Simeon and Rhoda Toney

Simeon Toney’s headstone in Sterling, MA

Simeon Toney was born about 1785 to probably Susanna Harry and Caesar Toney, Jr. For many years I believed that Simeon was the son of Abraham Toney, Caesar’s brother but I think that his birth year combined with the 1800 census makes me nearly certain that Simeon is my great-uncle not my distant cousin.

Simeon was born in Upton, MA at the Toney farm on North St. After the death of his grandfather Caesar, his father and uncle sold the farm and together started the move to Royalston, MA with their families. In 1808, Simeon married Rhoda Dorchester of NH and settled in Sterling, MA. The 1810 Sterling federal census shows 3 fpc in Simeon’s household. Simeon and Rhoda had at least 7 children all born in Sterling including Albert, Alfred, Harriet, Sarah, Lucy, and Henry. Simeon made a living as a stone cutter, paid taxes and voted. He died at age 47 on 12 August 1832 just 4 months after the birth of his son Henry. The photo above shows his gravestone at Chocksett Cemetery in Sterling.

Three years later, Rhoda Toney married George Brooks and moved to Worcester with her young children. Her adult son Alfred moved with the family and became a barber in Worcester. Daughters Harriet and Sarah both married in 1848 to Henry Willard and James C. Johnson, respectively.

George Brooks died prior to 1850 and Rhoda continued to make Worcester her home. By 1870, at nearly 80, she lived with daughter Harriet and family on Union St. At the time of her death in 1882, she had moved from Worcester to Springfield where her youngest daughter Lucy lived with her family.

There are no family stories about Simeon and Rhoda. And I do not know of a single person who claims descent from either. It seems that all of their sons were childless or at least had no children that lived long enough to have children of their own. Daughter Sarah married twice – the 2nd time to John Thomas – but no children have been identified for her nor her sister Lucy Lee. Harriet Willard perhaps had 3 sons but no living descendants of those sons have been identified yet.

Being forgotten or not having any descendants to tell your stories does not make your life any less remarkable. I’ve not written nor do I know of a single newsworthy thing that either Simeon or Rhoda did in their lifetimes. They were Black and Indigenous people who lived free and were able to make a living and care for their family – in the early to mid 1800s when slavery still existed in these united states. And that’s enough to celebrate the lives of Simeon and Rhoda Toney.

One thought on “Simeon and Rhoda Toney

  1. I am so proud to be a part of this family. It gives me a purpose and pride to know My forefathers were good hard working people with a purpose.

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