Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Children of James SIM and Elizabeth GRUER

isabella palmer

Isabella, 1935

Photo courtesy cousin Sherry T.

George's aunts and uncle, paternal line
Isabella SIM-PALMER (1855-1938) was born in Scotland and immigrated to Canada with her parents.  James is listed as her father on the birth certificate.  We do not know when Elizabeth married James SIM or where (Scotland or Australia). 

Isabella married Samuel PALMER (1852-1941) of Ontario in Jan 1874 in Michigan.  Sam was a Quaker and a furniture maker.  They settled in Woolert, Ontario and had at least 4 children (Mabel DUNN, Harold, Loaella ANDERSON and Alice HENDERSON).  She died of chronic myocarditis at age 83.  Her headstone has different dates. 

Mary SIM-STROHM (1857-1926) married George Beck STROHM (1855-1937) of Rochester in Jun 1874 in Michigan.  They settled in Rochester and had at least 3 children (Ada HINSDALE, Harry and William).  Mary was the first SIM sibling to relocate to Rochester – her siblings Maggie (in 1880), Mima (in 1882), Jessie (in 1883) and John Wm (in 1898) followed.  George was a wealthy land developer in Rochester.  Mary died at age 69.  Her will stipulated that George would receive her inheritance, but it would go to her children if he ever remarried.
mary strohm, mima lewis
Frederick and Mima LEWIS, Mary and George STROHM
Photo courtesy cousin Mary Ellen F.

Sarah SIM-COX (1859-1920) married Edward COX (1850-1915) and remained in Ontario.  They had at least 2 children (Emma DRURY and Stuart).  She died at age 61.
Obituary from the Sim Scrapbook

Margaret Gruer SIM-NEVIN (1861-1887), known as "Maggie",  immigrated to Rochester, NY in 1880.  Her middle name Gruer was her mother’s maiden name.  She married Hugh NEVIN (1858-) in 1883 in Rochester.  They had attended Sunday School together.  Hugh was a clerk.  They had 1 son (Hugh Jr.).  Maggie died at age 26 after an illness.  Hugh remarried and eventually moved to Ohio after having some legal trouble in Rochester.   There is no headstone for Maggie, she is near the NEVIN family headstone.
Obituary from the Sim Scrapbook

Emma SIM (1864-1872) died at age 8 of typhoid fever.

Willie SIM (1866) died at age 1 day. 

Jemima SIM-LEWIS (1868-1950) was known as Mima (My’-ma).  She moved to Rochester in 1882.  She married Frederick LEWIS (1856-1925) of Rochester, NY in 1895 at the home of Frederick’s former roomie and Mima’s brother-in-law Hugh NEVIN in Rochester.  Frederick was a book keeper.  They settled in Rochester and had at least 3 children (Ada Louise CLOW, Mildred and Frederick).  After Frederick passed away, Mima took a job at age 57 as a companion to a wealthy woman, Mrs. LIKELY.  Mima died at age 82.   There is no headstone for Mima or Frederick.  I found a few items in the society pages for Mima and her sisters (Old Fulton NY Postcards web page).

Rochester Democrat Chronicle, 1917
(Old Fulton NY Postcards website)

Rochester Democrat Chronicle, 1918
(Old Fulton NY Postcards website)

John William SIM (1870-1954) was the baby of the family and only known son to pass down the SIM surname.  (James was quite a bit older than Elizabeth and he may have had a previous marriage.)
This is John Wm with his sister Mima LEWIS in 1948 and
taken at CLOW residence in Rochester (60 Berwick Road).  On mantle are photos
of Mima's son-in-law Frank CLOW and his daughter Elaine.
Mima is wearing a corsage and this is likely her 80th birthday.
Photo courtesy of cousin Mary Ellen F.
Information from cousin Susan L.

Jessie GRUER-SIM-SKINNER (1851-1932)  was born in Scotland just prior to Elizabeth immigrating to Australia.  She grew up in the GRUER household.  Though she was likely not a biological daughter of James, the SIM surname was referenced in her obituary.  She married bookkeeper George SKINNER (1849-1905) in Aberdeen, Scotland in 1874 and they immigrated to Toronto, Canada prior to 1881.  About 1883, they immigrated to Rochester, NY.  They had at least 7 children.

Rochester Democrat Chronicle, 1932
(Old Fulton NY Postcards website)

Friday, November 25, 2016

Journey from Scotland to Australia

George SIM > John Wm SIM > Elizabeth GRUER-SIM
Imagine Elizabeth Gruer (1832-1907) and her sister Flora (1831-) leaving their home and family in Scotland for the chance at better lives (and rich husbands) in Australia.

In 1850 Scotland, people were being evicted from their farms.  Many took the opportunity to leave the country and the most popular destinations were Australia and Canada.  Australia needed women and young women were often given free passage.  Advertisements were targeted towards women in work houses and orphanages.  There was also a gold rush in Australia about this time.

From Sidney's Immigrant Journal

  News article advertising Austrialian immigration

The girls left Liverpool on 16 June 1851 on a ship called The Reliance (805 tons) under Captain Henry B. FELL.  The journey would take a grueling 3 months. 
Map of RELIANT route, 1851

View the passenger list (single women are at the bottom of the page)
You may note that there is also a James SIM on this manifest and there is a theory that this was Elizabeth's future husband, but no documentation has been found to support this. 

Ship manifest includes 313 emigrants and ships surgeon-superintendent J. ROBERTSON. Historical records tell of seasickness, disease and lice infestations. Rations were meager and conditions were similar to what they had been aboard the earlier convict ships. There was an unusually high number of deaths on this ship.  The first casualty was 24 year old female who died of a “disease of the heart” one month into the journey.  On July 22, a male passenger went insane and threw himself overboard.  Four adults and one child died of typhoid fever, 2 adults died of consumption, 1 adult died of diarrhea, an infant died of mesenteric disease and 4 other infants died of lung inflammation.

Enduring these dismal conditions, the girls finally landed in Port Adelaide, South Australia on 13 Sep 1851. 

If the GRUER sisters didn’t have a contact in Adelaide, there was a welcoming committee that took the girls into communal housing until they could get work.   Elizabeth and Flora planned on working as servants.  Conditions were poor in this housing and it is likely they started working right away. Both girls soon landed husbands.  Though things did not work out for Elizabeth, Flora married James SMITH (1827-) and had 11 children.  Her descendants are still living in Australia today.
* * *

Baggage, mail and cargo were not moved from the ship for several weeks because the crew deserted to seek their fortune in the gold fields.  Captain FELL wrote to the Adelaide Times on the 27th November 1851:

FELL Letter, 1851

Passengers that caused problems were placed in the brig and then, taken to court upon arrival (South Australian Register)


The Reliance stayed in port until February 1852 when she set sail for Bombay (Australian Register).


Details about the journey to Australia:

More information on Scotland emigration:

Advertisement for Australia immigration

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Elizabeth GRUER-SIM (1832 - 1907)

George SIM > John Wm SIM > Elizabeth GRUER-SIM
BIRTH - Elizabeth Gruer was born May 12, 1832 in Hastings, County of Sussex, England. Her twin was Mary Ann Gruer.  She was the daughter of William Gruer and Magdalane Whyte (White).  Her parents were of Scottish descent.  However, William Gruer was in the Coast Guard and they lived at various locations in England and Scotland.

Elizabeth's Birth Certificate and Registry for the twins


On May 15, 1851 at the age of 19, Elizabeth Gruer had a daughter, Jessie Coglan Gruer, born in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

One month later, on June 10, 1851 Elizabeth and her sister, Flora, left from Liverpool, England on the ship, Reliance, arriving in Port Adelaide, South Australia on September 13, 1851.  She is listed on the ship's manifest as a single woman who is a servant from Aberdeen, Scotland.  Her daughter, Jessie Gruer, remained in Scotland with Elizabeth's parents. Read more about Eliza's journey.

From an Adelaide Observer, Sep 1852
On March 8, 1852 at St. John's Church, Adelaide, S. Australia, Elizabeth married Thomas Holland Edge.  In the South Australia newspaper, articles were found showing that Elizabeth (Betsey) & Flora's parents along with the emigration agent were looking for them.

Government Gazette, 31 July 1852

In September 1852 an article was found that stated Elizabeth Edge charged Thomas Edge with beating her and threatening to take her life.  Another article found charged Thomas Holland Edge with desertion by his wife, Elizabeth Edge.  Yet another article listed Thomas Edge on the inquest of the murder of Thomas Cornell.  Thomas along with two other "bushrangers" escaped prosecution.

Adelaide Observer, 30 April 1853

A daughter, Eliza Edge, was born on March 10, 1853 from this union.  Eliza Edge died on May 6, 1854 at the age of one.  Cause of death has not been found.  Baby Eliza Edge is buried in West Terrace Cemetery, Adelaide, Australia.

Elizabeth next showed up in Drainie, Moray, Scotland on May 27, 1855 with the birth of a daughter, Isabella Sim, with her husband, James Sim.  No divorce from Thomas Edge or marriage to James Sim have been found.

Later in 1855 the Sim family moved to Canada.  They settle in Northumberland, Ontario and appear on the 1861, 1871, 1881 and 1901 Canada Census Reports.  Elizabeth Gruer Sim lived in Canada for 52 years.

FAMILY - Elizabeth and James Sim had at least 8 children.  They are Isabella, Mary, Sarah, Margaret, Emma, Willie, Jemima and John.  Three of the children died young.  They include Willie who was one-day old; Emma, eight years old; and Margaret who was 25.  Elizabeth's daughter, Jessie Gruer, joined the family in Canada some time after 1861, and became Jessie Gruer Sim. Read more about their children here.

OCCUPATION - Besides wife and mother, a Sim scrapbook article on Elizabeth dated April 1889 stated Mrs. James Sim was an agent for home improvements in their village.  She appeared to be a well-respected member of the community.

From the Sim Scrapbook

DEATH - Elizabeth Gruer Sim died on Saturday, July 20, 1907 at the age of 75 in Northumberland, Ontario, Canada.  She was buried in Salem Cemetery, Cramahe, Ontario.

From the Sim Scrapbook

Visit her On-Line Memorial:

Thomas Edge Charged with Murder (prior to marriage to Elizabeth), Colonial News, 1845

Elizabeth Gruer-Sim was my favorite ancestor to research.  She was a pioneer, a risk-taker and a woman before her time.  I believe the Sim Scrapbook was started by her.  It shows she loved fashion, the Royal Family of England, poems about life and her religion.  For a short time, someone continued to place articles in the book after her death.  The scrapbook gave us a peek into her life.  

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

James SIM (1818 - 1902)

Flag of Scotland
George SIM > John Wm SIM > James SIM

BIRTH - James Sim was born May 12, 1818 in Elgin, Morayshire, Scotland. William George Sim had always said William was James' middle name. Bill said he was the fourth Sim to have William in his name. We have been unable to find James Sim until the time he is with Elizabeth Gruer.

OCCUPATION - 1871 and 1881 Canadian Census reports list James as a laborer. His 1902 Register of Death states he was a farmer.

FAMILY - No records have been found of his actual marriage, date or place. Many documents list his wife as Elizabeth Gruer. He was the stepfather of Jessie Coglan Gruer Sim. James was the father of Isabella, Mary, Sarah, Margaret, Emma, Willie, Jemima and John. Read more about their children here. James' brother, William Sim, was married to his wife's twin, Mary Ann Gruer. James had another brother, George Sim, who was married to his wife's sister, Isabella Stewart Gruer.

James, Elizabeth and their daughter, Isabella, immigrated from Scotland to Canada in 1855.


186l    Age 43    Percy, Northumberland, ON                Religion FC (Free Church or
1871   Age 52    Cramahe, E. Northumberland, ON      Religion Presbyterian
1881   Age 62    Colborne, Northumberland East, ON  Religion E. Methodist
1891   Family not found
1901   Age 83    E. Northumberland, ON                      Religion Presbyterian
           James is living with his daughter and son-in-law, Sarah & Edward Cox.

DEATH - James Sim died from general debility on Friday, June 27, 1902 at the home of his son, John Sim, who lived at 138 Summit Street, Batavia, NY. He was 84-years old.  His death transcript states his parents were Edward Sim and Mary Gala. No information has been found on his parents. He was buried in the Salem Cemetery, Cramahe, Northumberland County, Ontario, Canada.

Obituaries from the Sim Scrapbook
Death Registry

Visit his on-line memorial

SIM is included in Clan Fraser and more clan information is available on-line:

Read about SIM male Y-DNA test results

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

17 Wadsworth, Buffalo, NY

George and his associates
17 Wadsworth, Buffalo, circa 1926
Photo courtesy Uncle Jerry

During Prohibition (1920-1933), residents were allowed to keep all of the liquor that they stockpiled, but once that was gone, that was it.  Saloons and the 20 Buffalo breweries were closed and this resulted in the illegal manufacturing and distribution of liquor.

Because Buffalo was so close to the Canadian border, it was tempting for people to smuggle liquor to sell on the black market.  Canada had its own temperance movement in the late 1880s, but that was repealed.  Smugglers were called “rumrunners”.  And, they often employed boats across Lake Erie to deliver the goods to drop off points along Lake Shore Road outside of Buffalo.  The liquor was then distributed to local illegal taverns or “speakeasies”, which were often fronted by “soda shops”.  According to the Buffalo Mayor’s 1922 Annual State of the City Address, there were 8,000 soda shops inside Buffalo.

There were also microbreweries established during this period.  Many bakeries had the connections to obtain the needed large quantities yeast and grain and would set up breweries in their back rooms and cellars.

Amateurs would also produce “bathtub gin” where grain alcohol was diluted with water and juniper berry juice in a bathtub; gin being the preferred drink in the late 1920s.  The government even had a program in which toxic chemicals were added to industrial alcohols to prohibit their use in this activity.  Over 10,000 people died and it is suspected that George’s death in 1941 from aplastic anemia may have been a result of ingesting tainted liquor.

Both the manufacturers and traders of illegal liquor were known as “bootleggers”; a word that dates back to colonial times when traders hid liquor in their tall boots to sneak it into dry colonies.

From the following news article, we know that John W. SIM owned the “soda shop” at 17 Wadsworth as early as May 1926 (Buffalo Courier).  He also purchased a fire arm in January 1927 after George was stabbed (Buffalo Evening News).

George SIM’s stabbing occurred in December 1927 (Read the 10/18/16 post).  It is suspicious that the attacker was let go with no penalties. 

George's stabbing put 17 Wadsworth on the police radar.  On February 3, 1928, John W.’s bail was set at $1,000.00 after the saloon was raided (Buffalo Courier Express).  More liquor was seized on the 7th (Buffalo Courier Express) and John W. was arrested again on the 8th (Buffalo Evening News).  He was held for further reading on the 18th (Buffalo Evening News).



George and his brother-in-law, Fred OTWELL, were summoned for liquor law charges in May 1928 and it was established that George had sold the speakeasy to Fred by that date.

In October 1928, Fred is raided (Buffalo Courier Express).  He is fined $200.00 in November (Buffalo Evening News).


Soon after, Fred sold the fixtures from the bar according to this advertisement. (Buffalo Evening News)

John W. went on to establish another speak-easy on Grant Street.  It appears there were no raids at that location. 
The next owner turned the location into a furniture store and later, it became a children’s dance studio.  Today, it is an apartment.

Patrick B., 17 Wadsworth, Buffalo, 2013
Photo courtesy cousin Patrick B.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Esther Jemima SIM-MAHONEY-UNGER (1908-1992)

Frank, Esther and Francine UNGER with Gene FOLEY, circa 1950 Buffalo
Photo courtesy cousin Mary Ellen F.
George SIM's sister
Early years- Esther was the youngest child of John Wm and Mary Ann SIM.  She was born on 28 February 1908 in Springville, Erie, NY according to the Sim Family Bible.  Esther and Jemima were the names of Mary Ann and John Wm’s sisters.

Work history- In the 1930 census, Esther was an operator for a telephone company.  In 1940, she was a waitress in a private tea room.  She was very active in her church.

Family- By 1931, Esther was married to John “Jack” MAHONEY (1910-1956). Jack was a singer for BBC Radio in Buffalo.  They were divorced by the 1940 census.

They had at least 2 children:
  • Wallace MAHONEY (1931-)
  • William J. MAHONEY (1933-1993)
Next, Esther married Frank J. UNGER about 1944 in Rochester, Monroe, NY.  They had one daughter:
  • Francine J. UNGER (1945-)
Death- Esther died 26 April 1992 in Buffalo.  Her remains are interred at Mount Calvary Cemetery in Cheektowaga, NY.

Visit her on-line memorial