Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Bits of Bio, W. W. Simkins

A few years ago, I discovered an interesting work online titled The English Version of the New Testament, Compared with King James’ Translation, in Use by All Protestants, by W. W. Simkins (excerpts from which I posted this morning). The book consists of comparisons of verses in the King James translation of the Bible versus the new Revised Version translation of 1881 (pp. 5-36), followed by Simkins’s “Remarks” (pp. 37-43). The remarks by Simkins give evidence of a thing that is said (by some) not to exist before Peter Ruckman – that the King James Bible is inspired. Here are three quotes:

“The OLD VERSION has for its source Jesus of Nazareth, the Apostles and the Holy Ghost (p. 39).” “I unhesitatingly say, that the same Holy Ghost who gave inspiration to the Apostles to write out the New Testament, presided over and inspired those men in the translation and bringing out of the entire Bible in the English language (p. 41).” “I furthermore say, that King James’ Translation of the Bible is the only Divinely Inspired translation directly, since the compilation of the ancient manuscripts by Ezra, and the giving of the New Testament by the Apostles... (p. 42).”

I wondered who this “W. W. Simkins” was – given in the library catalogs as William Washington Simkins. I have spent some time researching the matter, and have come to a tentative conclusion.

Apparently William Washington “W. W.” Simkins the author is William Washington Simkins (1810-1900), the son of Abel Simkins/Simpkins and Rebecca Burns. He was born March 29, 1810 in Fayette County, Pennsylvania.[i] He married Catharine Gould in 1831 in Monongalia County, Virginia (now West Virginia). They were living in North Township, Harrison County, Ohio by 1840. In 1850, he is listed as a clergyman. William and Catharine had one child, Willis L. Simkins. His whereabouts in 1860 and 1870 is currently unknown. In 1880 Simkins was in Pella, Marion County, Iowa, living with his nephew’s family (William Nelson Simkins) and listed as a teacher.[ii] In 1900 William W. Simkins lived in the home of his son, in North Township, Harrison County, Ohio. He is 90 years old and the census lists no occupation.

This person appears to be the same “W. W. Simpkins” who was a United Brethren clergyman. His brother Asbury W. Simkins/Simpkins was also a United Brethren clergyman. The Church of the United Brethren in Christ grew out of the Great Awakening, founded by Mennonite preacher Martin Boehm and German Reformed pastor William Otterbein. The group split in 1889, with the majority eventually becoming part of the United Methodist Church. The minority still exists as the Church of the United Brethren in Christ.[iii] A few online sources mention a United Brethren preacher by the name of W. W. Simpkins. In 1845, he was in the Muskingum (Ohio) Conference. The History of Tuscarawas County, Ohio (p. 625) mentions a William Simpkins as an early minister of the Mount Carmel United Brethren Church in Perry Township, Tuscarawas County, Ohio. This likely is the same person, being a county adjacent to Harrison. He was in the West District of the Wisconsin Conference in 1858, serving at Honey Creek with B. Howard.[iv]

From 1875-1885 (at least), William Washington Simkins wrote prolifically, churning out eight titles. Some of the titles suggest a slightly eccentric author.

  • A Treatise On The Mystery Of The Fellowship And Suffering Of Jesus Christ, Fullness Of The Gentiles And Revealment Of The Righteousness Of Faith, Pella, IA: Masteller & Co., Blade Job Print, 1875.
  • The Design of Man’s Creation, & Its Accomplishment, Pella, IA: Masteller & Co., 1875
  • Criticisms on Ingersoll’s notions of the Gods and the Bible, Pella, IA: Masteller & Co., 1876
  • Spiritualism from Its Own Source and through Its Own Channels, Monroe, IA: Betzer & Jarnagin, 1877
  • Retransposition and Original Reading of the First and Second Chapters of Genesis. A Correct Explanation of the Six Periods of Creation. The Eternal Light and Darkness, the Beginning and Completion of the New Creation, Pella, IA: A. T. Betzer, printer, 1878
  • The Oriental and Grecian Philosophy. Nature’s Good and Evil. The Fourth Nationality with its Four Grand Empires. The Fall of the Political and Ecclesiastical world. The Church in its Different Places and Conditions. The Kingdom of God.. Pella, IA: Betzer & Gregoire, 1879
  • The English Version of the New Testament, Compared with King James’ translation, in Use by All Protestants, William Washington Simkins, Pella, IA: Betzer & Gregoire, 1882
  • That Which has Been, That Which now Is, and That Which is to Come, Knoxville, IA: Casey & Steunenberg, printers, 1885

For some reason, W. W. Simkins corresponded with The American Israelite periodical of Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1877, an editor mentioned that Simkins sent two gratis copies of his book on The Mystery of the Fellowship and Suffering of Jesus. The writer called Simkins’s religious sentiments “intense,” and his arguments “peculiar,” concluding “he [Simkins] has proved in the one [book] before us that he could be only an orthodox Christian.”[v] Perhaps he sent another gratis book copy of the next one. At least the periodical pays notice to “‘Retransposition and Original Reading of the First and Second Chapters of Genesis. A Correct Explanation of the Six Periods of Creation. The Eternal Light and Darkness, the Beginning and Completion of the New Creation,’ by W. W. Simkins. Pella, Iowa, A. T. Betzer, printer, 1878. Price 25 cts.” The writer also notes the volume has 127 pages and “The author proves that each day of Creation is 365,000 years and Jesus was God Almighty, besides other things, which appear self-evident to the author.”[vi]

William Washington died December 25, 1900 at Conotton, Harrison County, Ohio. He likely lies in an unmarked grave in the Conotton Cemetery.[vii]

[i] The 1880 & 1900 censuses give Maryland as his place of birth, but the 1850 census specifically gives Fayette County, Pennsylvania, which is probably correct.
[ii] The 1880 census lists W. W. Simkins as a widower. This, however, appears to be in error. His wife Catharine was living in the home of their son Willis in Masterville, Harrison County, Ohio in the 1880 census. Based on his writings, W. W. Simkins was probably in Iowa at least circa 1875-1885.
[iii] The faith of this group could be described as Pietism that is evangelical and Arminian.
[iv] Otterbein University, 1847-1907 (pp. 22-23), The History Of The United Brethren In Christ Vol. II (pp. 364, 404), History of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ (p. 606), History of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, Volume 1 (p. 290), History Of The Church Of The United Brethren in Christ (pp. 423-741).
[v] The American Israelite, Friday, January 5, 1877, p. 6.
[vi] The American Israelite, Friday, August 9, 1878, p. 7.
[vii] This is where his son is buried, as well as the town where he died.

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