Finding Mary Simmons & Her Ancestors, Part Three

In Parts One and Two, we found we found the wife of Leaming Hawkins Bradley and mother of Sherman Abernethy Bradley to be Mary Simmons of the Town of Litchfield, Litchfield County, Connecticut. We estimated her birth year as 1811 or 1812 and then found that her father very likely was Job Simmons who lived in the Town of Litchfield.

Who Job’s Wife and Mary’s Mother?

If Job was Mary’s father, who was her mother? Unlike most of the Simmons families who moved west from northwest Connecticut into New York in the early 1800s, Job remained in the Town of Litchfield until his death in 1855. Thus, he was enumerated in the 1850 Census as Job Simmons, age 71, a farmer, with his wife Arsena Simmons, 67, both born in Connecticut. They lived in or near the village of Milton in the Town of Litchfield, west of the village of Litchfield and north of the village of Bantam or Bradleyville. [See map for all three villages.]

In 1834, Job Simmons had purchased a 1/8th share of the Simmons Forge located near Milton. Two previous Simmons individuals owning the iron works there were John and Solomon, mentioned in Part Two. Others who owned part of the Simmons Forge at one time or another were Eri Grannis, Guerdon Grannis and Thomas Grannis as well as Chauncey Dennison.

Arsena Simmons was recorded with other variations for her first name. She and Job are buried at the Headquarters Cemetery just south of Milton. There they are recorded on gravestones as Job Simmons, died 20 June 1855, age 76, and Arseneth, consort of Job Simmons, died Feb. 23, 1869, age 86. A consort is a wife.

They can be found in the book Litchfield and Morris Inscriptions and also on FindaGrave with a memorial for Job Simmons and another memorial for Arseneth Simmons. When Fanny B. Simmons died on 25 June 1818 at age 4 years 4 months, her parents were shown as Job and Arcena Simmons. Fanny too is buried in the Headquarters Cemetery. [Note: some sources say she was 7 years 4 months old at death.]

With is no indication that Job Simmons married more than once, it is likely that Arsena or Arseneth is the mother of Mary Simmons while Fanny B. Simmons is her sister. The book History of the Simmons family: from Moses Simmons, 1st, (Moyses Symonson) ship “Fortune” 1621 to and including the eleventh generation lists just one child, the daughter Fanny B. Simmons, likely because she is buried with her parents and official birth records were missing. Some family trees also list a daughter named Caroline, born in 1804.

Key Piece of Evidence

While I believed my theory about the parents of Mary Simmons was a sound one, I really wanted another source for confirmation. That came in the form of a mortuary notice at the time of her death.

On 14 Sep 1854, the Litchfield Republican newspaper carried this very brief notice: “In Chicago, Ill., July 18th, Mary, wife of Leaming H. Bradley, and daughter of Job Simmons of Milton.” Here, in less than 20 words, was confirmation that the Mary Simmons who married Leaming H. Bradley was indeed the daughter of Job Simmons who lived in Milton, Town of Litchfield, Litchfield County, Connecticut. Arsena or Arsenth Simmons must have been her mother.

With these multiple sources, I had confimed the parents of one of my third-great-grandmothers on my father’s side. The next challenge would be to try to find more about Mary’s Simmons ancestors. We’ll take that up in Part Four.

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Published in: on October 29, 2011 at 11:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Finding Mary Simmons & Her Ancestors, Part Two

In Part One, we discovered the wife of Leaming Hawkins Bradley and mother of Sherman Abernethy Bradley to be Mary Simmons. She married Leaming on 19 September 1830 in the Town of Litchfield, Litchfield County, Connecticut. The marriage is in the Barbour Collection of Connecticut Town Vital Records. While that was satisfying, that discovery piqued our curiosity to learn more about her – and hopefully to find  her parents and ancestors.

No birth record for Mary is found in the Barbour Collection for the Town of Litchfield so we had to turn to other sources to find her birth place and estimate her birth date. With those details, we hoped to find her parents.

Birth Place and Estimated Birth Year
Mary’s marriage record in the Barbour Collection showed that both she and husband Leaming were “of Litchfield,” meaning the Town of Litchfield, Litchfield County. This seemed to mean that she was born in the Town of Litchfield as well as living there at the time of marriage. That was true for Leaming.

For an estimate of her date of birth, we turned to the 1840 Census, taken on June 1 of that year. The household of Leaming H. Bradley was located that year in the Town of Washington, Litchfield County, immediately southwest of the Town of Litchfield.

See here for a map of Litchfield towns or townships. Then see here for a map of Litchfield County with its towns, the area of Bantam (home of the Bradleys) on the west side of the Town of Litchfield, and, if you look closely, a line for the Litchfield & New Milford Turnpike that – believe it or not – started at Aaron Bradley’s barn on the Litchfield end. Aaron was Leaming’s grandfather.

The Leaming H. Bradley household was enumerated as follows: two males 5 & under 10 [likely the sons mentioned in the Cutter book, one of them likely Sherman A. Bradley], one male 15 & under 20, one male 30 & under 40 [Leaming, age 32], one female under 5 and one female 20 & under 30 [Leaming's wife Mary].

Discovering Mary’s Father
When America conducted its first census in 1790, five Simmons households were enumerated in the Town of Litchfield. The households were those of John, Peres, Rufus, Solomon and William Simmons, with William’s surname recorded Simons. I had encountered this fact while transcribing the business journal of Aaron Bradley, Leaming’s grandfather, and finding a few details about each customer. Aaron had a blacksmith shop, tavern and grocery in the Bantam area of the Town of Litchfield, called for a time Bradleyville. Rufus Simmons was a customer in 1795.

Due to this multiplicity of Simmons’ housesholds, I felt I would have a difficult time determining Mary’s parents and ancestors. But I had to try.

With Mary’s birth about 1811 or 1812, I decided to search the 1810 Census for Simmons families in the Town of Litchfield. Remarkably, there was just one: the Job Simmons family with a household as follows: one male 26-44 [Job, 31], two males under 10, one female 45 and over,  one female 26 to 44 [likely Job's wife], and two females under 10. Households recorded adjacent to Job Simmons were those of Chauncey Dennison and Thomas Grannis.

Here certainly were parents of the right age to have a daughter born in 1811 or 1812. Next we turned to the 1820 Census to learn more about this family. In that year, the Job Simmons household was comprised of four men and three women, with two of the people engaged in agriculture. The oldest male and female were each in the 26-44 years old age range, with Job about 41 at the time, the female likely his wife.

And there among the young people in the Job Simmons household in 1820 was one female under 10 who could be Mary Simmons as she would have been about 8 or 9 years old. Job Simmons looked more and more as if he were Mary’s father.

The next challenge would be to try to find her mother, siblings and further ancestors. We’ll take that up in Part Three.

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Finding Mary Simmons & Her Ancestors, Part One

I thought it would be impossible to find the parents of the Mary Simmons who married Leaming Hawkins Bradley in 1830 in Litchfield, Litchfield County, Connecticut. Right after the Revolutionary War, there were several Simmons families in that county. Fortunately, I was wrong. The saga of finding Mary and her ancestors offers several helpful genealogy research lessons.

First discoveries about Mary
When Leaming and Mary’s son Sherman Abernethy Bradley married Hannah M. Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on 6 January 1859, the person taking down Sherman’s parents failed to get Mary’s maiden name. They were recorded as Leman H. Bradley and Mary C. Bradley. So that was my first brickwall concerning Mary: no maiden name.

As an aside, Leaming is a surname turned into a given name, and it is misspelled in many different ways including Leman, Leming, Leyming and more. Leaming Hawkins Bradley apparently insisted that his middle initial H. be included whenever his name was recorded. This gave me a helpful clue that a record was for my third-great-grandfather, even if the spelling of his first name was mangled. He also went by L. H. Bradley.

Then one day, while reading about the importance of doing research on all members of a family, I remembered that Sherman A. Bradley married a second time. I wondered if his mother’s maiden name would be on that second marriage certificate. To my great delight, it was.

When Sherman married Mary Schneider on 11 January 1882 in Plymouth, Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, his parents were recorded as L. H. Bradley and Mary Simmons. Now I could learn more about my third-great-grandmother and confirm that Sherman A. Bradley was from Litchfield County, Connecticut.

Her own marriage record
Once I had Mary’s maiden name, I recalled a curious entry in the Barbour Collection of the Vital Records for the Town of Litchfield, Litchfield County. It read: Seyming Bradley and Miss Mary Simons, both of Litchfield, married there on 18 September 1830. Knowing how often the old script letters L and S are confused for each other, I was pretty sure that this really was Leyming Bradley and Mary Simmons. [I now have a certified copy from the town clerk of the original document and can confirm the name is Leyming, a phonetic version of Leaming].

This marriage was the best match I had found for the parents of Sherman A. Bradley whose place of birth on his 1859 marriage certificate was “near New Haven, Connecticut.” But could I found any other source for this being the marriage of Leaming H. Bradley and Mary Simmons?

Leaming’s birth in Barbour Collection
Fortunately, the birth of Leaming Hawkins Bradley was recorded with the Litchfield Town Clerk and was transcribed correctly in the Barbour Collection. He was born 10 October 1808 in Litchfield to Horace Bradley and Hannah who was recorded there as Hannah Hawkins but actually was Hannah Twitchell. Her mother’s maiden name was Hawkins, the source of the middle name for Horace and Hannah’s first son Leaming.

The Cutter genealogy book
While I believed my theory about Sherman A. Bradley’s parents was a sound one, I really wanted another source for confirmation. That came in the form of an item in the Bradley genealogy section in a major book, Genealogical and Family History of Central New York, Vol. III. The editor was William Richard Cutter.

On page 1224, listed first among the children of Horace Bradley and Hannah Twitchell, was “Leaming, married Mary Simonds and had several sons.” Here was Leaming’s first name spelled correctly, his marriage to Mary Simonds, another variation of Simons and Simmons – and the mention of sons.

With these multiple sources, I was convinced I had found the name and the birthplace of my third-great-grandmother on my father’s side of the family. The next challenge would be to try to find her parents and further ancestors. We’ll take that up in Part Two.

Please follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/BBPetura

Why not check out my helpful Genealogy Resources webpage: http://bit.ly/GenealogyResources

Please join my group Finding Family for Free at GenealogyWise:
http://www.genealogywise.com/group/findingfamilyforfree

Thank you! And good researching!

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