Matoaka Whittle Sims

By Henry H. Mitchell

Matoaka Whittle Sims

Matoaka Whittle Sims was the daughter of James M. Whittle and his second wife (also his cousin), Cornelia Skipwith of Mecklenburg County. “Matoaka” was the Algonquian name of Chief Powhatan's daughter Pocahontas. Little Matoaka Whittle was descended from Pocahontas and John Rolfe on both sides of her family.

Matoaka's mother died in 1851. James Whittle never remarried. He and his daughters (Matoaka had an older half-sister Mary, daughter of Whittle's first wife Mary Coles) continued to live at Eldon, the home he had built for Cornelia.

In the fall of 1865 Matoaka was married to William E. Sims. For ten years the couple shared the residence at Eldon with James Whittle and his daughter Mary. In 1875 James Whittle contracted for the construction of a new home (now the Sims-Mitchell House) for William and Matoaka.

Matoaka and William Sims had three children: James, John, and Matoaka (who died in infancy). Mrs. Sims probably had heavy responsibility for the management of their home and children, while her husband led a (hyper)active public and political life, which eventually led to his local unpopularity and an exile to Washington, D. C., and to Colon, Colombia. William Sims died in Central America in 1891, the same year as his father-in-law James Whittle's death in Chatham. Matoaka continued to live in her home, alone, until her death in 1901. She was survived by her two adult sons, and by her half-sister “Miss Mary” Whittle of Eldon.

Note: The above portrait of Matoaka W. Sims is the property of Mark E. Waldo, Sr., descendant.

This website is sponsored by Mitchells Publications and the Sims-Mitchell House, Chatham, Virginia.