Sunday, May 25, 2014

Memorial Day Moment: The Story of a Civil War Soldier

Memorial Day Moment - The Story of a Civil War Soldier

Civil War Statue donated by Thomas S. Simons in
honor of Civil War Soldiers
Statue is in place at Evergreen Cemetery
Delhi, Delaware County, Iowa
When public funding did not raise money
for this memorial statue, Thomas S. Simons
donated the funds to erect the statue.

Memorial Day Moment -
Civil War Statue in Evergreen Cemetery in Delhi, Delaware County.
The Civil War statue erected in memory of the service of Civil War soldiers.  Statue was funded by Thomas S. Simons (1839- 03 Apr 1919) who served with his father (George)   Co. K 21 Iowa Inf.  Thomas S. Simons was the brother of John Edward (1846-1914). John Edward was the father of Thomas Harold Simons (1887-1951) who became the father of Mary Simons McElmeel (1905-2013).  Mary McElmeel was the grandmother to the McElmeel children (Mike, Deborah, Tom, Steve, Matt, and Suzanne),  making this Civil War Soldier and the benefactor who honored his fellow Civil War Soldiers, their great-great-great uncle.

From the US Department of Veterans Affairs:
"Memorial Day History

Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head 
of an organization of Union veterans — the Grand Army of the Republic 
(GAR) — established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate 
the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan 
declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. It is 
believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over
 the country.
The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C."

Originally published May 25, 2014 at 
The father of Thomas S. Simons, George Simons,  also served in the Civil War.  Father and son joined together on August 15, 1862.  Both mustered in on August 23, 1862.  According to military records this is an account of George's service in the Civil War ...
  • January 11, 1863: Wounded Hartsville, MO.
  • Wounded in the head at the battle of Houston
  • May 1863: absent "sick, Grand Gufl, Mississippi"
  • September 10, 1863: "absent on furlough"
  • October 1863: "September. 10, 1863 Brashear City, George Simons absented himself on pass to New Orleans and has not returned."
  • November 1863: "joined from desertion" (Note: During the war, many soliders who were actually ill or injured were listed as desertions unitl their whereabouts or actual status could be determined or verified.)
  • March 1864; 
  • February 29, 1864: "transferred to Invalid Corps. S.O.N. 47 d qrs 13 ac New Orleans, Feb. 29, 1864; by order of Maj. Gen. J.A. McClernand." The nature of the disability was listed as "nervous, derangement."
  • Other documents give a slightly different slant to he "desertion" statement on the service record.  The muster rolls list George Simons as leaving "sick at Perkins Landing, LA."  The date being March/April 1863.  Sept./Oct. 1863 have him listed as absent, but he returned to duty from "convalescent camp" on Nov. 10, 1863.
~Roster — Iowa Soldiers War of the  Rebellion, Vol. 3
page 543, 21 st Infantry, Company "K"

George Simons came to the United States in 1842 and settled in Ohio, where he and his family remained for four an one-half years. They returned to England, and later returned to Ohio for another two and one-half years.  In 1860 the family arrived in Delaware County, Iowa.  In 1878 George Simons was listed as having five living children, and four "lost" children.  Goerge Simons and his son Thomas served in the 21st Reg. I.V.I. (Iowa Volunteer Infantry), Company "K",  during the Civil War.  he was wounded in Hartsville, Mo and "will carry the rebel lead to his grave, was wounded in the head and knee in the same battle and was taken sick in Texas.  He was sent to New Orleans in the Invalid Corps; took small pox there; and was honorably discharged din May 1865."

George Simons was described as having hazel eyes (some descriptions say "blue eyes"), dark hair, with a dark complexion.  He is listed on military records as being five foot eleven and one-half inches tall.  When he enlisted in the service he was paid a $25 bounty, $2 premium.  Later when he was discharged he was paid a $4.00 monthly pension.  Family members recall stories of George Simons wearing his hair long (after returning from the war) in order to cover the head wound.  He was lame in the left leg, and the left side of his head and skull were fractured.  Because of the head wounds he is said to have suffered from frequent dizziness and headaches, especially in heated rooms or during the hot weather.
George Simons lived in Delaware County Iowa until 1881 when his wife Sarah Short died.  He then returned to England where he married a second time. He died on April 1, 1888 at the age of 70 years.  He is buried in Pitstone,  Berkhamstead, England.

George Simons married Sarah Short in England on March 12, 1837.  She was born in Buckinghamshire, England on March 19, 1818 (and died November 20, 1881 in Delhi, Delaware County, Iowa).  On the eve of Sarah's death she retired in the evening, seemingly in good health.  She had not been ill, but she never awakened in the morning.  Her death remained unexplained.  She died at the age of 63 year, 8 months, and 1 day.  Shortly after her burial, George Simons returned to England.  His youngest daughter, Mary Ellen Simons Robinson (who was 36 at the time) is said to have received a letter sent by his second wife, after George's death.  The letter contained a lock of George's hair.  His second marriage is said to have been to a woman he had known before he left England.
Sarah Simons is buried in the Evergreen Cemetery in Delhi, Iowa.  Her tombstone is inscribed:
Alone you died dear mother,
Without husband, daughter, son,
But we know you love the savior,
and a home afar you long  
(uncertain of the last word)
George is listed on the tombstone but he is NOT buried beside Sarah.  He is buried in Pitstone, Berkhamstead, England where he died.

~Directory of Delaware County, 1878, page 606
(copy of book located State Historical Library, Iowa City, Iowa)

Update: An excellent page about George Simons is on the web at where a descendent of George's oldest daughter (and) Thomas Simons' sister, Maria, who married Edward Christian during the family's time in Cuyahoga County, Ohio.  Information about Sarah Short is also shared by Eric Lowe who has posted the informational pages linked in this paragraph.  Thanks for this great research, Eric.

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