Sunday, October 25, 2015

Rev. James Sims - Sangamon County, Illinois

© Kathy Duncan, 2015

Rev. James Sims' biography from Early Settlers of Sangamon County, Illinois:

Sims, James, was born in Virginia, taken by his parents to South Carolina, where he married to Dolly Spillers. They had four children there, and moved to Logan county, Kentucky, where they had one child, and from there to Caldwell county, where three children were born; thence to St. Clair county, Illinois, and from there to Sugar Creek, Sangamon county, arriving in the spring of 1820 in what became Ball township, Sangamon county. He built a horse mill there to run by bands. He quarried stone of the same kind of which the first State House in Springfield was built and by the aid of his brother-in-law, William Spillers, made the burrs for his mill. He was the first Representative from Sangamon county in the State Legislature. He moved to Rock Creek in what is not Menard county, and from there to Morgan county. He was a Methodist preacher, and formed the first circuit ever organized in Sangamon county. Of his children--
BETSY married James Black in St. Clair county, raised a large family, and died August, 1872, in Mason county, Illinois.
LUCY married Henry Morgan, raised a large family south of Richland creek in Sangamon county. He died there in 1867, and she died in Kansas two or three years later.
POLLY married in Morgan county to George Wolf. They had seven sons. JOHN a lawyer in Champaign City, Illinois. THOMAS, a lawyer in Paxton, Ill. JAMES was a clerk of Macoupin county one term. Mrs. Polly Wolf died December, 1872, and George Wolf died in 1873, both near Girard, Macoupin county.
MATILDA married John Kirkpatrick, raised a family, and moved to McDonough county, where he died.
AGNES, born June 7, 1807, in Logan county, Kentucky, married in Sangamon county, April, 1827, to Reuben Bryant. They had six children. One son lives in California. THOMAS married a grand-daughter of Rev. John Berry, and lives in Clinton, Illinois. R. Bryant died and his widow married William McMurry, Sen.
WESLEY married, raised a family and lives near Manchester, Scott county, Illinois.
VIZILLA married Thomas Dunwoody, raised a large family and he died. She lives near Arcadia, Morgan county, Illinois.
CECELIA married James Dougherty, had four children, and died in Morgan county, Illinois.
BLACKMAN, L., married four times, raised a large number of children, and resides in Naples, Illinois,
[Source: Early Settlers of Sangamon County - 1876 by John Carroll Power]

Children of James Sims and Dolly Spillers:

1. Betsy Sims married James Black
2. Lucy Sims married Henry Morgan
3. Polly Sims married George Wolfe
4. Matilda Sims married John Kirkpatrick
5. Agnes Sims married Reuben Bryant, William McMurry
6. Wesley Sims married ...
7. Vizilla Sims married Thomas Dinwoodie
8. Cecilia Sims married James Dougherty
9. Blackman L. Sims married four times...

By the fall of 1820, Rev. James Sims, resident of Sangamon County, was attending a Conference for the Illinois Circuit:

1820. At the session of the Conference, still called Missouri, and embracing Illinois, held at Shiloh, in the Illinois Circuit, beginning September 30, Sangamon was set off as a separate Circuit, and Rev James Sims was assigned to the work. He, too, had come from St. Clair county and settled in Sangamon, on Sugar creek, where he built a mill and opened a stone quarry, from which he formed with his own hands, the burrs for grinding.
He is said to have been a venerable looking man, mild in manners, kind-hearted, and very devout; and was a powerful preacher in his day. He was born in Virginia; was converted young; and licensed in Kentucky to preach.
In early life he moved to South Carolina, where he married; thence to Kentucky; thence to St. Clair county, Illinois, and was a travelling preacher but one year. He was prominent in the organization of Sangamon county, and was its first representative in the State Legislature. He removed to Morgan county, and aided in forming the first Methodist Protestant Church in the State. He died of consumption, February 20, 1844.
[Source: Daily Illinois State Journal; Springfield, IL; Tues. 23 Sept 1884]

Rev. James Sims was performing marriages in Sangamon County, Illinois in the 1821:

Jesse Burvard and Betsy Anderson, by Rev. James Sims, March 26, 1821.
James Pervine and Mary Cox, by Rev. James Sims, August 2, 1821
George Ruby and Nancy Mathias by Rev. James Sims, October 7, 1821
Henry Morgan and Lucy Simms by Abraham Sinnard, J.P., November 8, 1821
[Source: History of Sangamon County, Illinois: Together with Sketches of its Cities]

In 1824, he was still a resident of Sangamon County, Illinois. After serving on a Grand Jury, he and other members took a moment to enter their anti-slavery sentiments into the record, which was published in the Edwardsville Spectator:

Sangamo; Grand Jury; Circuit Court
(Communicated for the Spectator.)
The undersigned members of the Grand Jury for the county of Sangamo, empanelled at the April term, 1824, of the Circuit Court, having closed their official duties, avail themselves of the moment of their separation to make known to their fellow citizens of the county and of the state at large, their view upon the important question which now agitates the public mind, and which is soon to be decided by the people of Illinois. In making this communication they not only express their own opinions, but are confident that they represent the feelings and sentiments of much the greater portion of the people of Sangamo. It is important that the opinions of this growing section of the state should be known, and the undersigned conceive themselves a proper organ for their communication.

The present is an interesting crisis in our political affairs, and the approaching election may be attended with the results of permanent operation and effect upon the future fortunes of Illinois. We hesitate not to declare that we are opposed to the call of a convention, because we think that the primary object to be accomplished by it, is such an alteration in our constitution, as to admit and tolerate slavery among us. We are aware that this is denied by some, but few have the hardihood to make the declaration. To such a measure we cannot feel indifferent. All our feelings, sentiments, opinions, and regards for our common country are strongly enlisted against its success, and we call upon our fellow citizens throughout the state to raise their hands and voices against a measure fraught with such incalculable evils. It is no time for its opposers to the silent, and we conceive that all public bodies should make known their sentiments concerning the project now on foot for the introduction of slavery among us. The proposed change is one of great magnitude and pregnant with consequences which cannot be contemplated by any thinking citizen but with feelings of the deepest interest. its effects will be of a permanent and abiding character. No human foresight can anticipate, or calculation measure them.

We cannot witness any attempts to extend the empire of slavery over the state of Illinois, without serious apprehension and alarm; and what mistaken notions of policy or self-interest could have engendered a wish to effect it, we are unable to perceive. The reasoning which attempts to prove that the depressed state of the times, and the embarrassing which pervade the community will be alleviated or remedied by the introduction of slavery among us, is entirely fallacious and proceeds upon false propositions. But suppose that some temporary relief might be experienced, are that the people of Illinois willing to lend their aid to enlarge the dominion of slavery, and multiply the number of those who shall drink its bitter draught? The United States form the fairest republic on the face of the earth, and their government affords to an admiring world the happiest illustration of the principles of free and self government; and shall we be willing to tarnish the beautiful structure of our civil polity by the slavery of a human being? The right to enslave the African race is not taught by our political institutions; so far from it, its loudest lesson is the constant inculcation of universal freedom. The accents of republicanism do not dwell upon the tongue of him who at the same time speaks freedom to white, and slavery to black men. But aside from all questions of right, we feel that its introduction among us would lay the foundation of great and interminable evils--evils which we should soon most seriously deplore, and to prevent which is a solemn duty we owe ourselves and our posterity. It is dangerous to mingle a secret poison with our daily food. It is not our purpose on this occasion to unfold and display the moral and political evils of slavery. They are written with a pen of iron in the history of the present age and in the experience of our own country. With the wise and good of these states it is a subject of deep regret and deprecation, that slavery holds its reign in any of them, and that we should wish to add to their number can only be attributed  to blindness and political infatuation. Such is the public sentiment throughout this country on the subject of slavery, that if any practicable mode could be discovered to annihilate it in this land of liberty, by vigorous and united efforts, a giant's strength would speedily be put forth for its utter extermination. We hope and trust the virtue and good sense of the people of Illinois will save them from the evils with which they are now menaced, and we call upon the friends of freedom throughout the state to array themselves under is banner, and to sustain with all their energies the edifice of our political rights as it now stands. The right to prostrate it, and raise upon its ruins a fabric which shall open its doors to slavery, we do not believe, exists. If the genius or our national government is to be discovered in any one particular at the time of its formation, it is in the assignment of limits to slavery. This part of the Union has many years since consecrated by American government to universal and perpetual liberty. It the most solemn assurances, if the most public declarations, if the most explicit interdictions against slavery afford any guaranty for its lasting prohibition, if there be any faith in treaties and compacts, if public pledges can be given and received then indeed we have not the right to introduce the African race among us, for the purpose of entailing upon them slavery, and upon ourselves its evils. The ordinance of 1787 was raised up to stand as perpetual barrier to the ingress of slavery into the north-western territory, and under its faith hundreds and thousands have come hither to enjoy the blessings of freedom, never expecting it would be withholden from any. If there can be any such thing as a mutual engagement between the people of Illinois and the United States, an engagement of the most important and lasting character has been entered into between them, expressed in the most solemn form, in the form of a constitution, that slavery shall not be tolerated among us. Relations thus voluntarily formed between us and the people of other states, we have not the right to annul.
Thomas Constant, Foreman
Moses Broadwell
Wm. Dreman
Joshua C. Alexander
D.S. Taylor
Robert White
Jacob Bawger
John Orendorff
James McCoy
Elijah Slater
James Sims
John Jurvians
George Devenport
N.B. It may not be improper to add that eighteen persons were sworn upon the Grand Jury.
[Source: Edwardsville Spectator; Edwardsville, IL; Tues. 4 May 1824]

Sometime around 1823 to 1824, Rev. James Sims had removed from Sangamon County to Morgan County, Illinois:

"Recalled to Life" by John E. Vaughn:

During the Anti-Jackson movement in 1823, Illinois ministers took an active part in party politics. Names of men prominent in pioneer church work appear in accounts of political gatherings and conventions. Rev. James Sims was one of these ministers who did not regard it as at all incompatible with his church work, to lend a hand in advancing the political fortunes of Henry Clay.

Reverend Mr. James Sims presided at a meeting held at the home of A. Q. Lindsay, where Morgan county men gathered to protest against the re-election of President Jackson. Mr. Sims followers were of a practical turn, as indicated by the resolutions they adopted and which were published in The Journal. They recommended to the people of this state who were opposed to the re-election of General Jackson, "to lay aside all manner of prejudices, and to unite in one concentrated effort to support one electoral ticket."
[Source: Daily Illinois State Journal; Springfield, IL; Sat. 18 Aug 1928]

From A Concise History of the Methodist Church:

Dr. J.P. Johnston, who was a devoted and successful laborer in the Illinois Conference for twenty-three years until a throat affliction compelled him to desist, gives us the following reminiscence:
"Rev. James Sims had formed the first circuit of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the State (the Territory) of Illinois. Having early identified himself with the cause of reform, he took part in the first organization of the Associate Methodists west of Cincinnati, in February 1829, and in forming the first circuit, and finally the first conference, of the new order in Illinois. He died of consumption, February 20th 1844, and was buried at Arcadia, Ill. He had requested that no funeral service should be preached. Yet the ensuing Annual Conference, which met at Rushville, Ill., appointed Rev. Nicholas Snethen, who was present, to preach a discourse upon his death, and that of Rev. Reuben McDaniel, who also had departed during the same season, in the triumphs of faith. Accordingly, Mr. Snethen delivered, on Sabbath, a notable discourse, from Psalms cxii. 6. 'The righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance.'" [pp. 113 - 114]
The first organization of Methodist Reformers in Illinois under the Conventional Articles, took place on February 13th, 1829, at the house of James Ross, in Morgan County. Col. A.S. West, now of Paoli, Kansas, informs us that the number united in the original organization was fifteen, of whom, at this writing, himself is the only surviving one. They were: Reddick H. Horn, James Ross, I. Paschal, W. Babb, L.B. Freeman, Thomas Proctor, A.S. West and their wives, and James Sims. The first and the last named were elders in the Methodist Episcopal Church. They were accepted and appointed to serve as officiating ministers in the same relation. From this beginning they proceeded to effect various organizations. [pp 89 - 90]

Chronological Table of Methodist Protestant History
1844. James Sims, Illinois, died February 20th, age 74. [p. 414]
[Source: A Concise History of the Methodist Protestant Church from Its Origin: Embracing the Circumstances of the Suspension of the Northern and Western Conferences in 1858, the Entire Career of the Methodist Church, and the Reunion of the Two Branches in 1877 With Biographical Sketches of Several Leading Ministers of the Denomination by Ancel Henry Basset, 1877]

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