FINDING THE QUESTIONS
Life seems to start well enough for Parmenus W. Simpson. We first find him by name in the 1850 U.S. census living in the household with his father Parmenus Simpson and mother Elvira (Throop) Simpson. His age is listed as 22 years old with the occupation of farmer. Also in the household are older sister Diadama age 22 and younger sister Jane C. age 10. All are listed as born in New York except his father who was born in the state of Massachusetts.1 Jane seems to disappear from view, but Diadimia is an integral part of her brother's story.
In the years between 1850 and 1860 Parmenus tied the knot as the 1860 Census finds him listed as Permenus Simpson age 30 along with wife Lucinda age 29. His occupation is again listed as farmer and amazingly he aged only 8 years in the ten years since the last census. The couple are listed just after the parents of Parmenus W. It is appropriate that sister, Diademia is listed just above her brother at the top of the page.2
Like so many other young men, Parmenus found himself serving in the Civil War. He was mustered in on 24 Aug 1862 and served in Company C of the First Dragoons.3 The First Dragoons was a cavalry unit, but when the unit was first mustered in they were known as the 130th Regiment of the New York Volunteers, an infantry unit.4 The First Dragoons were involved in many battles. They were part of General Sheridan's Raid at Trevilian, Virginia that took place during most of June 1864. This involved them in the Battle of Travilian Station which took place on June 11 & 12. During the long raid 81 members were killed or wounded and another seven went missing.5 Parmenus W. was among the missing having disappeared during the battle. He apparently was still missing at the mustering out of his company6 on 30 Jun 1865.7
Sometime between June 1864 and 1870, Parmenus found his way home to Bennington, Wyoming, New York as he his found living there with his parents and sister Diademia.8 His name is listed as Permenos W, age 43 and his occupation is farm laborer. His wife, Lucinda, is nowhere to be found. What happened to Lucinda? Did she die after applying for a widows pension in 1865?9 And why did she apply for a widows pension when Parmenus W. was, obviously, still alive?
In the 1880 census, we find Deidamia Simpson as head of household with keeping house as her occupation. Her brother Parmenas W. Simpson age 51 is living in her home. His occupation is an Essence Peddler.10 It seems their parents must have passed sometime in the preceding ten years. No new information is given in the 1890 United States Census of Union Veterans and Widows of the Civil War. It gives only his rank, compnay and name of regiment and lists him as residing in Bennington.11
The 1900 US Census index on FamilySearch lists Parmenus W. as "Parme?"; He is age 70 having been born in July of 1829. He is a day laborer and is head of family number 99. Sister, Diadimia, is living next door as head of family # 100. The index lists her as Didama Simpson, single, age 73 and being born in November of 1826. She is listed with no occupation.12
For years this was all I knew of Parmenus W. Simpson and Diademia his sister. I continued to wonder what had happened to Lucinda Simpson along with the pension file in the National Archives in Washington D.C.? That particular pension record seems to be missing or misplaced. Then, a couple of weeks ago I searched for Parmenus W. in the right place and the mystery began to unravel leaving in its wake a few more questions, most were soon answered. Those answers left an ache in my heart for a man and his sister long since dead and buried. But the story of how Parmenus W. Simpson became to be known as No. 185 is a story for another blog and a chance for you to grab a hankie.
5. Ibid: 1st Dragoons Battles and Casualties Civil War New York.
6. See 3 above. Some Ancestry.com records indicate Parmenus W. Simpson was mustered out with
7. See 4 above
8. "United States Census, 1870," index and images, FamilySearch
(https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/M82C- NW2 : accessed 27 Sep 2012), Permenos Simpson
in household of Permenos Simpson, New York, United States; citing p. 3, family 21, NARA
microfilm publication M593, FHL microfilm 552618.
9. Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934[database on-line]Provo, UT,
USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2000. General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934. Record for
Parmenus W. Simpson image 3729.
10. "United States Census, 1880," index and images,(https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MZNV-5FX
accessed 28 Sep 2012), Parmenas W. Simpson in household of Deidamia Simpson, Bennington,
Wyoming, New York, United States; citing sheet 77B, family 1, NARA microfilm publication
11. 11th Decennial Census Office. "Population Schedules of the 1890 Census." NARA microfilm
publication M407. National Archives and Records Administration,Washington D.C.; (images
online) New York State, Wyoming County; Parmenus W Simpson; image 12.
12. "United States Census, 1900," index and images,(https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MSPZ-745
accessed 28 Sep 2012), Parme? Simpson, ED 117 Bennington Township (eastern part), Wyoming,
New York, United States; citing sheet 4B, family 99 & Didama Simpson, ED 117 Bennington
Township (easterrn part), Wyoming, New York, United States; citing sheet 5A, family 100,NARA
microfilm publication T623, FHL microfilm 1241178.