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Home: Regional: U.S. States: New York: Onondaga County

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James Simmons, 1820 Manlius
Posted by: Duane Boggs (ID *****6286) Date: November 13, 2009 at 12:40:01
  of 1914

I am investigating the James Simmons who appeared in the 1820 census for Manlius, Onondaga County. His statistics were 5-1-1-1-0-1 for males and 0-3-0-1-0 for females.

I believe he also appeared in the 1800 census for Half Moon, in Saratoga County. His statistics were 1-2-0-1-0 for males and 2-0-1-0-0 for females. As I interpret this data, James was likely born about 1766, had been married before and had two boys circa 1787 and 1789, lost his first wife, remarried to the woman who was age 16 to 26 (born about 1777 in my "theory"), and had more children.

I believe James and family moved to Constantia (later West Monroe), Oswego County, NY, sometime in the early 1820s.

In tracing back in time, I believe he might be the James Simmonds (a/k/a Seamans) who appeared in the 1790 census for the town of Scituate, in Providence County, Rhode Island. In the 1790 census for Scituate were the following four households.

Simmons, Daniel: 1-3-2
Simmons, William: 1-1-0
Simmonds, James: 1-2-0
Simmonds, Levi: 1-1-2

They all appeared on the same page of the census, and it was NOT an alphabetized listing, so I am inferring that they lived near one another and were likely all related.

I believe this Daniel Simmons of the 1790 census was the Daniel Seamans born December 8, 1742 in Swansea, Bristol County, Massachusetts to John and Priscilla (Wood) Seamans. This Daniel reportedly had three wives (Zilpha Hines, Anna Hines and then Rosannah Williams), had children by the first two wives (who were sisters), and then Daniel died 19 May 1802 in Scituate. He appeared in the 1800 census for Scituate as Daniel Seamans.

I believe this William Simmons of the 1790 census was the William Seamans born January 2, 1720 in Swansea, also to John and Priscilla (Wood) Seamans. This William had a wife named Elizabeth. While John Lawton, in his 1933 work on the "Seamans Family in America" (or "SFA") stated that her name was Elizabeth Reed, researchers have found a Swansea marriage in the vital records for a William Seamans and an Elizabeth Martin for August 6, 1741 that looks like it could be this William and Elizabeth. At any rate, William and Elizabeth had several children, and William died in 1792 in Scituate, leaving a Last Will. There was no William Seamans or Simmons in Scituate in the 1800 census.

I believe this Levi Simmonds of the 1790 census was the Levi Seamans born March 30, 1764 to Daniel and Zilpha (Hines) Seamans. This Levi also appeared in the 1800 census, as Levi Seamans, and in the 1810 census in Johnston, Providence County, RI as "Simmons".

This brings me to the James Simmonds of 1790. I believe he is very likely related to the other three Seamens men who were heads of nearby households in Scituate in 1790. There was no James Seamans, Simmonds or Simmons in the 1800 census for Providence County, so he either died or moved away. My belief is that he moved to New York.

I have employed a process of elimination to try and identify the exact branch of the Seamans tree to which this James might attach. First, I know he was not the James Seamans born in 1732 to James and Tabitha (Wood) Seamans, because that James had died in 1781. I strongly believe he was not the James Seamans born in 1755 to James (1732) and Sarah (Cole) Seamans, because that James was in the 1790 census for Foster, the town immediately West of Scituate (and which had been formed from it in 1781). This leaves the James born in 1727 to Thomas and Mary (Pierce, Peirce or Pearce) Seamans, who is mentioned in Lawton's SFA.

In trying to decide if the James of the 1790 census could be the James born in 1727, I looked at two items of evidence. First is the census data itself and second is the voting records on the Constitutional referendum of 1788 in Rhode Island.

The James of the 1790 census had no female in his household, and so might have been a widower. There were, however, two males under the age of 16. ASSUMING that these were the sons of this James, then they were somewhere between infants and age 15, inclusive. Again ASSUMING that they were the ages of 15 and 13, they would have been born in 1775 and 1777. IF this James of 1790 was the James born in 1727, he would have been age 48 and then 50 when these two boys were born. That is certainly biologically possible, but statistically not as likely as other possibilities. Furthermore, in the 1800 census for Providence, there were no "new" Seamans (or Simmonds or Simmons) households that could have been these two young men, who would have been ages 23 and 25 under the assumptions for their 1790 ages. While it is possible they both died, or both moved out of Providence County, NO ONE has reported ever finding any spouse or children for the James born in 1727.

The second piece of evidence was the voting records of 1788. In a book by William Read Staples, entitled "Rhode Island in the Continental Congress: with the Journal of the convention ... ", which appears in google books at , there is a list of the Rhode Island voters, town by town. In Scituate, the voters included William, Daniel and Levi Seamans but NOT any James Seamans (or Simmonds or Simmons). Voter eligibility was based on status as a "freeman", which at the time meant owning land valued at at least 40 pounds. From this fact, I think it is fair to infer that the James of the 1790 census, who did NOT vote in the 1788 referendum, was likely NOT the James born in 1727. Surely the James born in 1727, if he ever even lived in Scituate, would have attained the status of "freeman" by 1788 (age 61). Of course it is always possible that the James born in 1727 had somehow become poor or destitute by 1788 and did not own land, or, alternatively, that he was ill on voting day and stayed home, or that he was simply apathetic on the issue of the U.S. Constitution. I think it is more likely, however, that the James of the 1790 census was on the young side and had not yet attained the status of "freeman".

Under my interpretation of the evidence, the James of 1790 might have been born about 1766, married about 1786 (at age 20), had two young sons, born circa 1787 and 1789, and then lost his wife. He was not yet the owner of land of sufficient value and so was not eligible to vote in 1788 (when he would have been only 22).

IF this interpretation of the facts is correct, then what was the possible family connection between this James (who was NOT mentioned in the SFA, which is not exhaustively inclusive) and the William, Daniel and Levi near whom he lived? My current THEORY (requiring more evidence to confirm or refute it) is that he was a son of Daniel and Zilpha (Hines) Seamans. This THEORY is supported by several items of circumstantial evidence.

First, in the SFA, Lawton stated that Daniel and Zilpha had Levi in 1764, Zenas in 1770 and Zilpha ("junior") in 1772. There is an obvious GAP between 1764 and 1770, and there would have been ample time for Daniel and Zilpha to have had another son, named James, circa 1766.

Second, I have tracked the children of Daniel. Several died relatively young (under 25) there in Scituate, and sons Levi and Zenas both remained in Scituate. Three of Daniel's children who lived to adulthood and married, however, ALL moved to Saratoga County, New York (the town of Greenfield), where they all appeared in the census records. These included Zilpha Seamans ("junior", who had married Stephen Hines), Stephen Seamans/Simmons, and Priscilla Seamans (who had married Jonathan Rogers). Often times, close relatives migrated to a new home base together, for mutual aid and support. The James Seamans (Simmonds or Simmons) I am investigating appeared in the 1800 census for Saratoga County, NY as well (in the town of Half Moon).

Does anyone have any evidence that would contradict OR support the conclusions I have outlined above, or the THEORY I have presented? Please contact me directly at

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