Benjamin Fletcher Simmons

portrait
Contents

Personal and Family Information

Benjamin was born on 3 MAY 1860 in Brooksville, Hernando Cty, Florida, the son of Holman Felix Simmons and Theodora Mary Saxon.

He died on 1 MAY 1939 in Tupelo, Jackson County, Arkansas.

He had two marriages/partners. His first wife was Lucy James Rotenberry, who he married on 11 DEC 1883 in Tupelo, Jackson County, Arkansas. Their eight known children were James Felix (1885-1968), Eleanor Cornelia (1887-1967), Walter Saxon (1889-1959), William LaFayette (1890-1939), Mary Theodora (1892-1965), Lon Bowen (1895-1963), Arrah Neil (1896-<1900) and Ben Fletcher Jr (1899-1963).

His second wife was Lula Ellen Taylor, who he married on 31 DEC 1902 in Tupelo, Jackson County, Arkansas. Their three known children were Virgina Elizabeth (1903-1985), Stella (1910-1929) and Elsie Lou (1915-1919).

Pedigree Chart (3 generations)


 

Benjamin Fletcher Simmons
(1860-1939)

 

Holman Felix Simmons
(1824-1893)

 

Holman Freeman Simmons
(1798-<1870)

 

John Simmons
(c1760-<1835)

+
   

Ann Freeman
(1761->1850)

+
   

Sarah Eliza Hawkins Burns
(1800->1870)

 

Robert Burns
(<1775-?)

 
   

unknown McIntosh
(<1775-?)

 
   

Theodora Mary Saxon
(1834-c1917)

 

Benjamin Wadsworth Saxon
(1798-1861)

 

James Saxon
(1754-1836)

 
   

Ann Nancy Elmore
(1754-c1842)

+
   

Mary Collingsworth Terry
(1812-<1875)

 

Elijah Terry
(c1772-c1842)

+
   

Mary Ann Prickett
(c1770-?)

+

Events

EventDateDetailsSourceMultimediaNotes
Birth3 MAY 1860
Place: Brooksville, Hernando Cty, Florida
Type: Marriage certificate
Agency: Arthur F Bowie. Jan1998
Death1 MAY 1939
Place: Tupelo, Jackson County, Arkansas
Age: 78y, 11m, 29d
Cause: heart attack
Agency: obit
Obit - Simmons, Ben F and Will L 1939
media

Census24 AUG 1870
Place: Jackson County, Arkansas
Age: 10 b Fl
Address: with parents and siblings dwelling 12, family 12 grandmother next door with aunt Mary Mallory
Agency: 1870 census ARK
Census 1870 Arkansas, Jackson Cty, Breckenridge Twp
Source: Census 1870 Arkansas, Jackson Cty, Breckenridge Twp
Authors: US Federal Census
Date: 21 AUG 1870
Publisher: ancestry.com

See Note 5
Census14 JUN 1880
Place: Breckenridge Township, Jackson County, Arkansas
Age: 20 b Flordia
Address: Dwelling 172, family 172 Page 19, Supv Dist 1, Enumation Dist 131
Agency: 1880 Census ARK
Census 1880 Arkansas, Jackson County, Breckenridge twp, ED 131, page 19, stamp 438
Source: Census 1880 Arkansas, Jackson County, Breckenridge twp, ED 131, page 19, stamp 438
Publisher: ancestry .com

See Note 6
Census1 JUN 1900
Place: Jackson County, Arkansas
Age: 40 b Fl
Address: Breckenridge Twp, east of range line Dwelling 8, family 8 with mother, 7 children and 3 nieces
Agency: 1900 Cenus Ark
Census 1900 Arkansas, Jackson County, Breckenridge,ED 53 Union ED 61
Source: Census 1900 Arkansas, Jackson County, Breckenridge,ED 53 Union ED 61
Publisher: Twelfth Census of the US

See Note 7
Census22 APR 1910
Place: Breckendrige Twp, ED 63, Jackson County, Ark
Age: 49 b Florida
Address: dwelling 109 family 113 with Lula. and 8 children
Agency: US Census, 1910 Ark
Census 1910 Arkansas, Jackson Cty Breckendridge ED 63 and Union ED 73
Source: Census 1910 Arkansas, Jackson Cty Breckendridge ED 63 and Union ED 73
Publisher: US Department of Commerence

Census14 JAN 1920
Place: Breckenridge Township, Jackson County, Arkansas
Age: 59, b Fl
Address: dwelling 25, family 26
Agency: 1920 census Ark
Census 1920 Arkansas, Jackson County , ED 71 Newport, ED 181 Breckendridge Twp
Source: Census 1920 Arkansas, Jackson County , ED 71 Newport, ED 181 Breckendridge Twp
Date: JAN 1920
Publisher: US Deptartment of Commerence

See Note 8
Census2 APR 1930
Place: Breckendridge West Twp, Jackson Cty Ark
Age: 69 b Fla
Address: ED 34-8 dwelling 6, family 9 with Lula E and grandson Ben S jr, near Lon and Dollie
Agency: 1930 census Ark
Census 1930 Arkansas, Jackson Cty, Tupelo, Breckenridge Twp ED 34 -6 and 34 -8
Source: Census 1930 Arkansas, Jackson Cty, Tupelo, Breckenridge Twp ED 34 -6 and 34 -8

BurialMAY 1939
Place: Walnut Grove Cemetery, Newport, Arkansas
Age: 78y, 11m, 29d
Address: N35° 36.903 W 91° 16.151 section F, row 2 Find A Grave Memorial# 32412766
Agency: Confirmed by A Bowie Jun00
Cemeteries -Jackson County Arkansas
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Grav-SimBF
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Walnut Grove, Lot description and burials, by Walter Heard
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See Note 9
ResidenceBEF 1933
Place: Simmons Switch, Jackson County, Arkansas
Address: Section 31, Breckenridge Twp, Jackson Cty, Ark N35° 21.823' W91° 14.645'
Agency: Obit 5/4/1939
Obit - Simmons, Ben F and Will L 1939
media

Map of Tupelo Arkansas Area
media

See Note 10
Other Event14 FEB 1906
Place: near Little Rock, Arkansas
Age: 45y 9m 10d
Address: Gun Shot on a train.
Agency: Jackson Cty Newspaper clipping
Doc-Simmons,Ben shot on train
media

See Note 11

Multimedia

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Ben and Lula...
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Bear Hunting...
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Ben at home,...
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Bear Hunting...
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Double expos...
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Ben with Cor...
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Dwg-Jackson ...
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Dwg-Jackson ...
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Marriage Cer...
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Chart of Des...
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Bio-SimmonsB...

Notes

Note 1

Other kids raised by Ben F Include:

Arthur Bowie who married Cora

Children of Martha Rottenberry Harris;

Martha Ellen Harris married Sam Hall

Maude Harris died young

Lula Harris died young

Ben Simmons Jones, aka Cooter--see 1930 census, his mother Stella died 1929, father Earl working in Batesville in 1930

Finus Ozier

Both Ben F and father Capt Felix were Surveyors in Jackson Co Arkansas

In later years, liked to show four letters to all, one was from President FDR and there handwritten letters from Mrs Eleanor Roosevelt.

Ben's first wife Lucy James Rotenberry was daughter of James A Rotenberry and Cornelia Jane McGuire. After James died, Cornelia married William L Taylor. After Cornelia died, William married Mary Elizabeth Lewis. Second child of William and Mary was Lula Ellen Taylor who became Ben's second wife after Lucy James died. Lula Ellen 20/23 years younger than Lucy/Ben and born year of their marriage. Lula Ellen and was a step sister to first wife, Lucy. All three are on the same grave stone in Walnut Grove Cemetary.

Ben Jones has story about grandfather Ben's annual bear hunts in Mississippi. He often hunted from horseback and one time while chasing a bear thru a thicket, his lever action rifle hung on something , throwing Ben to the ground. When he looked up, he was face to face with the bear. Immedately following this event, he cut his rifle barrel back as short as the forearm and tubular magazine would allow. basicly to match length of the forearm. Ben Jones remembers shotting the cut off rifle at maybe age 10...

In Dec 1850 Holman Felix Simmons at age 27 had left his family and was working as a clerk in Wetumpka Alabama for his future father in law Benjamin Saxon.    Saxon was a Tavern Keeper and a wealthly man of influnence in the community, he apparently is the namesake of our Benjamine Fletcher Simmons.   Mary Theodora was 16 and living with her parents in the tavern at the time.  Holman Felix's parents and 6 or 7 of his siblings were still in Talladega, Alabama.

3 Simmons, childred of Holman Freeman married 3 Saxons, children of Ben W Saxon the tavernkeeper. 

Holman Felix Simmons and Mary Theodora Saxon married 20 April 1852 by the pastor of the Wetumpka Baptist Church in Autauga  County Alabama.

Susan Burns Simmons and Walter Terry  Saxon

Henry Clay Simmons and Mable Antonette Saxon, 6 SEP 1870 probably Levy County, Florida 

In August 1860, two  brothers and a sister are in Cashe Township of Jackson County Arkansas - Henry Clay and Joseph Bibb Simmons and Mary Simmons Mallory.     I'm not sure where Holman Felix was, but would assume he was either in Hernando County Florida or maybe in the 3rd Florida Infantry under brother in law Walter Terry Saxon.  Ben F Simmons was born in Brooksville Florida in  May 1860.

He formed is own company, in 1862 I'm told.  We have his letter resigning his commission because of a gunshot wound to the foot dated Sept 1862 that stated that his residence was in Hernando Florida.

The notes on the photo of Ben's family on the front porch were done by my uncle Bobby Bowie.  He said that house was built by Capt Holman Felix in 1867.     I don't know where he found the 1867 date, but land records would be the place to start.

The census in August 1870 has Felix, Theodora and 5 children in that house.   His mother Eliza Simmons is next door with his sister Mary Mallory, and bother Dr Joseph B Simmons is in the Bowen Ridge area.   I haven't traced rest of the family yet, but have that on my to do list.

In June 1880 Ben is still with both parents in that house and apparently worked with father Holman Felix both on the farm and as a suveryor.  Holman Felix was Suveryor for Jackson County from 1878 to 1888.  My dad, Billy Bowie, told story about his grandfather or great grandfather surveying Walnut Grove Cemetary in Newport when first train came in.

The first document I have showing Ben owned things himself is the census of June 1900. Then he owned a house and farm and did not have a mortgage

My notes on 1910 census are incomplete, but by 1920 he had a mortgage on the home and farm and apparently still had one, maybe two servants.  

  In 1930 he is in a home owned by son Sax, and with and grandson Ben S Jones is age 2 years and 6 months and is living with grandparents Ben and Lula.

Note 2

could there be connection between JW Bowie leaving northern mississippi for Ben Simmons land in NE Arkansas in mid to late 1880s and Ben Simmons bear hunting at a camp in NE Mississippi in that same time frame?

Note 3

William Faulkner, writer, Oxford Mississippi

9/25/1897 to 9/6/1962

less than 5' tall, Nobel prize winner

1915 bearhunting at "General" James Stone Camp

1922 grandfather JWT Faulkner, Jr dies

Murry Cuthbert Faulkner 1870-1932

married Nov 8, 1896 Maud Bulter 1871-1960

compare these times with Ben F Simmons bear hunting Sept 27, 1890

his son Lon Simmons apparently also hunted with him , probably at same camp. It is possible that son Sax Simmons also went on some of those hunts..

HF Simmons 1824-1893 was Capt of Floridia volunteers , is there a connection with either James Stone or elder Faulkner?

Grandson Ben S Jones has story of Ben hunting from horseback and getting knocked off in a chase, then coming up face to face with bear. He cut his lever action hunting rife barrel down to minimum possible length afterward...

http://www.mcsr.olemiss.edu/~egjbp/faulkner/chronology.html

1915

Returns to school to play football, and breaks his nose; quits school for good that fall

Goes bear-hunting at “General”James Stone’s camp

William Faulkner published a short story "The Bear Hunt" in The Saturday Evening Post, Feb 10, 1934. He had several short stories about hunting including "The Bear' published as a collection in "The Big Woods, The Hunting Stories" There a several interesting parallels to our Ben Simmons and his family ---including introduction memo to "Saxe Commins" and hunter knocked from his horse---. If nothing else, reading "The Big Woods" gives a pretty good idea of what Ben's bear hunting trips were.

http://www.mcsr.olemiss.edu/~egjbp/faulkner/glossary.html

de Spain, Lula: The wife of Major Cassius de Spain whose expensive imported rug was ruined by Ab Snopes in "Barn Burning" and The Hamlet.

de Spain, Major Cassius, I: A perennial, yet peripheral, figure in Yoknapatawpha County. Father of Manfred de Spain, he served as a major in the Confederate Army. In Absalom, Absalom!, he was sheriff in 1869 when Wash Jones killed Thomas Sutpen along with Jones' own granddaughter and great-granddaughter. Soon after, he bought and restored the fishing camp along the Tallahatchie River where Jones had been living. In Go Down, Moses, he was the host for the annual hunting trips, including the one in which Old Ben, the bear, is killed. He later sold most of the property to a lumber company. In "Barn Burning" and The Hamlet, a disagreement with tenant farmer Ab Snopes over a soiled rug led to his barn being burned down. He appears also in Intruder in the Dust, The Town, The Mansion, The Reivers, and "A Bear Hunt." In addition, a Major de Spain who is grieving over the wartime death of his son is depicted in "Shall Not Perish."

de Spain, Major Cassius, II: Apparently, the son of old Major de Spain in "A Bear Hunt" and the present host of the hunting camp who helped support the family of Lucius Hogganbeck. He may also be the Major de Spain who was grieving over the wartime death of his son in "Shall Not Perish."

Old Ben: A large, old, two-toed bear which had eluded hunters for years at Major de Spain's hunting grounds along the Tallahatchie River in northern Yoknapatawpha County. When he was finally killed, by Boon Hogganbeck in 1883, fifty-two old bullets were found embedded in his skin. He is a potent symbol of the vanishing wilderness in "The Bear" section of Go Down, Moses.

Lion: A dog, found by Sam Fathers, which eventually took on Old Ben, the bear, and won, though at great cost. Major de Spain at first believed the dog was too wild to tame, but Sam Fathers conditioned the dog to tolerate humans through starvation methods. Later, Boon Hogganbeck took over care and feeding of Lion from Sam, even allowing Lion to sleep with him in the cabin at Major de Spain's hunting camp. When Lion attacked Old Ben and refused to let go, Boon finished the job started by Lion by killing the bear with his knife. Afterwards, Boon's first concern was to get Lion to a doctor; though a doctor did tend to Lion's wounds, it was too late: the dog died at sundown the next day.

Simmons: The man from whom Jason Compson got the key to the old opera house in Jefferson where records from the failed Merchant and Farmers Bank were being stored in The Sound and the Fury. Jason was searching for a blank check which he could fill out and fool his mother into thinking was sent by Caddy (which Mrs. Compson burned) so he could pocket the money from the real check for himself.

Note 4

Lon Bowen, age 83 is with Uncle Robert and Margery Simmons in 1930 census. probably namesake?

Facebook Feb 2012:

Jim Simmons ‎@Arthur. I said in one of the posts above that Lon moved in the "late" 40's. I meant "early" 40's. The mind does play tricks in our old age. I remember when they lived there the little girls had a tricycle. They had page-boy haircuts and their hair was the same color as mine. We called it white back then, but now we call it platinum blonde. After they moved, the Clyde Henderson family moved into that house. The Overcup school house was on the south side of the road just a little west of there.

June Jackson Simmons We used to say it was called Simmons switch because the girls switched from one Simmons to another. Lol. Back in the day?

Jim Simmons On your map. When I was born, and growing up, Lon and Dollie lived on the west side of hiway 17 right on the Jackson county side of the Jackson/Woodruff county line. They moved south of Tupelo where you have them marked sometimes in the late 40's.

When I was a kid, we used to go pick up pecans in the orchard over at the place you marked Ben and Lula's. I think Lula still lived there then.18 hours ago · Like

Jim Simmons Another interesting thing I remember about Ben. When I was about 4 or 5, I was walking down the county road in front of our house and old Ben came up behind me and hooked my ankle with his cane. At that time we lived just south of his house at the place known as "The Big Barn". My dad was the farm foreman for Alcorn Ferguson.

Note 5

Family #13 is William and Mary E Mallory with

Mother Eliza Simmons 72, F W no occupation, born Georgia

see alsoRichwoods Twp family #24

Simmons, James 39 MW physician, $400 real estate, born Georgia

no family listed

Note 6

with parents, one sister, and 3 brothers

Note 7

white male, widowed, after 16 yrs marriage, farmer

Note 8

with wife, married son , d-in-law, and daughter

Ben Simmons, w 59 b Flordia, father b Georgia, Mother b Alabama, farmer.

Lula Simmons, w 34, b Ark, father born Alabama, mother b Alabama,

Lon, son, 24, married b Ark

Dortha, Dau in law, married 18, b Ark

Stella, Dau 10, single b Ark

Note 9

Tomb Stone shared with both wifes. 5 foot tall stone, NE from HF Simmons

2 daughters and one granddaughter share plot, no markers see Walter Heard letter to BBB 19 Aug 1991

see also http://arkansasgravestones.org/ Find A Grave Memorial# 32412766

Note 10

Goodrich per the Obit is a couple of miles futher south of his home was. Not on Jackson & Woodruff cty line, but about 1 1/2 miles south of the line. This house and 40 acres were owned by son Sax, Ben and Ma Pete moved there after Ben's home was lost to load default in 1933. The house was torn down (1950s?) to salvage the large cypress beams and posts in it. The barn remained in place for a longer time, maybe into 1950s per Ben S Jones. Randy and Jane Simmons Hayden took the hinges from front door just before the house was torn down.

from Lon on 3/15/09:

I do remember Goodrich. I'm not sure where it was but I know exactly where the house was. We used to ride over on Sunday afternoon horse rides. The house was abandoned and we used to take refuge in the barn when it would rain. When the boys were under 10 I took them to see it but all roads had disappeared going in to it. From Overcup by the post office a gravel road went west about a mile, then north about 1/2 mile to the house. This road then connected back into Hwy 17 close to my house.

Note 11

3y 1m 12d after marriage to Lula Taylor

after birth of Virgina Elizabeth 1903 and before birth of Stella 1910

Ben was shot on train

Sources

  1. Census 1870 Arkansas, Jackson Cty, Breckenridge Twp
    Source: Census 1870 Arkansas, Jackson Cty, Breckenridge Twp
    Authors: US Federal Census
    Date: 21 AUG 1870
    Publisher: ancestry.com
  2. Census 1880 Arkansas, Jackson County, Breckenridge twp, ED 131, page 19, stamp 438
    Source: Census 1880 Arkansas, Jackson County, Breckenridge twp, ED 131, page 19, stamp 438
    Publisher: ancestry .com
  3. Census 1900 Arkansas, Jackson County, Breckenridge,ED 53 Union ED 61
    Source: Census 1900 Arkansas, Jackson County, Breckenridge,ED 53 Union ED 61
    Publisher: Twelfth Census of the US
  4. Census 1910 Arkansas, Jackson Cty Breckendridge ED 63 and Union ED 73
    Source: Census 1910 Arkansas, Jackson Cty Breckendridge ED 63 and Union ED 73
    Publisher: US Department of Commerence
  5. Census 1920 Arkansas, Jackson County , ED 71 Newport, ED 181 Breckendridge Twp
    Source: Census 1920 Arkansas, Jackson County , ED 71 Newport, ED 181 Breckendridge Twp
    Date: JAN 1920
    Publisher: US Deptartment of Commerence
  6. Census 1930 Arkansas, Jackson Cty, Tupelo, Breckenridge Twp ED 34 -6 and 34 -8
    Source: Census 1930 Arkansas, Jackson Cty, Tupelo, Breckenridge Twp ED 34 -6 and 34 -8