Biography of William Sims, Major

Maj. William Sims. The late Maj. William Sims, whose death occurred July 23, 1907, on his farm in Shawnee County, Kansas, had an enviable record both as a soldier of the Civil war and as a citizen in the years that followed that struggle. He was born May 15, 1831, on a farm in Muskingum County, Ohio, and was a son of Mahlon and Myron (Riley) Sims. He grew to manhood in his native community, securing his scholastic training in the common schools, and when still a young man served for a number of years as a clerk in the office of the probate judge. At the breaking out of the Civil war, he enlisted in Company G, Thirty-second Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and when the company was organized he was made orderly sergeant. Later a company was taken out of his regiment to man a battery and Mr. Sims was sent back home to recruit a new company to fill the vacancy. While he was absent upon this duty, his regiment was captured at Harper’s Ferry. His command then became Company A, Ninth Ohio Cavalry, of which he was made captain, and subsequently he was at the siege of Knoxville, where he was filling the post of major by promotion. Owing to ill health, he was compelled to resign from active service at the front, and from that time until 1866 was employed in the quartermaster’s department.

When he received his honorable discharge, Major Sims returned to Ohio, where he engaged in farming, and so continued for two years, then removing to DeWitt County, Illinois, there carrying on agricultural operations until 1872. In that year he came to Kansas and purchased a farm in Mission Township, Shawnee County, of which he was the owner up to his death. Mr. Sims was a thorough, capable and systematic farmer and won success in his ventures as a tiller of the soil, but also was energetic in other directions and filled a prominent place in the affairs of his community. He took an active part in the Grange movement and for many years was treasurer and master of the Kansas State Grange, in this way becoming widely known in state agricultural circles. After serving one term in the capacity of state senator, he became treasurer of the State Board of Agriculture, of which he was subsequently made secretary and acted in the latter capacity some six or eight years. By appointment from Governor Humphrey, he was appointed treasurer of the State of Kansas, to fill the unexpired term of James Hamilton, and for a number of years following the expiration of his tenure of office, was employed as receiver of the Will Knox Bank, administrator of various estates, and in the handling of much similar and important work. Finally, he became president of the First National Bank of Topeka and held that office until the institution went into the hands of a receiver. Prior to this he had been suffering from ill health, and for the last two years of his term as bank president he could give but little thought or attention to bank matters, but it was no act of his which caused the failure of the bank, and throughout his entire career he bore the reputation of an honorable, honest and upright man of the highest integrity and strictest probity.

Major Sims’ wife bore the maiden name of Hannah A. Richey and they had two children: John B. and Ella, the latter of whom died in early childhood. Major Sims was a Methodist. Politically he was a republican, and his fraternal connection was with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. He was always an interested and valued member of the Grand Army of the Republic and a popular comrade of Lincoln Post No. 1.

The only living member of Major Sims’ family is John B. Sims, of Topeka, who was born in Muskingum County, Ohio, April 2, 1854. He received a high school education and remained with his parents until coming to Kansas, where for a number of years he was engaged in farming and also bought and sold cattle extensively. He still owns the old home place in Mission Township, a tract of 560 acres, but since 1908 has been devoting the major portion of his time and attention to discharging the duties of his office as secretary and treasurer of the Topeka Pure Milk Company, which in recent years has come to be looked upon as a necessary commercial adjunct. Mr. Sims is a stanch republican and has served two terms in the lower house of the Kansas Legislature, in 1889 and 1891. As business man, citizen and public official, he has won public confidence and esteem, and his name is synonymous with straightforward dealing and loyalty to friendships.

Mr. Sims married Miss Josephine McCracken, who passed over in 1910, leaving three children: John B., Jr., Eleanor, who is the wife of Fred Hill, and Dorothy. Mr. Sims is a Christian Scientist in religious faith.


Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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