Sunday, February 13, 2022

2022 Prompt - Favorite Photo - Susie Phebe Simmons

2022 Week 3 Prompt - Favorite Photo

Photo of Susie Phebe Simmons – Great Aunt
Nancy Simmons to Paul Simmons to Walter Simmons to half-sister, Susie Phebe Simmons

Susie Phebe Simmons about 1893
Harrisville, Ritchie, West Virginia

My favorite photo must be the one of my great-aunt Susan Phebe Simmons, when she was a small child of about four years. The photo is a favorite because of the sweetness of her smile as she sits on the axle of an old cart. The details in the picture expose her surroundings. From her neatly braided hair to the torn dress that her grandmother probably mended many times tells of a child that was loved and well taken care of despite the social conditions. Her ability to grasp the chicken and hold it for the photo shows her familiarity of being around farm animals. She looks 3-4 years-old and was living with her grandmother and aunt on their farm in Ritchie County, West Virginia. I question who took this picture?


Andrew Lincoln Simmons and Susan Lavina Cokeley
Marriage photo July 11, 1889
Susie Phebe Simmons' parents

Susan Phebe "Susie" Simmons was born September 4, 1890, in Harrisville, Ritchie County, West Virginia and named after her grandmothers. Her father was Andrew Lincoln Simmons, and his mother was Phebe (Rexroad) Simmons. Susie’s mother was Susan Lavina Cokeley Simmons, and her mother was Susan (Moats) Cokeley. 

Andrew and Susan (Cokeley) Simmons
Susie Phebe Simmons about 1891

Shortly after Susie had her second birthday, her mother at age 25 dies from peritonitis, complications of miscarriage on the December 19, 1892. After her mother's death she lived with her maternal grandmother, Susan Cokeley, and her aunt Mary Cokeley, who raise her to adulthood.

Tombstone - Susan L. wife of Andrew Simmons
Born Oct 15, 1867 Died Dec 19, 1892

Her father, Andrew, attended West Virginia Wesleyan College in Clarksburg, West Virginia to become a Methodist minister. In 1899, Andrew married his second wife, Elspeth Leeton, my great grandmother. Shortly after their marriage, Andrew and Elspeth departed for Missouri to do missionary work leaving Andrew’s daughter, nine-year-old Susie Simmons, with her grandmother and aunt. 

Susie's half siblings
(Left to right) Walter, my grandfather, Marvin and Bernice
Photo taken about 1907

In the 1900 Ritchie County, West Virginia federal census we find Susie Simmons, at the age of ten, living with her grandmother, Susan Cokeley, age 69, and widowed, and her aunt Mary Cokeley who is forty-nine and single. In the Gainesville, Ozark County, Missouri 1900 federal census, we find Andrew 34 years old, and a minister and Elspeth is 26 years old and has 5-month-old baby girl, Cecil Bernice, who would be Susie's half-sister. Two and a half years later my grandfather, Walter, is born in Missouri on June 4, 1902. In the next ten years, Andrew and Elspeth have another son, Marvin, in Missouri and eventually they move to Illinois where Andrew is a Methodist minister in the Illinois Methodist Conference and their fourth child, James Simmons, is born in 1911.

Susan Phebe "Susie" Simmons
Photo taken about 1910

 Meanwhile back in West Virginia, Susie married her first husband, Wade Hampton Riggs on July 2, 1912, and gives birth to her first child, a daughter Inez Virginia on January 11, 1913. Not sure if Andrew visited Susie during this time but letters show they corresponded regularly. 

Susie Simmons marriage to Wade H. Riggs
July 2, 1912 Parkersburg, Wood, West Virginia

Susie loses her maternal grandmother, on May 18, 1915, and her aunt Mary September 4, 1916. Susie had to be overcome with grief since they were her surrogate parents since she was two-years-old. She divorced her husband in 1917 and on November 1, 1917 births twin boys, William Lester, and Willard Kester Simmons. William and Willard’s birth record states that they are illegitimate, and there is no father’s name given. Three years later Susie marries Harmon E. Webb on September 25, 1920, in Harrisville, West Virginia and has two more children: a son Hosea Earl Webb born October 4, 1921, and a daughter Pearl Marie Webb born May 27, 1924.

Susie Simmons marriage to Harmon E. Webb
25 September 1920 in Harrisville, Ritchie, West Virginia


Susie lived the next 47 years in Harrisville, West Virginia. She outlived both of her husbands and two of her five children. She helped her daughter, Inez Kelley, run a restaurant in Harrisville for several years but at the age of 80, on May 20, 1971, Susie died at her home in Harrisville. How odd that I started doing family research about 1971. 

Susie P. (Simmons) Webb
Born Sept. 4, 1890 Died May 20, 1971
Harrisville, Ritchie, West Virginia

My father knew very little about his Simmons family since his father, Walter Simmons, died in February 1931 when he was six years old. By the time I discovered his father 's family and all his relation in Harrisville, West Virginia, Aunt Susie and many others had died. Oh, how I would have loved to have met my great aunt, that small child holding the chicken in the picture, and talked to her about her life of 80 years in the rural area of Ritchie County, West Virginia.

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