Gila Valley History: Samuel John Sims and Mary Susan Oyler

Contributed Photo: Samuel John Sims and Mary Susan (Oyler) Sims

Column By Edres Bryant Barney

Samuel John Sims was born on April 18, 1850, in Cheltenham, St  Stephens, Gloucester, England.  He was the son of George Sims and Caroline Gill.  He came to America with his widowed mother and four sisters.  They arrived in New York in 1863 and subsequently crossed the plains to Utah; settling first at Kaysville, and later in Payson.

He married Mary Susan Oyler on 17 July 1871 in Payson, Utah.  To this union were born 11 children; seven girls and four boys.  He, Susan, and their three small children were called to work in the United Order at Brigham City, Arizona, making the trip with about 12-15 other families from Utah in 1877.  After the Order was dissolved, they returned to Utah and visited for about six months.  They then returned to Arizona, took up land on the Gila River, and planted their crops of grain.

They settled in Curtis, Arizona around April 15, 1882, living in the Stockade, later building a log house which soon caught fire and burned.  They lost everything in the fire; then built a new lumber home.

The Sims family moved to Pima about 1890 where Samuel built a big two-story brick building for his family.  Their closest neighbors were the Hyrum Weech family.  Samuel was a carpenter and cabinet maker.  He had a furniture store in Pima.  He later moved to Globe and then to Thatcher.  He built houses all over the Gila Valley.  While building his new home in Thatcher, Samuel suddenly took sick and died on 26 Feb. 1920.  Mary Susan passed away in Thatcher on May 11, 1933.  This was an ordinary couple who experienced many hardships in life and just kept on after each trial with hard work and an attempt to make things better for their fellow men by crafting furniture and building homes.

Their children and spouses are as follows: Mary Elizabeth (Heber Higgins), Susan Caroline (Heber Manassah Cluff),  Lucy Delalah (Franklin Alfred Cluff), Amanda Priscilla (died at age 3), Clara (Robert Franklin McBride), Samuel George (Dora Elizabeth Major), Maud (Harrison Pepper Wightman), Ammon (Della Mae Beebe), Nancy (Rudger Phillips), Albert John (Ella LaVer Holladay), and Oscar Leonard ( Roxey Carlotta Moody).

These individual and family histories may be found at the Eastern Arizona Museum Thursdays – Saturdays, from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.