community in the Fort Meade Leader newspaper in 1916. As a founding member of the Galilee Baptist Church
in Fort Meade, he is quoted as saying, “ It (the church) started on its successful career in 1892, and there yet
remains four of the Charter members, Bro. and Sis. Wm. Miles and Bro. and Sis. Paul Young” (Brown, 1995).
He continues by mentioning the log cabin that he donated and the fine pastors they had.
Thomas and his immediate family moved to Lake Wales in 1918 because a crate mill opened in Lake Wales.
After another year, he moved his family to Avon Park, FL where he helped establish and was put in charge of
sections of the crate mill there and hired many of the black people in the city, as well as many of his family
Thomas was said to have acquired numerous properties and automobiles in Avon Park. He also owned
property in Okeechobee, FL. The source of the income that allowed such acquisitions has not yet been
established. He was also said to have been very influential in the Avon Park community, as he was in the Ft.
Thomas Sims, Ruth, Rowena, Thomas E., Rosa Lee, Delbert,
Ernest, Elihu, Barney and Maggie holding baby Wilma, abt. 1922
|Sons of Thomas and Maggie Sims, Back from left: Thomas E., Filmore, Paul, Elihue, Barney.
Front sitting from left: Ernest E. and Delbert M. Sims c.1953
Ruth was first and packed to the tee,
With a good heart and happy laugh
That was as hearty as could be.
Rowena, the captain of the ship was two.
With the point of her finger and a hand on a hip,
She gave sound advice to me and you.
The first son was Thomas, his birth order was third
He had many secrets that only few of us heard.
Child number four was Rosa Lee.
An able card player she turned out to be.
A little sweet, a little stubborn, a little humble,
All wrapped in a neat little bundle.
The fifth in line was Delbert you see.
He had a pocket full of change and a
Temper the size of a flea.
He walked everywhere like he was running out of time.
But was always good for a nickel or a dime.
Number six was Ernest, my favorite you know,
Was as cool and calm as a lamb.
The boxer, the deacon, the educator
And, he would help anyone out of a jam.
Elihue, number seven was sneaky I suspect,
And as quiet as a church mouse.
He would greet you with a quizzical smile
Whenever you went to his house.
Uncle Booboo was eighth, that’s Barney you know?
In his brown and white shoes, he was always on the
If you asked him for money he’d say he was broke.
Then, make you laugh with a whopper of a joke.
The ninth was Warren G, who was only eight days old
When he began his journey trough the streets of gold.
The tenth was Wilma, with a will of steel
And a heart of gold, we had a hunch.
But be careful you stay in line,
Cause she packed a mean verbal punch.
Philmore, eleven was quiet and very kind they say.
He was one of five, who didn’t join the Army,
But instead, went “anchors aweigh”.
The twelfth child was like the mild mannered reporter
Who had kind words for one and all.
He’d give his shirt right off of his back
And, that’s what we liked about Paul.
Sweet little Maggie, like the end of a rainbow,
Was the last of the thirteen.
And, like the end of a rainbow, she was the pot
Of gold, that wouldn’t have fit anywhere in between.
By Cynthia Sims Cann ‘91
Ode to the Sims Thirteen
Maggie and Thomas Sims worked in concert to be involved in the community of the cities in which they lived, as
well as being involved in the lives of their family, and they instilled community involvement within their children.
While Thomas did all he could to help keep many in the community employed at the crate mill, Maggie would visit
those who were sick or in immediate need of food. While Thomas taught his sons some of his carpentry skills,
and taught his daughters to drive, Maggie was in charge of their children’s biblical and scholastic edification.
Maggie was so intuitive where her family’s emotions were concerned that she assigned songs to them based on
the song’s content and the family member’s spirit, temperament, character or current and eventual circumstance.
Below, in her handwriting, is a list of songs and the names of family member Maggie assigned to the song’s title.
This list of songs attached to family members, which she entitled “Your Songs; selected by Mother”, along with
other poems were in Maggie’s composition tablet, which was saved by Maggie’s granddaughter, Patricia Watson
Following the list of songs is a poem based on generations and experiences at Thomas and Maggie’s home at
916 Castle St., Avon Park, and its author’s feeling of the residual effects of the love and closeness they instilled
in their family.
Somewhere during his early child and young adulthood, Thomas learned the
art of shoe repair. He had in his arsenal of tools and equipment a valuable
collection of shoe repair tools. He was able to repair his family’s shoes, and
probably those belonging to others in the community.He was also a great
carpenter. Along with his sons, he helped build his son Ernest’s house,
which is still located at 252 Green St. in Avon Park.
Papa, as his immediate family now called him, was a great provider and an
indulging, but stern grandfather. He would tickle them and let them ride his
legs as the horse. His frequent request of them was to scratch his bald-
Maggie & Thomas Sims, abt.
|Daughters of Thomas and Maggie Sims, back from left: Maggie, Rosa Lee,
Rowena. Front sitting from left: Ruth, Wilma, abt. 1953