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November 5, 2015 / Joanne Yeck

 Buckingham Notables: Edward W. Sims

SRR_1840_Sims_Iron Manufacturing

1840 Census, Buckingham County Northern District (click to enlarge) 

During the 19th century, while most of Buckingham County was occupied with agriculture, there were also slate and gold mines, as well as the manufacturing of iron in the northeastern corner of the county. One of the Buckingham’s busiest industrial developers was Edward W. Sims. The formation of the Buckingham Iron Manufacturing Company was likely Sims’ largest undertaking. Additionally, during 1828-1830, Sims and Thomas B. Crenshaw purchased Virginia Mills from Walter L. Fontaine. Ultimately, Sims settled in Buckingham County on a farm with the unusual name of Hornblende.

Washington Iron Works in Franklin County Virginia, c.1770--1850. Curtesy Marmaduke Percy, Wikipedia

Washington Iron Works in Franklin County Virginia, c.1770–1850. Courtesy Marmaduke Percy, Wikipedia



The 1840 census enumerates the “Buckingham Iron Company” among the heads of households, locating it four households from the home of Edward Sims. The company included 1 male under 5-years-old; 1 male 15-20; 4 males 20-30; 1 male 30-40; 1 male 50-60; 1 female 20-30; and 3 men, free persons of color, aged 24-35-years-old. All of the slaves enumerated with the company were male. There were 32 men age 24-under 36 and another 6 were 36-under 55.  This was a large operation!


Eventually, Sims became financially overextended and, by the end of 1840, the Buckingham Iron Manufacturing Company was up for sale to cover debts.

The Richmond Enquirer reported:


By virtue of a Deed of Trust executed to the undersigned by the Buckingham Iron Manufacturing Company, bearing the date on the 24th day of November, 1840, and duly recorded in the Clerk’s Office of Buckingham County, for the purpose of securing sundry debts to Edward W. Sims, &c. I will proceed to sell to the highest bidder, for ready money, at the Furnace of said Company, in the County of Buckingham, on Friday, the 18th day of December next, if fair, if not the next fair day thereafter, Sunday’s excepted, the whole of the Lands owned by the Company, containing, as supposed 3500 acres, with all its appurtenances thereto belong. This property lies in the lower end of Buckingham, and within a mile of the James River & Kanawha Canal. About one half of the land has been chopped over – the remainder is well wooded. — The fund of Ore is believed to be inexhaustible and near to the Furnace. Every necessary building has been erected for the prosecution of a large business. The Stock and Casting house is believed to be the best in the State. Considering its proximity to market – the abundance of Ore and fuel – the superior roads leading to the Furnace, and other advantages, it is believed that no other property in the State offers such inducements to capitalists to invest their money. Such title as is vested in me will be conveyed to the purchaser.

GEO. H. MATHEWS, Trustee.

Coming Next: Buckingham Iron Manufacturing Company

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