RBH Report Keene for Phoebe Simmons


RBH Report Keene for Phoebe Simmons
RBH Keene
Carroll, Jennifer
Recovering Black History report compiled by volunteers from Keene for Phoebe Simmons
Individual Mentioned
extracted text
Phoebe Simmons
Residing in Keene, NH

Phoebe Simmons was born in 1800 in Rockingham, VT to Joseph and Phoebe Simmons. At
the time she also had at least one older sibling, a 4 year old sister. At some point Phoebe (and
possibly her sister) was sold or given to an enslaver as a young child in the Baxter family of
According to the Surry town history, Phoebe Simmons served the family of Simon Baxter for 5
generations; was included in the dowry of Baxter daughter Margaret. Phoebe was given a lump
sum and pension ; she became a boarder of Charles Robinson in Keene until her death in 1886.1

Family Timeline
1810: Other inhabitants not taxed in Surry, NH in 1810 equals 1. This could have been Phoebe
Simmons at age 10, enslaved to Simon & Margaret Baxter who were living in town.
1820: Simon Baxter had died in 1817. Margaret probably went to live with newly wed daughter
Nancy Baxter Field and her husband Cyrus. The only other female POC (age 15-26) in town
was living in the home of Cyrus Field. This would be Phoebe Simmons at age 20.
1823: Phoebe Simmons, enslaved woman of color residing in the home of Mrs. Margaret
Baxter, was gifted to Baxter’s granddaughter Mrs. Jonathan Robinson, a newly wed.2
1830: No persons of color are listed as residents of Surry but we know she was living with the
Robinson family. She is absent from the census.
1840: Unknown free female of color, aged 36-55, resided in the home of Jonathan Robinson in
Surry, NH. This is Phoebe Simmons.3
1850: Phoebe Simmons was a 49 year old free black woman residing in the home of Jonathan
Robinson. She was born in VT. She was single. No occupation is listed4.

Town History of Surry
Surry town history
US Federal Census 1840
US Federal Census 1850

Jennifer Carroll

1860: Phebe Simmons was a 59 year old black woman residing in the home of Jonathan
Robinson, where she worked as a domestic, in Keene. She was born in VT. [go to Surry prior to
1860 for more on Phoebe Simmons, enslaved woman who was emancipated at some point but
stayed with the Robinson family]5
1870: Phoebe Simmons was a 69-year old black woman residing in the household of Jonathan
Robinson of Keene. She is listed as the household domestic and she is blind. Also in the
household are Sarah T Robinson (57) and Daniel Robinson (35)6.
1880: Phebe Simmons, 80 year old black woman, resided in the home of Charles D. Robinson
at 185 Lincoln Street in Keene in 1880.7
1886: Phoebe Simmons died 8 Dec 1886 at the age of 86. She was buried in Woodland
Cemetery. According to the town history, she was buried with the Robinson family. At her
funeral, her older sister came from Charlestown where she resided in the home of Peter Evans
(according to town of Surry history).8
Her death record indicates that she died of old age in Keene on Dec. 9, 1886. She was born in
Rockingham, VT in the year 1800 to Joseph and Phoebe Simmons. Charles D. Robinson of
Keene was the attending physician.
Phoebe’s death was recorded in the Keene Sentinel on Dec. 29, 1886. “Miss Phoebe Simmons,
an old and established colored woman who had been in the Robinson family for over 60 years,
died at the residence of Mr. C. D. Robinson at the age of 86. She was born in Rockingham, VT,
in 1800 and was given by Mrs. Margaret Baxter of Surry to her granddaughter Mrs. Jonathan
Robinson 63 years ago, since which time she has remained in the family. She leaves a sister,
now 90, living in Charlestown.”9
Note on Robinsons:
Dr. Charles Dean Robinson cared for Phoebe Simmons in his home until her death in 1886.
Charles was born in Surry, NH on 14 Jun 1824, the son of Jonathan Robinson and Elvira Shaw.
He would have grown up with Phoebe his entire life if she came to the Robinson family in 1823.
Charles’ mother Elvira was born 15 Jul 1802 in Alstead, daughter of David and Prudence
(Baxter) Shaw. She married Jonathan Robinson 2 Nov 1823. According to the town history,
Elvira Shaw Robinson was gifted Phoebe Baxter in 1823, by her grandmother Margaret Baxter.
This could have been a wedding present? So prior to 1823, Phoebe lived in Surry in the Baxter

US Federal Census 1860
US Federal Census 1870
US Federal Census 1880
Surry town history
Keene Sentinel newspaper, 29 Dec 1886

Recovering Black History in the Monadnock Region project: Roxbury

Note on Margaret Baxter:
Margaret Noney, or Noony, daughter of James and Margaret Noney, was born on 14 June 1750
at Suffield, Hartford County, Connecticut.She married Simon Baxter III, son of Simon II and
Prudence (Fox) Baxter, probably about 1768.
Simon Baxter III served in the NH militia in 1776 under Captain Wyman of Keene. He is listed as
having been a resident of Alstead, having traveled 19 miles to serve.10 According to a letter by
his daughter Prudence Baxter to the NH govt, her father Simon Baxter III turned himself over to
the enemy as a loyalist in July 1777. His land/money was confiscated. Prudence was writing to
say that he was sorry and knows it was a mistake and could he have his money back.11
A note in the Rev War records, written to NH Gov. John Taylor Gilman (date 1782) indicates that
Simon Baxter was an absentee and his land in Alstead was sold to pay his tax debt to the state
of NH.12
Simon and Margaret’s son William Baxter (Prodence’s brother) was born in 1776 in Surry. In
1820, he is listed in Surry with an unknown male of color living in his household, aged 14-26.
Margaret’s husband Simon Baxter died in 1817 in Surry. In his will, there is no mention of
Phoebe Simmons.

Margaret died on 16 Sep. 1825 at Surry, Cheshire County, New Hampshire and was buried at
Surry Village Cemetery, Surry, Cheshire County, New Hampshire. Her memorial has a photo of
her headstone, biographical material and links to those of family members. [1]
Notes on Simon and Prudence Baxter
Simon Baxter II was born on 6 May 1730 to Simon Baxter Sr (b.1698, England) and Rebecah
(Tarbox) Burge. Simeon Baxter II and Prudence Fox were married in Hebron, CT, 20 April
174913 They came to live in Hartford CT (son Joseph b. 1762 Hartford) but moved to
Alstead/Surry, NH by 1764 (dau Dorothy born in Alstead).
Simon Jr was listed as serving in the 6th VT regiment in 1777 as a 3rd sergeant 14 in Jotham
White’s Company. Simeon Baxter Jr. and wife Prudence, ‘formerly of Alstead,” both died in

US Rev War rolls


NH Rev War records
Hebron CT town marriage record
VT Revolutionary War records
Recovering Black History in the Monadnock Region project: Roxbury

1804 in Bloomfield, Kings County, New Brunswick, Canada– indicating he was a loyalist in the
Rev War.15

Census Records
1860 U.S. Census

Keene Evening Sentinel. http://keene.advantage-preservation.com/



Find a Grave

Recovering Black History in the Monadnock Region project: Roxbury