Sunday, December 11, 2011

Woodrow Wilson Simmons, 1916-1988

Woodrow Wilson Simmons

My Maternal Grandfather, Woodrow Wilson Simmons, son of James El Simmons and Harriet Woodard was born  06 September 1916 in Lamar County, Mississippi and died 23 July 1988 in Baton Rouge, East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana while in the Medical Center of Baton Rouge.  Interment was in Palmetto Cemetery in Walker, Livingston Parish, Louisiana.  He married Susie Johnson, daughter of Robert "Bob" Johnson and Sarah Herrin, on 04 July 1936 in Forrest County, Mississippi.  They had two sons- Alton and Elton, and two daughters- Lula Sue and Gertrude "Gertie".  

Marriage Record- Woodrow W. Simmons
and Susie Johnson, Forrest County, MS

Woodrow and Susie divorced 06 November 1951.  The divorce decree was filed in Columbia, Marion County, Mississippi.  At the time of their divorce, Woodrow was living and working in Connecticut, according to the address listed on the divorce decree.  His family back home heard little from him.  

Apparently Woodrow was back in Dixie not long after his divorce from Susie.  He married Mrs. Nellie K. Boone, nee Nellie Kelly, on 25 June 1952 in Pike County, Mississippi.  His address then was listed as Denham Springs, Louisiana.  According to family researcher, Michele Simmons Lewis, Nellie was the daughter of Thomas Jefferson Kelly and Hattie Roberta Slade.  She was previously married to James Leo Boone.    

Marriage Record- Woodrow W. Simmons to
Mrs. Nellie K. Boone, Pike County, Mississippi

The marriage between Woodrow and Nellie was annulled 16 years later, as proven by a decree signed in Livingston Parish, Louisiana on 05 April 1968.  I find that amusing- a marriage annulled after 16 years?  

Judgement of Annullment- Mrs. Nellie Kelly Simmons
vs. Woodrow W. Simmons, Livingston Parish, LA

I barely knew my Grandpa Simmons. There are a few memories of him, but because he was often on the road and away from his family, we only had bits and pieces of his time. Even then, there were no "sitting on Grandpa's knee" stories. He was stern and lacked a show of any physical affection toward his grandchildren. In his younger adult years, Grandpa Simmons was a rambler. He left his wife and four children while he took to the road, working across the country while barely keeping in touch with them. My Granny and her children struggled for survival, depending on themselves and others in the family for help. Grandpa Simmons supposedly had a wife and child while in Minnesota or Colorado, but I have no clue as to who they were.  Some family members say he was married to a woman called "Frankie", that is all I know.  

When he wasn't in Colorado or other places working, Grandpa Simmons resided in the Walker/Denham Springs, Louisiana area.  I remember that our family visited him there a few times but I was quite young so those memories have faded somewhat.  I also recall that at one time, Grandpa's brother, Andrew "Smokey" Simmons, lived in the same area because I remember socializing with Uncle Andrew's children when we visited.  

After Grandpa Simmons retired, he purchased a small tract of land and a mobile home here in Marion County, Mississippi.  He visited frequently and spent more time with his family here.  He became a part of our family gatherings and holidays.  Perhaps he was trying to make amends for his past.

Death Certificate for Woodrow W. Simmons
Woodrow W. Simmons Obituary

At the time preceding his death, Grandpa Simmons was married to "Polly" Rhodus. They had been married for several years and resided in Denham Springs, Louisiana.  I remember going with Mom to visit him in the hospital.  Not long afterward, Grandpa passed away.  Mom struggled often with her emotions toward her father.  She loved him, but for years she had some residual anger for the abandonment she experienced as a child.  I wish I could write great stories from the past about Grandpa Simmons, but unfortunately, he was estranged from his family most of his life. 

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