Her importance as a local historian cannot be overstated. She was an artist, a sculptor, a prolific writer, a modern woman in an antiquated time. She was Sarah Adeline Sims.

Addie Sims was born on October 6, 1828 on the south side of Grindal Shoals on the Pacolet River in Union County, South Carolina. Her father was Joseph Stark Sims (1801-1875), a man of great importance and influence in the county of Union and the state of South Carolina. J.S. Sims was a plantation owner with a large number of slaves, a local businessman, and a politician. He was Foreman of the Jury in the Mary Ann Hyatt murder trial The Murder of MARY ANN HYATT (1822-1851); he was engaged in many legal debates and decisions on the political stage. J. S. Sims played a prominent part in South Carolina’s secession from the Union to start the War Between the States.

Joseph Stark Sims was the son of William Sims (1768-1853) and Elizabeth Shelton (1767-1837). William was the son of Charles Sims (1737-1827) and Sabilla Bowles (1740-1818).

Charles Sims was born in Somerset, England and died in Union County, SC. He raised a company, in 1777 in Albemarle County, Virginia and fought in the Revolutionary War. Henry Ellis Fowler was a Lieutenant in the company and remained a steadfast soldier as well as friend to Charles Sims. The two families had deep connections. True, Henry Ellis Fowler had died in 1808, well before Addie Sims was born in 1828, but she knew his son Ellis Fowler b. 1770, and had written a fairly detailed description of him. Addie had also talked to her grandfather, William Sims, about the war and she was able to pass on the stories to future generations.

In 1894, Addie Sims wrote the following passage about her family to give to her relative, R. M. Sims of California. It’s a long read but well worth it if you are interested in the Sims family history. If not, then just skip over the italicized sections.

In the words of Miss Sarah Adeline Sims:

“Matthew Sims was the ancestor of all the Sims in Union County, and has many descendants in Newberry and Laurens counties. He came to Virginia early in the Eighteenth Century from Somerset, England, and settled on the James River, either in Henrico or Gooch-land counties. He was known as “James River Mat” to distinguish him from a nephew of the same name, who lived near Danville, Va., called ‘Roanoke Mat’. The wife of Matthew of James River was Mary Pears: I suppose from England. They had seven sons and four daughters.

“The sons were Charles, Reuben, David, James and John and two more who remained in Virginia when the family moved to Carolina after the war. I cannot recall the names of these two, but Patrick, Reuben (Cousin Horse) and Nathan were the sons of one of them. Matthew Sims came to Carolina after the close of the Revolutionary War, settled on Tinker Creek, a tributary of the Tyger River, lived to an advanced age and was killed by the fall of a limb from a burning tree, as he stopped to light his pipe in passing through new ground. I had a description of his death from an old servant, who was ploughing in the field at the time, in fact much of the family history came to me from these old servants, two of whom belonged to my grandfather, were raised by Mat Sims, at his death came to Charles and from him to William, Charles’ only son, and then to my father. One lived until after the surrender.

“The name of Sims is old Saxon, which means Shell’ or Cornice. Our family belonged to the English Squirearchy: ‘Gent’ was written after their names. I have seen it on old papers ‘Charles Sims, Gent’. They were always of independent means, neither very rich or very poor. They did not belong to the Yeomanry nor were they of the titled aristocracy and have always borne the character distinguished for truthfulness, honesty and uprightness. I once asked my grandfather to tell me what sort of man his grandfather Mat was. He looked me gravely in the face and said, ‘A very good man; I never heard aught against him. Had there been anything I surely would have heard it.’

“‘Capt. Charles Sims was perhaps the oldest son of Mat Sims and his wife Mary Pears. He came to Carolina from Albemarle, Va. in 1774 or ’75 and was engaged in surveying. He came as a pioneer for the family. When the war was declared with England he returned to Virginia and raised a company, was mustered into service at Albemarle C. H. and has his commission from Patrick Henry, dated 1777. He was sent back to Carolina to engage in partisan warfare, then raging along this part of the country. His home was on Tinker Creek, in the neighborhood of the Jollys, McJunkens, Thomases and other Whig families. I think Charles must have been the oldest of the family as he had a married daughter at that time, Nancy, Mrs. McDonald, now called McDaniel. From her oldest daughter, Mrs. Sally Sims Gist, the widow of Col. Joseph Gist of Pinckney, I learned much of the early history of this county and particularly the Sims Family. She was born just at the commencement of the Revolutionary War, and died at the beginning of the Confederate War.

“The wife of Capt. Charles was Sybella, daughter of John Knight Bowles of Hanover, Va. She was a woman of high courage, of firm, true principles, suffered all the distress and privations incident to the time. The marauding Tories robbed them of everything they could carry off, servants, stock, clothes and bedding. The only horse they had left was an old mare called “Knotty Head,” from an immense swelling on the side of her head. The old lady must mount “Knotty” with her bundle of medicines and bandages, with her young son, Billy, to trot behind to switch Knotty’s legs, when she heard of an engagement with the enemy, and be on hand to administer to the wounded and dying. Finally the Tories burnt the house, and they were left without shelter, goods or clothing in the bitter winter weather. In some way Capt. Sims managed to convey them to Virginia under the escort of Lieutenant Ellis Fowler, as far as “Roanoke Mats,” where they were received with the warmest sympathy, fed and clothed, and afterward sent on to the James River.

“Mrs. Sybbie Sims was very successful in her ministrations. I have a curious old document, copied with her own hand for her daughter, Mrs. Shelton. A receipt for making “green salve” by the application of which she performed some wonderful cures. One old Hughes was run thru the body by a British sword at the Battle of Cowpens. The sword passed entirely thru his body, and Hughes grasped the blade, when the British soldier, touched by his bravery said, “let go, my good fellow, I will draw it out as easily as I can.” He placed his knee on Hughes and drew the blade out. Mrs. Sibbie Sims doctored Hughes with some of her famous salve, and he recovered and lived to quite an old age.

Some time after this Charles was taken prisoner with another Whig, by the name of Johnson. The Tory leader condemned them both to be hanged. Johnson v/as already executed and Capt. Charles Sims was standing with the rope around his neck and the cap over his head when he heard the galloping of a horse and a voice ring out, “Who have you got there?” The answer was “Charles Sims.” “Take him down and wait until I return.” In a short time the soldier returned with a pardon on parole. Charles went directly back to Virginia, took up arms and served to the end of the war. The British officer who rescued him was a Capt. George of the British Army, an old schoolmate and friend. He said that the instant Capt. George spoke he recognized his voice.

After the close of the war Charles returned to Carolina, settled in a place on Broad River, about five or six miles below Lockhart Shoals. He built a comfortable old Virginia farm house and added to his acres from year to year, until he owned a large acreage of fine land. He settled all his children well. His only son, William, was in stature a medium size man; as the English would say, ‘well set up’ devoted adherent to the Church of England; had seats under the oaks at the old place, where, on Sundays, his negroes assembled to be catechised and hear the reading of the church service.

Some years after the war the Methodist preachers penetrated the backwoods of Carolina, holding their revival meetings, and preaching with much success. One after another of Charles’ old kin left the church and went over to the Methodists, down in the Cane Creek settlement, where most of his clan lived. At last the news came that Barnard Glenn, his favorite cousin, had gone over, the staunch old churchman was utterly exasperated, and said, ‘Tut, tut, did I ever think that ‘Narney’ would be such a damn fool as to join the Methodists.’ But a more trying ordeal was still in store for Capt. Charles. Sibbie, his devoted wife, on a visit to the settlement was induced to attend a meeting and she too became a converted Methodist. Mrs. Sibbie was firm and stood to her colors, but the Captain was unrelenting, looking upon the new sect as witches and impostors, and could not be induced to accompany his wife to the meeting; but Mrs. Sibbie was fertile in resources, and wouldn’t be balked. Having no little negro boy of suitable age to attend her, she made a boy’s suit for her maid, and when she chose to attend a meeting, her maid donned the boy’s suit, and Mrs. Sibbie mounted the old mare with her page behind her, and trotted off quite independently.

“Charles Sims lived to ninety or more years, retained his eyesight to the last, killed a fine buck at a distance of a hundred yards not six months before his death, and died with every tooth perfectly sound in his head. He was of the most temperate habits in everything; took his drams a-day-a-morning tonic and a noonday drink, and had Broad River flowed with the best of liquor, nothing could have induced him to take another. ‘I have never seen my father disguised in liquor in my life,’said his son, ‘but once, when the survivors of the Revolution met at Union C. H., and he was with many of his old comrades, then I thought his tongue ran a little free.’ After the war he held the place of tobacco inspector for the state for years, and would spend six months of the year in Charleston. In that way he kept up his church connection. He enjoyed to the last all the sports of the frontiersman, and lies buried by his wife and daughter in a graveyard at his old home, a God’s acre bequeathed by him as a last resting place to his descendants.

“Reuben Sims was one of the oldest sons of Matthew Sims, who came with him after the war and settled on Tyger River. Had several sons and two daughters. One son, John Sims, went to Mississippi long years ago. I have seen some old letters from him to grandfather. Of the others I don’t know but supposed they all drifted West. His daughter, Mirny, Mrs. Jack Thomas, left several children, two only of her children, Reuben Thomas, Santuck, and David of Spartanburg, are living. Susannah, Mrs. Garland Meng, was a near neighbor and dear friend of mine for many years. She died about four years ago. Her eldest daughter, Sallie, is the wife of S. W. T. Lanham. of Weatherford. Texas. My grandfather often said to me in speaking: of his uncle Reuben, ‘He was one of the best men I ever knew, guided in all of his conduct by a strict sense of right and duty.’ David Sims, I think must have been the youngest of the sons of Mat. I have heard the old folks say that David was intellectually superior to all of his father’s family. After the death of his wife, and when his children had all married and left him, his habits became bad, he drank to excess. I cannot recall the name of his wife, I suppose she was a Virginian. I once saw his daughter, Mrs. Nancy Reed, wife of Joseph Reed. They came here once before I was quite grown, Le see my grandfather, were in from Mississippi, on a visit to her daughter, Mrs. Witherspoon of Yorkville. I remember well how much the old relative enjoyed meeting and talking over the past, and pretty and sweet looking old lady cousin Nancy was, with such gentle and kindly manners. Like all the old Sims, I think she was very fair with blue eyes. That was the original Sims type. I also remember your aunt Mirny, Mrs. Maybin, another warmhearted and affectionate old lady, very much beloved by her relatives.

Your father, Dr. James M. Sims, was here with your mother, in their early married days on a visit to my father. I have heard my mother speak of it and tell what a beautiful woman your mother was. Of your father, I have always heard him spoken of in the highest terms of regard and esteem by my father. I can recall my father’s expression one day long ago, speaking to an old friend, Col. F. H. Elmore, who had known your father well, “Dr. James Sims is one of the most thorough gentlemen I have ever known in my life.” There was a strong family affection among the old Sims. From Uncles John and James there must have been a number of descendants. There was a Col. Reuben, a man very highly thought of. I don’t know whose son he was. There was a John F. and a John S., a young Mat and a Charles, a first cousin of my grandfather, who married a Miss Sallie Shelton, daughter of old David Shelton, and a sister of my grandmother Sims. Patrick, Reuben (Cousin Horse) and Nathan were brothers, grandsons of old Mat, and the sons of one of the two remained in Virginia, Patrick, Patrick’s wife was a daughter of Col. Beaufort, I think Nathan’s wife was a Miss Saunders, but I am not sure. Old Mat Sims’ Bible with all the family record was once, I am told, in the possession of Nathan Sims. Of Cousin Horse I am glad to be able to say a word in his behalf. My father told me that in that man was the wreck and ruin of the most noble nature. When a young man in Virginia he was highly respected but an unfortunate love affair wrecked his life. I don’t know what the woman did, but she ruined the life of a good man. In after years when he was an old man, by the death of a relative in Virginia, he could have succeeded to a very handsome property, but he steadily refused to assert his claim, said ‘no, he had thrown away his life and could not trust himself, that those who would heir the estate were young and would be benefited and he hoped would make good use of it.

“The daughters of James River Mat, Nancy, Mrs. Gilliam, who lived on the Newberry side and was a mother of Reuben Gilliam, of this county, whose first wife was a daughter of Patrick Sims, Hannah, Mrs. Henderson, mother of Capt. Jack Henderson, of Newberry who was father of Tom and James Henderson, of Mrs. A. W. Thompson of Union, Mrs. Lucy Shelton. Mrs. Hannah Pearson, Mrs. Caroline Pickens of Alabama and Mrs. Sarah Chick. From these Hendersons there are but few descendants, Nancy, Mrs. Wallace Thompson, has only one grandchild, A. W. Thompson of Columbia, partner in law with Herndon Moore and Edward Robinson. Wallace is the only child of the late Dr. Wallace Thompson of Union. From Massey, Mrs. Saunders, carne a good many of the Union County people. Drucilla, Mrs. Brazelman’s descendants belong to Newberry. You see from Mat and Polly Pears sprang a numerous progeny, and the half is not told. Surely they have multiplied and increased like the sands on the seashore. Old Grandsire Mat was a man of a great deal of humor, and I have heard some funny things that would not look exactly nice for an old maid descendant to be recording, but they were very funny for all that. I believe I have told you all down to my grandfather’s time and his sons.

Miss Addie Sims has told the Sims family story and I could stop now; only I want to tell her story so that all can learn what an extraordinary woman she was and to show my appreciation for the historical treasures that she left us. So — back to her immediate family.

Addie’s father, Joseph Stark Sims married Jane Emily Fernandez (1804–1888), a daughter of Henry Fernandez (1769-1823). The Fernandez family had been Spanish political exiles who settled near Port Tobacco, Maryland. Henry Fernandez traveled south from Maryland to Union County. Once settled, he married Elizabeth Henderson (1786–1852), a daughter of Judge Henderson — political families joined together.

A few years ago, I was searching in the woods near the Pacolet River for a Fowler family cemetery. I knew from census records that my Reuben Fowler family had lived next to the Joseph Stark Sims family, and that the two families were surrounded by my Mabrys. I had done my homework, and I knew the neck of the woods in which I was searching, but I was still surprised when I stumbled upon the Sims-Fernandez family graveyard.

I felt reverence when I found the grave of Sarah Adeline Sims. She was a remarkable woman from a remarkable family. Her father, Joseph Stark Sims, was also buried there, as was her mother Jane Emily Fernandez. I did not find my Fowler graveyard that day but I knew I had stood on Holy Ground.

Addie Sims was born in 1828, the same year that her father built a two-story white house with large chimneys book-ending the home. It sat back about one quarter of a mile from the road and was across from the Chisolm race track.

John Chisolm bought a track of land near John Henderson above Grindal Shoals in the late 1700s. Chisolm built his house near the large spring on his property, and, being an owner of fine race horses, built a race track in front of his house. Chisolm’s Spring and Chilsom’s Race Track were named after him.

A Yale educated attorney named Abrah Nott from New England boarded with John Chisolm. Nott opened a law office in the house and many aspiring lawyers studied there. One of particular note was David Johnson (1782-1855) who would later become the 62nd Governor of South Carolina, serving 1846 to 1848.

I have been studying the present-day landscape on satellite maps, searching for leftover signs of a horse racing track from almost two hundred years ago. I’ve not found the location yet but I harbor much hope to do so in the near future.

The Joseph Starke Sims family was enumerated in their new home in the 1830 Union County, SC Census. The names of their nearby neighbors confirm the Grindal Shoals location: Elijah Fernandis, Edmund Hames, Rachel Haile, David Fowler, Joseph Fowler, and Godfrey Fowler.

  • J.S. Sims 20-29
  • Jane Sims 20-20
  • son 15-19
  • son 5-9
  • son < 5
  • f < 5
  • F<5
  • 11 Slaves

In 1837 — after the death of his wife — the elder William Sims moved in with his son J.S. Sims and family. Nine-year-old Addie would have been overjoyed at this addition to the family. She loved her grandfather and spent hours at his knee listening to his stories which she later wrote about in letters. Grandpa “Billy” Sims was also the subject of her artwork.

In an age and place — pre-Civil War, back-woods South Carolina — when both men and women were rarely educated and not many could read or write, Addie Sims was an exception to the rule. In 1839, she was enrolled in a girl’s school in Charleston, SC studying music. She had family connections in the town, her mother’s sister Sarah Fernandez Norris and husband James living there and taking Addie in while she studied. Addie was exceptionally intelligent and finished the course at the top of her class. She retuned home to Grindal Shoals in time to be counted in the 1840 census.

  • J.S. Sims 40-49
  • Jane Sims 30-39
  • William Sims 60-69
  • son 15-19
  • f 10-14
  • f 10-14
  • son 5-9
  • son 5-9
  • son < 5
  • 42 Slaves

The number of slaves in the household increased from 11 in 1830 to 42 in 1840. It is probable that William Sims brought the majority of them with him when he moved into the home in 1837. William Sims was a large slaveholder throughout his life.

The number of children in the household was growing and a tutor named Mary Webb Daniel was hired in the early 1840’s. Education was important in the Joseph Stark Sims household; Jane Fernandez had gone to a school for girls, and Joseph Stark Sims had been educated at South Carolina College. The Sims children were afforded many educational opportunities; a fact supported by two of the sons becoming physicians.

Mary Daniel had moved south from Pennsylvania with her two aunts, Charlotte and Phebe Paine, who did much to advance the education of young women in upstate South Carolina. It is likely that Mary lived in the Sims household while employed as their teacher.

Addie Sims longed for more that what was normally expected of young women in the mid 1800s. She was not interested in the domestic side of life, but instead wished to express her creative visions through her artwork. She was different, way ahead of her time. Perhaps there were many women of the era who felt the same way but it was daring and unacceptable to say it out loud.

Limestone Springs High School for Women was founded in 1845 by Dr. Thomas Curtis who had immigrated from England to the United States in 1833. The school was the first of its kind to open in the state and offered higher education to the privileged young ladies of well-to-do families. It later admitted young men on a part-time basis, and eventually the name was changed to Limestone College.

Addie Sims was enrolled in the school in 1847 and studied art under the instruction of Eugene Alexander Dovilliers, born in 1818 in Paris who eventually became a French instructor at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. He was a master at painting landscapes. He taught French and art at the Limestone school for only a short time; moving to Columbia SC. and painting the Broad River as a subject in his landscapes.

Dovilliers died in 1887 and willed his three-story brick home in Washington D.C. and his home and property in Columbia SC to both his wife Ellen Brennan Dovilliers, and his mother, Minde Zoe Dovilliers. His estate included portraits of himself and his family, diamond jewelry, furs, and other expensive items. He is buried in Annapolis, Maryland, his wife in Columbia, SC, and his mother in Washington DC.

While researching his life, I ran across a thesis written in 2014 which I found most interesting. I won’t divert off the path of Addie Sims too far, but if one is inclined to learn more, search for TRANSLATING THE LANDSCAPE: EUGENE DOVILLIERS AND LANDSCAPE PAINTING IN THE AMERICAN SOUTH by Catherine A. Carlisle

Addie Sims left Limestone Springs High School for Women, perhaps around the same time as her art teacher, for she is not found in the graduation class of any year. The school was only 16 miles from Addie’s home on Grindal Shoals, a quick 25 minute trip by car today but a much longer journey in 1847 by horse and buggy. Her departure may have been motivated by her art instructor’s decision to leave the school, or perhaps she just missed her family.

In addition to paintings of her grandfather William Sims, Addie captured the likeness of at least two of the family plantation slaves, Uncle Johnnie and Aunt Siller. She created portraits of members of her own family, and beautiful landscapes of places in and around Grindal Shoals. These paintings and drawings are treasures with value beyond measure. They give us a rare glimpse of the people whose names, if known at all, were merely written words in a census record or legal document. For those of us who tramp through deep woods searching for old graveyards and relics of the past, her landscapes give us a view of what the land had once been like before modern roadways and houses found a way into our lives.

There was a passion for art burning inside Addie Sims, and the flames could not… would not… be extinguished. In the late 1840s, Addie traveled to Charleston to study art under the guidance of Henry Breintnal Bounetheau and his wife Julia Clarkson Dupre. Both instructors were born, lived, and died in Charleston, South Carolina, although Julia Dupre had been educated up north and had studied art in Paris. Mr. Bounetheau’s profession was accounting but he was a musician and artist as well. His speciality was painting miniatures and he was known for his stippling technique. Both husband and wife were well known artists of the time.

Addie Sims was back in Grindal Shoals in the family home in time to be counted in the 1850 census.

In 1850, the Joseph Stark Sims family lived next door to my ancestor Reuben Fowler and his family who may have even lived on the Sims property. Although Joseph Sims and Reuben Fowler were contemporaries and neighbors, the differences between them were tremendous. I suspect that my ancestor worked for the Sims family. My great great grandmother Mary Fowler was a few years younger than Addie Sims, yet I believe that they may have been friends. It would be my great hope that an Addie Sims painting of my Mary or my Reuben would be found in an old, dusty attic somewhere.

Addie’s grandfather, William Sims, was recorded in the 1850 census with the Joseph Stark Sims family. William Sims died in 1853 and was buried in the Sheldon family graveyard.

In July 1851, Clough Sheldon Sims, Esq. was among a handful of distinguished gentlemen invited to participate on a Board of Visitors. It should be noted that he was a brother of Joseph Stark Sims. Clough Sims and his wife Ann Quay had one son and four daughters; the three younger daughters were enrolled at the Limestone Springs school in the early to mid 1850s. Sarah Sims graduated in 1855. Their children as follows:

  • William A. Quay Sims 1828-1850
  • Sarah Eliza Sims 1830–1902
  • Alice Cecilia Sims 1832–1930
  • Elizabeth “Betsy” Clough Sims 1837–1907
  • Margaret Clough Sims 1839–1917

In early March 1855, young John Edward Sims was shot in the forehead. while he and E.G. Fowler were out on patrol. (E.G. Fowler may have been Elijah Fowler, son of Thomas Gillman Fowler; more research needed). Fowler held Sims as he died, and laid him on the ground before he pursued the killer who fled and got away. Nathaniel Ridley Evans Mayer was eventually captured and held in the Union jail awaiting trial.

Andrew Mayer (1808-1893) was born in Virginia. He moved to South Carolina, settling on Gills Creek in the township of Lancaster. He became a prominent member of the community, being an Inn Keeper, and the first mayor of the town, serving from 1831 to 1852.

As a note of interest, he had been given a Spanish coin that George Washington had cut in half with his sword to pay for his meal at a tavern in Lancaster in 1791.

Andrew Mayer was twice married and the father of twenty-one children.

One of those children was Nathaniel Ridley Evans Mayer.

Nathaniel Mayer was born in 1838. He was seventeen years old when he killed John Edward Sims. Lancaster is 60 miles from the Grindal Shoals area. What was young Mayer doing so far away from home? I find no details of the motive for the shooting, nor a transcript of the trial. I have only been able to find a brief newspaper article relaying that N.R.E. Mayer was convicted of manslaughter in October 1855.

I do not know how much time was served; perhaps none, for Nathaniel Mayer married Addie Cornelia Howard in 1860. They had five children (William, Arthur, Mary, Ridley, and Jessie). They lived in South Carolina; Savannah, Georgia; Georgetown, District of Columbia, and Quitman, Georgia until Nathaniel Mayer abandoned his family in Georgia before 1897.

His wife Addie Mayer, recorded as a widow in city directories and the 1900 census, died in 1913 in Savannah Georgia. Nathaniel Mayer died in Philadelphia in 1908. His obituary called him a “man of family” but did not mention that his wife and children were living in Georgia without him; it also did not mention that he had shot a man in the head in 1855.

Addie Sims would have been 26 years old when her brother was murdered. It must have affected her greatly. Her brother Henry Fernandez Sims, only three years younger than John Edward Sims, felt the loss perhaps even more. He died in 1857, still a young man himself. It has been written that his early death was brought on by the knowledge that his brother’s killer had escaped justice.

Addie’s older sister Caroline Elizabeth Sims, in 1852, had married Edward Carrington Elmore (b. 1826) who served as the Treasurer of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War. The Elmore family had moved from South Carolina to Montgomery, Alabama before the outbreak of the war. Addie Sims traveled to Montgomery in 1859 to help her sister with the birth of a child, but would be back home in Grindal Shoals by 1860. 

Addie Sims still had her passion for art, and her wish to travel to Paris to study under the great masters was more than a dream. She was working to make it a reality. Family obligations and the looming threat of civil war forced her to delay her plans to travel to Europe; yet she continued searching for a way. She had been very close to leaving for Paris when the war finally began. Addie Sims would never go to Paris.

The war changed everything. Times became hard, and would become even more difficult as the war dragged on and on. Fathers, sons, husbands, were killed on the battlefield. Without men at home to plant the gardens, chop the wood, raise the livestock, and hunt for small game, women and children were left to their own devices and the ones who survived did so by the Grace of God and the help of their neighbors.

Joseph Stark Sims had signed the South Carolina Ordinance of Secession in 1860, and must bear some of the responsibility for what was to come. We must assume that the Joseph Stark Sims household felt the effects of the war, but perhaps did not suffer as much as the households without dozens of slaves to do the never-ending work.

Addie Sims continued her painting and drawing during wartime, but necessities became scare and that included art supplies. Many sacrifices had to be made; more were to come. Loved ones were lost on the battlefields miles and miles away from home. Some came home in wooden coffins, some never came home at all. Addie’s greatest loss may have concerned matters of the heart.

John Boyce (1780-1843) was the son of Elizabeth Miller (1758-1797) and northern Ireland immigrant John Boyce (1745–1806). John Boyce the younger married Nancy Robertson, lived and raised a family in Laurens County, SC.

Robert Boyce (1825-1863) was a son of the younger John Boyce. He attended the same school, South Carolina College, as Joseph Stark Sims — albeit years later — and, like Sims, he was also a well-educated, well-connected attorney. He was also the romantic interest of Miss Sarah Adeline Sims.

In the 1850 and 1860 Union County Census records, Robert Boyce lived in a hotel in Union SC, along with other men of many “city” professions: silversmith, hotel keeper, tanner, tailor, bar keeper, saddler, lawyer, physician, cigar maker, clerk, shoemaker, medical student. His real estate was valued at $30,000 and his personal estate at $10,000 in 1860.

The start of the Civil War changed everything. Robert Boyce was commissioned Caption in Battery C, Jeter’s Company, South Carolina Light Artillery, also known as the Macbeth Light Artillery and Captain Robert Boyce’s Company.

Captain Robert Boyce did not make it home from the war. He died of dysentery in Wilmington, NC on April 19, 1863. He was buried in the Boyce family cemetery in Laurens County, SC. It has been said that Addie Sims carved a cameo of him after his death.

Robert Boyce left a large and complicated estate to be settled. He was obviously not expecting to die; although he was an attorney, he left no will for probate. Many relatives hired many lawyers, and many documents were generated over many years before all was said and done. Addie Sims was not mentioned in the settlement.

After the war, Addie Sims spent time with her family and continued to paint. She began exhibiting her art locally, and we find many articles in old newspapers showing that she extended her talents to carving cameos out of soapstone. Her artwork was exhibited in Charleston in the South Carolina Interstate and West Indian Exposition in 1901/1902. Her artwork was displayed in fairs around the state.

Census records of 1870 and 1880 have her in the Sims family household. The 1900 census record. has her in the household with her sister Mary Elizabeth Sims Hamilton and family. Addie Sims may have never been acknowledged as a great artist, but only because the time in which she lived did not permit her to stretch her wings and fly to the great heights that she would have attained had she been born in a different era.

In December of 1894, Addie Sims wrote of “looking back beyond a hundred years and trying to recall the past of her old people”. Mrs. Carrie Boyd Robertson shared this history of Grindal Shoals with the readers of the June 2, 1916 Gaffney Ledger. It is a must read for anyone researching the area or the Wade Hampton, John Beckham, Major John Henderson,William Hodge, Sally Goudelock, Thomas Murray, Adam Potter, William Henderson, John Nuckolls, Goudelock, Mitchell and Hale families.

Addie Sims died on June 6, 1905 at the home of her sister, Mrs. Hamilton. She was buried in the Sims/Fernandez cemetery near the Pacolet River. 

Addie Sims left this world, yet left us many gifts. Works of her art are still in existence today. Her writings can be found if one searches. I will be forever grateful for the things she wrote about my Fowler family.

Addie Sims was a treasure. She lived her best life and the world is a better place because she was here.

2 thoughts on “Sarah Adeline Sims (1828-1905)

  1. Was the Joseph Starks Sims family related
    to the Sims family in Carlisle- Santuc
    Community of Union County?
    I was raised in Union County and knew
    some of that family. The Sims in that area
    married with the Thomas and Jeter family’s.


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