Name: Isaac (emancipated slave of James Sims) Sims
Birth: ABT 1793 in Virginia
Death: BEF 9 JUN 1875
DSCR: 1836: "he is very black, his stature about five feet five inches, of slender make and about forty three years old, that he has had his right leg broken just above his ankle."
_TAG: Research Manager
Isaac Sims has been attached to James Sims. It is not known if he was a son of James but he was fond enough of him to emancipate him.
Change Date: 26 MAR 2017 at 14:05:02
SEE "HISTORY OF FAYETTE COUNTY" pg. 172 for more on the slave Isaac
Fayette County Court September Term 1834
He had an account with Mr. Landcraft (store owner):
Copy of complete petition in file:
"1836, James emancipated Isaac, a black man in Nicholas Co., VA. Petioners included among others William Sims, Edward Sims Jr., Jeremiah Sims, Martin Sims, Col. John Sims, Anderson Sims, & Charles Sims"
[Source: Owens, Robert. RootsWeb's WorldConnect Project. John Symes descendents. 25 August 2001. Online http://worldconnect.rootsweb.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=:107791&id=I8529 : accessed 23 October 2001. Update: As of 4 Jan 2015 database is no longer online.]
1836 James Sims to Isaac Sims
(note in margin "Deed to Isaac Sims Sept. 9th 1842")
Know all men by these presents that I James Simms Sr. of the County
of Nicholas and State of Virginia having heretofore made my last
Will and Testament in which I have disposed of all my Estate real
and personal including my slave property except one slave
my Negro man Isaac which said Negro slave Isaac I heretofore
intended to emancipate and set free according to the laws of this
Commonwealth upon certain Conditions thereafter to be mentioned
and put to writing. Now this Instrument of writing Witnesseth
that in Consideration of the premises and for others
good causes moving me thereto. I do hereby and by virtue and force of these
presents emancipate and set free forever my aforesaid Negro slave Isaac upon
the following condition to wit that is to say that the said Isaac causes to be
paid to me one hundred and fifty dollars good and lawful money of Virginia
fifty dollars of which is to be paid in hand which said fifty dollars is this
day paid to me and the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged fifty dollars
of which the said Isaac shall cause to be paid on or before the 1st day of
April 1836 and fifty dollars the last payment thereof the said Isaac
shall cause to be paid to me on or before the first day of May 1836 and
it is furthermore agreed to on my part and which I hereby in addition
to the foregoing make known that in the event of my death before the
payment of the fifty dollars which is next due after the date of this writing
that then and in that case the said fifty dollars nor the aforesaid fifty
dollars the last instalment or payment above mentioned nor either of
said payments or instalments shall be required or exacted by my heirs,
Executors, administrators or assigns nor shall they or either of them
cause the said Isaac to pay either of said payments or instalments of fifty
dollars nor shall his failure to pay the same in any manner affect or
do away with the force of these presents in emancipating and setting free
the said Isaac after my death according to the laws of this Commonwealth
now in force. And it is furthermore agreed to on my part that in the
event of my death after the payment to me of the aforesaid fifty dollars
which next becomes due after the date of this writing as above mentioned
that then and in that case the last payment or instalment of fifty dollars
the said Isaac shall be exempt from the payment of in the same manner
and to the same effect as I have exempted him from the payment of the
fifty dollars which first becomes due as is mentioned and set forth in the
preceding paragraph. Ant it is furthermore agreed upon my part
that in the event of the death of the said Isaac before my death that then
and in that case I do hereby promise and agree that any money or monies
or payments which the said Isaac may cause to be made paid to me
or which may have been in any way paid to me on account of the promises
shall be appropriated by me or my heirs Executors ? in cause of my
death, in the following manner: That is to say that whereas the said Isaac
has two children named George Addison and Harriett Jane by his wife
Emily now dead and owned in her life time by Joseph McNutt
and feeling a natural love and affection for his aforesaid children and wishing
to provide for the comfort and happiness of the same I do hereby
promise and agree as before mentioned to appropriate the money
paid to me after his death that happening before mine as above
stated to such use or uses for the benefit of the above named children
of the said Isaac as will best promote their spiritual and temporal
welfare agreeable to their condition and character in this state and
according to the Laws and usages of this Commonwealth. To the
true performance of the above I do hereby bind myself my
heirs Executors Administrators
as witness my hand and seal this ?9th day of March 1836
I have this day received this full consideration
in good and lawful money cald (sic, called) for in this foregoing Instrument of
writing as witness my hand & Seal
James Sims reportedly brought eighteen slaves with him to Nicholas County. Below the "Information" sign at the Nicholas County Courthouse there is a framed letter from him freeing a slave named "Isaac".
Sims Manumission Letter-1836
Know all men by these presents that I James Sims
of the County of Nicholas in consideration of a large
sum of money paid to me by my slave Isaac
as for the additional considerations of his fidelity
to me I have on this day manumitted and let
him the said Isaac free. To remain and continue
from hence forward to all intents and purposes
entirely free and discharged from servitude to
me my heirs and assigns forever. And for the purpose
of removing any difficulty as to the identity of the said
Isaac and to enable him to enjoy his Freedom in
the most absolute and perfect manner. I also hereby
certify and state that the said Isaac was born my
slave, that he has resided with me up to this date
that he is very black, his stature about five feet
five inches, of slender make and about forty three
years old, that he has had his right leg broken
just above his ankle. In testimony whereof I
have hereto set my hand and seal this 26th day of
in the presence of
Grantee: Simms, Isaac. grantee.
Date: 20 October 1837.
Location: Nicholas County.
Description: 17-1/2 acres on both sides of Gauly River.
Simms, Isaac, Assee, &c
Source: Land Office Grants No. 87, 1837, p. 328 (Reel 153).
On the 1850 census of Nicholas County, (West) Virginia, Isaac Sims was the only person listed as "black".
1850 U.S. Federal Census
Nicholas County, (West) Virginia
43rd District Sheet No. 371A
Enumerated on 26 August 1850 by D. Oliver Kelly Ass't Marshal
Dwelling and Family # 407:
Hughes, Mathew 54 M W Farmer Va (this is the widower of James Sims' daughter Margaret)
Hughes, Anna 17 F W Va
Hughes, Robert 16 M W Occ:None Va Remark: Dumb (i.e. cannot speak) (b. ca. 1834)
Hughes, John 15 M W Farmer Va
Sims, Isaac 56 M B Farmer Val $87 Va Remark: Enumerator put (free) next to last name
1 Jan 1855
He bought several items at the estate sale of Joseph McNutt
1860 U.S. Federal Census
Nicholas County, (West) Virginia
Isaac Sims 60 VA (black) Farmer
He was on a list of Notes that were supposed to be good for Joel B. Wills:
1870 U.S. Federal Census
Nicholas County, West Virginia
Isaac Sims 72 WV Farmer (mulatto)
Last Will and Testament
West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971
Nicholas Will book, v. 01 1820-1899
Page 151-152 (image 90-91 at FamilySearch)
Probated 9 June 1875
1836 age 43 = b. ca. 1793
1850 age 56 = b. ca. 1794
1860 age 60 = b. ca. 1800
1870 age 72 = b. ca. 1898
Publication: WV newspaper clipping
Published: unknown, poss. before 11 July 1951
Headline: Isaac Place On Gauley Settled By Old Slave
The older people of Nicholas county and especially the waggoneers of the Gauley Bridge and Weston turnpike are familiar with the "Isaac Place," the name by which the farm on which Emil Scholl now lives, but it may be that they do no know the history of its early owner and why the place was so named.
In 1795 James Simms, the great-grandfather of Militus Simms, came to Gauley and settled at the mouth of Little Elk Creek. He brought with him several slaves among whom were Isaac Simms, a 14 year old boy and his brother, Robert. Robert ran away from his master and escaped to Canada. Isaac was a trustworthy and industrious Negro. He became a great hunter and contracted to purchase his freedom with game that he could kill on Sunday and by making boat gunwales. He only got credit on this for work he could do on Sunday. The price of his freedom was sat at $300 and Isaac, was to get credit of $1.00 for each deer killed, and brought in on Sunday and from $20 to $25 for each set of boat gunwales. It is said that Isaac played sharp on his master and would report no success on Saturday's hunt but would hang up deer on Saturday and bring in sometimes four or five deer on Sunday. In the course of time, Isaac bought his freedom in this way and became the owner of the farm now owned by Emil Scholl hence the name "Isaac Place".
In the course of time his master died and it was found that the entry made when the old Simms farm was taken up did not cover the land on which the home stood on the east side of Little Elk. Isaac entered this land consisting of 17 (sic) or 118 acres and lived there until his death which occurred sometime after the close of the civil war. Isaac Simms lived to be a very old man and besides his own freedom became the owner of considerable property in this county.
He was married to Emily, a slave woman belonging to Joseph McNutt, and by this woman, he had two children, Addison and Harriet. These children were purchased by Robert Neil of Peters Creek and they both died during the war.
[Source: Ed Sims, e-mail received 8 Nov 2007. Included image of article saved by his grandfather Edward Sims 1878-1953]
(Isaac Place On Gauley Settled By Old Slave.jpg in file)
Publication: Beckley Post-Herald (Beckley, West Virginia)
Published: June 30, 1961
Headline: Yesterday and Today - All About Fayette Banks --And A Slave
By Shirley Donnelly
(text concerning banks omitted from transcription)....Some columns ago when a piece was written about slavery in Fayette County, Isaac Sims, an old slave was mentioned. Upon reading the story of Isaac, Mrs. E. C. Wicker, nee Bertie Sims, 1308 temple St., Hinton wrote me as follows:
"I read with a great deal of interest your column in The Beckley Post-Herald. I was especially interested in the article this week on the Isaac Sims you mentioned who was brought to Kanawha County by a relative of mine in 1797, being brought from Culpepper, Virginia.
"I remember when I was a child he would come to our house and spend a week-end. He was elderly then, with white hair. My father Miletus Sims, lived at Swiss, W. Va. We all thought a great deal of Isaac and I think he is buried in our cemetery at Swiss."
Few people living in this area can remember any of the old pre-Civil War Negro slaves. After settling in Oak Hill years ago there were a few of them still sticking around. All have gone on by now to the better world.
One day milady and I drove over to Long Branch in Fayette County to see a little old black who had been in bondage. She was called "Aunt Eliza" and was a kidney-footed old woman.
She told of how she got married. It was on a Saturday afternoon that "The ol' master married me up to my husband." This was accomplished without any legal routine but by calling all the other slaves together and calling on Eliza to jump over the broom handle he held out in his hand. She jumped it and was declared married to her lover. That expression of "jumping the broom stick" is still some times heard in these parts in connection with a couple getting married. Jevver hear it?
Note: Bertie was born in 1871 and was 4 yo when Isaac died.
Publication: Beckley Post-Herald (Beckley, West Virginia)
Published: December 14, 1968
Headline: Yesterday and Today (a series by Shirley Donnelly)
An earlier story concerning slavery in what is now West Virginia came to mind recently while driving from Summersville to Gauley Bridge, traveling over what is now rt. 39, but formerly the Gauley Bridge and Western Turnpike.
The story swirls about Isaac Simms, whose sizeable farm near the mouth of Little Elk Creek still is known as "Isaac's Place."
Isaac was one of the Negro slaves brought with James Simms in 1795, when he came into the Gauley country and settled at the mouth of the Little Elk. All of his slaves were given the owner's surname, Simms.
Isaac's brother, Robert Simms, "flew the coop," as a saying of that day had it. Keeping his eye on the north star as he traveled at night, he reached Canada and freedom.
Isaac, then only a lad of 14, later obtained his freedom, too, but he purchashed it.
He was a trustworthy and industrious youth. He became quite a hunter and contracted to purchase his freedom from his master by killing game on Sundays and selling the game to his owner.
Isaac got $1 apiece for deer he killed on Sunday, which was his free day. With a little Jacob chicanery, he upped his take by killing deer on Saturday, too, and hanging them in trees until Sunday evening, when they and any gotten on Sunday were taken to his master.
Isaac also earned money-$20 to $25 a set-for making boat gunwales.
When he purchased his freedom for $300, he bought a 120-acre farm once owned by Emil Scholl but always known as "Isaac's Place" from the time the Negro obtained it.
Isaac married Emily, a slave owned by Joseph McNutt. They had two children, Addison and Harriet, who were bought by Robert Neil of the Peters Creek section of Nicholas County. Addison and Harriet died during the Civil War.
Isaac lived to be a very old man.
Publication: Beckley Post-Herald (Beckley, West Virginia)
Published: December 21, 1968
Headline: Yesterday and Today - Slaves Involved in Old Fayette Records
by Shirley Donnelly
Of interest now, in an era of black power revolution, are old court records of Civil War Days.
Some jotlings were made a few days ago from Fayette County records concerning slaves and related subjects.....
October term, 1837, of the Fayette Court had this item of business: "the court proceeded to consider the application of Isaac Sims, an emancipated slave, and being fully satisfied that the said Isaac Sims has fully complied with the acts of the legislature made and provided, allowing the said court to give permission to free people of color to remain in this state, and the court being satisfied that the said Isaac Sims is a man of honesty, probity and good demeanor, it is therefore ordered in the presence of the prosecuting attorney for the commonwealth, that the said Isaac Sims have leave to reside in the county of Fayette during the pleasure of the court."
....article continues with other jotlings.
Publication: Post-Herald (Beckley, West Virginia)
Published: Thursday, January 09, 1969
Headline: Yesterday And Today - Hinton Woman, 97, Writes Well, Spells
By Shirley Donnelly
Reading a column some weeks ago-the one about "Isaac's Place" over on Little Elk in Nicholas county - brought the light of other days to Mrs. E. C. Wicker, 1306 Temple Street, Hinton.
Wrote Mrs. Wicker on Jan. 4: "When ever I see something about Isaac's Place, I am interested.
"He was one of the slaves brought by the Sims family from Culpepper, Va. They settled at the mouth of Little Elk on Gauley. The land was handed down from one generation to another until my father, Miletus Sims, settled there.
"His grandfather, William Sims, was a fine gunsmith and lived at the mouth of Little Elk, now Swiss, W. Va.
"There the family built a log cabin that was two stories high. It had a little ladder arrangement in one corner, where they could climb up to shoot at the wolves which prowled through there at that time. I remember the house very well as I am now 97 years old. That house was finally torn down and the materials in it were used to build a store building.
"I have been trying for some time to get the state to put a historic marker at the grave of William Sims at Swiss, but so far have met with no success.
"I remember Isaac, the slave, after he was freed. He would come back to visit and the children were always glad. They were happy to see Isaac as he would do all the chores, like cutting the wood and carry it in for the night. He would carry water from the spring.
"When it came bedtime, they would give him a quilt and he would lie down on the floor to sleep. I think he is buried there at the Sims Memorial Church.
"I am now 97 years old but can still do my writing and spelling. In fact I sometimes spell for my greatgrandchildren."
Her letter shows Mrs. Wicker to have a strong and steady hand, as every letter in her three-page missile is far more even than those of most letters that come to this desk from people far younger than the Hinton lady.
This is the oldest correspondent I have heard from in many a blue moon. With her age now 97, a little subtracting shows that Mrs. Wicker was born in either 1871 or 1872. That was a long time ago. It was during the first administration of Ulysses S. Grant as president.
If she were born in 1871, that was the year that all the states in the nation up to that time were represented in Congress,
the first time since December, 1860. It was in 1871 that Mrs. O'Leary's cow kicked over a lighted lamp in the barn in Chicago and started the great fire in "The Windy City," destroying 18,000 buildings which then were valued at $200 million.
If Mrs. Wicker were born in 1872, that was the year a great fire swept Boston and caused $80 million damage.
If it were in 1871 that Mrs. Wicker was born, then she is as old as Broaddus College, - now the other half of ALderson-Broaddus College at Philippi. It was in 1871 that Rev. William F. Broaddus, a talented Baptist minister of Virginia established in 1871 at Winchester, Va., the Winchester Female Institute.
Later the name was changed to Broaddus Female College. Subsequently it was moved to West Virginia and merged with Alderson Jr. College. Rev. W. F. Broaddus was a near kinsman of Dr. R. G. Broaddus, the Beckley physician who lives at 524 Woodlawn.
Mrs. Wicker writes that she can spell. Spelling has almost become a lost art and has caused a lot of dictionaries to be printed so that secretaries and others who cannot spell well can have them to look up the way to spell words.
Not long ago, a secretary in the employ of the government was making excuses for not being able to spell. She said that the government goes in, all it can, for hiring the handicapped, and that her inability to spell was her one handicap!
Ninety-seven years is a ripe old age. It has been said that everyone wants to live a long time but that nobody wants to be old.
Once at a community reunion on Loup Creek at Wriston, I heard the late Cal Taylor sing & song he had written-all 12 verses of it. Only part of it that comes to mind are the lines: "You can hide your silver or your gold but you cannot hide your age when you're old."
Most of us would like to live as long as we are useful and are able to help ourselves. The Bible says that Methusaleh lived 969 years, but this probably was the sum total of the length of all the generations of that Old Testament worthy.
Clarence Shirley Donnelly (February 2, 1895-August 31, 1982) wrote a daily column for the Beckley Post-Herald for 27 years.
Father: James SIMS b: 8 OCT 1754 in Culpeper County, Virginia
Emily (slave of Joseph McNutt)
- George Addison (slave of Joseph McNutt sold to Robert L. Neil) b: ABT 1827
- Harriett Jane (slave of Joseph McNutt sold to Robert L. Neil) b: ABT 1830