Monday, January 19, 2015

Evidence of the Existence of Ruth Smith Simmons Webb

In the past 20 years, I've worked to find all the information that I can for my 3rd Great Grandmother Ruth Smith Simmons Webb.  I have no birth record, no marriage record (for her marriage to my 3rd Great Grandfather Lebius Simmons) and no death record.   My evidence of the existence of Ruth consists of...

1)  1850 Mercer County, Pennsylvania census
I found this while searching for my Great Great Grandmother Rachel (as I wrote about here.)   Ruth is the 30-year-old mother of four children.  Later I learned that the Cook family listed just before Lebius Simmons is related to Ruth, the mother Mary Cook is her sister.

#986/1000 Lebius Simons, 25, M, Carpenter, born PA 
Ruth Simons, 30, F, born PA   
Rachel Simons, 8, F, born PA, attended school   
Rosilla Simons, 6, F, born PA, attended school   
Loisa Simons, 4, F, born PA, attended school   
Wm Simons, 1, M, born PA

2)  1854 Marriage record from Ritchie County, Virginia
Thanks to a fellow researcher I found this record.  Peggy Johnson contacted me after seeing a post about that family above that I had put on the Mercer County, Pennsylvania GENWEB site.  She was researching the family of Jonathan and Rachel (Simmons) Smith and thought we might have a connection.  Peggy told me about this marriage record which was online.  
1/11 Cyrus R. Webb, farmer, age 25, b. Harrison Co., VA, son of James and Bridgett Webb; m. Ruth Simmons, widow, age 28, b. Mercer Co., PA, dau. of Jonathan Smith; 1 July 1854, by Thomas Stinchcomb. 

3)  1860 Fulton County, Illinois census
I'm listing my evidence here in chronological order, but I had found this census record before I knew about the marriage record from 1854.  This census listing had me wondering when I first found it, but the marriage record seems to confirm it's the same Ruth.  Something had happened to Lebius.  Mary Simmons listed here is Rosilla in 1850, Loisa is missing and another daughter was born since 1850.  Levi Smith is Ruth's brother.  

#813/892 Syrus Webb, 30, M, Farmer, Personal Estate 100, born Virginia   
Ruth Webb, 32, F, born Maine   
Uriah Webb, 5, M, born Virginia   
Jesse Webb, 2, M, born Illinois   
Mary Simmons, 16, F, born Pennsylvania, attended school   
William Simmons, 10, M, born Pennsylvania, attended school   
Ruth Simmons, 8, F, born Pennsylvania, attended school   
Levi Smith, 19, M, Farm hand, born Pennsylvania
4)  1866 Will of Jonathan Smith, dated April 18th with a codicil dated February 9th, 1867
Peggy had told me that Ruth was apparently deceased by the date of this Will as her inheritance goes to her "heirs".  I ordered a copy of it from the County Clerk in Davis County, Iowa.  A kind woman from the local genealogy society made the copies for me, but I was a little disappointed by the fact that my copy of this page was cut off at the bottom just as you see here.  I would love to know what the line that got cut off says.

And there is yet due in legacy
To John Smith's Heirs $5.00"
" Ruth Webb's Heirs  5.00

In my last post, I transcribed a page of the Petition for Guardianship of Cyrus Webb's children.   There is no evidence of Ruth in this petition because she is never mentioned.  Four children are listed, Milburn U (I believe Uriah from the 1860 census), Jesse, Sarah and Franklin.  Ruth had two more children since 1860, making a total of 9 children.  Her Simmons children are not mentioned in this petition.  In 1864, her son William Simmons was 15 and his sister Ruth was only 12.  They were orphaned sometime between 1864 and 1866, and young Ruth married at age 16 in 1868.   

One final piece of evidence:
5)  1932 Daughter Ruth Simmons Pettit's death record
Ruth Pettit, the young Ruth Simmons in the 1860 census, is buried in the Riverside Cemetery in Sterling, Colorado.  

In 1850 Ruth was 30 years old born in Pennsylvania, in 1854 she was 28, then in 1860 she was 32 years old born in Maine.  Where do I start looking for a birth record?  Mercer County has no birth or death records before 1893.  

Her first marriage to Lebius Simmons would be the marriage record I need, as together they are my 3rd Great Grandparents.  Most likely they were married in Pennsylvania.  The Mercer County Genealogical Society did not have their marriage record.  

Ruth's death most likely occurred in Fulton County, Illinois and I have tried every possible source I've run across to find her death date and/or burial place with no success.

This Simmons line is one that would connect me to a Revolutionary War Patriot named Libbeus Simmons, but there is very little documentation I can find to satisfy the DAR.  This evidence of the existence of Ruth may not be enough.  


  1. I liked the way you listed your evidence in chronological order. Good luck finding the missing pieces. ~ Cathy

  2. When researching women living before the twentieth century, it is important to remember the legal doctrine of coverture, which left married women with almost no legal rights. If Jonathan Smith had left the money directly to Ruth Webb, it would have gone to her husband to be used, in theory at least, for her benefit. By leaving it to her heirs, it would be held in trust for them by their guardians.
    Ruth's children by her first husband would have had a guardian or guardians appointed after the death of Lebius Simmons, but only if there was an estate left for them to inherit. In order to find out, you will need to find his probate records.
    Finding the church records that will tell you about Ruth's birth (baptism) and marriage is a hit or miss proposition complicated by the fact that if the pastor of a church went on to a new call, he often took the church records with him, as they were his personal property. You will not only need to figure out which church the family attended, you may also have to trace the later career of the pastor!
    Good Luck,