Biographical Sketch of Charles Sims

By Phil Norfleet

Captain Charles Sims (1737-1827) was born in Hanover County, Virginia (VA) in the year 1737; he was the eldest son of Mathew "James River Mat" Sims and his wife, Jemima Glenn.  While still residing in Virginia, Sims married Isabella Bowles and pursued the life of a planter.  In about the year 1774, Charles Sims and his family removed to the Ninety-Six District of South Carolina (SC) and settled on land in the Tinker Creek area.  After the Revolution began, Sims became a supporter of the Whig Cause.  He went back to Virginia where he received a Captain's Commission in the Virginia Militia signed by VA Governor Patrick Henry.  He subsequently returned to South Carolina leading a company of Whigs.  Shortly after the capture of Charleston in May 1780, Charles Sims and a compatriot, John Johnson, were taken prisoner by the British.  Johnson was hanged, but Charles Sims was paroled due to the intervention of a Loyalist, David George, who had known Sims during the time when both had lived in Hanover County, Virginia.  

After the Revolution, Charles Sims and his family settled on the west side of Broad River, six miles below Lockhart Shoals in an area that, in 1785, became Union County SC.  In 1788, Charles Sims was a delegate to the South Carolina Convention to Ratify the United States Constitution.  Charles was one of the five delegates from the Upper or Spartan District.  The final vote on ratification was taken on 23 May 1788.  Interestingly, Charles Sims and his four compatriots from the Spartan District all voted against ratification.  Their reasons for opposing the ratification are unknown, but their efforts were in vain. The South Carolina Convention voted to ratify the United States Constitution by a margin of 140 votes in favor of ratification with 73 against!  See the following web site:

Charles Sims and his wife, Isabella Bowles, had at least four children - three daughters,  Elizabeth, Nancy and Mary; and one son, William Sims (1768-1853).  Charles Sims remained in Union County until his death in 1827 at the age of ninety.  The time and place of his wife's death is not known.  A Sims Family genealogical report concerning the ancestors and descendants of Charles Sims is available at the following hyperlink:

Link to Sims Family Genealogical Report

In December 1809, William Sims, son of Charles, purchased the 100-acre tract of land that had originally been patented by John Mayfield the Tory in 1768.  [See Union County Deed Book K, pages 93-94.]  Also, on 20 March 1848, when William Sims was a very old man, he was interviewed by the Reverend James H. Saye concerning his recollections of the Revolution; this interview was later made a part of the Sumter Papers portion of the Draper Manuscripts.  Although only a small boy at the time, William Sims was able to provide some very interesting information concerning his father, Charles Sims, "Bloody Bill" Cunningham, the Mayfields and Thomas Fletchall.  A transcript of selected portions of his recollections is presented below.  William Sims died a few years after the Saye interview, on 04 April 1853.


Draper Manuscripts

The following extracts are from the Draper Manuscripts, Sumter Papers, at 23VV266, and are based on an interview with William Sims (1768-1853), son of Charles Sims, conducted by the Reverend James Hodge Saye on 20 March 1848:

" ... My father, Capt Charles Sims, came from VA and settled on Tyger River at the mouth of Tinker Creek, a short time before the fall of Charleston.  He was in the Service at the time that event occurred.  He was taken prisoner in company with John Johnson (the latter was a brother-in-law of Maj. S. Otterson; and father of James Johnson who now lives on the road to Hamilton's Ford).  Johnson was hanged, but my father was paroled by the influence of David George a Tory raised in the same vicinity.

"He was not at Brandon's Defeat, but hearing of that affair, went out and buried the dead, etc.  My mother attended to the wounded at that time.  I remember David McJunkin was run through with a sword - he suffered a great deal, but recovered.  I have always felt a great regard for him, having been a witness of his great sufferings.

"My father went into NC soon after this affair, and left us at home.  He was not in any of the battles that occurred about that time.  Bloody Bill Cunningham came with a party to our house and called out my mother and ordered her to leave the place before he came back as he would burn the house down upon our heads.  We went to old Mr. Gregory's.  My father heard of the situation and came for us.  He got some horses and carried us to the house of Rev. J. Alexander, York District.  Here the old Parson inoculated us all with the small pox. The matter was taken from Maj. Joseph McJunkin.  When we recovered my father put us in a wagon and carried us to Virginia.  We traveled along after Cornwallis's Army about fifteen miles in the rear of it. ..."


History of Union County

The following excerpt concerning Charles Sims (1737-1827) is from A History of Union County, South Carolina, published by the Union County Historical Foundation in 1977, page 256:

" ... Charles Sims was born in 1737, was a land surveyor who was the first of his family to move, in 1774, to Tinker Creek.  When the Revolution began he returned to Virginia, was commissioned Captain by Patrick Henry, and returned to Union with a Company of Whigs.  He was married to Isabella Bowles who during the War nursed the wounded with her famous "green salve."  He later was commissioned Lieut. Col. Charles Sims.

"Captain Sims was captured by the British and while on the gallows was saved by a Captain David George, a Virginia Tory in the British Army who recognized him as a school chum."

"Their daughters were married;  Elizabeth to Joseph Shelton, Nancy to Thomas McDaniel, and Mary to Warren Hall.  Their son William Sims was married to Betsey Shelton. ... "

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