Joseph Sims is one of the notable pioneers of Sacramento county, a man whose life has been dignified by long residence, good works, excellent civic qualities, and devotion to worthy ideals. He began with almost nothing and since coming to the west has by industry and the strength of character gained both wealth and honorable position.
He was born in London, England, January 25, 1832. His parents, Samuel J. and Elizabeth (Payne) Sims, were also of English birth, and when Joseph was a child his father went to America and a little later the mother followed with the family. Toronto, Canada, was the family home, where the parents lived till their death, when about sixty-two years of age. Joseph spent the first thirteen years of his life there, and then went to Buffalo, New York. He soon returned home to spend a few more months in school before finally launching out on his life career. He was next in New York city, having enlisted at Fort Hamilton in the famous Stevenson regiment, the main body of which has been sent to the Pacific coast in 1847 to take part in the Mexican war in that quarter. The new recruits, to the number of about two hundred, Mrs. Sims being one, embarked at Philadelphia on the ship Isabella and made the long voyage around the Horn. It was six months before they reached Monterey, where they landed in 1848, and thence Company D. of which Mrs. Sims was a member, under Captain Henry M. Nagley, was returned by the same vessel to Lower California. Six months were spent in campaigning in this part of Mexico, and Company D, which retired from there on August 31, was the last body of troops to leave the scene of war, being mustered out in October, 1848.
Mr. Sims was thus in the Eldorado fields long before the forty-niners reached the coast, and on being discharged he and his partner, Charles H. Ross, engaged in mining on Mokolumne Hill in Calaveras county. Dissatisfied there, they left in a few weeks, and on Christmas day, 1848, were on the Sacramento river on their way to San Francisco by way of Sutter's Fort. During the early months of the following year he an his partner joined a company and mined for a time on the American river, with good success, taking out about eighty dollars a day, but in the autumn of the same year they returned to Sacramento county. These two men were the first actual settlers on land along the Sacramento below Freeport, there being only a few temporary residents in the natural grass region thereabouts. They built a cabin, but in the following winter a great flood devastated all the country in the vicinity of the river. In 1850 they moved back from the river to safer quarters, and Mr. Sims and three others took up over fifteen hundred acres of land where he resided until his death, which at one time was the longest established resident in this part of the country. Mr. Ross and Mr. Sims continued their partnership relations for about ten years, and in 1860 Mr. Sims bought the former's interests, and retained this fine body of eleven hundred acres. This ranch was located about ten miles south of the Sacramento city, and produced an abundance of hay, grain crops, stock and had a fine vineyard that was a key feature of the place.
In December, 1860, Mr. Sims was married to Miss Mary L. Moor. Mr. and Mrs. Sims were the parents of four children.
The Sims Family
Myrtle Sturgis Sims was a teacher in the Sloughhouse area, both at Wilson and Rhoades schools. Later she taught at Sierra School in Sacramento. In 3rd grade, Toby Johnson was one of her pupils. When she moved to the Sims Ranch, she taught a short time for Toby Johnson to fill our the term vacated by Mr. Kramer. She held County Home Economic meetings at her home. Neighbors gathered to do upholstering. She also taught 4H cooking to the Franklin group of girls.
All of the Sims' family were horticulturists. You never left their ranch without in-season fruit. Bill Sims raised over 200 Camellias, most in redwood tubs which he made himself. He was "Best of Show" for two years. He always took trays of his flowers to the convalescent home so all the patients could have them to enjoy. He helped several young, and oldsters too, to become interested in woodwork. Five of the Sims family graduated from the University of California, Davis and left an endowment of $2,000,000 to the University.