This page updated 20 Sep 2010
“Leaves of the Mims Family Tree” is a paper about the origins of the Mims family in Virginia, written by Sam Mims of Minden, Louisiana, in 1961. Copies reside in an number of libraries, and have circulated on the Internet for many years.
In the paper, Mims says the material in it is based on research he undertook in the State of Louisiana and in the Library of Congress, the National Archives, the Bureau of Land Management in the Department of Interior, and other departments in Washington, DC, to provide background for his book on the massacre at Fort Mims. He says that the book was titled Red Sticks and Fort Mims but a current search finds no such book, although there are a number of other titles by a Sam Mims, some linked to Louisiana. Perhaps this work was never published. He says “Leaves” was produced to make available data that he had accumulated, much of which was not used in his book.
Sam Mims declares he was not a genealogist, and says he hopes his “...residue may be a basis from which others can work.” Prophetically, he adds the statement “Innocent errors made today may become false leads tomorrow. They may lure researchers into following trails that eventually turn into blind alleys.”
Indeed, 45 years of additional research by experienced genealogists have disclosed a number of significant errors in the paper. For example, it seems certain that Mims has mingled two different men, Thomas Mims, who died in 1711 in New Kent Co. and was likely the patriarch of the Mims family Sam writes about, and Thomas Minns who died Feb 1693/94 in Middlesex Co.1 In another error common in those not familiar with seventeenth and eighteenth century family research, he makes much of spelling differences of surnames. In fact, people of that era were indifferent to any standardization of spelling. For example, the Vestry Book of St. Peter's Parish in New Kent Co. records the surname of Thomas, son of Thomas of New Kent Co. above, as Mims, Mimms, and Mimes within a few pages.
Novice family historians have accepted Mims’ account uncritically, while experienced researchers have denigrated it as fraught with errors. In my view, the truth lies midway, as if often does. Clearly the paper contains errors, some of them significant. Nevertheless, it is a useful basis from which to work, as Sam Mims suggested, for those willing to independently verify the assertions it contains. For those researchers, I provide a copy of the text which I have assembled from several versions circulating on the Internet, verified as much as possible to reflect Sam Mims’ original work. I do not include any “corrections” to the statements he made.
Download “Leaves from the Mims Family Tree” as a PDF file here.
Those interested in "our" Mims line – centering on Linah of Greenbrier and Kentucky – can find it on our Mims website.
1. Thanks to Ann Blomquist for working this out.