Compiled by Ann Simmons Eldredge
William Edward Johnson “E.J.” Simmons (1854-1936), the youngest child of William Simmons and Margaret Henry Simmons, was born at the family homestead in Banksville (known as “Simmons Hollow”). This was the land his great grandfather, John Henry had passed on to his children.
Simmons descendants possess a letter, dated fall 1879, in which E.J.’s mother berates him for not taking a wife and settling down. She must have been an influential woman, because on June 1, 1880, E.J. married Laura Belle Caldwell (1858-1940). Laura Belle, born in Mansfield (now Carnegie), was the daughter of George W. and Mary Jane (Hunnewell) Caldwell, both early settlers of Pittsburgh.
E.J. was a stable boss overseeing more than 1,000 mules at Cliff Mine and Clyde Mine. His grandsons recalled that he didn’t have a good day unless he was able to trade something, preferably sight unseen-usually a horse or a watch. E.J. and Laura had five children: Charles Edward; Martha Hamilton; Laura Verlinda, who died in 1898 at age 4; Margaret Belle, who married into the McBride family; and Harvey Jennings (see below). In 1915, E.J. and his son, Charles Edward Simmons, opened up the Millsboro Supply Company. The store was closed in the early 1920s when Charles went to work for the Crucible Fuel Co. Both E.J. and Laura died in Washington County.
E.J. and Laura’s son Harvey Jennings (1886-1965), left (picture taken about 1924), was a coal miner at both Clyde Mine in Fredericktown and at Crucible Mines in Crucible, Pennsylvania. He was named for the Rev. Phillip S. Jennings, a well-known local Presbyterian minister. Harvey never married and stayed during the week at the single miner’s shacks, across from the Crucible Mine entrance. On weekends, his sister, Martha, would drive down, pick him up and take him home for the weekend. Harvey died at age 79.