Clay Taylor Simmons

Clay and Martha Simmons 1939

Clay Taylor and Martha (Rowe) Simmons, taken in Ontario, Oregon in 1939.  This picture is one of my favorites.  It reminds me of the classic American Gothic painting and just seems so iconic.  Clay Taylor Simmons is my great grandfather and this is the only picture I have of him.  I don’t know much about him or Martha either, so if anyone reading this knows more, please share!

Clay was born on November 8th, 1882 in Millville, California to Shelby Huggins and Nancy Jane (Newton) Simmons.  Sometime around 1890, the family moved to Harney county, Oregon where Clay’s father passed away when Clay was sixteen years old.

In 1918, Clay registered for the draft for World War I.  From that draft card, I know that he was a farmer and he was of medium height with a slight build, light blue eyes and brown hair.  I like that we can see his signature on this card.

Simmons, Clay Taylor WWI Draft Registration Card

1918 also brought the birth of my grandfather, Rolin Clay Simmons.  I haven’t been able to find a marriage record, so not sure what year Clay and Martha got married, but it would have been sometime before 1918.

In both the 1900 and 1920 censuses, he was listed as a Farmer, living in Harney county, Oregon in 1900, still in 1918 on the draft record, but then listed in Malheur county, Oregon in 1920.  By the 1930 census, the family had moved to Oroville, California where Clay was listed as a laborer doing bridge work.  He was 48 then.

When Clay was 61, his wife, Martha passed away in Redding, California where Clay lived until his death in 1953 at 70 years of age.

Simmons, Clay Taylor family line



Shelby Huggins Simmons

Shelby Huggins Simmons -

Shelby Huggins Simmons was born in White county, Tennessee on September 8th, 1831 to James and Margaret (Plumlee) Simmons.  About the time Shelby was 10 years old, the family moved to Carroll county, Arkansas, I believe in the Berryville area. In 1854 Shelby married Darlutha Jane Daughtery and the couple headed west.

Shelby and Darlutha Simmons - abt 1855

Their oldest daughter, Truckee Margaret was born on the trip while they were in Truckee, California.  She is the baby in the picture above.  I remember my grandfather talking about his Aunt Truckee when I was small and telling us the story of her name.  Here is a note that Aunt Truckee wrote herself and some wonderful person shared on

On April 15, 1855, Darlutha not yet ninteen but married and five months pregnant and her husband, Shelby N. Simmons, left Carroll County, Arkansas for California.  From the D.A.R. Pioneer records we learn that Darlutha delivered her baby en route:

 “I was born at Truckee August 19, 1855, in a covered wagon as my parents, Mr.  and Mrs. Shelby Simmons, were coming from Arkansas to California with my grandfather, Capt. Hill Daugherty, at the head of the party.” ~Mrs. Truckee Rose 

The Simmons were in Millville, California in Shasta county for a number of years.  Six more children were born to the family before Darlutha passed away in 1874 at the age of 38.  The couple had been married for 20 years.


Darlutha is buried in the Millville, California cemetery.

Shelby Huggins Simmons

Three years later, at the age of 46, Shelby married Nancy Jane Newton who became my 2nd great-grandmother.

Nancy Jane Newton

Shelby and Nancy had seven more children. My great grandfather Clay Taylor Simmons was born in Millville in 1882.  Sometime between 1886 and 1890, the family moved to Harney county, Oregon to an area known as The Narrows and raised stock.  Shelby was listed as a Farmer in all census’ between the years of 1860 and 1880.

Simmons, Shelby and Nancy Headstone - Burns Oregon

Shelby Huggins Simmons died on November 26th, 1898 at the age of 67.  Nancy continued to raise their stock on the farm until her own death in 1907 of stomach cancer.  They are buried side by side in the cemetery in Burns, Oregon.

“Not Lost, But Gone Before”


From An Illustrated History of Baker, Grant, Malheur, and Harney Counties

“He grew to manhood in Butte county and there on September 18th, 1883, he was married to Miss Sadie E., daughter of Shelby and Darlutha (Daughtrey) Simmons.  Mr. and Mrs. Simmons were pioneers from Arkansas to that county in 1850, crossing the plains with ox teams. ”


(Shelby is my 2nd great-grandfather.  He and Nancy are the parents of Clay Taylor Simmons.)

Shelby Huggins Simmons Line

Nancy Jane (Newton) Simmons

Nancy Jane Newton

Nancy Jane Newton was born on January 4th, 1845 to William and Nancy (Haley) Newton.  I believe she was born in Mississippi.  By 1850, the census found the family living in War Eagle, Arkansas.  Nancy married Shelby Huggins Simmons.  The couple lived in Millville, California for a number of years where my great-grandfather, Clay Taylor Simmons was born in 1882.  About 1890, the family moved to Harney County, Oregon where they farmed and raised stock in an area that was known as The Narrows.  Nancy passed away on May 11th, 1907 from cancer at the age of 62.  She is buried in the cemetery in Burns, Oregon next to her husband, Shelby.

Simmons, Shelby and Nancy Headstone - Burns Oregon

The inscription on the headstone says, “Not lost but gone before”


(From the local newspaper, The Times-Herald)

~Died – at her home in this city at 2:30 am today, Mrs. Nancy J. Simmons, aged 62 years.  She had been suffering from cancer of the stomach for several months and her death was not unexpected.  The funeral will take place from the Presbyterian Church tomorrow afternoon at 3 o’clock.  Reverend A.B. Minake will conduct the services.  Deceased was a highly respected pioneer lady of this section.  She was the mother of seven children, all of whom survive her and all have been with her during her last days getting as much aide and comfort as possible.  Her husband died eight years ago.  The children are Mrs. J.V. Cawlfield, Mrs. F.J. Cawlfield, Mrs. W.C. Brown, Mrs. Fred Scott, Miss Maude Simmons, Geo W. Simmons, and C.T. Simmons.  Four step-children James Simmons, H.S. Simmons, Mrs. C.M. Como, and Mrs. S.C. Johnson.  Geo Newton, now residing here, is a brother to Mrs. Simmons.  The Times-Herald regrets its inability to publish an obituary at this late hour, but will give it attention next week.


(Nancy is my 2nd great grandmother.  She is the mother of Clay Taylor Simmons.)