|On July 28, 29, 30, 2006 I, Freddie L. Sirmans, Sr. attended the Roberts family
reunion at the Doubletree Hotel in New York City. That gave me the idea to share
some of my family history. Back on March 12, 1990 my dear niece Debra M. Baker
for her winter quarter did an excellent research paper on the Sirmans-Roberts
I would like to thank my dear niece Debra for her research and hard work. I am so
proud of her and her accomplishment.
Sirmans-Roberts Family History
History 200-Winter Quarter
By- Debra M. Baker
March 12, 1990
For the purpose of this assignment, I chose to trace my maternal family lines.
During the next several pages, I will attempt to explain, as briefly as possible, my
family origin and its multi-nationality lineage, as well as the few of the many
noteworthy experiences and accomplishments that span seven generations and
almost two centuries.
Researching my family history has not only afforded me a greater knowledge of my
roots; it has given me the opportunity to fellowship with the oldest members of my
family, who are often forgotten about and seldom visited by younger generations.
During these visits, they related many of their youthful experiences, good and bad,
as well as their cherished memories of deceased family members and friends.
The Sirmans family origin can be traced back six generations ( including my
daughter). It begins with Steve “Buck”, a slave, born on the Sirmans’ plantation
(later Sirmans, Georgia) in the early eighteen hundreds. There he met and married
Cynthia, also a slave. To that union were born two sons and seven daughters:
Robert (Rob), Jack, Liza, Mattie, Emma, Dinah, Etta, Lula, and Melinda. In 1864,
after becoming freemen, Steve and Cynthia Sirmans relocated their family to
Lanier county, Georgia (Stockton). There Steve and his sons purchased farm land
which remained the home site until 1956. Six of the seven sisters never married, but
lived together at the home site until their deaths. Jack married Pinkie, they became
the parents of eight children: Steve, Ananias, John, Hatley, Ollie, Arbella (Giles),
Genet (McKinnon) and Cora Mae (Rance). Rob and Mattie married another sister
and brother (Alice and Barry Roberts) creating a double kinship.
The earliest verifiable account of the Roberts family’s American genealogy also
reaches back to the eighteen hundreds. Bob Roberts, born around 1826, came to
America from Liverpool, England, aboard an oil barge. He embarked at Boston,
Massachusetts, around 1850. He later met and married Lucinda, and together they
raised their children in Echols County, Georgia. Lucinda, born around 1847, was a
Cherokee Indian. From a previous union, Bob was the father of two daughters:
Emma (Scarlet) and Sylvia (Mitchell). Born to their union were seven sons: Jeff,
Barry, John C., Bob Jr., David, Ed, Willie, and six daughters: Jencey (Townsend),
Alice (Sirmans), Susie (Simmons), Leola (Delane), Matilda (Chaney), and Lou Ella
(Jones). Bob died March 27, 1898, from injuries he received when he was thrown
from his horse, and he was laid to rest at Wayfair church cemetery in Statenville,
Georgia, where Lucinda later joined him at her death, on August 08, 1910. In that
same year, their son, David, also died after contracting malaria.
The surviving offspring of this, ill-timed, mixed marriage were not accepted as white
Americans, because of their Indian lineage, and were not accepted by the Cherokee
Nation, because of their white lineage. As a result, ironically, each would later
marry black Americans. Jeff met and married Fanny, and to their union was born
one daughter, Eva, and one son, Willie. Barry and his first wife, Mattie, were the
parents of five children: Tom, Lloyd, Jeff, Liza, and Jerusha. Barry later married
Lennie and to their union were born four sons: Jim, Gus, Abe, and willie. John C.
and Georgia, his first wife, were the parents of five children: John C. (Buddy) Jr.,
David (Boy), Laura, Lola, and Georgelle. He later married Carrie. Bob had one
daughter, Ethel. Ed met and married Cleo and they moved to Quincy, Florida
where he trained and worked as a barber. They later moved to Cleveland, Ohio.
Willie and Fanny, his first wife, were the parents of one son, Willie Jr. Willie Sr.
later married Bessie. Jencey met and married Rev. Robert Townsend, from North
Carolina. They made their home in Hamilton County, Florida where they became
the parents of seventeen children. Thirteen lived to reach adulthood: Leon, James,
Jeff, Lee, Willie, Corentha, Lucinda, Elizabeth, Frances, Callie, Algebra, Della, and
Susie. Emma Scarlet, who made her home in Waycross, Georgia, Leola (Lee)
Delane, who made her home in Palatka, Florida, and Lou Ella (Baby) Jones had no
children. Susie (Annie) married James Simmons and their union produced six
children: Bennie, George, Jack, Robert, Lucy, and Margaret. Sylvia Mithell
became the mother of four sons: Yancey, Dave, Bob, and Leon. Matilda married
Otis Chaney of Ray City, Georgia (father of Otis, Jr. and Sarah) and to their union
were born two sons: Robert and William, who died tragically at age twelve. Matilda
and Otis later made their home in Manhattan, New York.
I am a direct descendant of a Sirmans-Roberts union. In 1894, Rob Sirmans, son of
Steve “Buck” and Cynthia Sirmans, met and married Alice Roberts, daughter of
Bob and Lucinda Roberts. They resided and raised their children on the farm in
Lanier County, Georgia (Stockton). To their union twelve children were born:
Charlie (Buddy), Freddie, Jack “J.C.”, Orry, Walter Alfonso, Mattie (Sirmans),
Magalene (Willis), Alice (Foster), Lucinda (Flagler), Faithella (Baker), Eddie Mae
(Bines), and Evelyn. Two of the children died in their early adulthood: Evelyn, of a
suspected brain stroke, and Orry, the victim of a tragic murder.
Of the surviving sons only Charlie, would continue the farming tradition. Freddie
received a calling to the ministry at an early age and, in addition to being a Baptist
minister, he became a master brick and block mason. Freddie married Mary Ollie
and they later adopted a son, Artis. J.C. was drafted at the onset of world war II
and later saw action in the Allies’ campaign in North Africa. J.C. and wife, Ophelia,
had one daughter, Ruby. Alfonso was drafted also, but he was never sent abroad.
Alfonso was the father of three: Harriet, by his first wife, Eloise, and later Walter
Alfonso Jr. and Larry by Helen. He later made his home in New York City.
Three of their daughters (lena, Cindy, and Ella) chose careers as school teachers
before settling down to marriage and family life. Mattie, the oldest child, married
Jeff Sirmans and their union produced two children: Robert Lee and Rutha Lee
(Frazier). Lena married Ad Willis and they were the parents of five: Ad Jr.,
Odessa (Carter), Grace (Sherry), Dorothy (Toson), and Eloise. Alice married
James Foster and their union produced two children: James Jr. (Bud) and little
Alice. Alice later moved to Jacksonville, Florida. Lucinda (Cindy) Married
Benjamin Flafler and their union two sons were born: Robert and Sammie Lee. She
also moved to Jacksonville, Florida where she built her own home with her own two
hands (down to the intricate details in the stone walkway). Faithella (Ella) married
Walter Cridle and they were the parents of one daughter, Bessie Mae (Taylor).
Walter died and Ella later married Mr. Baker. Ella owned and operated a grocery
and dry goods store adjacent to her home on Johnson street in Valdosta, Georgia
for many years. Eddie Mae met and married Jim Henry Bines, also of Stockton,
Georgia and their union produced three children: Charles and Frances (Hall) and a
son who died as a young child.
In 1927 Charlie Sirmans, oldest son of Rob and Alice Sirmans, Met Alberta Leona,
oldest daughter of Gertrude Knight Corbin. Charlie, father of Millie (Coleman),
married Alberta on June 22nd, 1928 in Lanier County, Georgia. They resided at
Stockton, Georgia, where they farmed and raised their children, until 1956. To
their union fourteen children were born. Regretfully, seven of the fourteen were
either still born or died shortly after birth. The seven surviving offspring consisted
of five sons and two daughters: Marvin Elder, Buie C. (Charles), Freddie L.
Sirmans, Walter Bernard (Rip), Jimmy Carroll, Betty Gertrude (Williams-
Donaldson), and Mary Alice (Myers). Dear Alberta passed away on March 21,
1972, and was lain to rest at Sunset Cemetery of Valdosta, Georgia. Later Charlie
married Eddie Mae (Ada) Phillips and their union produced one daughter, Cynthia
With the birth of Quaneesha, in 1989, there are currently six living generations of
the Sirmans-Roberts family lineage. The remarkable longevity of our family
members has served as a preserving agent in maintaining the closeness of our
somewhat large family. This closeness has also been reinforced through the years
by our struggles to survive in American society.
My grandfather, Charlie Sirmans, refers to the Great Depression as the “Hoover
Days”. For those who had no jobs, there was no jobs to be found and there was
very little money in circulation. For many whites these were dire times, but for
blacks times were already hard. You don’t miss what you never had. Fortunately,
the Hoover Days had little effect on my family’s welfare. Because they were
farmers, they never lacked for food. Many of the older children also had jobs away
from the farm. My grandfather, for example, worked for the railroads at that time.
The railroads, like many large companies at that time, provided food for it’s
employees at wholesale prices. However, my grandfather recalls that his father, as
a result of shortage of money, often paid field hands in meats, meal, syrup, or other
Our greatest individual achievements, I feel, have been in the field of education.
The earliest of which dates back to the first decade of the 1900’s. My great uncle
John C. Roberts, a prominent farmer and land owner by that time, built the first
school for blacks in Echols County, Georgia. He later purchased their first school
bus and became the first driver of the bus. He served actively as a member of the
Echols County Board of Education until his death. In the generations since we have
numerous members that have achieved, through higher education, successful
careers as Doctors, Nurses (RN and LPN), Lawyers, Engineers, Technicians,
Counselor, Accountants, and of course, Educators (elementary thru college level).
Date Name: Relationship
02/24/1990 Faithella Sirmans Baker Grand-Aunt-Born in 1900
02/24/1990 Charlie Sirmans Grandfather-Born April 09, 1906
03/08/1990 Lucinda McWhite Cousin-Born in 1906
03/08/1990 Bessie Roberts Great-Aunt-Born in 1898
03/08/1990 Brunell Roberts Hill Cousin
03/10/1990 Lucy Simmons Cousin
03/08/1990 Sarah Smith Cousin
*August 12, 2006 I, Freddie L. Sirmans, Sr. made one or two of minor edits.