“William Simmons, thought to be William Seldon Simmons, although we have found no records to verify it, had at least two sons. Robert ‘Reuben’ Simmons and ‘Jim’ Simmons and probably several (maybe three) daughters.
“William apparently died before Robert ‘Reuben’ and his wife, Frances Smith Simmons, came to the Mississippi Territory via Alabama from North or South Carolina.
“My father, Seldon Albert Lang, was supposed to be named for his Grandfather Simmons. He was supposed to be William Seldon Lang, but through error, he was named Seldon Albert, after the grandfather and his own father, Albert Winston Lang. Whoever registered the birth made the mistake, and he was stuck with it. His mother told him about the mistake, and Seldon Albert named his first son William Seldon Lang for his mother’s Grandfather, William Seldon Simmons. That’s why we assume that was his name.
“The Langs and Simmons have always been great story tellers, and my father remembers this tale about Grandpa William Simmons and his son, Jim, which was told and re-told in the family many, many times as he was growing up, along with other tales of the past.
“It seems Grandpa William Simmons had bought three slaves from another plantation and shortly after arriving at his home with them they ran away, and it was assumed they had returned to the plantation where they were purchased.
“My father doesn’t remember where this plantation was, presumably in Alabama, only that it was far enough away that when William and his son went to retrieve their slaves they had to spend the night.
“At the end of a meal there, they were all served coffee. Jim hastily drank his, while his father was taking his time, waiting for his to cool.
“All of a sudden, Jim grabbed his chest with both hands and started screaming that a burning pain was searing his insides. He fell to the floor dead.
“Although it is possible Jim died with a heart attack, the family story goes that it was planned for the two men to be poisoned to keep them from retrieving the slaves, as they were very valuable and worth killing for. William didn’t drink his coffee and Jim did. It was assumed that the poison was in the coffee. With no help to return the slaves, William returned home without them. It isn’t known if he ever went back for them.
“The only other story my father remembers being told about William and his son, Jim, was a deer hunting story that stayed in his mind because he is also a deer hunter.
“It was not a memorable story except to a deer hunter, of a hunt in the snow, when Jim came across a huge buck standing in the snow. His father, William, gave him specific instructions on how to shoot the deer from the distance they were away–where to aim for a correct shot. They only gone one shot as their gun was a muzzle loader. Jim dropped the deer in the snow with one shot.”
Supplied by Bob Ann Breland
According to Bob Ann Breland’s father, Seldon Albert LANG, William SIMMONS was a Master Mason and was almost surely from North Carolina. Her father also said that William SIMMONS had slaves who were accomplished workmen, and that he often took them to Charleston, S.C. to work at the port there. He said said also that William SIMMONS was some sort of official, such as a senator or a legislator or at least an attorney, because his mother often said that “he went to make the law”. However, Bob Ann Breland’s mother, who also heard Narcis SIMMONS (daughter of Robert “Reuben”) say these same things, thought she was referring to either a brother or an uncle, not her grandfather.
Bob Ann’s grandmother (Narcis) always said that her grandfather, her father’s father, had a plantation on the Pea River, and that it was where the town of Elba was created.
She had a copy of the deed for her father’s property for many years, and finally turned it over to an attorney to investigate as to her rights. The lawyer disappeared and was never heard from again, along with her deed. I don’t know if there was any connection, but she grieved about it until she died. She said her father only had one brother, and that he was ‘educated’. His parents tried to get Reuben to go to school, too, but he would play hooky and go hunting and fishing. As a result, he didn’t get an education. But as I say, these family stories have a way of getting distorted in the telling.
Grandmother was always high on her family, as they apparently had some standing in the community in Alabama and Mississippi. She always thought she married considerably beneath her family, although she loved my grandfather very much.
She had a brother who was very wealthy, according to the standards of that day. He had a store in neighboring Mississippi, and his family was quite well to do. His name was John Benjamin Simmons.
My father recalls vividly being told about Grandpa Reuben’s nephew who was his same age. His name was Alfred Simmons, called “Alf”, both were 29 in 1850 and the two were inseparable as children, and were hunting and fishing buddies. They were both also married in 1844. It would be interesting to learn if he followed his uncle to the Mississippi Territory.
Supplied by Bob Ann Breland
Minutes of the 34th annual session of the Bogue Chitto Baptist Association, Pike County, Miss., list the death of Reuben SIMMONS in the Sept. 23, 24 and 25, 1903 edition. He was a member of Union Baptist Church (located about seven miles from Magnolia, Miss.)
In the 30th annual session of the Bogue Chitto Baptist Association, the death of Francis (Smith) SIMMMONS is listed. This was printed Sept. 23, 24, 25, 1899 for the session. It was also printed in the semi-weekly Gazette.
Francis SIMMONS, born Aug. 1, 1824 in Lowndes County, Ala. She married Reuben SIMMONS in 1844. She joined the Methodist Church at 18, but connected herself with the Baptist Church at Line Creek, Amite County, Miss. and finally moved her membership to Union Church in Pike County, Miss. She died Oct. 18, 1898. Funeral services conducted by Elder J.M. Hutson. She leaves an aged and afflicted husband, four sons and two daughters.
In this same 30th annual session, Sept. 23-25, 1899, is listed the death of I.M. (Marshall) PHELPS. I.M. PHELPS died February 24, 1899. He was born in Alabama January, 1821, moved to Mississppi and married Miss Caroline PARKER. After she died, he married Mrs. Annie Land (Lang) in Feb., 1865. He was baptized in fellowship with the Bala Chitto Church by Elder E.M. Schillling in 1873. In 1892, he drew his letter and organized with Union Baptist Church. He leaves an aged and broken-hearted companion and seven children.
Minutes of the 32nd session of the Bogue Chitto Baptist Association, meeting Sept 21-23, 1901, lists the death of Sarah Phelps LANG.
Sarah LANG, whose maiden name was PHELPS, was born in Newton County, Miss. Nov. 30, 1853 and died July 30, 1901. She married W.P. (William Perry) LANG on Sept. 20, 1868. She united with Bala Chitto Baptist Church in 1872, was baptized by Rev. E.M. Schilling, drew a letter from Bala Chitto and came in the constitution of Union Church. She leaves a husband, 6 children and 3 sisters.
William Seldon SIMMONS had at least 2 sons, Robert “Reuben” born about 1820 in NC or AL, and “Jim”, and maybe 3) daughters. One daughter may have married a man named Barber.
Bob Ann Breland