I posted the following message on the Simmons and Nolen forums:
Various individuals on the Simmons and Nolen forums have tried to sort out the connection between these families. I have a new theory on this. I welcome your input.
My ancestor is Riley J. Simmons, b. SC 1808, d. 1850-1860 in Lawrence County, AL. He married Mary Norton, b. 1807 in TN or KY, d. after 1880 in Pontotoc, MS. They were married in Lawrence County, Oct. 1829.
They had three sons of whom I am aware:
John Jack Simmons, b. 1833; md Martha Tedford; d. 1895 in Pontotoc Co, MS. Was on 1850, 60, 80 censuses.
Josiah Thomas Simmons, b. 1838-1845; md. 1883 in Winston Co, AL to Hettie Annie Smith. He was on the 1907 CW census in Double Springs, Winston Co, AL. He d. 1921 Double Springs, AL. Appeared on 1850, 60, 80, 1900, 1920 censuses.
Jacob, b ca 1845. Appeared on the 1850 and 1860 censuses. Also was on the 1907 Civil War census, Landersville, Lawrence Co, AL.
There has been discussion, some in private messages, on the ancestry of Riley Jefferson Simmons, b. 1874, the son of John “Doc” Simmons and Amanda Brooks, daughter of Jennie (Jane) Bates Johnston and Willis Brooks, who are famous/infamous and are written up in the Heritage of Lawrence County. One descendant has reported that Houston (below) Simmons had several brothers. Also that they "are in with the Willis & Jenny Brooks (Aunt Jenny Johnston) family...the mother being Doni or Caledonia Brooks who married a Simmons."
According to one researcher, John “Doc” Simmons and Amanda Brooks Simmons had the following children:
1874–Riley J., who md. Emily Drucilla Waldrop
John 5, Mattie 4, and Alice 3 Simmons are found in the 1880 census in the house of John Nolen and his wife, Jane along with their son, Jeff Nolen, 18. The Simmonses are listed as grandchildren.
Riley Jefferson Simmons, supposedly their brother, was found in the house with his maternal grandmother, Jane (Jenny) Johnston in 1880, Mt. Hope, Lawrence County.
Here is my new theory and I invite you to shoot it down:
In 1850, Riley and Mary Norton Simmons had a daughter, Sarah Simmons b. ca 1831 in their house. On 12 September 1853, Sarah Simmons married “Benjamin Note” in Lawrence County. This couple has been a big puzzle to me for years. I have been unable to find them anywhere after their marriage. I now believe this Benjamin Note was actually John Benjamin Nolen. I believe this couple is/are the John Nolen 51 and Jane Nolen 46 in the 1880 census. They live in Mt. Hope. This is where Riley and Mary settled and all their children were born there.
In 1900, Camp Smith Pct, Colbert County, AL we again find John B. Nolen, b. Oct 1829 in AL, married 48 years, 70 years old. His wife, Sarah J., was born July 1831 in AL, is 68 y/o, married 48 years, has had 5 children and 3 are living. She says her mother was born in KY. This would fit for this Sarah J. to be daughter of Mary Norton, wife of Riley Simmons. Mary always gave her place of birth as TN/KY. BTW, (Mary Norton Simmons was the daughter of Edward and Nellie Gibson Norton. Their family can be found in the Norton Bible, published on the Norton Genforum board.)
In 1900, they have Allice Clear, servant, white, b. Feb 1881, 19 y/o and listed as single. I believe this is the Alice Simmons who in 1880 was 3 y/o and listed as their granddaughter. There is also a John R. Dillender, 5 y/o b. Sept 1894, listed as a servant. I believe he is probably the son of Alice. Obviously the census takers in Lawrence County had trouble spelling.
In 1860, Moulton P. O, Southern Division, Lawrence County there is a family who I believe to be John and Sarah J. Simmons Nolen.
John B. Nilan, 28, Farmer, $2000/1000, b. AL
Sarah J., 21, AL
James T., 2
William G., 3 months
Thomas Taukesly, one year, 7 months
I cannot find John and Sarah Simmons Nolen in 1870. Instead, I find John Nolen who married Mary H. Berry, 31 August 1847 in Lawrence County:
1 Aug 1870, T3, R8, Lawrence, Courtland P. O.
John Nolen, 42, Farmer, $175, AL
Mary Nolen, 35
Katy Nolen, 17
Carol Nolen, 18, male, farmer
Jack Nolen, 14
Elizer Massengal, 10
Jeff Nolen, 10
This from Tommy Waldrop:
"My Jack Nolen was b. ca 1854, Lawrence Co. He was the s/o John B. And Sarah Jane Simmons Nolen. His sibs:
Carroll D. (Male)
This Jack Nolen md. Ca 1879 Kizziah Hall in possibly Lawrence or Franklin Co, AL. Their only child, Ida Bell Nolen, married David Louis Waldrop 1896 Lawrence Co, AL. Story is that he abandoned his wife, Kizziah, and went to TX or AR."
So, from the 1870 census, it appears that this is not the same John Nolen who married Sarah Simmons, unless I’m missing something.
The Simmons children in the Nolen household in 1880:
I have always felt that there was some connection between Riley Jefferson Simmons, b. 1874, and Riley J. Simmons b. 1807. If Sarah Jane Simmons, daughter of Riley J. and Mary Norton Simmons, was the same Sarah J. on the 1880 census with the young Simmons children in the Nolen household, that seems to indicate that there was some sort of connection between John “Doc” Simmons and Sarah Simmons Nolen. I believe these children were nieces and nephew to Sarah Simmons Nolen.
Is anyone near enough to the Lawrence County Archives to find out who signed the marriage bond or who gave permission for the Sarah Seamans marriage to John B. Nolen in 1847? I believe it would be good to also find out who signed the bond/permission for the Benjamin Note and Sarah Simmons marriage in 1853. Perhaps the 1847 marriage for John B. Nolen and Sarah Seamans (Simmons)was not finalized? Maybe they didn’t actually marry until 1853, if this is even the same couple as the Note/Simmons couple.
I believe the John “Doc” Simmons is somehow connected to the Riley J. Simmons family. Don’t know how. Riley had a son named John Jack Simmons, so it seems unlikely that they would have named two sons “John.”
Could John “Doc” Simmons have actually been the Jacob Simmons, b. 1845 and on the 1850 and 1860 censuses in the house with Riley and Mary? This Jacob was in the Civil War, but I can’t find him anywhere except in the 1907 Landersville, Lawrence Co Civil War census. He must have gone by some other name when the census was taken in 1870, 80 and 1900.No one seems to know what happened to John “Doc” as far as I know. He married Amanda Brooks in 1866, which was after the Civil War. Someone wrote that both John and Amanda died young. Is there evidence for this other than that their children were in other households?
BTW, for those of you researching Nolen, I’m sure you have found the two John Nolens in the 1850 Marion County census. One is the son of William and the other, a few doors down, is the son of Lemuel. I believe Lemuel is the family of the John who married Sarah Simmons....not sure, though.