|Scope & Content||
Lucy F. Simms
Lucy F. Simms was born a slave in 1855 on the Gray family estate "Hilltop" along the eastern edge of Harrisonburg. Miss Simms began teaching when she was 17 or 18 years old and was able to attend Hampton Institute from 1874-1877. Upon graduation, "Miss Lucy" returned to the Valley and taught for a year at Zenda, a black community north of Harrisonburg. She then began teaching in Harrisonburg city schools, first in a church room and later in the new Effinger School. She taught there until the end of the 1933-1934 school year and died on July 10, 1934.
Lucy Simms's career spanned 56 years. In her obituary, the Daily News-Record stated,
" The record of the faithful colored teacher has few if any parallels in Virginia...She taught three generations in many of the Harrisonburg colored families and it is estimated that 1800 boys and girls were instructed by her." In 1938-1939, Harrisonburg built a school named in her honor.
Born November 20, 1866, in Harrisonburg, Ulysses Grant Wilson was the son of Robert and Jane Simms Wilson and a half-brother of Lucy Simms. He began his teaching career in Mt. Crawford in 1882 and taught three sessions there. He then taught two sessions at Pleasant Valley and three at Bridgewater before joining the Harrisonburg school system, where he taught until 1915. He also was the choir director for John Wesley Methodist Church for 50 years.
Wilson published a volume of verse entitled Mammy's Chillun and Other Poems. In 1941, his poem, "The Seasons" was included in an anthology, The Book of Modern Poetry, published by Avon House in New York City. He was also the author of the ballad, "The Old Big Spring," and a patriotic song, "Of Virginia Let Us Sing."
Wilson died on August 13, 1943, at Rockingham Memorial Hospital, in Harrisonburg
Biographical Information courtesy of Harrisonburg-Rockingham Historical Society webpage exhibit
"The Harrisonburg-Rockingham Experience: African American Education During Segregation," 2003, and Wilson's obituary in the August 14, 1943 edition of the Daily News-Record.
John N. Simms
John Simms was the oldest sibling of Lucy Simms and was born around 1852 (according to the 1870 census). John moved to Washington, D. C. and by 1880 he was living on I Street, N.W. and working as a servant in a board house. The census lists him as a mulatto. In June, 1891 John married Esther R. Lewis who taught school in Washington, D.C. In 1887, John was working as a messenger and three years later, he worked as a clerk to the second auditor in the Post Office Department. Afterward he was employed in the Bureau of Printing and Engraving and was working there when he died in 1919.
SCOPE AND CONTENT:
This collection consists of correspondence and papers belonging to Lucy Simms and her brothers John N. Simms and U. G. Wilson.
-Roll Book of U.G. Wilson, c.1880s
-Photograph of Lucy Simms & 3 generations of pupils
-Photograph of Lucy Simms & Effinger School 1st and 2nd grade, c.1928
-Copy of photo of 1877 graduating class of Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute
-Introduction and page from publication of "Hampton Graduates, 1871-1899"
-Copy of biographical article about Lucy Simms from unknown source, "A Remarkable Record", c. 1929.
-Letter from S. C. Armstrong of Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute to John Simms concerning debt owed by Lucy Simms
-Blank "Monthly Report" form (for submission to County Superintendent by Teacher.)
-Page of schoolwork/lessons, algebra and contraction multiplication.
-Pages from textbook, re mechanics/physics.
-Small bible that is thought to have belonged to Lucy Simms. Written in the front,
"L. F. Simms, Sept. 1908".
-Letters from Esther to John Simms from 1881 to 1882, before they were married