Betsey Edkins (1855-1931) was born at Murcot, Gloucestershire, on 30th December 1855, the fourth of eight children of George Edkins and his wife, Elizabeth (née Neal). She was baptised (at the same time as her older sister, Ellen) at Childswickham Church on 25th May 1856. The Edkins family remained at Murcot until about 1858. The next move was to Wickhamford where, some time in the late 1860s, her father took up market gardening. Betsey would have attended the National School in Badsey, and would have walked across the field each day with her sisters to get to school. At the time of the 1871 census, Betsey was a servant at Wickhamford Manor.
In 1874, Betsey’s two older sisters, Emma Jelfs and Ellen Edkins, emigrated to America. The following year, 19-year-old Betsey and her parents and her four younger siblings left Liverpool in steerage class on “City of New York”, arriving in New York on 15th October 1875, so now the whole family was in America. They settled in the state of Ohio, where a number of Badsey and Wickhamford families were already living. Their home was probably in Bainbridge, Geauga County, Ohio, where her parents were living in 1880.
In about 1879, Betsey, or Bessie as she now seemed to be known, married Allen Darwin Simmons. Whilst Allen had been born in Ohio in 1853, he had connections with the Evesham area. He had been brought up by Mary and Edwin Knight who had emigrated to Ohio in 1852 (Mary was from Hinton-on-the-Green and Edwin was from Badsey). He was the son of Mary’s sister, Emma, who had married William Simmons, but what happened to Emma and William is unknown. Mary and Edwin are thought to have been the first of many Badsey and Wickhamford residents to emigrate to America.
Bessie and Allen had three children, all born in Ohio: Edna (1880), Verda Emma (1883) and Arthur F (1893). At the time of the 1880 Federal Census, Bessie and Allen and their first-born child, Edna, were living with Edwin and Mary Knight in Troy, Geauga County, Ohio. By 1900, the Simmons family had moved to Greenbush Township, Clinton County, Michigan, where Allen was a farmer. Mary and Edwin Knight had moved to Michigan in the 1880s. Edwin died in 1898, so Mary lived with her nephew and family from then on.
By 1910, Verna had married, Edna was not at home, so the Simmons household comprised Allen, Bessie, Arthur and 77-year-old Mary Knight, who died the following year. By 1930, Arthur had married and lived next-door to his parents at Greenbush.
Bessie died at Greenbush on 14th November 1931, aged 75. She was buried at Eureka Cemetery. Allen died in August 1934 and was buried in the same plot.
- George Edkins – emigrated 1875
- Elizabeth Edkins – emigrated 1875
- Caroline Edkins – emigrated 1875
- Jane Edkins – emigrated 1875
- Alice Edkins – emigrated 1875
- Oliver Edkins – emigrated 1875
- Ellen Edkins – emigrated 1874
- Emma Jelfs (née Edkins) – emigrated 1874
- Thomas Jelfs – emigrated 1874
- Jesse Jelfs – emigrated 1874
- George Edkins – Wickhamford’s First Market Gardener