My Simpson Family
My grandparents, pictured above, are Irvin and Jessie Simpson. They lived in the community of Wilderness, Missouri where my mother was raised. The community was full of "Simpsons", but different groups of the family had no understanding of how one was related to the other. One look in Wilderness Cemetery, and it is easy to see how that could happen. There are 5 generations of my Simpson Family and a number of other branches that I'm not familiar with yet.
Grandpa Irvin's father, James Robert "J.R.", was one of 5 brothers that remained close. There were more brothers than that, but the descendants of the 5 that remained close to the Wilderness community did have family reunions periodically in Wilderness. I believe it is through one of these that I obtained my first Family History. The document is hand typed, since I obtained it before computers were prevalent. I read it, but didn't do anything with it immediately. However, I knew that I was interested and wanted to do something to learn more about my family history. Eventually, this paper I received started a fire in me, and I've since spent time in genealogy and tracking family histories for several branches of my family. Then when I married, I joined a whole new family tree full of interesting folks. I've become very active in USGenWeb, even becoming an advisory board member. I've learned html and put up county websites to further the mission of free genealogy information.
It was very easy to get "busy" with genealogy. It was also easy to ignore the inspiration behind my love of genealogy since a lot of research has already been completed on the Simpson Family. I never completely ignored it - I would continue to print census images, make online connections to others researching the same lines, etc. But I have never taken the steps to gather all of that information into one place until now.
Going to the Wilderness
Before I get started, I want to take a moment to say how blessed I truly am. Most Americans can recall a special childhood place they visited with their families. For some it may have been a summer vacation -- for me it was the Wilderness. From my earliest memories there were these 3 hour drives to Grandma and Grandpa Simpson's house. I didn't like the drive that once seemed so long. I didn't like the curvy roads. But I loved the destination. I loved the mile-long driveway that crossed the cattle guard and winded down around the pond and ended in front of the whitewash fence and the gate hooked with the heavy chain wrapped around a fence post. I loved the path directly from the gate to the concrete steps onto the front porch. In those days, that path was as permanent as any concrete sidewalk in suburbia. I loved the screen door that would slam too loud when we ran in and out, inevitably getting us kids into trouble. I loved the front door that never even seemed to shut in the summer and never needed locked in the winter.
The front of the house has a porch all the way across and has never been without a porch swing in my memory. Grandpa, an avid Cardinals fan, had a radio that he would plug into an extension cord which was plugged into the ceiling light and the cord ran down the chain of the porch swing. There were folding chairs on the front porch and often chairs over on the side of the house under the large elderly cedar tree. Many important conversations took place on that porch and under that tree, I'm sure. I do remember Grandpa teaching my brother Doug to whittle on that front porch. Grandpa was a whittler and was quick to teach Doug to always whittle away from your body. He just should have reminded Doug not whittle in the direction of his knee either. Grandpa always had a song to sing too. What I would pay for a recording of that now! The best I can remember now is that they were the silliest songs. My mom always referred to her father as "Daddy". As I remember him now, it is easy to see why.
The inside of the house was just as special. There was no carpeting and the walls were painted with gloss paint so that Grandma could easily wash them down. I can still hear how the sounds of family gatherings would bounce around those floors and walls. When you entered the front of the house, it was into the living room with the wood stove. If you continued back to the next room you were in the kitchen. There was never enough room in the kitchen if too many families were visiting at once. Farther back was the "back porch". It was enclosed in all of my memory, but probably not always that way. It was a good size room and housed the freezer, washer, dryer, and a door to the old well platform. In my early visits, I would love to help Grandma do the laundry. She had a old wringer washer. It was electric, but you had to run the clothes through the wringer manually. The only dryer was the clothes lines out the back door. To the left of the living room, kitchen, and back door were three connected bedrooms. It is hard to explain it in words, but the house was one big circle. As kids, we could run through the living room, kitchen, and the bedrooms and a doorway returned us to the living room. The bedrooms held a lot of fascination for me. Two of the bedrooms shared a closet. Although the closet was always filled, we knew that you could tunnel from one end to the other and be in the other bedroom. This is important to know when playing hide and go seek. The back bedroom, the "boys" room, had a walk in closet. It held Grandma's quilting supplies since that was the room with the quilting rack attached to the ceiling. That closet also had the games, but for some reason, I always found that closet a little spooky. The middle bedroom, the "girls" room, had a bed that seemed so fluffy and tall when I was little. It was hard to get on. There was also a vanity in there that had a drawer full of children's story books. My youngest aunt was only one year older than the oldest grandchild and only 5 years older than me. I can still hear her voice reading those books to us over and over again. She had the perfect voice for reading aloud - always the right inflection and the right time.
The kitchen table was a special place as well. Grandma had a bowl of dominos, old mismatch ones I guess, that she kept above the cupboard, so we would play with those on the table. That same table was also the location of our Aggravation games and our Hi-Ho Cherrio games. When the adults would gather in the living room, the rest of us would gather around the table.
My father reports that although my mom was the oldest daughter, she didn't know how to cook a thing when they married. Apparently that is my Grandma's doing. Grandma was very good at taking care of things herself. Mom says she used to help in the kitchen by stirring or something like that while Grandma moved on to other things. I don't remember her as a busy body at all though, she was just very efficient and got a lot done quickly. When she had to wait on something or someone, she would take a worn deck of cards and sit down at the kitchen table and play solitaire. She was very efficient there too. She could tell quickly when she had a losing game.
When I was away at college, I visited Grandma and Grandpa for the weekend. Grandpa did NOT like me driving down Highway 19 to get there, - it was just too curvy, but I visited anyway. I remember Grandma and I sitting at that table in the kitchen with her Bible open. We discussed God and life and so much more. She had a completed quilt top that she had made out of double knit material. So we set that up on the quilt rack in the back bedroom and continued our conversations while tacking the quilt with yarn. She made sure to finish the quilt up before I returned to college so I could take it with me. I still have that quilt on my bed today. I loved my Grandma very much. I do believe that if there were any person that I could bring back for just one hour, she would be the one. I'd want us to be sitting at that kitchen table, talking, and the Bible in front of us.
I moved to Ohio some years ago, and although the house in Wilderness is still in the family, I don't get down to visit it very often. In October 2004, three of the girlfriends I graduated high school with and I went to Wilderness for the weekend. It was just us girls and we had a wonderful time laughing and reminiscing. The fellowship with each other was amazing, but I know it was extra special for me because of where we were. Much of the house remains the same, but the sounds and smells and people are but memories.
As we were leaving the house after our girls' weekend, I was reminded how the path that once seemed so permanent in the front yard is no longer there. I glanced up at the gate, now in need of repair, and pictured Grandpa standing there. At the end of every visit, he and Grandma would be standing at that gate to get their hugs and kisses from each of the grandkids. Grandpa made it even more special by slipping us each a quarter for the ride home. God bless him.
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I had the tremendous pleasure to return to the Wilderness in May/June 2005. I did a little research, some more site seeing, and took a lot of pictures. This was my husband's first trip to Wilderness, and although I'm sure you'd have trouble getting him to admit it, he enjoyed himself. Here are some pictures and stories about our trip:
This page was last updated: Tuesday, 23-Jan-2007 16:07:35 MST .
Oregon County SIMPSON Mailing List
I have now created a mailing list specifically for researchers of the Oregon County SIMPSON family. If you would like to join this mailing list, please visit the page below:
. . . Ok . . . now where did I leave that documentation . . .
"THE SIMPSONS" This is my typed copy of the Simpson family history that started it all for me. This is being presented as it was presented to me on that fateful day . . . ☺ Simpson Family Group Sheets Each Oregon County Simpson Family will eventually have a Family Group Sheet. I have started by posting the data for my great-grandparents, James Robert "J.R." and Elizabeth "Lizzie" Simpson. Excerpts from Oregon County History This is excerpts from the Oregon County History book that was done by the Oregon County Genealogical Society in 1992. These excerpts related to Simpsons in Oregon County. The Community of Wilderness There are different pockets of Simpsons in Oregon County. Many, including my grandparents lived in the northeastern corner of Oregon County in a community called Wilderness. Read about it here. Simpson Census Information Indexes for Oregon County and Neighboring Counties have been added for all census years 1860 - 1930. Also included is a variety of census information that I've obtained from a variety of sources over the years. Your additions appreciated! Simpson Obituaries I would like for this to be a gathering place for obituaries involving the Simpson Family. Simpson Marriages A gathering place for Simpson Marriage information. Simpson Cemetery listings A gathering place for Simpson Cemetery listings. Includes a listing of men from Oregon County who served in World War I, as well and the list of men in Oregon and surrounding counties who completed a draft registration card. Newspaper excerpts are also included. Simpsons in World War II I found enlistment records for 5 Oregon County SIMPSONs. Simpsons in SSDI A listing of SIMPSONs in Oregon and surrounding counties which appear in the Social Security Death Index. Simpson Land Patents The Bureau of Land Management has a free search where you can locate land patents. I have listed the SIMPSON entries for Oregon and surrounding counties. Other Simpson Data Other Simpson data received in a variety of ways. Includes will abstracts.
A Simpson researcher emailed me to ask if I had heard a story about the Simpson Family. I hadn't, but asked if it was okay if I shared it here. Read his story and send me your own. I'm looking for stories with a question or just stories you remember.
Nona Williams' Oregon County Ancestors EXTERNAL LINK: In my research I have come across several that are researching the Simpson Family. Nona Williams has the most comprehensive documentation. She is a fairly close cousin, related through Peter Rine's sister Sarah. Nona Williams' Descendants of Richard Simpson EXTERNAL LINK: Nona takes the family history I was originally given and takes it back two more generations. These pages are comprehensive of all family lines and can be cumbersome to follow. She has some differences from the original documentation of "THE SIMPSONS", but she documents her differences well. Each of the ancestors in this family history are numbered, so if you want to follow my branch by numbers, I go: 1. Richard1, 2. Thomas2, 6. Richard3, 20. Richard4 and then through Richard4's son Peter Ryan. According to additional documentation that I have from Nona, this Peter Ryan is the father of our Thomas C. Simpson who first moved to Oregon County, Missouri. Irish Wilderness Information The Simpsons of Oregon County lived in an area of the county referred to as the Irish Wilderness. I've gather a little information about that along the way too. List of Links There is some really good stuff here.
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