Help is needed. Virginia Hill Mimms escaped. Do you know where she is?
The front page of the Santa Cruz Sentinel in Santa Cruz, California reported Virginia’s child burglary ring on June 20, 1940:
“Burglary Ring Arrest of two young women, one the mother of two children, arrest of a third juvenile boy and ‘cracking’ of four additional theft cases, were reported yesterday by the police department as they believed a local theft ring had been broken. Ten burglaries and petty theft cases were marked ‘solved’ as the prisoners confessed their activities… Mrs. Virginia Mimms, 21, of 131 Sycamore Street, was formally charged with first-degree burglary.”
Virginia Hill Mimms was identified as the mother of the two children. The two juveniles implicated the second woman as Betty Sages, age 16, who then was arrested. A total of five juveniles were identified in the gang.
A week later, the Sentinel reported:
“Woman Burglar Asks Probation pleading guilty to burglary. Mrs. Virginia Mimms, a 21-year-old mother of two children yesterday asked Superior Judge James L. Atteridge for probation. The court referred her case to the probation officer who will report his findings July 17.”
After June 28, 1940, Virginia Hill Mimms disappeared. Her two children disappeared with her. Since then, nothing more is known of Virginia Hill Mimms.
Virginia Hill Mimms Dropped Out of Sight
Virginia Hill Mimms is the second of the several wives of Wyatt Leon Mimms. Mimms and Hill were married in August of 1938 in the neighborhood of Naglee Park in San Jose, California.
Wyatt Mimms is a third cousin of Frank and Jesse James. Virginia Hill also is a half 15th cousin of Frank & Jesse James herself. The common ancestor shared by the distant-cousin couple reaches back into the royalty period with Edward I, King of England. Very likely, this remote fact of distant kinship went entirely unrecognized by Wyatt and Virginia at the time.
Virginia’s full maiden name is Virginia Helen Hill. She was born to Richard Taylor Hill 1882-1934 of Kansas and Mary “Mae” Freeman, born in California in 1880. Nothing more is known about Virginia’s parents or immediate family.
The brief marriage of Wyatt and Virginia produced two children. Wanda Mimms was born in 1939. Another child was born in 1940. Both children still may be living.
Virginia apparently formed the burglary gang with her children. Wyatt abandoned her. She and her children were left penniless and desperate.
A Relative in Syria Won’t Let Virginia Flee
Lilly Martin Sahiounie has lived in Syria for forty years since she married her Syrian husband. Her son, Steve Sahiounie, is a writer and political analyst. Lilly is the granddaughter of Henrietta Keller, the second wife of Eddie Bernard Mimms, the father of Wyatt Leon Mimms by a prior marriage.
For almost a generation, Lilly has sought her Mimms relatives. Her research has produced a large amount of information. At the heart of her research, Lilly wants to learn more about the missing Virginia Helen Hill Mimms.
Researching deeply into the Mimms genealogy, Lilly has assembled the following Mimms history. Information about this Mimms line never has been compiled before.
The Trail Takes Off with Drury Shadrach Woodson Mimms
Lilly’s research begins in Goochland County, Virginia, the seedbed of the Mimms family. Lilly’s focus is Drury Shadrach Woodson Mimms, the son of Robert Mimms and Lucy Poor, both migrants to Logan County, Kentucky from Goochland.
This family is well known to the Jesse James family. Drury S.W. Mimms, as he was called, is a brother of Rev. John Wilson Mimms who married Mary James, the eldest of the orphans of John M. James and Mary “Polly” Poor, the grandparents of Frank and Jesse James. The marriage was arranged by Drury Woodson Poor.
Drury S.W. Mimms operated a mill on Whippoorwill Creek. He did so with the help of two slaves. One was 53 years old. The second was only 17. Drury also farmed 112 acres on the Logan County border with Robertson County, Tennessee.
In 1857 when Drury S.W. Mimms died, his widow Elizabeth M. Rose Mimms asked her brother James B. Rose, the executor of Drury’s estate, to sell Drury’s mill. With no immediate prospects of a second marriage in sight, the widowed mother was desperate to receive the income from the sale to provide for her children Gideon M. and Virginia R. Mimms, as well as for herself.
Gideon Mason Mimms Hits the Road for Kansas
Gideon Mason Mimms was only a year and a half when his father died. For almost a decade, his mother struggled to provide for Gideon and his sister. When Gideon was eleven, his mother married John Joseph Pope of Robertson County, Tennessee. Gideon acquired an instant family of six step-brothers and sisters. He also gained some family stability. Unlike his distressful early childhood that followed his father’s passing, the few years left in his childhood were relatively comfortable.
When Gideon was twenty-two in 1876, he married Lou Ella Riley of Lickskillet. Gideon’s new father-in-law, James Albert Riley, had a harsh reputation for extreme cruelty and frugality that was downright stingy.
On the eve of the Civil War, a slave woman who had acquired her freedom through the Freedman’s Bureau escaped with a child slave who James Riley claimed to still own. Riley overtook the woman, beat her senseless with a club, and took the child back to Lickskillet. When searched for, Riley disappeared. He did so, he later stated, “to put the child out of reach of the damned Yankees.” Shortly afterward, Riley shot a Negro soldier. Once more, Riley disappeared to escape arrest. In due time, Riley was apprehended in Tennessee. He was tried for having “maltreated” Catherine Riley and found guilty. He was fined $100, almost half of which went to the freedwoman Catherine.
In time, James Albert Riley returned to Lickskillet to operate his mill. When the Bethany Church sought him out to acquire land for their house of worship, Riley sold the church one acre plus precisely an additional twenty-nine hundredths of an acre. Riley attached a caveat to the transfer that should the church convert the building to some other purpose or relocate, the land would revert to Riley.
Such actions by Gideon Mimms’ father-in-law apparently made it easy for Gideon to distance his wife from her father.
A pregnant Lou Ella was visiting her brother in Kansas Territory in Crawford County in the town of Girard. Although Lou Ella suspected she would give birth to twins, she was pregnant in fact with triplets. Around midnight between September 9 and 10 in 1892, Lou Ella gave birth to three children. The last of the three to be born was named Eddie Bernard Mimms. Gideon departed Keysburg in Logan County, Kentucky and joined Lou Ella and the three children to settle in Girard, Kansas.
Gideon Mimms Returns to Logan County
The first and second-born of Lou Ella and Gideon’s triplets were two females named Addie and Ettie Belle Mimms. As a child, Eddie Bernard Mimms chose to call himself Bill, so there would be no confusion among the three siblings Addie, Ettie, and Eddie Mimms. The name Bill Mimms stuck with Eddie Bernard Mimms for the rest of his life.
Gideon Mimms did not survive long on the Kansas frontier. The strip mines of Carbon Creek offered the only employment around Girard. The need for miners was so great, word was sent to Eastern Europe to recruit young immigrant men to come to Kansas. Girard was flooded by a wave of immigration from Balkan countries.
With the arriving immigrants came a rising tide of socialist politics. Girard attracted the luminaries of the socialist movement – Percy Daniels, the novelist Upton Sinclair, the founder of Chicago’s Hull House Jane Adams, presidential candidate Eugene V. Debs, and publisher Emanuel Haldeman-Julius. For Gideon Mimms, socialist politics was not what he knew or was used to. Gideon uprooted his family and returned to Kentucky and Logan County.
Eddie Bernard “Bill” Mimms Hightails to California
Ambitious Bill Mimms did not abandon all the railroad contacts he had made while in Kansas. Associating with the Brotherhood of Local Fireman and the American Railway Union founded by Eugene V. Debs worked to Bill’s benefit. Bill got a job with a railroad as a fireman. Working on trains, Bill hightailed from Logan County, Kentucky to the fields of the California Gold Rush. Bill was too late, though, to strike any gold. Instead, Bill found steady work on the trains pulling logs out of the Sierra Nevada mountain range.
In his late teens, Bill found himself a wife, too. He married Pearl Myone Rogers. Within a year, Wyatt Leon Mimms was born to the couple. For whatever misfortune, the marriage did not last long. Young Wyatt soon was living with his mother in San Luis Obispo, California, not too far from the town of Paso Robles, founded by Drury Woodson James. Later, Wyatt and his mother relocated to Santa Cruz, where his mother remarried.
“I know that Grandpa Bill did not like Jesse James, because of the outlaw reputation. My grandpa did have a Rebel flag always hanging in the house, and he identified with that.” – Lilly Martin Sahiounie
Six years of single life had passed before Bill met and married Henrietta Keller. Like Bill, Etta also had been married before. She brought a one-year-old child to their marriage. The child’s name was Billy Joe Martin.
The couple moved to Sultana, California. There, Bill bought a new home for Etta, paying $1,000 with his cash savings. In this house, Etta bore Bill two children of his own. The couple raised their combined three children as one family.
Bill worked as an equipment operator, maintaining the county roads of Tulare County. For 32 years, Etta worked in tandem with the fruit pickers of the field worker’s movement. Etta was a fruit packer around Dinuba. With their joint income, Bill and Etta visited Kentucky in the ‘30s and later in the ‘50s, to maintain ties with Bill’s relatives among the Mimms.
Bill died in 1967. Etta followed in 1985. Etta occupied their home for all of 51 years. Today, their two children live in Fresno, California and Montgomery County, Alabama. Lilly Martin Sahiounie maintains contact with them.
Etta’s first child Billy Joe Martin also grew up and married. The couple gave birth to Lilly Martin who is now Lilly Martin Sahiounie, living in Syria.
Bill Mimms is the only father and grandfather Billy and Lilly Martin ever knew. If you ask them, Bill Mimms is not just their biological ancestor. They continue to speak of Bill Mimms as their father and grandfather and consider him so.
Lilly’s immediate motivation for studying this Mimms family line of ancestors is to understand the relationship between Wayne Homer Mimms, a half-brother of Wyatt Leon Mimms, and her father Billy Joe Martin. The two were childhood friends, as well as cousins. They also link Lilly and her family to the Mimms family.
The Restless Flight of Wyatt Leon Mimms
Little is known about the childhood of Billy Mimms’ son Wyatt Leon Mimms. The boy grew up in the household of his mother Pearl Myone Rogers Mimms and his step-father. He visited his biological father often. That is about all that can be said, other than, Wyatt must have been a restless person. When he grew to adulthood, Wyatt took flight.
The research of Lilly Martin Sahiounie is voluminous. It would compose a small book quite nicely. For purposes here of clarity and brevity, the story of Wyatt Leon Mimms might best be represented in the following timeline.
- 1917: born in Hooker, Oklahoma
- 1920: living with his mother in Santa Cruz, California
- 1930: living in Santa Cruz with his mother and step-father
- 1936: issued a marriage license in Reno, Nevada to marry his first wife, Catherine Chilcote of Powder River, Montana, on November 10th
- 1936: arrested on December 20th, following his marriage, in Reno for disorderly conduct
- 1938: when he was an office clerk at the Pasatiempo Country Club in Santa Cruz, California, Wyatt married a second time to Virginia Helen Hill. He later is employed as an usher at the Santa Cruz Theater
- 1939: a first child is born to Virginia and Wyatt. The child’s name is not known
- 1940: their second child, Wanda Mimms, is born. Later in the years when the U.S. Census is taken, Virginia and Wanda are each identified as a “lodger,” living in San Jose, California
- 1941: Wyatt, while on duty in Hawaii as a police officer, is witness to the attack on Pearl Harbor by Japan
- 1942: Wyatt arrives in Honolulu aboard the K.V. Japara from the Canton Island of Kiribati in Micronesia on March 20 to work with the Hawaiian Construction Company on development of the Maryknoll School in Honolulu
- 1942: On December 31 Wyatt is mustered into the U.S. Armed Services
- 1943: Wyatt marries his third wife, Lila Kananioehowa Lee in the Hawaii Court of Domestic Relations on May 23rd
- 1947: Wyatt arrives in Honolulu aboard the S.S. Matsonia from Los Angeles and San Francisco
- 1948: On the 4th of July Wyatt marries his fourth wife Josephine Ruby West of Boise, Idaho in the Central Union Church
- 1949: Wyatt arrives in Hawaii aboard the S.S. Lurline with Josephine. Again he is employed as a police officer
- About 1952: Wyatt marries his fifth wife Jeanne June.
- 1953: Rodney Mimms is born to Jeanne June and Wyatt
- 1955: Wyatt is working as an agent for the GTE telephone company, a job he will hold until at least 1970. Josephine is a clerk for Standard Oil
- 1956: Josephine departed Nandi, Hawaii to travel to the mainland United States alone on January 23rd
- 1957: While still working for the GTE telephone company, now as a chief special agent, Wyatt flies aboard Pan American World Airways on March 22 to San Francisco alone
- 1976: Wyatt sells property in Hawaii that was held in the name of Wyatt and Margaret L. Mimms. The precise relationship between Wyatt and Margaret is unknown
- 1981: Wyatt’s granddaughter, Taryn D. Brewer, is born in California
- 1982: Wyatt obtains a divorce on May 26th from Virginia Helen Mimms in Alameda County Court in California
- 1982: Wyatt marries Margie Belle Hunnicutt on June 6th in Las Vegas, Nevada. The couple establish their home in Visalia, California, but travel extensively “living life to the fullest.” The marriage will last 26 years. This represents the most settled and stable period of Wyatt’s life
- 1994: Virginia Hill Mimms is recorded living in Berkeley, California, with a former residence in Sylacauga, Talladega County, Alabama
- 2000: On October 1st, Virginia is last recorded living in Paris, Texas.
- 2005: Margie Hunnicutt Mimms dies in a rest home on April 14th in Visalia, California
- 2005: Margaret R. Mimms paid taxes in Hawaii on May 16th
- 2005: Wyatt dies in a rest home on August 18th in Placerville, California
Do You Know Where Virginia Hill Mimms Is?
Nothing would be known about this Mimms family line were it not for Virginia Hill Mimms gone missing and the research of Lilly Martin Sahiounie. Virginia is last identified in 1949, living in Berkeley, California. Somewhere in the world of Mimms family genealogy, the rest of this story is waiting to be discovered.