MIMS-BROWNLEE FAMILY STORIES
Cyrus Mims & the Brownlee Sisters
Adaline Egeria & Ida Florence Brownlee
Cyrus Mims and his parents
Cyrus Mims, son of Lieut. Thomas Harry Mims Sr. and Adeline Egeria Way, was born on Saturday, August 27th, 1859 in the Bend of Four Holes Swamp near the town of Harleyville in Dorchester County, SC. He died on Wednesday, October 3rd, 1923 in an area hospital - probably in Charleston, SC.
Cyrus and Thomas (Jr.) Mims and the Brownlee sisters
Cyrus and his brother Thomas Harry Mims Jr. married two of three sisters. Cyrus married Adaline Egeria Brownlee (born on Friday, September 14th, 1866) , and Thomas married Cora Brownlee (birth date unknown). Meanwhile the third Brownlee sister, Ida Florence Brownlee (born on Sunday, July 3rd, 1870) married a man by the name of Sidney Shuler and moved to the nearby community around Holly Hill, SC. The Brownlee sisters were the daughters of John Brownlee and Adaline C. Myers.
1st marriage of Cyrus Mims
Cyrus and Egeria Mims married sometime about March of 1883, and had several children. Presently I only know the names of 2 of their children - Adeline Valula Mims (born Wednesday, January 16th, 1884) and Lottie Elizabeth Mims (born Sunday, April 11th, 1886).
There was an influenza epidemic in the area later that year (1886) and the next year (1887) which caused the death of Egeria and all but one of their children. Adaline Egeria died on Saturday, September 11, 1886. Cyrus was left with two (2) small daughters - Adeline Valula and Lottie Elizabeth to care for. Lottie Elizabeth died on Sunday, September 18, 1887 at the age of one (1) year and five (5) months, presumably as a result of the influenza epidemic.
2nd marriage (?) of Cyrus Mims
According to family stories, Cyrus then proposed to an Elizabeth Rush who died while they were still engaged to be married. According to someone's record in the internet genealogy circles (one of the websites), Cyrus was married to Elizabeth Rush. No details were given.
Probably he didn't wait for too long a time to consider proposing to Elizabeth - with 2 small daughters and a living to be made. Whether they married (or were just engaged to be married) before or after Lottie Elizabeth died is unknown . How Elizabeth Rush died is unknown, possibly as a result of the influenza epidemic since she might have been helping Cyrus care for an infant (Lottie Elizabeth) with influenza - during the daytime anyway - as a concerned "friend". This is, of course, speculation - not to be taken seriously, but as my way of adding a little "life" to the bare bone fact that between his first and last marriages, Cyrus was at least engaged to someone named Elizabeth Rush. If you think of any other possibilities (according to the customs of the late 1880's) or actually know something about this Elizabeth Rush, please let me know.
The facts are as follows: Egeria died in September of 1886. Cyrus didn't marry Ida Brownlee Shuler (widowed in September of 1886) until the Winter or early Spring of 1889. That leaves a little over two years during which Elizabeth Rush was acquainted with Cyrus long enough for him to propose to her and be engaged/married for several months before she died.
Everything about this relationship is hypothetical at this point. In those days, landowners/farmers usually had hired workers (tenant farmers) to help with the work to be done, and that usually included help in the kitchen. After all, they had to feed all of the hired workers for the noon-day meal every day. Assuming that there was someone hired to take care of his small daughters, he probably allowed himself at least a few months to grieve the death of his beloved Egeria before being practical and considering remarriage. In those days a period of one year was considered a respectable time to grieve the death of a spouse before beginning to "court" anyone else. My assumption is that Egeria was loved by Cyrus and deeply missed by both him and her sister Ida since Egeria's picture remained on the wall of the master bedroom even after Cyrus and Ida Mims died -until about 1989 when it was passed on to one of Cyrus and Ida Mims' grandchildren.
3rd marriage of Cyrus Mims
After the death of Elizabeth Rush, Cyrus proposed to Ida (Egeria and Cora's other sister). Ida Florence Brownlee Shuler at that point was a widow, and had moved back home to the Bend of Four Holes Swamp in September of 1886. Having to face the death of her first love (Sidney Shuler) and then her sister Egeria just five days later must have been overwhelming.
Cyrus Mims and Ida Florence Brownlee Shuler married about January or February of 1889 and had one child:
- Sidney Wells Mims Sr. (born on Sunday, September 3rd, 1893).
Adeline Valula Mims - daughter of Cyrus and Egeria Mims
Several months after Cyrus and Ida were married, Adeline Valula Mims fell off of a chair and broke her neck. She died on Tuesday, July 23rd, 1889. Nothing else was ever said about the accident. Once I asked Mom about it, and she said that her grandmother didn't like to talk about it. Though Ida Brownlee Mims was in no way responsible for the deaths of her first husband and her niece/step-daughter Adeline, facing each death within several months after each marriage began was undoubtedly stressful.
Egeria Brownlee Mims and her two daughters Lottie Elizabeth and Adeline Valula are buried in the cemetery at Bethel United Methodist Church in the Bend of Four Hole Swamp in Dorchester County, SC.
Cyrus Mims and politics
Great-grandfather Cyrus Mims loved politics. According to family stories he was in the senate and was given a dinner in his honor by Daniel Webster - according to family stories. Of course, Daniel Webster died before Cyrus Mims was born. We're still hoping to find the truth behind that story.
In doing research in the South Carolina Archives in Columbia, SC, I found that Cyrus Mims was in the South Carolina House of Representatives in the early 1900's - NOT in the senate. Apparently Stephen Whiteford Smith (Dad's grandfather) was also in the South Carolina House of Representatives at around the same time. So, by a strange coincidence, they probably knew each other. Whether they found themselves on the same side in issues or on opposing sides remains a question.
Cyrus Mims was instrumental in passing legislation to aid farmers in the state. He also sponsored legislation supporting Clemson Agricultural College of South Carolina. (A brief history of the university is at the following website - http://www.clemson.edu/welcome/history/index.htm )
Great-grandfather Cyrus served 2 terms in the House of Representatives (not consecutive), and according to Mom, he spent the rest of the time politicking for re-election. He apparently had a wandering eye (as too many politicians do) as we have heard that there is another "branch" of the Mims' family (connected with one of the tenant farmers) who later moved to Florida - to get a fresh start, or something. Mom mentioned it briefly, but said that it was not a good subject for conversation.
According to the family story, Cyrus Mims went into the hospital in late September 1923 because one of his legs was shorter than the other, and he wanted to get rid of the limp. It didn't fit the image that he wanted to project as a leader in South Carolina government. According to the family story, one day while he was still recuperating in the hospital from the successful operation, a nurse entered his hospital room with some medicine. She seemed unsure of something. So Cyrus asked her who the medicine was for. She didn't remember. He told her that he'd take the medicine - figuring that it was a general medication that would help most anyone. Surprisingly she gave it to him. As a result of an allergic reaction that he had to the medication, he died on October 3rd, 1923.
Adaline Egeria Brownlee Mims
Adaline Egeria Brownlee was born on Friday, September 14th, 1866. She joined the Bethel Methodist Episcopal Church when she was 14 years old, married Cyrus Mims at the age of about 16½, had at least 2 children, and died on Saturday, September 11, 1886 - three (3) days past her 20th birthday.
For as long as I can remember there was a picture of Adaline Egeria Brownlee Mims hanging in the master bedroom of our grandparents' home. It was probably taken around the time that she and Cyrus were married. Both Cyrus and Ida loved her and kept her picture. There it stayed until the late 1980's when it was inherited by one of Cyrus and Ida's grandchildren. Egeria has been described as plain, but I think a more appropriate term (from that period) would be that she was "comely". I always thought that she looked pretty, probably because she did not have a stern (overly-serious) expression on her face like many people did in "portraits" of those days.
Ida Florence Brownlee Mims
Ida Florence Brownlee, daughter of John Brownlee and Adaline C. Myers, was born on Sunday, July 3rd, 1870 in the Bend of Four Hole Swamp in Dorchester County, SC. At the age of 15 she married Sidney Shuler, and moved to the nearby community around Holly Hill, SC where they lived until his death several months later at the age of 24.
According to the family story she went into the field one day to take him his lunch. The assumption was that the food was spoiled which led to a fatal case of food poisoning. He was found dead in the field with vomit on his face. His dog was also dead - either from licking his master's face, or possibly Sidney had shared his lunch with his dog. Ida was not blamed because they had hired hands to cook for the family. However, she was sent home to her family with only the clothes she was wearing.
In doing research on the internet, I later found Ida Florence Brownlee listed in the Shuler family genealogy as Sidney Shuler's wife. Sidney Shuler died September 7, 1886.
Ida was a small woman with a strong personality. While Cyrus was off in Columbia or Washington politicking, she ran the farm - and she did it well. Mom said that she loved to play "Oh, Them Golden Slippers" on the piano, and had no problem doing so even with one of her fingers missing - due to a farm accident which led to a serious infection and eventually the amputation of that finger at least past the first knuckle from the end.
Almost legendary stories of Ida Florence Brownlee Mims
Over the years we heard many "great-grandmother Ida" stories that felt almost legendary. Among them are the following two stories.
Ida Brownlee Mims was scared of no one and no thing. Sometimes in the late evenings, hired workers (particularly female) were afraid to walk home after dark by themselves. They might be attacked by a puma (large, tan- colored "mountain lion" type of animal with a long tail) or a poisonous snake or something. Some experts have said that pumas don't exist in the LowCountry of South Carolina, but there were and are still occasional sightings of them in the area. Anyway, Miz Ida would accompany workers home with only a walking stick in her hand - in case she saw a rattlesnake. Then she would walk back along the dirt road deep in the Bend of Four Hole Swamp community to the family home. Nothing dared to mess with Great-grandmother Ida.
Once one of their farm hands was involved in an accident which completely severed one of his fingers. Of course, in those days, people didn't go to the doctor or call for a doctor unless they thought a person would die otherwise. In this case, Great-grandmother Ida, according to the story, cleaned his hand and the amputated finger and stitched the finger back onto his hand. She then bandaged the finger, changed the bandage and cleaned the finger every day until it healed. The way the story was told, it was as if she willed it to grow back together and heal. And, of course, if Great-grandmother Ida said for something to happen, it would happen. It wouldn't dare to do otherwise. The end of this story is that the healed finger was perfectly fine again except for one minor problem. He couldn't bend it. He had his finger back and that was good enough.
Even after Cyrus Mims died in 1923 and their son and daughter-in-law (Sidney and Cornelia) were the ones to inherit the home place and all of the property, she (as the matriarch) was always in charge - particularly in the house. Out on the farm though, her son was in charge and became a master farmer, and recognized as such by a statewide award.
More stories are included in the stories of their children, and in their son and daughter-in-law's letters to each other.