Biography of Leah Lewis Simmons Thompson Childs - submitted by this author to Hancock County Historical Society for publication.
Leah Lewis was born on 7 May 1787 in New Ashford, Windham, Massachusetts. Her parents, Gideon Lewis and Sarah Card were both born in Washington County, Rhode Island, and her ancestors were early colonists of Rhode Island. At the age of 18 she married Samuel Simmons from Cheshire, Berkshire, Massachusetts, a town about 5 ½ miles away, with a few streams between them. They married in her hometown on 3 Nov 1805. They had two daughters before he died in 1809.
She married 41-year-old John David Thompson from Pelham, Hampshire, Massachusetts when her daughter Lucy Simmons was 5 years old. They raised 5 more children, born in Pomfret, Chautauqua, New York. He died there when their sons, Samuel, James Lewis, and John Wesley David were aged 10 and 5 years old, and 6 months, respectively. Their daughters, Mary Leah, and Sarah were 8 and 3 years old, and Lucy was 15.
Leah, now twice widowed, remained in Pomfret, and married Nathaniel Childs, from New Hampshire, and had three more children by the time she was in her mid-forties: Sybil, Patience, and Stephen. Shortly thereafter, in the mid 1830’s she and her husband, and all their children began the road that would eventually lead them to Hancock County. They all worked hard to build up the economy of the towns in the Nauvoo area. She spent the last years of her life there, and died in Nauvoo on 3 Nov 1843. At the time of her death she had 2 daughters and 2 sons raising their own families in Hancock County, and two more children raising their families in nearby counties.
She had at least 45 grandchildren. Most of her grandchildren migrated to the Omaha area with the large 1840’s migration. Some of them continued west from there, others remained in the area. Many of them retained a strong memory of their family’s efforts to build up communities in Illinois. She has descendants today contributing in many ways to the various churches, historical work, economy and tourism of Hancock County.
Leah Childs is listed in the memorials of people buried in the Old Nauvoo Burial Grounds, but her grave has never been mapped out on any records I've found. I have looked around in the cemetery several times over several years. I did hear a rumor that a grave mapping research project for that cemetery would be started in the future. I hope it discovers where her grave actually is.