Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 11: No 2) >> Essential New Simms Volume — A Review of the Ross-Chesnut-Sutton Family of SC >> Page 26

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Page 26

Reviews/Essays | 2003

The culmination of a labour of love begun over forty years ago,
William B. White, Jr.'s new book is a major contribution to Simms
studies. White proves beyond a doubt that on his mother's side Simms
was a product of Upcountry South Carolina. Furthermore, this lineage
was a distinguished one. White traces Simms's ancestry back to
Francis Ross, who was born in Scotland about 1665, moved to Ireland
in 1690, and came to America around 1724 after marrying an Irish lady
'of aristocratic birth' in 1704. These were Simms's great great great
grandparents. His great great grandfather, James Ross, was born in
Ireland around 1706, then died in Virginia around 1751. His great
grandmother, Jane Ross, was born in 1736 and died in York District,
SC, in 1816. She married Capt. John Miller, a Revolutionary soldier
from Camden District, SC, who died from wounds at the Battle of
Hanging Rock, SC. Jane Ross Miller is buried at Bethesda Presbyterian
Church, York District. Simms's grandmother Jane Miller (1763-1830)
was first married to John Singleton (1769-1799) of Revolutionary fame.
She had left York District to go to Charleston with sundry partisans
actively engaged in resisting the British. John Miller, her father helped
to man the fortifications of Charleston in 1780. Jane Miller Singleton
remarried in 1799---to Jacob Gates. She is buried in St. Michael's
Episcopal Church Cemetery, Charleston.
As White sets forth: "Charlestonians rightly claim Simms as one of
their own....The following pages will show, however, that most of the
known forebears and kindred of the author resided in the UpCountry
of South Carolina. Simms belonged to one of the largest, most
influential family connections in South Carolina. Much of his love of
history, literature, and music may well have been passed to him in the
blood of his Miller and Ross forebears." It may now be said that
Simms is a true product of the totality of South Carolina - both
LowCountry and UpCountry.
The extended family contained Mary Boykin Miller Chesnut, famous
author, related to Simms by marriage to the author's cousin Gen. James
Chestnut, Jr., of Camden. White's material on Mrs Jane Miller
Singleton Gates, perhaps the most influential person in Simms's
formative years, will contribute greatly to our understanding of the
A carefully researched work, White's book thus adds another crucial,