I finally have a face for the name

I recently came into contact with the husband of a distant cousin who has been extremely generous in sharing what he and his wife have discovered about this line of our family. I believe he is extremely generous because as I haven’t been doing my own family research for very long, I don’t have a great deal to share. We have however been able to consult each other about some outstanding and/or contradictory facts that we have both discovered.

The contact was initiated when I emailed the Milton-Ulladulla Family History Society to see if they had any information, preferably containing photos, of my 2xgreat grandfather James Simmons who was a Mayor in the area in the late 1880s. Within a day of contacting them they gave me the email address of my newly-discovered relatives. Since then we have shared many emails, one of which contained a portrait of James that we believe, and this needs further investigation, came from “The Australian Men of Mark”.

I was very excited to finally ‘see’ James. Not only for myself, but also for my grandmother who had never seen a photo, or portrait of him. James was the son of George (SYMONS) SIMMONS and Sarah TUCKERMAN, and was born on 28 Sep 1849 on the Clyde River. James was the eldest of 11 children born to George and Sarah and would achieve enough kudos to gain an entry in the “The Australian Men of Mark” that I am yet to see apart from the portrait. (When I found out on the weekend that he was in this publication I excitedly went to work this week to look at the 2 volumes of the above we have in our Library, to sadly discover that of course he is in one of the ‘other’ versions of Volume 2. Luckily I have another wonderful lady in Milton-Ulladulla trying to track down a copy for me. I may find it yet!!)

James moved with his parents to Ulladulla when he was very young, about 3, and farmed with his father until George died in 1874 leaving Sarah with 11 children, the youngest of which was only 1. He was an auctioneer for 2 years until becoming a farmer again on the adjoining farm ‘Washburton’ that he and his siblings had inherited from Sarah’s mother, Sarah TUCKERMAN in 1870. (James’ mother Sarah had immigrated with her parents William and Sarah TUCKERMAN from Washburton, Devon, England in 1839. )

Apart from being Mayor of Ulladulla for four years in 1886-87 and 1891-92, he was, according to a publication called Meet the Pioneers by Joanne Ewin, “a steadfast supporter of the Henry Parkes Government and Free Trade”. He was also a champion ploughman winning many prizes at Milton Shows, and seemed to be at the forefront of farming technology as he “had a modern cheese plant and cream separator worked by steam power”.

James married twice. His first marriage was to Frances Mary LUCK (1854-1878), they had no children. His second marriage was to Eliza WENTWORTH in (1855-1916) and they had 7 children, 6 surviving to adulthood. (My grandmother’s father Victor Rex SIMMONS was their youngest child, born in 1898. Another son was Milton SIMMONS whose story is also on this blog.)

At a date as yet unknown, and maybe it will stay that way, James and Eliza moved with their children to Knockrow and then Brooklet in Northern NSW. Without any documented reasons, my newly-discovered relative and I are surmising that they moved for the cheaper land and perceived greater opportunities. I still have a lot of research to do on the family in regards to exactly where they lived and what they farmed, but do know that James and Eliza are buried in the cemetery of the town where I live. (This is a little bizarre, as I keep finding ancestors buried in the town we now live in, where neither my husband or I were born or grew up!)

James passed away suddenly in 1912. Eliza followed a few years later in 1916, awaiting news of a son missing from a battle in the Somme in France, Milton SIMMONS, and another son, Rupert Wesley SIMMONS, who had apparently being captured by the Germans during World War I.

Until the day when I can travel to Sydney to do further research of probate and land records I will have to be content with my recently acquired portrait of James. I am impatient though, now I want one of Eliza!


9 thoughts on “I finally have a face for the name

    • Thanks Jill. The connection has been wonderful. Actually, you may even have come across this fellow as I think he is involved in the Ku-ring-gai Family History Group, and from what you’ve said in posts they are a very welcoming and generous bunch of people. What a great group to be involved with!

  1. Great FH connection and great finds. Perhaps they moved from Ulladulla just because of better rain, richer soil. Whenever I pass Knockrow on visits south, I tell my husband I want to live there, just because it has such a beautiful Irish name…maybe they were just as randomly motivated;-) Good luck finding Eliza -persistence pays!

    • Knockrow and much of the surrounding area is lovely. We are lucky to live here. It is a happy coincidence for me that my husband and decided to leave Sydney and move here. At the time I did not realise how strong my family connections were to this area.

  2. The house they moved to at Brooklet is still standing. I was lucky enough to be shown through it about 5 years ago as we were tracing my family tree. Rupert Wesley Simmons was my late Grandfather. My late father, James Rupert Simmons,
    was his son.

  3. Rupert Wesley Simmons is my grandfather. I travelled to Milton approx 15 years ago on a family holiday as i was researching back then. There is a graveyard behind the old Methodist church, which at that time was being renovated into a reception hall or something. After being told there were no headstones relating to simmons, i am pretty sure it was james simmons and marys’ headstones i found there. I have since lost all of my paperwork since. I found this after talking with a friend , last name isdale, whose aunt was also researching. I am from James, the first born of George (also mayor) and my friend is from one of the daughters (emma). Wierd things are that my friend is also my long lost cousin, we were born in the same hospital 2 days apart and I Also have a daughter whose name is Emma.

  4. I am Beryl May Simmons Evans granddaughter who is also the daughter of James & Eliza Simmons…My Nanna married Len Evans who spent most of their lives living at Mullumbimby…its a small world you find your relos everywhere…one of our cousins Christine Simmons also lives here at Ashby her brother Warren Simmons owns the garage near the police station at Byron Bay

  5. today is the day my grandparents were married 100years ago 03-02-1916 wish they were still here so many awesome memories

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