Obituary of Estus Pete Simmons

Estus D. “Pete” Simmons died March 14 1960 at Sheridan, Washintgon, Louisiana.

Estus D. Simmons Dies at Sheridan

Estus D. Simmons of Sheridan died at 6:30 this morning at the family residence in Sheridan. He was 52.

The funeral party will leave the residence at 4 p.m. tomorrow for the Simmons Cemetery, where graveside rites will be conducted by the Rev. J. W. Magee and the Rev. J. B. Rocko. The Brown Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Simmons is survived by his wife, Mrs. Genieva Simmons; a son, Denman Simmons, serving in the Air Force at Clovis Air Force Base, N.M.; his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Lucius Simmons of Sheridan; three brothers, Ezra of Slidell, Lloyd of Freeport, Texas, and Jim of Sheridan; and two sisters, Mrs. Ethel Hennesey of Camden, Ark., and Mrs. Fannie Lee Foil of Franklinton.

Ezra “Jodi” Simmons, Stalag 2B POW

Ezra on base

Ezra on base, retouched

Ezra on base

Ezra on base, with background brought out

I attempted to bring out the writing on the back of the photo but am still unable to read it.

Ezra “Jodi” Simmons
Photos from Ethel Simmons Hennesy collection.

Ezra “Jodi” SIMMONS, 2nd son of Lucius Theodore SIMMONS and Annie (Knight) SIMMONS , was born 8 Feb 1913 at Washington Parish, LA.

Ezra served in WWII. He was in the 509th Parachute Infantry Batallion, which was the first American Unit to parachute into combat in Nov. 42. On Feb 29 19– he was taken prisoner and was a POW at the infamous Stalag 2B, where treatment was worse than at any other camp in Germany.


EVACUATION & LIBERATION: On 28 January 1945, POW received German instructions to be ready to evacuate camp at 0800 hours the following morning. Upon receipt of these instructions, the MOC set up a plan of organization based on 25-man groups and 200 man companies with NCOs in charge. On the day of the evacuation, however, POW were moved out of camp in such a manner that the original plan was (of) little assistance. German guards ordered POW to fall out of the barracks. When 1200 men had assembled on the road, the remaining 500 were allowed to stay in the barracks. A disorganized column of 1200 marched out into the cold and snow. The guards were considerate, and Red Cross food was available. After the first day, the column was broken down into three groups of 400 men each, with NCOs in charge of each group.

For the next three months, the column was on the move, marching an average of 22 kilometers a day 6 days a week. German rations were neither regular nor adequate. At almost every stop Sgt McMahan bartered coffee, cigarettes or chocolate for potatoes which he issued to the men. Bread the most important item, was not issued regularly. When it was needed most it was never available. The soup was, as a rule, typical, watery German soup, but several times POW got a good, thick dried-pea soup. Through the activity of some of the key NCO’s, Red Cross food was obtained from POW camps passed; by the column on the march. Without it, it is doubtful that the majority of men could have finished the march. The ability of the men to steal helped a lot. The weather was atrocious. It always seemed to be either bitter cold or raining or snowing. Quarters were usually unheated barns and stables. Sometimes they slept unsheltered on the ground; and sometimes they were fortunate enough to find a heated barn.

Except for one period when Red Cross food was exhausted and guards became surly, morale of the men remained at a high level. Practically all the men shaved at every opportunity and kept their appearance as neat as possible under the circumstances.

From time to time weak POW would drop out of the column and wait to be picked up by other columns which were on the move. Thus at Dahlen on 6 & 7 March, the column dwindled to some 900 American POW. On 19 March at Tramm, 800 men were sent to work on Kommandos, leaving only 133 POW who were joined a week later by the Large Kommando Company from Lauenberg. On 13 April the column was strafed by 4 Spitfires near Dannenberg. Ten POW were killed. The rest of the column proceeded to Marlag 10C, Westertimke, where they met the men they had left behind at Stalag IIB who had left on 18 February, reached Stalag 10B after an easy 3 day trip, and then moved adjacent Marlag 10C on 16 April. Westertimke was liberated by the British on 28 April 1945.

More on Stalag 2B can be found at the following links:

Ezra received a Purple Heart.

He did not discuss his time as a POW, at least not with his family, and suffered for years with PTSD. He married a nurse, Juanita CRAIN, and settled down to fishing and alligator trapping in the bayou.

Juanita and Ezra had one child, Charles William Simmons, born 1946 Dec 20, who tragically died in Oct of 1965 in a work related accident.

Ezra is described as the fun uncle by nephews (sons of Jean Kearns) who visited him.

Ezra’s military enlistment:

Name: Ezra W Simmons
Birth Year: 1913
Race: White, citizen (White)

Enlistment Date: 27 Jan 1942
Enlistment State: Florida
Enlistment City: Fort Lauderdale
Branch: Branch Immaterial – Warrant Officers, USA
Branch Code: Branch Immaterial – Warrant Officers, USA
Grade Code: Private
Term of Enlistment: Enlistment for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law
Component: Selectees (Enlisted Men)
Source: Civil Life

Education: Grammar school
Civil Occupation: Job Pressman (Printing press operator, job press. ) or Casting Machine Operator
Marital Status: Married
Height: 70
Weight: 166

Ezra’s POW citation:

Provided by David R. BERRY at the Genforum WWII Genealogy Forum, 23 Feb 2004.

GRADE PFC Private First Class
PARENT UNIT TYPE Battalion/Training Battalion Combat/Special Troops
AREA 98 North African Theatre: Italy
SOURCE OF REPORT 1 Individual has been reported through sources considered official. View
STATUS 8 Returned to Military Control, Liberated or Repatriated View
CAMP Stalag 2B Hammerstein (99 work camps in vicinity of Koslin & Stolp) West Prussia 53-17

David Berry notes: “Note that he was a member of the 509th PARACHUTE INFANTRY BATTALION about which I think you will be able to find a bit more history. This was the first American unit to parachute into combat (NOV42).”

* * * * * *

Name: Ezra W Simmons
Race: White
Residence State: 44

Report Date: 29 Feb 1944
Latest Report Date: 11 Jul 1945

Grade: Private First Class
Grade Notes: Second Lieutenant or Nurse or Dietitian or Physical therapy aide or Private First Class or Ensign or Second Class, Seaman
Service Branch: Army
Arm or Service: Infantry
Arm or Service Code: Infantry
Organization Type: Parachute Infantry
Parent Unit Type: Battalion/Training Battalion Combat/Special Troops
Area Served: North African Theatre: Italy
Detaining Country: Germany
Camp: 003
Status: Returned to Military Control, Liberated or Repatriated
Report Source: Individual has been reported through sources considered official.

The below photos of Ezra and his wife would have been taken at the time of a Hennesy reunion held in the 1970s.

Lucius Theodore Simmons and Annie Knight

Lucius Theodore SIMMONS and Annie KNIGHT

Lucius (also given as Lucious) Theodore SIMMONS was born 29 Dec 1883 in Franklinton, Washington Parish, LA to Murdock Middleton SIMMONS and Louisa Clarinda (Thigpen) SIMMONS. He was the the 1st son and 2nd child of 9 born to Middleton and Louisa.

Lucius married Annie KNIGHT, b. 22 Feb 1888 at Sheridan, LA., daughter of Marian (Marion) Isaac KNIGHT and Frances A. BRELAND. The two were married at the home of her parents. Molly BRELAND and Dan COOPER are given as having been attendants.

Lucius and Annie had 7 children:

  • Ethel Lorena SIMMONS b. Feb. 14 1904, married Esmond Edward HENNESY.
  • Estus “Pete” SIMMONS b. 13 Dec. 1908 at Washington Parish, LA., died 14 March 1960, married Genieva.
  • Ezra “Jodi” Williams SIMMONS, b. 8 Feb. 1913, Washington Parish, LA., died 28 Jan. 1978, Sidell, LA., married Juanita CRAIN.
  • Lloyd SIMMONS b. 20 Sept. 1916, Washington Parish, LA., d. 24 April 1964, married Willie Mae HUSSER. SOURCE: US Gen Web archives for Simmons/Pope Cemetery in Washington Parish, LA. Located in Ward 5, Washington Parish, LA., in the Sheridan Community, north of the Franklinton-Bogalusa Hwy. Off Hwy. 10 on the Pope Road. (Bob Ann BRELAND instead gives as born 20 Sept 1915, marrying Willie May CROCKETT. That they had no children.)
  • Desera “George” SIMMONS, b. 1917 at Washington Parish LA., died 1939 at Washington Parish, LA. (Bob Ann BRELAND gives him as Wilbur Desere, born Dec. 1909, died 24 Sept 1939. Married Rosalee ADAMS.
  • Living
  • Living

Ethel (Simmons) HENNESY wrote of Lucius that he was a farmer and carpenter and that he owed and operated a saw mill.

Lucius Simmons is described as a “farmer, miller” by Jean Kearns, a granddaughter.

“I respected (almost feared) Grandpa Simmons, but I never really felt a love for him like I did Grandpa Hennesy. He was a very good man, very religious and very stern, who enjoyed sitting on the front porch with his Chihuahua in his lap arguing political or religious issues with some of his cronies. I never saw him express or demonstrate affection toward his family. He was uneducated but very intelligent, was a hard worker, and Daddy says he was a persuasive orator in labor meetings at the paper mill in Bogalusa where they both worked at one time. He was generous, giving land to whomever of his children wanted to build near him. He was too generous with two of his sons, giving them money over and over again to get back on their feet after they had lost their jobs because of drinking. I’m sure his generosity was his way of expressing love. They would always use it to buy more alcohol! He seemed to never learn. Their drinking was a burden to the whole family.

“Grandpa built a church on some of his property across the highway from their home because there was not a church nearby and he would preach there when they were without a preacher. The church still stands and my Uncle Jim and his family are active members there. There is a Simmons cemetery on some of his land where his mother, father, uncles, aunts, both Grandma and Grandpa and their four sons and two grandsons are buried.”

MY PERSONAL PROFILE AND FAMILY OF ORIGIN, by Jean (Hennesy) Kearns, November 20, 1991.

Jean says Lucius believed women shouldn’t be schooled and didn’t permit Ethel to continue in school past the 8th grade. He hid her schoolbooks.

Though some of the sons had problems with alcohol, Jean says they were also the most “fun” of the family. Would take them to buy treats etc.

Annie was about 17 and Lucius was about 22 when Ethel was born.
Annie was 20 and Lucius was 25 when Estus was born.
Annie was 25 and Lucius was 30 when Ezra was born.
Annie was 27 and Lucius was 32 when Lloyd was born.
Annie was 29 and Lucius was 34 when George was born.
Annie was 32 and Lucius was 37 when their sixth child was born.
Annie was 35 and Lucius was 40 when their seventh child was born.

Annie Knight is also given as having been born in the Franklinton area. The Sheridan siting as the place of birth is from the Foil/Simmons Genealogy.

Jean Kearns writes of Annie (Knight) SIMMONS:

“I remember Grandma Simmons as being sad, seldom laughing, very self-giving. I loved her. I felt sorry for her. Her life seemed so hard, but my mother says she never complained about anything and never said a bad word about anyone. I often wondered if she was grieving over the death of George, her son, who died in his early twenties from a tick bite. I know she worried about her two sons who literally drank their lives away. And, there was always an undercurrent of tension between Grandma and her father. Grandpa Knight, her father, was a very successful, well-to-do farmer, and my mother feels that he almost disowned Grandma when she married Grandpa Simmons, a poor man…

“I looked forward to going to Louisiana every summer so I could spend time there with Grandma, after whom I was named, and my mother’s youngest brother and sister, Jim and “Cooter.” There seemed to always be children my age there too. They must have been great nieces and nephews who lived nearby and came to visit when we were there. I really don’t remember who they were. I do remember playing in the pastures, drinking water from the spring down in the woods, drawing water from the well on Grandma’s back porch, and going to the creek every afternoon for the coldest swim in the world. We would walk to the store at least twice a day to buy some candy or a drink. At that time I had no idea that the store had once belonged to Grandpa Hennesy.

“I loved the days at Grandma’s, which began with hot buttered biscuits covered with huckleberry preserves and thick, rich cream which she made especially for me, she said. But I dreaded for night to come. The house was large, with four bedrooms, but there were never enough beds for the children, so we slept on pallets on the living room floor. That was fun, until all the lights were out and everyone went to sleep. Then the strange noises (snoring, wheezing and outdoor farm noises) would begin and I would lie there in the dark knowing that I would never live to see another huckleberry biscuit.

“I always wondered why Daddy never stayed with us at Grandma and Grandpa Simmons’ house. He would visit for a short while and then say he had to go on to Franklinton to visit his family. I remember that Mom would get irritated with him about this sometimes. As I gathered information for this paper, Daddy, now 88 years old, told me that he never felt that Grandpa Simmons liked him or wanted him around. In fact, Grandpa had wanted Mom to marry Uncle Jewel, Daddy’s brother, rather than Daddy, and he never really accepted Daddy as part of the family. I find it ironic that it was Daddy who bought Grandpa’s farm to help them live comfortably in their old age with the guarantee that it was their home as long as they lived. I wonder if Grandpa ever realized what a wonderful man Daddy was..”

MY PERSONAL PROFILE AND FAMILY OF ORIGIN, by Jean Kearns, November 20, 1991.

Lucius SIMMONS Died 9 Sept 1963 in Bogalusa, LA. He was abt. 80. Annie died 1 Sept 1961 in New Orleans, LA. She was abt. 73. Bob Ann Breland gives them as buried in the Lang Simmons Cemetery at Sheridan which was on part of their property; it is now behind what used to be their old homestead. US Gen Web archives has Lucius and Annie as buried at the Simmons/Pope Cemetery in Washington Parish, LA. Located in Ward 5, Washington Parish, LA., in the Sheridan Community, north of the Franklinton-Bogalusa Hwy. Off Hwy. 10 on the Pope Road.

Jean Kearns
Ethel Simmons Hennesy
Bob Ann Breland
Cemetery records


pg. 8B
340/340 SIMMONS Lucius own 36 b. MS parents b. MS farmer
Annie 31 b. LA parents b. LA
Ethel 14 b. LA
Estus 12
Izra or Ingra son 10
Esra 6
Loyd 3 and 5/12
341/341 SIMMONS Murdock own 59 b. MS father b. AL mother b. AL
Opha 49 b. MS parents b. MS
James 17 b. LA parents b. MS
POPE Maxie daughter 16 b. MS parents b MS

Lucius and his family are living next to his brother John Benjamin SIMMONS.

State of LA
County: Washington
Township or other division of Country: Police Jury Ward 5 (part of)
Enumeration District No. 59-15
Supervisor’s District No. 8
Enumerated on 13 April 1930
Enumerator, Mazie Bateman
Sheet no. 8A
138/142 NOBLES T. C. rent 21 married b. parents b. LA farm laborer
Bertha 16 married
139/143 SIMMONS John B. Head O lives on farm mw 37 md 24 can read and write b. LA, Salesmn at Filling Station, (unable to tell if wage or owns), working, WWI vet, farm #122
Daisy wife fm 31 md. 20 can read and write b. LA parents b. LA parents b. LA, Teacher at Public School, wage, working
Quinton wm son 10 sg. school can read and write b. LA parents b. LA
Kermit wm son 9 sg. school b. LA parents b. LA
Clay wm son 6 sg. school b. LA parents b. LA
140/144 SIMMONS Lucious T. Head O lives on farm wm 46 md 21 can read and write b. MS parents b. MS, Farmer of General Farm, Owns, not a veteran, farm #123
Annie wife wf 42 md 17 can read and write b. LA parents b. LS
Ezra son wm 17 sg can read and write b. LA father b. MS mother b. LA, Farm Laborer on General Farm, wage, working
Loyd son wm 14 sg school can read and write b. LA father b. MS mother b. LA
Fannie Lee daughter wf 10 sg school can read and write b. LA father b. MS mother b. LA
Jimmie son wm 7 sg school b. LA father b. MS mother b. LA
140/145 SIMMONS Desre Head R $2 wm 20 md 19 can read and write b. LA father b. MS mother b. LA, Factory worker at Box Factory, wage, working
Vergie wife wf 17 md 16 can read and write b. LA parents b. LA
141/146 PASSMAN Oscar Head R, wm 45 md 31, can read and write, b. LA, parents b. LA, carpenter, carpenting, wage, working, not a veteran, farm #124
Francis Wife wf 34 md. 21 can read and write b. LA parents b. MS
Emilea Daughter wf sg. 11 school can read and write b. LA
Johnnie Son wm 8 sg. school b. LA
Margurite Daughter wf 6 sg not in school b. LA
Lerue Son wm 3 sg not in school b. LA
Janice K. Daughter wf 7/12 sg. not in school b. LA
142/147 LANG Ivy Head Owns wm 39 md 18 can read and write b. MS parents b. MS farmer on General Farm, Owns, not a veteran, farm #125
Dellia Wife wf 37 md 16 can read and write b. LA father b. MS mother b. LA
Alton Son wm 19 sg can read and write b. LA Farm Laborer on General Farm, no pay
Vernal Son wm 17 sg school can read and write b. LA father b. MS mother b. LA
Alfred Son wm 15 sg school can read and write b. LA father b. MS mother b. LA
Lora Daughter wf 11 sg school can read and write b. LA father b. MS mother b. LA
Kenneth Son wm 10 sg school can read and write b. LA father b. MS mother b. LA
Odie Daughter wf 8 sg school b. LA father b. MS mother b. LA
Wyman Son wm 6 sg not in school b. LA father b. MS mother b. LA
Masel Daughter wf 4 and 6/12 sg not in school b. LA father b. MS mother b. LA
143/148 CRAIN Calvin 50 married at 19
Tina 47 married at 16
J. L 18
Katie 13
144/149 O’QUINN Latimore
Curtis D.
CRAIN Hezzie
145/150 KNIGHT James W. Head own wm 73 married at 23 can read and write, b. LA father b. LA mother b. MS farmer on General Farm, owns, working, not a veteran, farm #128
Canonizer Wife wf 68 married at 18, can read and write b. LA father b. LA mother b. MS

Early 1970s Hennesy Reunion

Hennesy Reunion

From left to right, James “Jim” Simmons b. 1923, Fannie Lee “Cooter” Simmons Foil b. 1920, Ezra “Jodi” Simmons b. 1913, an Ethel Lorena Simmons b. 1906, all children of Lucius Theodore Simmons and Annie Clarinda Knight Simmons. The other three children, Estus, Desera and Lloyd were deceased prior this reunion which I believe took place at the home of Ethel in Natchez, Mississippi–but I could be wrong on that! Fashion styles spread at different speeds not only geographically but even within a community so it’s difficult for me to apply a date other than “Early 1970s”.

It’s easy enough to pick out the siblings in the below photo. Ethel’s husband, Esmond Edward Hennesy is the elder gentleman seated to the right with the couple of children in his lap. Aside from Esmond, I’ve not a clue who anyone else is and no one else has been identified for me. I believe I recognize Jim’s wife from a 1954 reunion picture, she’s standing to the left of him at the far right. The woman in the blue shirt standing to the left of Ethel (back, a little left of center) is Juanita Simmons, Jodi’s wife.

If you have further info, let me know.

Hennesy Reunion

Two other photos of Ezra and his wife, Juanita, taken at the same reunion can be viewed here.

Lucius and Annie Knight Simmons 50th wedding anniversary

Lucius and Annie Knight Simmons were married 1904 Nov 17 at the home of her parents in Washington Parish, Louisiana. The anniversary celebration would have taken place about 1954 Nov 17 in Washington Parish.
The photos were presented in a little blue flip book of snapshots. The individuals are the celebrated couple and their children.

Left to right: Estus Simmons, Jim Simmons, Lucius Simmons, unknown woman, Annie Simmons, unknown woman

Left to right: Lucius Simmons, Ethel (Simmons) Hennesy, Estus Simmons, Annie Simmons

Geneiva and Estus “Pete” Simmons

Jim Simmons and family

Juanita, wife of Ezra “Jodi” Simmons, and Charles

Annie (Knight) and Lucius Simmons

Not present (it seems) are Fannie Lea Simmons b. 1920 who married Fernie Foil and Lloyd Simmons b. 1915-1916 who married Willie Mae Hauser. Indeed, I don’t believe I have any photos of either one of these individuals.