From my archives, June 1999
I wrote an article about the Simmons Grave Site Memorial event and it was published in the Columbian-Progress newspaper (June 5, 1999). The Columbian-Progress serves the area of Marion County, Mississippi.
For easier reading:
Several descendants of Silas and Jenny Freeman Simmons gathered together on Sunday, May 23, at Old Enon Baptist Church Cemetery in Forrest County (located in Perry County before Forrest County was formed) to honor the memory of Silas Simmons and to dedicate a new grave monument placed on the burial sites of Silas Simmons, his wife Janet "Jenny" Freeman Simmons and their son Thomas Simmons. The original grave markers were destroyed. The project to place a new monument at the site began in 1995 and was accomplished by the generosity of Paul and Elizabeth Simmons Grimes (Jonesboro, Ga), Howard Simmons (Columbia, Miss) and John E. and Martha Simmons (Sugarland, Texas).
According to available records and family research, Silas Simmons was about about 1794 in South Carolina. He married Janet "Jenny" Freeman, also born in South Carolina and thought to be of Indian descent. Silas and Jenny Simmons migrated to Mississippi in the early 1800's. He enlisted in the War of 1812 in Feliciana Parish, La. He fought in the battle of New Orleans under Capt. Thomas Neasom, Consolidated Company, 10th Regiment Louisiana Militia commanded by Lieutenant Colonel William Willis. He was discharged March 25, 1815. On the 1820 Mississippi census record, Silas Simmons was listed as a resident of Perry County. Census records later indicate that Silas and his wife Jenny had nine children: William, Mary Angarone, Abner, James, John J., Malinda, Eliza, Benjamin Franklin, Matilda Elizabeth and Thomas. Thomas Simmons died at the age of 17.
The dedication ceremony was organized by John E. Simmons and was held in the sanctuary of Old Enon Baptist Church with Pastor Joseph Drew officiating the ceremony. Guest speakers were Paul and Elizabeth Simmons Grimes and Howard Simmons. Paul and Elizabeth Simmons Grimes have been actively researching the Simmons history and have traveled through several states visiting courthouses, libraries and archives in search of links to the family history. They shared some of their information about the research with the audience. Howard Simmons, a long time resident of Columbia shared some of his recollections about the history of Silas Simmons and his descendants with the audience. He stated that he has been interested in the Simmons history since the 1940's and has been recording information since then. Following the dedication ceremoney, the family and guests visited the cemetary and viewed the new monument placed on the grave site. After viewing the new monument, family and guests were served refreshments in the dining area of the church.
Attending the dedication ceremony from Columbia were Lula Sue Simmons Powell, Susan Gail Bourgoyne, Frank Powell Sr, Howard Simmons, Miriam Simmons (wife of the late Willie Simmons), Irene Simmons Fite, Bertha Simmons (wife of the late Shelby Simmons), Stephen and Celia Simmons with children, Ila and Will Simmons and Dwayne Stringer (son of the late Christine Simmons Stringer). Attending from out of town were John Ellis and Martha Simmons (Sugarland, Texas), Emmitt Sr and Margie Simmons (Pascagoula, Miss), Dell Simmons Parsley (Pascagoula, Miss.), Emmitt Jr and Wanda Simmons (Baton Rouge, La), Polly Simmons Allen and her daughter Robin Lambert (Gulfport, Miss), Barney C. "Neal" Simmons (Bossier City, La), Paul and Elizabeth Simmons Grimes (Jonesboro, Ga). Other guests attending were Roger and Bev Melvin (Petal, Miss), Mrs. Joseph Drew, Mrs. O.R. Smith and Ruby Slade.
Several members of the Simmons Family are now researching their hertiage. With the help of Mr. Howard Simmons and others, they have gathered a wealth of information on the Simmons line. By working together, they hope to find more links to their heritage and they hope to find more information on the ancestors of Silas Simmons and where they migrated from. Also, plans are underway to have a "Year 2000 Simmons Grand Reunion" next spring or early summer. Anyone with information they would like to share with the Simmons family or anyone interested in the reunion plans may contact at her email address, firstname.lastname@example.org., or may write to her at 28 Spell Drive, Columbia, MS 39429.