I found this picture of my 2nd Great Aunt and Uncle online and thought “What an adorable old couple!” This is a picture of Simeon Walter Ford and Nannie Belle Phillips.
The date of the photo is unknown but judging from what I found out about them, it probably is from the 1930s.
Nannie Belle Phillips was the daughter of my second great-grandparents, Oscar Fitzallen Phillips and Nancy Jane Burch. Nannie was a sister to Cora Virginia Phillips, my great-grandmother, who married William Domman Swanson (see blog “A Fireman’s Story). Oscar and Nancy Jane Phillips had a total of 14 known children! Nannie was born 3 February 1862 in Amherst, Amherst county, Virginia, the third child of Oscar and Nancy. She married Simeon Walter Ford on 9 July 1882 in Lynchburg, Virginia.
Simeon Walter Ford was also born 12 April 1862, the son of Simeon Walter Ford (the first) and Caroline Agnes Phillips. The surname of Phillips sent up a red flag! Could Simeon and Nannie be related more than being spouses? I found that Caroline Agnes Phillips was the daughter of Captain Benjamin Phillips which was a surprise because Capt. Benjamin Phillips was also the father of Oscar Phillips. So Nannie’s father and Simeon’s mother were brother and sister, making Nannie and her husband, Simeon, first cousins! However the death certificate listed his mother as Caroline Oliver, which contradicts other sources for his parentage. A marriage record for Caroline A. L. Phillips lists her marriage to Simeon Walter Ford on 14 Dec 1849 in Lynchburg, Virginia (FHL 32235).
This is the photo I found of Caroline Agnes Phillips, daughter of Captain Benjamin Phillips and Mary Nicholas Cazey. She married the first Simeon Walter Ford and was the mother of the second Simeon. Now I had established the parentage of both Nannie and Simeon. When they married, they were both 20 years old. They went on to have 11 children that I know of and are listed below.
Percy Bertram Ford (1882-1929) Theodore Madison Ford (1884-1961)
Bessie Caroline Ford (1885-1953) James R Ford (1887- )
Simeon Walter Ford, Jr. (1889-1975) Nannie Belle Ford (1891-1962)
Kenneth Malcolm Ford (1893-1969) Lilian L Ford (1895- )
Mary Tansy Ford (1897- ) William Harrald Ford (1899-after 1940)
Oscar Fitzallen Ford (1900-1966)
From the Census records, I discovered that Simeon was a carpenter and only had a 3rd grade education. In 1900, they owned their own home with no mortgage in Richmond, Virginia and already had 10 children. It seemed he was quite able to support his family. By 1910, however, they were renting a house and Simeon was out of work for at least 20 weeks. They must of had some hard times. 1920 found them living on 900 North twenty-seventh Street in Richmond. The roaring 20s were upon them and prohibition was the law of the land. This brought more trouble for the couple as I found out when I discovered this surprising newspaper clipping!
This sweet old couple were arrested for stashing moonshine! I am guessing that the $500 they paid for Nannie’s bond was probably hard to come by. This probably was not an unusual arrest at the time of prohibition but quite surprising as they seemed like ordinary upstanding citizens! But, everybody makes mistakes!
By 1930, the Ford family was living at 505 25th Street in the city of Richmond, Virginia. They own the home which was valued at $2500 at that time. Simeon was working as a machine operator for a furniture company. Things were going well until 1941. Simeon, according to his death certificate, fell at home and died of shock on 13 October 1941.
On May 6 of 1945, Nannie Belle Phillips Ford passed away.
Nannie Belle and Simeon Ford were both buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia. Nannie was 83 years old at time of death and survived by their 2 daughters and six sons, 30 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren! They had long lives and I found their story interesting as they were the first I have come across in my research that got arrested for smuggling moonshine! Who knows what surprises can be found!
Rest in Peace, Nannie Belle and Simeon!
Newspaper articles: Richmond Times-Dispatch: Thursday, February 24, 1927; Thursday, October 16, 1941; Wednesday, October 15, 1941.
Virginia, Select Marriages, 1785-1940, [database on-line] Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1880 United States Federal Census Year 1880; Census Place: Elon, Amherst, Virginia; Roll: 1353; Family History Film: 1255353; Page: 188D; Enumeration District: 018.
Ancestry.com, Virginia, Death Records, 1912-2014 (Ancestry.com Operations, Inc.).
Ancestry.com, Virginia, Select Marriages 1785-1940 (Ancestry.com Operations. Inc.).
Ancestry.com, Web: Virginia, Find A Grave Index, 1607-2012 (Ancestry.com Operations, Inc.).
1900 United States Federal Census, Year: 1900; Census Place: Madison, Amherst, Virginia; Roll: 1699; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 0010; FHL microfilm: 1241699.
Additional United States Federal Census as follows:
Year: 1870; Census Place: Elon, Amherst, Virginia; Roll: M 595_1633; Page: 451A; FHL microfilm: 553132.
Year: 1910; Census Place: Richmond Marshall Ward Richmond (Independent City), Virginia; Roll: T624_1645; Page: 4B; Enumeration District 0131; FHL microfilm: 1375658.
Year: 1920; Census Place: Richmond Jefferson Ward, Richmond (Independent City), Virginia; Roll: T625_1910; Page: 8B; Enumeration District: 130.
Year: 1930; Census Place: Richmond, Richmond (Independent City), Virginia; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 10093; FHL microfilm: 2342214.
2 thoughts on “Simeon and Nannie Belle Ford – A Surprising Couple!”