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Tom C. Simmons' Estate

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Date: [unknown] [unknown]
Location: Silver Creek, Pike County, Mississippimap
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Contents

Family Lore

Space page written by Allan Harl Thomas


When we were kids Golden Pearl Hughes Simmons would take us down to old church springs on Silver Creek to clean out the springs. The spring was encircled on three sides with ancient cedar. On the 4th side of the spring was another cedar plank to add delph to the enclosure because the water bubbled up in plumes of loose sand. An enamel white dented dipper hung on a nail where we could drink the, oh so sweet, spring water.

Then we would go up the hill to look for Frank James' gold supposedly hidden in a hollow tree- well those little adventures ended when I pulled the bark off a dead tree and the inside was wreathing with snakes. I called an uncle recently to verify the incident-he concurred except he thought it was Jesse's gold. For years I thought it was a made-up story- but I wonder- Summit Ms was just up the road! When we were kids Golden Pearl Hughes Simmons would take us down to old church springs on Silver Creek to clean out the springs. The spring was encircled on three sides with ancient cedar. On the 4th side of the spring was another cedar plank to add delph to the enclosure because the water bubbled up in plumes of loose sand. An enamel white dented dipper hung on a nail where we could drink the, oh so sweet, spring water.

Then we would go up the hill to look for Frank James' gold supposedly hidden in a hollow tree- well those little adventures ended when I pulled the bark off a dead tree and the inside was wreathing with snakes. I called an uncle recently to verify the incident-he concurred except he thought it was Jesse's gold. For years I thought it was a made-up story- but I wonder- Summit Ms was just up the road!

The odds are good that Frank James did visit "the ole home place" . Frank James was friends with Tom C's brother, Valentines' business partner, Ted Blackmore. Tom C. was terminally ill and Valentine was a frequent guest physician until he moved to Shreveport. Of course, the James brother's gold was long gone by 1910- so we should have been looking for wads of old dirty cash!

Thomas Carroll Simmons and family

Dr. Valentine "Vol" Simmons (standing right) was the youngest brother of Thomas Carroll Simmons (seated left)

Fabius C. Godbold[1] dug a well on the property that is now Southwest Mississippi Community College to supply water for a sawmill. Because the water had a "funny" odor and taste, Dr. Vol Simmons had it analyzed- it tested high in calcium. Word spread and people flocked to the Summit Mineral Wells, chartered in 1873. The well proved beneficial for stomach, liver, and kidney ailments and by 1910, the resort "Godbold Well's" was established.

"DRIVING FIRST SPIKE"

The first spike for the Summit and McComb Motor Line was driven in 1910; the grand opening for the bustling spa was July 4, 1910. The accident-free railway transported people in an open-air trolley. Some 8,000 people attended the free celebration. Senator Leroy Percy, Kit Dalton of the Dalton Gang, and once-outlaw Frank James, the brother of Jesse, gave speeches.

Godbold Mineral Wells

Joint owners Dr. Vol Simmons, Clem V. Ratcliff, Esquire, and Ted Blackmore intended to make Godbold Wells the "Coney Island of the South". The resort had an electric lighted, water worked hotel. On the 160 acres, they had golf links, tennis courts, a ballpark, and a 35-acre lake surrounded by comfortable cottages. The hotel would later burn and the spa deteriorated. The rail line was no longer needed.[2]

Clement Van Landham Ratcliff, Esquire was the son of Holloway Huff Ratcliff 1835–1917 and Frances Virginia Jenkins Ratcliff 1838–1889, Gloster, Amite County.


Theodore ("Ted") Sherman Blackmore 1864–1922 was truly a "Renaissance Man". He was a playwright, a violinist, a distinguished artist who copyrighted a simplified plan for teaching art which his wife Lillian inherited. He taught art using a pantograph in the art of making drawings. He lectured regarding business mathematics while promoting his books.

"Ted" Blackmore's contribution to the Godbold Wells partnership was that of a promoter. He, his wife, and his inlaws were regulars on the Chautauqua Circuit. His wife Lillian Burton Blackmore (1868–1953), married 1884, a talented artist in her own right, was the daughter of Zenas Leland Burton (1841–1910).

House Contents

Pastels

Winter

.

Spring

As a youngster, I was always curious as to how these two pastel paintings ended up in our living room. Mamaw (Pearl Simmons) said that an "old crazy aunt" that lived up the hill, north of Dykes Crossing painted them. (She may have been a Reeves) The style and New England "feel" is an indication that she was a student of Ted Blackmore's wife Lillian. The Blackmore family were all talented artists and the Tom C. Simmons family were known to take in school teachers from the old school across the creek. Or maybe they were painted right there in the living room.

Silver Creek Baptist Church Image 8

Perhaps Mrs. Blackmore took up temporary residence to ply her craft. Lillian remained in Pike County for the remainder of her life. She would have been in her 40's circa 1910.

ART SCHOOL TO OPEN SESSIONS; PAINTINGS SHOWN

Mrs. Lillian Blackmore. director of the Pike county WPA art school, today announced that classes have been resumed at the Summit community center and that night class for McComb art students and others will be resumed if sufficient students express a desire for evening sessions. An exhibit of new paintings just and-drawings is attracting considerable attention at the Mechanics-State bank this week. The pictures were produced by students of Mrs. Blackmore and these paintings are material proof of the professional quality which advanced students of the Pike county art school possess.Enterprise-Journal (McComb, Mississippi)01 May 1939, Mon Page 5 [3]

Lillian Blackmore's Obit

Portraits

The picture below is in a convex bubble glass frame.
Thomas C. and Carrie Boyd Simmons
Francis Marion Boyd (1845 - 1910), Rachel (Gulledge) Boyd (1848 - 1900)
Willis Richard and Martha Jane Simmons
Little Fannie Mae Simmons (1893-1899)
The story goes that little Fannie died of eating too many muscadines.

Sources

  1. http://genealogytrails.com/lou/orleans/BiosG.html
  2. http://www.mcrrmuseum.com/lagniappe.htm
  3. https://www.newspapers.com/image/319549856/?terms=Art%20School&match=1




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