farmer Virginia (Actually Edmund)
         Maria    41 F        Virginia
         Jonathan 22 M        Tennessee
         Frances  19 F        Illinois
         Joab     16 M        Illinois 
         Thomas   14 M        Illinois 
         Susan    11 F        Illinois 
         Mary      8 M        Illinois 
         Gilbert   7 M        Illinois 

Submitted by Marcia Farina
Photos and Marriage License from the Marcia Farina Collection

Charlotte Curlee Ramsey
Sammons Family Page

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