Joseph Sims is one of the simon-pure pioneers of Sacramento county, a man whose life has been dignified by long residence, good works, excellent civic qualities, and devotion to worthy ideals. He began with almost nothing, and since coming to the west has by industry and the strength of character gained both wealth and honorable position.

He was born in London, England, January 25, 1832. His parents, Samuel J. and Elizabeth (Payne) Sims, were also of English birth, and when Joseph was a child his father went to America and a little later the mother followed with the family. Toronto, Canada, was the family home, where the parents lived till their death, when about sixty-two years of age. Joseph spent the first thirteen years of his life there, and then went to Buffalo, New York. He soon returned home to spend a few more months in school before finally launching out on his life career. He was next in New York city, having enlisted at Fort Hamilton in the famous Stevenson regiment, the main body of which had been sent to the Pacific coast in 1847 to take part in the Mexican war in that quarter. The new recruits, to the number of about two hundred, Mr. Sims being one, embarked at Philadelphia on the ship Isabella and made the long voyage around the Horn. It was six months before they reached Monterey, where they landed in 1848, and thence Company D, of which Mr. Sims was a member, under Captain Henry M. Nagley, was returned by the same vessel to Lower California. Six months were spent in campaigning in this part of Mexico, and Company D, which retired from there on August 31, was the last body of troops to leave the scene of war, being mustered out in October, 1848.

Mr. Sims was thus in the Eldorado fields long before the forty-niners reached the coast, and on being discharged he and his partner, Charles H. Ross, engaged in mining on Mokolumne Hill in Calaveras county. Dissatisfied there, they left in a few weeks, and on Christmas day, 1848, were on the Sacramento river on their way to San Francisco by way of Sutter's Fort. During all the fifty-five years since that day he has never been absent from Sacramento county more than three months at a time. During the early months of the following year he and his partner joined a company and mined for a time on the American river, with good success, taking out about eighty dollars a day, but in the autumn of the same year they returned to Sacramento county. These two men were the first actual settlers on land along the Sacramento below Freeport, there being only a few temporary residents in the natural grass region thereabouts. They built a cabin, but in the following winter a great flood devastated all the country in the vicinity of the river, and in 1850 they moved back from the river to safer quarters, and Mr. Sims and three others took up over fifteen hundred acres of land where he now resides, the longest established resident in this part of the country. Mr. Ross and Mr. Simms continued their partnership relations for about ten years, and in 1860 Mr. Sims bought the former's interests, and has retained his fine body of eleven hundred acres to the present time. This elegant ranch is located about ten miles south of Sacramento city, and under the management of his son it still produces in abundance hay and grain crops and stock, and a fine vineyard is also a feature of the place.

Mr. Sims is a constant supporter of Republic principles, and in local affairs has always made his influence felt on the side of progress and material, social andintellectual uplift. He has taken much interest in Grange affairs, and is a worthy member of the Sacramento Society of California Pioneers, from length of residence being able to claim a first place in that body.

In December, 1860, Mr. Sims was married to Miss Mary L. Moor, who was born in what is now Wyoming county, New York, April 13, 1835, being a daughter of Thomas and Mahala D. (Higley) Moor. The Moor family crossed the plains to California in 1854, settling in Sacramento county three miles south of Sacramento, where Mr. Moor died in 1864, at the age of sixty-five. Mrs. Sims' mother is still living, being perhaps the oldest and most venerable pioneer lady of Sacramento county, lacking only a little of being a centenarian. Mr. and Mrs. Sims have been the parents of four children, and three are living. Hattie M. is the wife of George McConnell, of McConnel Station, California. William M., an attorney at San Francisco, formerly represented the city of Sacramento in the California state assembly, and was also fittingly chosen the first president of the Sons and Daughters of the Sacramento Society of California Pioneers. The other son, Paul R., is at home and in charge of his father's extensive ranch.

Source: History of the New California Its Resources and People, Volume II

The Lewis Publishing Company - 1905
Edited by Leigh H. Irvine

Return to Biographies Index, Volume II

Return to California AHGP home page

Return to Sacramento County AHGP home page