Basham Simms (1924-2006)

Basham Simms, a Purcellville resident and brickmason, was born on January 5, 1924. A community leader, Mr. Simms was one of the first two African Americans to hold elected office in Loudoun County. Voted onto the Purcellville town council in 1967, he served for 27 years and was also Vice Mayor. The Basham Simms Wastewater Facility on 21st street in Purcellville is named for him. Mr. Simms died on March 31, 2006 at age 82 and is buried in the shared Mt. Olive Baptist/Grace Methodist Episcopal Church cemetery in Lincoln.

 

He provided the following oral history to Carol Morris Dukes and Reggie Simms on site of the Grace Methodist Episcopal Church in Lincoln. His comments pertain to the Grace Methodist Episcopal Church—its surrounds, and its people.

 

 

Basham Simms, March 26, 2004:

 

A man named Duvall lived in a house on the hill behind the old school (Goose Creek School/ Lincoln Colored School B). Her name was Amanda Duvall. They're buried behind the big tree over there.

 

There was a horse and buggy trail beside the stone wall. It continued on straight across the stream. There was no bridge-they forged it. It met up there with the other roads at the old schoolhouse.

 

The Grace Church property line comes one foot off the back (right) corner of the church. The property behind the church belongs to the Baptists. Logan Anderson was a full-blooded Indian. His grave is in the very back, just on this (the Methodist) side of the cemetery but right behind it is the Baptist property.

 

The Power Company was given a right-of-way where you see the line of telephone poles now. The Baptists own the land to the right-of way. The other side of the right of way belongs to Mrs. Gregg.

 

The lady's privy was straight out to the side of the back (right) corner of the church. It had two seats. It was right here. (Pointing to the ground near a tall, straight tree with a large rock nearby. You can see a small indentation)

 

Amos Trammel was a black man that lived in the house on Cookesville Road right before the Methodist church. He was a junk dealer and probably threw his trash over the hill behind the church.

 

My grandfather, Anderson Simms, Sr., lived in the brick house down the lane across the street from the old Brown's Farm (now the Pott’s.Dogwood Farms). His brother was James Simms. They all came from Fauquier County to work on Brown's Farm.

 

Lucinda Briscoe was a plasterer who built rosettes that were once on the ceiling. There may have been lights hanging from the middle of them. She did plaster work for the Purcellville bank where the oil company is now.

 

Edgar Brent was a janitor here. He kept the wood-burning pot-bellied stoves going. There was a stove on each side of the room. This grate came later.

 

Jake White lived below the Janney's store and he sold coal here and to all these parts.

 

John Furr, my paternal grandfather, made the steps out of cement gathered from the creek bed. My great-grandparents were Furrs. They were slaves on the Carter Farm.

 

The Allens did a lot of stone work. Phinneas Allen and Jim Allen were stonemasons.

 

Clarence Cox put in the electrical box in the basement. Jim Bell needed it when he lived here. Mrs. Rachel Jasper's father rented the property out to Jim Bell.

 

Billy Pierce owned Charlie Clark's house . He was a dancer. And he wrote songs for Duke Ellington. He was part of that group. He and his people came here from Hillsboro. He went to New York and put his mother in his house on G Street. He came back to Purcellville every year to check on her. Vivian Pinkney lived next door--she's Sheila Kelly's mother.

 

Dan White's father, Greg White had a store by the old colored school in Hughesville.

 

Joe Gardiner’s family lived in the cabin (2 doors up from the church). That cabin was here before I was.

 

The Cookesville Cemetery belongs to Grace Methodist. It used to be a free burying ground. Bobby Potts had a right-of-way to get to his property that bordered the cemetery.

 

The Bells and Carters had a 5 foot path right-of-way to the spring.

 

There was no Sunday School at Grace Methodist. We used the Baptist Church.

 

Henry Taylor (parents Tom Taylor and ___ Gardiner) was half-brother to Lizzie Jackson, a black woman. Mr. Percy Jackson was her son. She also had Shandly Jackson (son) and Marguerite Jackson (daughter). The Gardiners were kin of Lizzie's. Joe Gardiner and his sister came from Lincoln.

 

Mr. Percy Jackson, Leslie Cook and Pat Smith were in WW1. They came back from the service and remained good friends. I was in WW2, in the 395th anti-aircraft outfit--Army. We left out from Oakland, CA to Finch Harbor, New Guinea. The Battle of the Coral Sea was being fought at that time--you could see the sky lighting up all over. We were diverted to New Guinea, and then went on to Manila, the Phillipines.

 

Mr. Edith (Simms) father was Mr. George Lee. Mr. Lee who is black and a Dr. Gibson who is white in Leesburg look like identical twins.

Bob Shuey, Basham Simms, Carol Dukes, and Reggie Simms

press to zoom
Basham and Carol
Basham and Carol
press to zoom