Wlliam Gilmore Simms
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Secondary Scholarship | 2008
Transcription Govan Singleton Simms


John Govan Simms, Jr

Little is known about the life of William Gilmore Simms' son Govan Singleton Simms.
Following are facts known to me.

Born September 1, 1856 in Charleston, South Carolina.
(The Letters of William Gilmore Simms, Columbia, S.C., 1954) (Vold. p.443 n- 85)

Lived for most of 1865 in Columbia, South Carolina with parents and siblings
during the period of evacuation from Woodlands Plantation at Midway due to
military operations by Federal troops. Letters, Vol. IV-1118-1137)

Approximately November, 1865 family returns to Charleston residence of eldest
daughter Anna Augusta Roach at 11 Society Street (now 5 L-Society Street). (Ibid)

December, 1869-Attending Holy Communion Institute. Episcopal school founded by
Rev: A Toomer Porter, Rector -Church of The Holy Communion, Ashley Ave,
Charleston. Inst. later renamed Porter Military Academy after Dr. Porter acquired the
former United States Arsenal property. (A Collection of Hayne Letters, Austin, Texas,
Edition editor Daniel McKeithan incorrectly identifies Govan as Simms's youngest son.

June 11, 1870-William Gilmore Simms dies at 11 Society Street. Govan and Charles
Carroll continue to-live with their sister Anna and Brother-in-law Edward Roach.

Govan attends Sedgwick Institute at Great Barrington, Mass. (date undetermined).
Great Barrington was home to the William Kellogg Sherwood family a friend of WGS.
Sherwood's daughter Mary Frances married Mark Hopkins (her first cousin), co-founder
of the Central Pacific-RR. Hopkins was also cousin to Nancy Kellogg, a frequent visitor
to Woodlands and Anna Augusta Simms' teacher at "The Rose Cottage Seminary", a
school operated by Nancy Kellogg and her two sisters. Mary Frances Sherwood
(Hopkins) was a life-long friend of Mary Lawson Simms. These connections explain
Govan's attending Sedgwick Institute, no doubt with expenses funded by
Sherwood/Kellogg family since WGS had died and the family funds limited (The Travel
Journal of Charles Carroll Simms, September, 1881, Charles Carroll Simms Collection,
South Caroliniana Library (p-30). CCS left Barnwell- Sept. 11, 1881 traveling to Great
Barrington, Mass. to join Mary Lawson and Mary Frances Hopkins on a trip to the
Hopkins San Francisco home in the "Sacramento", Central Pacific Railroad's private car
of Mark Hopkins. Sedgwick attracted students from Europe and the northeast U.S, many
of whom seemed to excel in the arts, which may explain Govan's interest in acting.
While in Great Barrington, CCS visited Sedgwick and met its Principal, Mr. Edward J.
Van Lennep, who had been a schoolmate of Govan. (Letters) Vol I-c1 Travel Joum

Approximately 1890. Married Meta Dowling. Daughter of John Calhoun Dowling
innkeeper of the "Patterson House' hotel in Barnwell. (Genealogical records:
"Descendants of John Babers, Jr.

Govan Simms dies suddenly on July 7, 1891 and is buried in Barnwell Baptist
Cemetery (a.k.a.) "Red Hill Cemetery". (Barnwell Baptist Cemetery Records)

Widow Meta remarries in 1894 to Richard Riley, Barnwell Dentist and later County
Auditor. 4 children including daughter Mary Jean a childhood friend of the Charles
Carroll Simms children and mother of American artist Jasper Johns.
(The County Offices and Officers of Barnwell County, S.C., 1775-1973, Emily Bellinger
Reynolds, Reprint Co. 1976) (Letter: Frances C. Simms to Mrs. John G. Simms dtd
Nov. 28, 1986- CCS Collection-Genealogical File, South Caroliniana Library.