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Descendants of John Simmons

Generation No. 1

1. JOHN1 SIMMONS was born 1720 in England, and died 1785 in New York. He married CATHARINE.

Notes for J
1. John Simmons (1A to America)

      John Simmons is assumed to be the first immigrant to America. According to Rockey (p. 383) he emigrated from England to Pennsylvania in 1734. Williams (p.?87) states that he had many children, of whom his youngest was named Adam.

      Research has uncovered no wills, probate records, etc., that definitely pinpoint this ancestor, though the name "John Simmons" is not uncommon in Colonial America.

      Previous family researchers have concluded that John Simmons was a descendent of Moses Simmons, a 1621 immigrant on the ship Fortune. This John married Lydia Grinnell July 13, 1746, in Little Compton, Rhode Island. However, this couple had no son named Adam (Simmons, p. 284) and the only Adam Simmons listed in this genealogy married Deborah Church and lived in Little Compton(Simmons, pp. 37, 43.) An Adam Simmons saw Revolutionary service in Little Compton, R.I. (National Archives Revol. War Records.)
Therefore, though our immigrant John Simmons may be related to the Moses Simmons branch, he does not seem to be a direct descendant.
      Other researchers, notably James Burk Simmons, state that the immigrant John Simmons, son of John Simmons I of England, settled in New York City, that he kept the Federal Hall of New York, was a man of great wealth, that he had a brother living in Philadelphia, that his father sent him a Bible from England, and that he had five sons. They were David, a colonel in the navy at New York; John, born October 24, 1756, a Revolutionary soldier and who died in Virginia in 1841; William; Adam; and James. This information was taken from the John Simmons original family Bible in 1882, at that time in the possession of Mrs. Caroline (Simmons) Garrison of Newport, Kentucky. She was the daughter of John William Simmons of Lancaster, Ohio, and the granddaughter of the Revolutionary soldier, John Simmons, Jr. James B. Simmons at that time stated that the Bible was so badly worn and pages torn that the full record could not be obtained from it, including birth dates and information concerning the mother of these five boys.

      Mrs. Garrison also stated that her uncle, James F. Simmons, married the daughter of President John Adams. According to James B. Simmons, James F. Simmons, brother-in-law of John Quincy Adams, was a U. S. Senator from Rhode Island 1841-1847.

      John Simmons, Jr. (born in 1756) was married three times. His first wife was Lacinda Morris, by whom he had three children; John William, born in New York City October 16, 1781; Daniel; and Elizabeth. His second wife, Lucy Cunningham, had one son, Samuel. He and his third wife had six children. James, Daniel, Benjamin, Gus, Ellen, and Sarah.

      James Burk Simmons, in interviewing these Simmons in St. Louis, Mo, Newport and Freeport, Kentucky, and in seeing this family Bible, was convinced that this John Simmons of New York was indeed the father of Adam Simmons and the immigrant our branch of Simmons descended from.

      John Simmons of New York was a Revolutionary patriot, and members of the family have joined the DAR in the past on the strength of the James B. Simmons statement. According to DAR records, John Simmons was born in 1720; he kept an inn on Wall Street near the City Hall. As public buildings were not heated, many of the committee and council meeting for the welfare of the city were held at John Simmons' Inn. When prisoners, juries, committees, and also City Council were held at his inn, he was allowed payment for his expenses. He paid duty on goods he imported, aiding the cause of Independence during the Revolution by having charge of the City Hall in N.Y. City.
His will is preserved in "Abstract of Wills, Liber 41, page 536, and reads: "John Simmons of New York, innkeeper, to my children, William, John, James, David, Stephen Glifford and Catharine all my lands, tenements, hereditament and estate, real and personal, being in Hanover Row, Portsmouth Common, in England, equally to be divided among them; to my wife Catharine, the use of my household furniture and plate during her natural life, and after her decease, I bequeath it all (my two smaller silver salts excepted) to my Daughter Catherine; also my family Bible, a mourning ring of gold that was given me by my mother, and which I desire may always remain with one of my posterity in remembrance of my mother, also to my daughter my negro boy slave named Phillip; to my granddaughters Catherine, daughter of my son William, and Catharine Shute, daughter of my son James, my smallest pair of silver salts; to my wife Catharine the use, rent issues and profits of all the residue of my estate for her support and to enable her to maintain and educate my two children, Stephen Gifford and Catherine until they become of age, provided that my executors shall pay out of said residue of my estate to my son Stephen Gifford, thirty pounds when he becomes of age to buy a set of tools; after my two children become of age, and after the decease of my wife, I bequeath the residue to all my children and their respective heirs; in case any of my children shall die before a division of my estate, leaving lawful issue; such issue shall stand in and be in the place of the parent so dying and take share of part which such parent was entitled; when such division of my estate is made, all sums of moneys as may appear to have been paid and advanced to my sons John and David, by me shall be deducted from their perspective shares; in case any of my children are in distress and want assistance my executors may advance such money as they think proper; I authorize my executors to sell and dispose of any or all parts of my estate. I appoint my wife, my sons William and James, executors. Dated: August 3, 1794. Proved: August 20, 1795. Witnesses were: Robert Benson, Hazel Ayers, and Francis Childs. (Copied from Olson and Ditter, pp. 4-5.)

      Zenas Olson suggested the possibility that Adam Simmons had already received his share, and was living in Kentucky at the time. However, this particular will seems very specific about each child. If Adam had received his share, surely he would have been mentioned along with "sons John and David."

      Certainly it is possible that this John Simmons is the immigrant we are searching for. However, there is no documentation to establish it, and one feels more research should be done.

      Other leads and possibilities to research further are the following: A John Simmons is listed as an indentured servant in 1729 in Pennsylvania. A John Simmons in Bucks County, Pa., had 100 acres surveyed August 9, 1748. (Pa. Archives. Vol. 24, p. 165) A John Simmons
in Lancaster County, Pa., had 100 acres surveyed on October 20, 1746 (Vol 24, p. 529) and 50 acres surveyed on April 9, 1752. (Vol 24,p. 535) A John Simmons had probate papers filed in 1749 in Philadelphia County, Pa., (Bk F. p. 240, #106.) by his widow Mary and his son John. A John Simmons received a warrant for land in Huntington Township, York County, in 1751. (York Hist. Soc. Records.)

      There are no records of probate papers or wills filed for a John Simmons in the period of 1746-1820 in the counties of York, Lancaster, Bucks or Chester.

      A list of the formations of counties in Pennsylvania may aid a future researcher. Bucks, Philadelphia, and Chester Counties were all original counties, established March 10, 1682.

Lancaster County was formed from Chester May 10, 1729. York County was formed from Lancaster in August, 1749, and on Jan 27, 1750, Cumberland County was also formed from Lancaster.

Bedford County was formed from Cumberland March 9, 1771. Then on February 26, 1773, Westmoreland County was formed. Fayette and Washington Counties were part of this territory until March 28, 1781. Adams County, the part of York County where Adam Simmons lived, was established January 22, 1800.

      Therefore, the same piece of land could have been part of several counties at different time periods, with attendant records being scattered.

      Pennsylvania also suffered border disputes with both Maryland and Virginia. Maryland claimed part of what is now Adams County, and Virginia claimed a strip which included Westmoreland, Allegheny, Greene, Fayette and Washington Counties. Some Pennsylvania records may be found in nearby states.

      A John Simmons is listed as an ensign, commissioned September 14, 1776, Westmoreland County. Also John Simmons was the Methodist preacher for Ligonier Township, 1789. (Albert, pp. 457 & 696.)

      New Jersey Marriage Records list John Simmons of Northampton, Pennsylvania, married Sarah Prickett December 17, 1745. (Nelson.)

      In Prince Edward County, Virginia, "John Simmons, born in Scotland, came to Philadelphia in 1746 and settled in Prince Edward County. He married twice and had twenty sons, all but one of them serving in the Revolutionary War, along with their father." (Colonial and Revolutionary Lineages, Vol IV. 1940, pp. 308-13.)
      This John Simmons may be the father of Adam Simmons, who also served in the American Revolution. There is a strong possibility that John Simmons was from the Border area of Scotland and England. The description of Adam - dark hair and eyes, dark complexion, strongly built, not tall - is a good description of Border people of Great Britain. Tacitus (circa 100 A.D.) commented on the swarthiness of the Scots and suggested that emigration of people from Spain might explain it.

      Also, at least two of the Hatton family returned to live in Virginia. Perhaps John moved with his family to Virginia, leaving Adam Simmons who had married Mary Hatton, in York County, Pa. The John Simmons who received a warrant on land in Huntington Township, York County, in 1751, undoubtedly is the father of Adam Simmons. That fact that he is not listed on tax lists from 1772-1783 would be explained by such a move.

      An additional clue is that lack of Simmons brothers in York County during this period. Usually several brothers clustered together on neighboring land and would thus appear on tax lists. With the exception of a Lawrence Simmons, who may have been of English extraction, Adam Simmons is the only Simmons listed in Huntington Township. All other Simmons listed living in York County at this time were part of the family of John (Johann) and Jacob Semons (Simmons) who had emigrated from Germany in 1738 and who lived in another township of York County, or in Lancaster County.

      After 1800, records of Simmons of English extraction include the following. "Jennetta Christened Jan 8, 1810, parents William and Sarah Simmons." "James Henry christened May 16, 1813, parents William and Averilla Simmons." "Elizabeth Simmons removed to England in 1823." (All from Methodist Church records of York County.)

      In Henry County, Kentucky, where John Simmons, grandson of John Simmons, married Hannah McGrew in 1793, there was living in 1840 a William Simmons, born in 1743 and a Revolutionary War soldier. (Collins. p.7.) This may be a son of John Simmons and brother to Adam.

      Since John Simmons "had many children", he must have left a number of descendants not included in this genealogy. Hopefully future research can establish, without doubt his place of residence, the name of his wife or wives, and the names of all of his children.

Children of J
2. i.   ADAM2 SIMMONS, b. January 15, 1746/47, Colony of PA; d. July 23, 1827, Clermont County, OH.
3. ii.   JOHN SIMMONS, b. October 24, 1756; d. 1841, Virginia.

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