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.

Albert and Narcissus Lang, “Steve” and John B. and Lou Simmons

Lou (Brown) Simmons, John B. Simmons, Narcissus (Simmons) Lang and Albert Lang

Lou (Brown) Simmons, John B. Simmons, Narcissus (Simmons) Lang and Albert Lang

Lou (Brown) Simmons, b. 1873 July 2, died 1949 Dec 5, was the wife of John Benjamin Simmons b. 1862 June 16 in Mississippi, died 1946 Feb 26. John Benjamin’s sister is Narcissus b. 1870 Jan 5 in Mississippi, died 1944 Sept 25 in Washington Parish, Louisiana. Narcissus was married to Albert Winston Lang b. 1869 Oct 20, died 1959 Feb 17 in Washington Parish, Louisiana.

Multi-generations xerox.

Image courtesy of Bob Ann Breland.

John B., Narcissus “Aunt Dink” and Murdock Middleton Simmons

John B., Narcissus “Aunt Dink” and Murdock Middleton Simmons

Murdock Middleton “Steve” Simmons was born 1860 Oct 4 in Mississippi and died 1936 April 21 in Washington Parish, Louisiana. Murdock Middleton, John B. and Narcissus were children of Robert “Reuben” Simmons and Frances Smith.

As Murdock died in 1936, this picture could be no later than that year. I’m going to date this pic as being circa 1936.

Multi-generations xerox.

Image courtesy of Bob Ann Breland.

Photo Albert Winston Lang and Narcissus Simmons Lang Photo, circa 1930s

Albert and Narcissus Lang

Albert Lang b. 1969 Oct 20, died 1959 Feb 17, married 1888 in Franklinton, Washington, Louisiana to and Narcissus Simmons Lang b. 1870 Jan 5, Mississippi, died 1944 Sept 25 in Washington Parish, Louisiana.

Having seen photos of the couple at their 50th wedding anniversary, I’m guessing this was taken before then and so am putting a date circa early 1930s.

Image courtesy of Bob Ann Breland.

Photo of Murdock Middleton and Clarinda Simmons and family

Original image, a multiple generations xerox.
Courtesy of Delores Tousineau.

An attempt I made to clean up the image a bit.

And then not leave well enough (kind of) alone, though the resolution doesn’t merit it.

This family photo was made the same day as the above. No children were given but I’m going to make a stab at it. I believe the photo is made about 1900, before the birth of the youngest, James F. in 1902. The youngest boy leaning against Murdock may be Charles Jewell Simmons b. 1898, the little girl leaning against Louisa Clarinda would be Frances, b. 1896, John Benjamin b. 1894 would be the boy to the far left standing behind the youngest boy, Mary Elizabeth Simmons b. 1891 would be then the girl on the far right next to Louisa. Mary Elizabeth would be about 9. Her next sister up would be Ella b. 1888 who would be about 12 and I don’t see a girl in that age range here. Next would be Dewitt, born 1886, about 14 at the time, and would be the boy standing at the rear of the photo, behind Murdock. Lucius, b. 1883, would be about 17 and doesn’t seem to appear in the photo. The oldest, Euna Emily b. 1882, may be one of the two women to either side of Dewitt.

The Move to Mobile

The move to Mobile

by Jean Kearns, 1991

We lived in Camden until 1942 when we moved to Citronelle, Alabama, when I was in the fifth grade. It was a traumatic move for all of us. Daddy had been transferred to Mobile, 30 miles away, but because of the war and the thousands who had moved to Mobile for work in the shipyards there, he had to commute every day for over a year. Mom still tells of the moving van pulling away and the whole family crying except me. They all thought I was so brave. (I wonder if this commendation for not crying was the beginning of my efforts to suppress expressions of emotions.) I loved the old two-story home at the end of a short little street. I enjoyed the newly married couple from Canada who lived next door to us. I was accepted so readily in my new school situation that there was very little adjustment for me to make. The year there ended in great glory for me as I was crowned queen of May Day.

What fond memories I have of Monterey Street in Mobile, Alabama. Even though we were living in a city residential area rather than outskirts, we were still free to play and experience our surroundings. There was one large house between our home and the Bunch home, and Mary Alice Bunch and I became best friends. We spent many week-end nights together. On Saturday nights we would make fudge in our kitchen. We loved to slide down the bannister from their upstairs bedroom to their front foyer. Her mother was as relaxed as mine so we felt equally at ease in either home. We would lie on the grass in our yard and talk friend talk. Our differences in religion didn’t matter to us, even though Mobile was a divided city of Catholics vs. Protestants or vice versa. When we spent the night together, she would say her rosary and I would say my prayers. On special holy days, we would walk to St. Mary’s Church for her prayer time before going on to our Saturday afternoon movie. She couldn’t go to my church, couldn’t even get permission to be in or attend my wedding at First Baptist Church.

All the seventh graders in Mobile attended Barton Academy, a building used as a hospital in the Civil War and named after Clara Barton. Since I had never ridden a bus to school before, it was a great experience to walk to Dauphin Street every morning, meet my friends there, and ride a city bus downtown to Barton Academy. I was terrified the first few days of seventh grade, however, and felt that no one in my room liked me. It was the first time I had ever felt so alone. Had it not been for Martha Simon’s coming over to speak to me and including me in her group, I would probably have had a miserable year. I thought she was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen with her very blond hair and genuine smile. Martha and I were friends throughout high school, we had our senior tea together, double-dated together many times, and she was a bridesmaid in my wedding. In fact, it was Martha who introduced me to her boy friend who later became my husband, Jackie Kearns.

I had a rude awakening when I visited Martha’s home. Her father was dead and she was the youngest of four girls and one brother. Now, the siblings in our family had our share of disagreements and scrapping, but I was appalled at the screaming and fights that went on among the Simon sisters. I didn’t know anything like that went on in homes. However, the fight would be followed by such a display of affection, hugging and kissing, that you would think it was another family. I remember reporting to my mother about this after my first visit there that I would much rather live in our peaceful home with less affection shown than the way they lived. This was true, but secretly, I wished that my parents would have been more open in their display of affection toward us as we grew older, so that we siblings would have been more affectionate to each other.

Bunchy, my neighborhood friend, and I went through the heartbreak of rejection by high school sororities together. We knew it would be very unlikely for us to be asked to pledge one of the sororities because we were both new in town, but we hoped because we lived on such a nice street as Monterey, they would overlook the fact we had only lived there for about a year. However, we were not part of “the group” and rush day was unforgettable as the carloads of girls stopped at several homes on our street, ran up to the doors of the lucky girls, and informed them that they had been chosen. We cried, and we were almost ashamed to go to school the next Monday because we had not been selected. Now I had experienced discrimination, and it hurt.

Murphy High School was the only high school in Mobile at that time and it was like a college campus, with separate buildings for each discipline. After I learned my way around, I associated with several groups of friends because of involvement in different organizations, and felt a real part of the activities there.

Thinking of high school years brings back so many memories:

meeting new friends;

going home with Irene Coumanis every day for weeks after her mother died;

looking for Irene’s older cousin, Nick, in his red convertible and almost swooning when he passed and blew his horn;

receiving my first kiss from a boy, Billy Buckley, Bunchy’s cousin from Beaumont, Texas;

having slumber parties with my girl friends;

skating at night on the sidewalks throughout west Mobile with neighborhood friends;

visiting with Mr. Dooley, the old man who lived with his two daughters on our street;

picking spider lilies from a field and taking them to him when he had a stroke, and feeling sure I would never see him alive again;

baby-sitting with the sons of the young doctor who lived across the street from us and getting so angry at them the night they locked the bathroom door and papered the bathroom with toilet tissue;

enjoying the clothes my mother made for me, especially the beautiful formals she made for the proms and high school teas;

playing clarinet in the high school band and being excused from school to march in parades; especially fun were the Mardi Gras parades;

joining the hundreds of other students on the train to see the Murphy Panthers play the Montgomery Lanier team and spending the week-end with several girls at Frankie Wilson’s house;

sitting on my front porch and crying because we had heard the news of President Roosevelt’s death;

meeting Jackie Kearns, a member of the Murphy Barber-shop Quartet, at the lockers outside my home room and hearing from so many friends during the rest of the day that he wanted to talk to me;

dating Jackie almost exclusively during the rest of my Junior and Senior years at school;

becoming very active in the youth group and choir at First Baptist Church;

taking hay rides to Gulf Shore, watching the phosphorus on the water at night, and “necking” with Jackie;

worrying about my sister’s boyfriends who were fighting in World War II;

picnicking on the beach of Mobile Bay with the youth from First Baptist;

hearing the news of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on the car radio as we were returning from visiting my grandmother;

riding around Bienville Square blowing our car horns, laughing and crying, after we heard that the war was over.

I could go on and on. Those were happy days for the most part. I was a good student, not a great one. I was a good friend and I had some good friends. I was a good daughter, I think. I know that I never wanted to do anything that would hurt my mother and daddy. There was a relaxed atmosphere in our home. It was always open to friends of the children, and Mom had many guests for Sunday dinner. Many times, too, we had extra people living with us and they never seemed to be extra, but just part of the family. My Aunt Lucille lived with us several times and friends of my two older sisters would live with us as they came to Mobile to find work.

I did not live up to Daddy’s expectations in high school. Because my oldest sister had been Valedictorian of her high school class of less than forty members, Daddy expected me to be valedictorian of my class even though almost 1000 students graduated from Murphy that year. I felt he expected too much of me and jokingly told him I would never want to work as his secretary because he would be too tough. He is still a perfectionist. Even though he is blind and cannot take care of his bookkeeping himself, he insists in his gentle way that everything be done “just so”. And, as I reconcile his bank account and write checks for him when I am at home, I feel very concerned about doing it all “just so” in order to please him.

He was ahead of this time as far as insisting that his daughters prepare for a career and felt that business college was a necessity after graduation. So, graduation from high school was followed by a year of business college. The business college placed me in a secretarial position with a woman lawyer, Doris Van Aller. I worked for her over a year and never lost my feeling of awe when in her presence. She was a powerful woman, so different from most of the wealthy Mobile women, a civil rights activist before “the” time. Many poor blacks would come to her for help and many paid her with fresh turnip greems or sometimes just a thank you. Mrs. van Aller opened my eyes to the inequities which blacks faced daily in the Deep South. I knew that our family had always been kind to those who worked in our home, so I had never really considered the unequal treatment they were receiving.

During that year I became more and more concerned about my spiritual life. I knew I had been raised in a Christian home, but I had always been told taht the decision to become a Christian was an individual thing, not a decision your parents made for you, so when I was seventeen years of age, I expressed my faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and my Savior and asked for membership in First Baptist Church. This was the beginning of an understanding of God which helped to remove the fear of a dreadful God that had plagued me almost all of my life.

During the time I was working for Mrs. van Aller I was saving money and putting silver, china, and linens in my hope chest, all of the things a young woman was expected to do at that time. Daddy was pleased when I did the proper things. I had always been reminded more by Daddy than by Mom of the importance of doing what is expected of me and of being very careful to do nothing that would give the wrong impression to people. He never wanted a boy and me to go inside our house if they happened not to be at home because of what the neighbors might think. So, if Jackie and I returned from a date even in the wintertime and my parents were not at home, we would have to sit on the front porch swing until they came.

Jackie and I were beginning to make plans about our future. He loved music, was very active in the Mobile Opera Society, was studying voice under the finest vocal instructor in Mobile, Madam Rose Palmai Tenser, and was a soloist in the church choir. He was working at an electrical fixture company after high school graduation but had decided to pursue music as a career. To do this, he must go to college. I had applied to a teacher’s college, but because Jackie wasn’t able to go to college until he worked and saved money to go, I didn’t want to leave Mobile. His mother had insisted that he have typing and shorthand in high school and it was helpful as he worked in Mobile and then as he worked his way through college and seminary.

Jacques Merlin Kearns and I were married on August 25, 1950, in a beautiful wedding at First Baptist Church, Mobile.

Jean Hennesy Kearns

Back to first section, Memories of the Hennesy and Simmons grandparents in Louisiana
Back to second section, Camden, Arkansas

Camden, Arkansas

Camden, Arkansas

by Jean Kearns, 1991

My father was a Paper Mill Man. From the time he became old enough to pursue a career, he worked for paper companies. Both Daddy and Uncle Jewel began working at the paper mill in Bogalusa as young men, and Uncle Jewel worked there until he retired. But Daddy was offered work with Southern Kraft Paper Company in Camden, Arkansas, and after he and Mama had been married for about five years, they and their two little girls left Bogalusa and all of their relatives to begin a life of their own a long distance from any other family.

On October 16, 1931, in the middle of the Great Depression, I was born in Camden. I was the third daughter of Ethel and “Ezzie” Hennesy. My parents named me Annie Jean after my maternal grandmother, Annie Knight Simmons, but I was always called Jeannie by my parents, siblings and friends. Even though I hated the name Annie, I’ve always been glad I was her namesake.

As I was growing up, I loved to hear my mother tell about what a pretty little baby I was, with lots of black hair. She and her family said that I should have belonged to George, her brother who died, that I looked so much like him. (I was talking to my Uncle Jim a few months ago and he repeated this after all these years.) Mom would gell about the Sears Healthy Baby Contest in which I was entered and won 1st Place. She has said many times, “I almost didn’t take you downtown for the contest, because I thought they would think you were too old (I was in my second year), but I did, and you won!” A few years ago when I was visiting them, Mom went to the trunk, retrieved the bronze medal which had been presented to her, and gave it to me.

It is difficult to remember many things about my early years before I began school. I’ve been told about things I did until it is as though I remember them happening, for instance, my fear of my new baby brother, James Leon Hennesy, Grandpa Hennesy’s namesake, when Mom brought him home from the hospital. Though he is the apple of her eye now, a handsome minister nad college president, Mom admits that he really was an ugly baby with very large ears, and she can understand how a three year old could have been afraid of him.

Mom reports that she cried when she say my brother the first time, not because of his physical appearance, but because he was a boy. She was the oldest of a Louisiana farm family with five very rough and tough younger brothers. Her mother was ill much of the time, and it fell my mother’s responsibility to take care of the children, do the housework, sew for the whole family, and with any time left she did outdoor farm work. Her life was a hard one, but the worst of all memories were her bad brothers who even as adults caused the family grief. Because of these memories, she said she never wanted to have boys. Her sons, whom we call Buddy, made up for all the problems her brothers inflicted upon her.

I do remember going to church and being held by Mama. I felt secure and comfortable as she would hold me in her lap and I would snuggle up against her. She was so busy at home with four children that there was little time to hold us, even though much love was expressed in our home by actions. I looked forward to going to church as a child and one of the reasons, I suppose, is because it was a special time to be with my mother. Church and religious training was a very important part of our lives. I cannot remember when I didn’t know about and love Jesus. And, I can remember the great fear I had of God. They seemed so different to me–Jesus was the one who loved the little children and went about healing and doing good, and God was the one I heard about who was so severe in punishment to those who disobeyed him.

There was not great display of affection to the children, but Mom and Dad spent their lives acting out their love to us, i.e., Mom made it a point to cook our favorite dishes often, to make us beautiful little dresses, and to see that we never had to work like she did, almost to the extreme of spoiling us. One of my few memories at home as a pre-schooler is Daddy holding me in his lap in a big rocking chair and reading the Sunday “funnies” to me. He was a gentle man in every way, and still is. He called me his little “Black Eyes.” As a child I somehow thought I was Daddy’s favorite. I know now this was not so, but what a nice feeling for a child to have!

There was no kindergarten program at Fairvew Schoool, and I began first grade at five years of age. I walked to school with my two older sisters who were very protective of me. I always had the secure feeling that they loved me and were proud of me. Mrs. Hamilton was the sought-after first grade teacher. What relief I felt when I arrived at school to discover that I was in her room. She was a very sweet, soft-spoken white haired woman. My sisters and their friends had issued warnings about Miss Pledger, the other first grade teacher. Her reputation of severity preceded her, and she definitely looked the part. She was tall, slender, had dark black hair, sharp features, and commanded the utmost respect of all students at school.

My first year at school was successful, but since I had been warned of what might happen if I had been placed in Miss Pledger’s class, and since I was now a veteran, I felt it my duty to warn my next door neighbor of the “perils of Pledger” which I took joy in doing all summer. But, alas, my first day of second grade was not nearly as happy as the year before. I was called into Mrs. Hamilton’s room to face not only Mrs. Hamilton and the little girl’s mother but also Miss Pledger. It seems I had been to successful in my warnings and the girl was afraid to come to school. I left that room with feelings of fright and guilt over what I had done. I suppose this is the first time that I realized how things I did can affect someone else.

Most of my childhood was filled with happy, unhurried, unstructured activities. We were allowed freedom to roam. We didn’t live on a farm, but our home was three miles from town, which seemed a very long way at the time. My father purchased a large amount of land when our home was built, and the four of us children became acquainted with most of it. Buddy and I, along with Billy and Ruth Edwards and Patsy Cross, would build whole villages out of pine straw on the lots next door to us. We could play house, store, etc., all day long.

We played family games, too. Daddy would set up the croquet game or the badminton net and we would all play to our hearts’ content. There were indoor games we enjoyed, Big Business, a forerunner of Monopoly, being one of them. Chinese checkers, dominoes, checkers, and the card game “Authors” were played often, but Mama would not allow a deck of cards in our home because that would have been gambling, she thought. We really didn’t miss them since there were so many other things to do and we could go down the street to Patsy’s and play cards. Mom didn’t mind our doing that, she just did not want them in her home.

There were chinquapin trees in the meadow behind our house and we would go far from home, it seemed, to pick chinquapins. They were so delicious–worth all the effort it took to peel the sticky burr cover off before shelling and eating the nut. And, the fruit trees in the orchard offered many a morning’s venture as we climbed tree after tree to get the apples, pears, or peaches, whatever was in season. We would spend time in our garden, our bare feet feeling the coolness of the freshly plowed earth, as we followed closely behind Old Nelson on plowing days. Nelson helped with garden and lawn work as long as we lived in Arkansas. I’ve wondered why we addressed him as Old Nelson and the woman who helped Mom with housework and laundry as Old Mary. I’m sure they were not old, but perhaps that was the way of the South during those days. I just remember that we loved them, and obeyed them when they spoke as readily as we did our parents. When my parents left us in Mary’s care, there was never any question as to who was in charge!

Discipline was a part of our lives, but it was never harsh. I know mom spanked me a few times, but I don’t remember any of her spankings. I can’t even remember her scolding me, but she must have. I will always remember my Daddy spanking me and my sister one day, and I think the reason for the spanking is why I will never forget it. We had some very good Italian neighbors, the Serio family. Their two girls were near the same age of my two sisters. They were very poor, I remember, but they were very sharing. Mrs. Serio baked bread once a week, and the neighborhood children would make it a point to be in the vicinity of her back door sometime that day, waiting for her to come to the door and break bread with us. It was Mrs. Serio who comforted me in her arms as my mother drove me to the doctor when I had broken my arm. She was a kind woman.

All of this to say that we had a feeling of camaraderie with the Serios, they were our neighbors and our friends.

Why my sister, Lee, made the suggestion she did to me that day is still a puzzle. I’ve never asked her. When we saw Little Sister (that’s what we called her) coming down the road to the house, Lea, who has never seemed to have a mean bone in her body, said, “Jeannie, when Little Sister comes up, let’s don’t say anything to her, let’s just mock the way she talks.” I must have done this, because the next thing I knew our oldest sister, Lola, had gone to tell Daddy and we were called to the garage where were spanked thoroughly and told that we were never again to ridicule people for the way they talked or the way they did anything different from us. What a valuable lesson–even though at the time I was suffering physically and doubly humiliated that Daddy had punished me.

Music was an important part of our lives. We all studied piano, played woodwind instruments, and my two sisters played stringed instruments. I never felt forced to “take lessons” as some children do, but neither did I take the matter too seriously. I enjoyed playing the piano and clarinet, and still do, but never excelled at either, as did my sisters. It was not unusal for us to sing around the piano as Lola or Lea played, and on Saturday nights we all sat in the living room and listened to the Hit Parade. Lola would usually have her friend, Virginia Beard, come over to listen with us, and we would sing together the familiar songs.

Next section, The Move to Mobile, Alabama
Back to first section, Memories of the Hennesy and Simmons grandparents in Louisiana

Memories of the Hennesy and Simmons grandparents and relations and of their situation in Louisiana

Memories of the Hennesy and Simmons grandparents and relations
and of their situation in Louisiana

by Jean Hennesy Kearns, 1991

I don’t remember when Grandpa Hennesy died, but I can remember being held in his lap as he sat in a large chair in his living room in Bogalusa, Louisiana. His name was James Leon Hennesy. I remember him being a gentle, loving man. We visited him only once a year when Daddy had his two week vacation. I always thought that we were going to Uncle Jewel’s house, but found out only this year that the home was Grandpa Hennesy’s. When Uncle Jewel’s first wife died, he and his children made their home with Grandpa. Then, when Grandpa died, the house became Uncle Jewel’s. Through the years I have dreamed many times of going there to look for my Grandpa Hennesy and being unable to find him. Perhaps this is because I was never able to finalize his death since I was so young when he died.

He had a hard life. He and my father’s mother, Lucy Virginia Myles were married in 1898. They had five children, three girls and two sons. My father, Esmond Edward Hennesy, was the third child and the second son. My grandmother died shortly after the birth of their fifth child, a little girl, Zeda, who died as an infant. I find it interesting that the three girls all had names beginning with “Z”, Zula, Zoe and Zeda. Zoe, the youngest surviving daughter, was raised by Lucy’s mother and father, Edward and Rene Myles. Before they would agree to take her, they made my grandfather promise that the would never try to take her back, that she would be their child, even though they never legally adopted her. Zula died when she was twenty-five years old, shortly after two major surgeries. She and my mother were the dearest of friends and her husband was my mother’s uncle, my Grandmother Simmons’ youngest brother. Uncle Wilbur and his two children lived with my mother and father for some time after Zula’s death.

Grandpa Hennesy tried farming during his early adult years, but determined that “there was a better way to make a living” and began operating a mill on the Tangipahoa River, which my father says was unique in that it was not only a saw mill but also a corn mill. Daddy tells of Grandpa building a house down by the mill so he could look after the children during the day. At night they would return to their home. He continued with the mill until he bought a country store on the Bogalusa-Franklinton highway, which he operated for several years. Grandpa married Lucinda Pounds after my father and Uncle Jewel were grown and they had one daughter, Lucille, before the death of Lucinda. His last marriage, in his later years, was to Della Nobles.

Both Uncle Jewel and Daddy felt a great responsibility in caring for Lucille after the deaths of her mother and father. She lived with Jewel and with us for several years during her teen-age years and early adulthood. She was a beautiful young woman, and our whole family loved having her with us, even though she thought we were bad children. I’m sure she felt that way because she was raised without siblings and it was difficult for her to be with four active children. As a young child, I never considered what pain she must have suffered in losing her mother and later her father. I wonder why. This was not my normal reaction to those who lost their parents. I still remember how sad I was when Bobby Sheffield’s mother died and when Joy Lee Voss’s father was killed in a plant accident. Maybe it was because she was older or maybe because she was away from us when they died. I don’t remember her expressing her grief during the times she stayed with us and I know now that she must have been dealing with those issues.

I’ve always been fascinated with the connections between the families of my mother and father. The country store Grandpa Hennesy bought was a short distance down the highway from the farm owned by Lucious and Annie Simmons, my mother’s father and mother. In fact, Grandpa Simmons’ land bordered the store property. Last month, as I talked with my father, he told me about his father and my mother’s father working together. It seems that Grandpa Simmons owned a sawmill at one time, also, and Grandpa Hennesy’s store was the “company store” where the mill employees got all of their supplies. Once a month Grandpa Simmons would reimburse Grandpa Hennesy for purchases made by his employees. Daddy said the first $100 bill he ever saw was on my Grandmother Simmons gave his daddy to pay off their monthly balance.

Another connection of the two families which confused me greatly as a child and made me wonder if Mom and Dad were related to each other was the marriage of Daddy’s sister, Zula, to mom’s Uncle Wilbur Knight, my grandmother’s youngest brother, and the relationship of their two children, Mildred and Leon to my parents. Mom and Dad were both uncle and aunt and first cousins to them by blood and marriage. And, after their mother died, Mom was almost an adopted mother to them for some time. Somehow, it gives me a feeling of satisfaction to know that Mom and Zula had such a deep love for each other as young women and it makes me proud of my parents for opening their home to family members when help was needed.

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…

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 nad Grandpa and their four sons and wives and two grandsons are buried.

I remember Granda 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 hve been great neices 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 the 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 sounds (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 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…

Second section, Camden, Arkansas
Third section, The Move to Mobile, Alabama

Old store of John B. Simmons

“This is the old store of John B. Simmons in the Union community near Magnolia. It is no longer there. Uncle John was considered to be the rich uncle and had a beautiful home near the store. The house burned after Uncle John and Aunt Lou died, I believe.”

Bob Ann Breland

Old Simmons Store

“John B. Simmons, son of Reuben and Frances Simmons, was
born June 16, 1862, died Feb. 25, 1946. He married Lulu “Lou”
Brown, born July 2, 1873, died Dec. 5, 1949. (Lou was a sister
to Julia Brown Simmons, the wife of John B.’s nephew, William F.
“Blow Gun” Simmons.) John B. and Lou ran a store in the Union
community in Pike County, Miss. and “Uncle John” was one of the
more prosperous members of the family. (Their large home across
the road from the store was remembered by my father, Seldon
Lang, as quite handsome for the time. The house burned several
years after the death of John B. and Lou, but the old store
building still stands on the corner, overgrown with weeds and
trees in 1991.) The children of John B. and Lou Simmons are
listed below.

A. – Helmer Simmons.

B. – Alice Simmons.

C. – Jewell Simmons.

D. – Prentis Simmons.”

Source: Bob Ann Breland

Photo of Albert Winston Lang and Narcissus Simmons Lang


Albert Lang and Narcissus Simmons Lang

A multiple generations xerox.

Image courtesy of Bob Ann Breland.

Albert Winston Lang b. 1869 Oct 20, died 1959 Feb 17 in Washington Parish, Louisiana. Abt 1888 he married Narcissus “Narcis” “Dink” Simmons, b. 1870 Jan 5, Mississippi, died 1944 Sept 25 in Washington Parish, Louisiana.

This appears as if it could be a wedding photo.

James Marshall Simmons Photo

James Marshall Simmons orig

James Marshall Simmons

James Marshall SIMMONS, b. 1873 Sep 6 b. Magnolia, Pike, Mississippi, died 1932 March 3, Jackson, Hinds, Mississippi, married 1909 Dec 19 in Pike County, Mississippi to Lucy Eliza Page.

James Marshall was a son of James Madison SIMMONS and Elizabeth PHELPS, grandson of Robert Reuben SIMMONS.