“To upset the conclusion that all crows are black, there is no need to seek demonstration that no crows are black; it is sufficient to produce one white crow; a single one is sufficient.”–William James
This statement was made in 1890 by William James, American philosopher and psychologist, who had helped found the American Society for Psychical Research. William James believed that Boston medium Mrs. Leonora Piper was his white crow, an authentic medium capable of demonstrating evidence of (life after death) survival through her clairvoyant ability.
She was born Leonora Evelina Simonds, reportedly in Nashua New Hampshire on 27 June 1859 [although most biographies state she was born in 1857], the daughter of Stillman & Hannah (Stevens) Simonds. On 6 Oct 1881, at the age of 22, she married in Haverhill MA to William R. Piper, son of James M. & Minerva Piper. He was a manufacturer, born in Toledo, Ohio. They had two daughters, Alta and Minerva. Leonora (Simonds) Piper died 3 July 1950.
There is an often repeated story about how her “psychic” talents were known to her at an early age. She was “discovered” in 1885 by William James. Mrs. Piper’s trance speech and writing were studied extensively between 1885 to 1911 by James and other members of the American and British Societies for Psychical Research. She became for William James his ‘white crow’, when he became convinced of the paranormal origin of some of her trance utterances. In 1929 her daughter Alta, wrote a book about her called, The Life and Work of Mrs. Piper.
Web sites regarding this interesting woman can be found as follows (to name just a few)
First Spiritual Temple: On Mediumship: Leonora Piper
–SIMONS/SIMONDS ANCESTORS OF LEONORA EVELINE (SIMONDS) PIPER–
Samuel Simonds, of Haverhill MA, son of William & Elizabeth Simons. He married abt 1668 to Elizabeth Webster, dau of John & Mary (Shatswell) Webster of England. In October 1682, the town of Haverhill voted to purchase of Samuel Simons, “his house & nine acres of land for the use of the ministry.” The town gave Simons for his house and land, “forty acres near Fishing river, and 30 pounds in what, rye, and corn.” “Henry Kingman Webster desc” Peabody Muse., Salem, Massachusetts. states Elizabeth Webster was born in Newbury MA in 1639 and moved to Haverhill MA with her mother and stepfather about 1650. Also that she married in Haverhill before 1669 (to Samuel Simons):
Children of Samuel & Elizabeth (Webster) Simonds:
1. John Simonds, b. 14 Apr 1669 [Haverhill MA recs]; m. 8 Oct 1705 in Haverhill MA to Elizabeth HARRIS; descendants resided in Weare NH
2. Mary Simonds, b. 16 Aug 1670 [Haverhill MA recs]; m. Job EATON, had issue.
3. Samuel Simonds, b. 14 May 1672 [Haverhill MA recs], d. 18 June 1682
4. Nathan Simonds, b. 20 Sep 1673 [Haverhill MA recs]; m1) Mary Bodwell, m2) Ann George; had issue.
5. Jonathan Simonds, b. 21 June 1675 [Haverhill MA recs], d. 3 Feb 1676
6. +Jonathan Simonds, b. 3 May 1678 [8 May 1679 Haverhill MA recs]
7. William Simonds, b. 30 March 1680 [Haverhill MA recs], d. 15 July 1680
8. Elizabeth Simonds, b. 18 Apr 1683 [Haverhill MA recs]
9. Abigail Simonds, b. Aug 1686 [Haverhill MA recs]; m. John REWEY, had issue.
Jonathan Simonds/Simons, son of Samuel & Elizabeth (Webster) Simonds, b. 3 May 1678 in Haverhill MA, d. 8 Apr 1764 in Haverhill MA; he m. 4 Nov 1707 in Haverhill MA to Sarah Heath, dau of Josiah & Mary (Davis) Heath. She b. 17 June 1685 in Haverhill MA and d. 10 Feb 1763 in Haverhill MA. Probably the Jonathan Simonds found on the list (June 19, 1710) being supplied snow shoes by the General Court, as a soldier under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Saltonstall (French & Indian Wars). On list of taxpayers of Haverhill MA 10 December 1741 as “Jonathan Simons.”
Children of Jonathan & Sarah (Heath) Simonds:
1. Sarah Simonds, b. 11 March 1709/10. A daughter Sarah was baptized 27 Dec 1719 in Haverhill MA. Unsure if this is the same, or a 2nd daughter named Sarah.
2. Hannah Simonds, b. 18 June 1713 [Haverhill MA recs]; m. 13 Dec 1732 in Haverhill MA to Benjamin WORCESTER. Had issue.
3. +Jonathan Simonds, b. 11 Oct 1718 in Haverhill MA
Jonathan Simonds, son of Jonathan & Sarah (Heath) Simonds, b. 11 Oct 1718 in Haverhill MA and d. 8 Apr 1764 in Haverhill MA. He married 2 June 1742 in Haverhill MA to Mary Follinsby/Follansbee, dau of William & Mary (Robinson) Follansby/Follansbee. She b. 3 July 1724 in Haverhill MA.
Children of Jonathan & Mary (Follinsby) Simonds:
1. ?Jonathan Simonds, b. 15 July 1744
2. William Simonds, b. 15 March 1745/46 [Haverhill MA recs]
3. Sarah Simonds, b. 5 March 1748/49 [Haverhill MA recs]
4. Nehemiah Simonds, b. 30 Apr 1751 [Haverhill MA recs]; m. 19 Nov 1772 in Hampstead NH to Molly Follensbee, had issue
5. Moses Simonds, b. 4 Sep 1753?
6. Mary Simonds, b. 21 July 1757 in Haverhill MA, d. 17 May 1839 Groton MA; m. 11 Apr 1775 in Haverhill MA to Francis WORCESTER. Had issue.
7. Susanna Simonds, b. 11 May 1759 [Haverhill MA recs]
8. +Moses Simonds, b. 2 May 1764 in Haverhill MA [Haverhill MA recs]
Moses Simonds, son of Jonathan & Mary (Follansby/Follansbee) Simonds, was born 2 May 1764 in Haverhill MA and d. 13 Feb 1810 in Groton MA. He married abt 2 July 1782 in Haverhill MA to Sarah Follansby. She b. in Haverhill MA and d. July 1823 in Groton MA. This line from Walter Hazen firstname.lastname@example.org. From History of Haverhill NH, page 407-408, among a list of men from whom the town treasurer borrowed money in order to raise soldiers for the militia (American Revolution) in 1778, included “Dec 1, Jona Simmons 30, and December 31, Moses Simmons, 12.” The Haverhill town records show that on Nov 6 1779 Moses Simmons was owed 90 pounds, borrowed of him to support the war effort.
Children of Moses & Sarah “Sally” (Follansby/Follansbee) Simonds:
1. Lydia Simonds, b. 8 Sep 1784 [Groton MA recs]
2. Mary Simonds, b. 8 Dec 1787 [Groton MA recs]
3. Sarah Simonds, b 8 Apr 1790 [Groton MA recs]
4. Hannah Simonds, b. 9 June 1792 [Groton MA recs]
5. ?Elizabeth Simonds, b. 6 May 1795
6. +Moses Simonds, b. 15 May 1797 [Moses Simons son of Moses and Sally, Groton MA recs]
7. Lucy Simonds, b. 8 Sep 1799 [Groton MA recs]; m. 16 Jan 1824 at Groton MA to Isaac Hazen. No Children. She married a 2nd time.
8. James Simonds, b. 7 Oct 1802 [Groton MA recs]
9. John Simonds, b. 12 Oct 1805 in Groton MA, d. 23 Aug 1874 in Groton MA; m. 5 May 1833 to Rebecca Hazen. She b. 22 July 1811 in Groton MA. Had issue.
Moses Simonds, son of Moses & Sarah (Follansby/Follansbee) Simonds, b. 15 May 1797 in Groton MA. He married [Dunstable recs] 8 Apr/May 1823 in Dunstable MA to Susan BLOOD, dau of Peter and Sarah (Perkins) Blood. She b. 4 Oct 1804 in Dunstable MA.
U.S. Census > 1850 United States Federal Census > New Hampshire > Hillsborough > Nashua
Moses Simonds 53 M Farmer 2500 Massachusetts [b abt 1797 MA]
Susan Simonds 45 F MA [b abt 1805 MA]
Stilman F. Simonds 21 M Farmer MA [b abt 1829]
Emeline Simonds 15 F MA [b abt 1835]
John W. Simonds 13 M MA [b abt 1837]
Mary A. Simonds 11 F MA [b abt 1839]
(Note Stilman F. is also shown in the same year in Dunstable, Middlesex Co MA, living in the household of Isaac P. & Sarah Sanderson, a farm family.
U.S. Census > 1860 United States Federal Census > New Hampshire > Hillsborough > Hollis
America Shattuck 24 M Shoemaker 200 b NH [b abt 1836 NH]
Mary A. Shattuck 20 F Wife NH
Susan O. Shattuck 11/12 F NH
Moses Symonds 63 M Farmer MA
Susan B. Symonds 56 F wife MA
1870 United States Federal Census > New Hampshire > Hillsborough > Nashua > 173
Simonds, Moses 75 M W NH
Susan 66 F W 1500 200 NH [b abt 1804]
Children of Moses & Susan (Blood) Simonds:
1. James Lorenzo Simonds, b. 8 March 1824 in Dunstable MA [Dunstable recs]
2. Joseph Augustus Simonds, b. 15 Feb 1827 in Dunstable MA; m. 24 Jan 1847 to Betsey Tubbs. She b. 10 Dec 1828 in New Boston NH, dau of James & Betsy W. (Faxon) Tubbs. Children: (1) Augustus Francisco, b. 1847 NH; (2) Nelson Eldorado, b. 1849 NH, m. Sarah Hayes; (3) Vilona L., b. abt 1853 NH, m. Daniel R. Marshall; (4) Alfred B. b abt 1855 NH; and (5) Estella “Stella” Betsy SIMONDS, b. 3 May 1858 in Washington NH, d. 27 June 1927 in Newport NH, m. 14 Nov 1877 Edward C. Messer, had issue.
3. +Stillman Francillo Simonds, b 18 May 1829 in Dunstable MA [‘Stilmon’ in Dunstable recs]
4. Moses Almon Simonds, b. 9 April 1831 in Dunstable MA; probably the Moses Simonds living in Dover, Strafford Co NH in 1870 with wife Jane.
5. Susan Elizabeth Simonds, b. 3 May 1833 in Dunstable MA
6. Nancy Emeline Simonds, b. 29 Apr 1835 in Dunstable MA
7. John Waltern Simonds, b. 13 April 1837 in Dunstable MA; possibley the John Simonds found in 1860 in Dover, Strafford Co NH with wife Augusta and daughter Ada; found in 1870 in Haverhill, Essex Co MA with wife Augusta, children John J. and Ella F. and an Elizabeth Calif
8. Mary Antinette Simonds, b. 8 June 1839 in Nashua NH, recorded Dunstable MA; married abt 1855 to America Shattuck, son of Abraham & Eunice (Jefts-Creighton) Shattuck. He b. 7 July 1835 in NH (possibly Washington, Sullivan Co.); had issue, (1) Orianna B., b abt July 1859 in NH, and (2) Earnest/Ernest, b. abt 1862/63 in NH; America Shattuck ran a “Dining Room” in 1895 in Nashua NH. In 1910 living in Nashua NH, census states 3 children, 1 living.
9. Sarah Frances Simonds, b. 10 Nov 1841 in Nashua NH, recorded Dunstable MA
10. George Francis Simonds, b. 25 Sept 1843 in Nashua NH, recorded Dunstable MA
Stillman Francillo Simonds, son of Moses & Susan (Blood) Simonds, was born 18 May 1829 in Dunstable NH [listed as ‘Stilmon’ in the records, his death rec says he was born 17 May 1828], and died 30 Dec 1907 in Middleton NH. He married by 1854 to Hannah “Anna” W. Stevens. She b. abt 1836 in Middleton New Hampshire, and died before 1900. He is probably the Stillman Simons who enlisted in Company I, 16th NH Volunteer Infantry (Civil War). In 1870 this family was living in Middleton, Strafford Co NH, and in 1880 living in Haverhill, Essex Co., MA. By 1900 the widowed Stillman is found living in the Old Soldier’s Home in Tilton NH. He resided in Nashua NH, moving to Middleton NH about 1892. Occupation: mechanic
U.S. Census > 1870 United States Federal Census > New Hampshire > Strafford > Middleton
Simonds, Stillman F. 41 M W Works for Shoe Factory 650 350 Massachusetts [b abt 1829]
Simonds, Hannah W. 34 F F W Keeping House NH [b abt 1836]
Simonds, Wells E. 16 M W Works for shoe factory NH [b abt 1854]
Simonds, Susan A. 14 F W at home NH [b abt 1856]
Simonds, Lenora E. 10 F W Attenting school NH [b abt 1860]
Simonds, Mary A. 8 F W Attending school NH [b abt 1862]
Simonds, George H 5 M W Attending school NH [b abt 1865]
1880 United States Federal Census > Massachusetts > Essex > Haverhill > District 182 [resided WEST STREET]
Simons, Stilman W M 51 Stable Keeper NH NH NH
Simons, Hannah W F 45 wife Keeps House NH Mass Mass
Simons, Susie H. W F 24 dau keeps house NH NH NH
Simons, Lenora E W F 20 daughter Stitcher shoes NH NH NH
Simons, Mary A. W F 18 dau shoe shop NH NH NH
Mabury, Charles A. W M 22 son in law shoe maker ME ME ME
Simons, George H. M W 13 son at school NH NH NH
Simons, John H. W M 9 son at school NH NH NH
Johnson, Edward M W 15 shoe maker ME ME ME
Mabury Walter W M 20 shoe maker ME ME ME
Stevens, Frank M. W M 25 shoe maker NH ME NH
[notation in bottom margin, young Richard died 27 day of April 1880, consumption]
1900 United States Federal Census > New Hampshire > Belknap > Tilton > District 12
Simons, Stilman F. Inmate W F May 1829 71 widow MA MA MA
Directories & Member Lists > New Hampshire City Directories > Strafford County > 1909 > City Information
Deaths Recorded in Middleton: SIMMONS, STILMAN F., 79, December 31
American Civil War Soldiers Record
about Stillman F Simons
Name: Stillman F Simons ,
Residence: Washington, New Hampshire
Enlistment Date: 22 September 1862
Distinguished Service: DISTINGUISHED SERVICE
Side Served: Union
State Served: New Hampshire
Unit Numbers: 1200 1200
Service Record: Enlisted as a Private on 22 September 1862 at the age of 33
Enlisted in Company I, 16th Infantry Regiment New Hampshire on 23 October 1862.
Mustered out Company I, 16th Infantry Regiment New Hampshire on 20 August 1863 in Concord, NH
Children of Stillman & Hannah/Anna (Stevens) Simonds:
1. Wells E. Simonds, b. abt 1853-1854 NH; he m 18 May 1874 in Farmington NH to Emma J. Laurens, dau of Isaac.
2. Addie Susan “Susie” Simonds, b. abt 1856 Middleton, Strafford Co. NH; m1) 7 June 1874 in NH to Moses W. Foss, son of Warren & E. (?) Foss; m3rd) July 1896 in Middleton NH to George E. Emery, son of Paphet & Mary E. (Jenness) Emery
3. +Lenora/Leonora E. Simonds, b. 27 June 1859 Nashua NH
4. Anna D. Simonds, b 4 Sep 1861 in Washington, Sullivan Co. NH [birth record says 4th
5. Mary A. Simonds, b. abt 1862 NH
6. George H. Simonds, b. Nov 1865 in NH; in 1900 living in Denver, Arapahoe Co, Colorado (boarding). The census indicates he is married for 12 yrs, and is a saloon keeper.
7. John H. Simonds, b. Apr 1871 in NH; in 1900 boarding with his brother in Denver, Colorado, his occupation being Bar Tender.
Leonora Evelina Simonds, dau of Stillman F. & Hannah/Anna (Stevens) Simonds, was born 27 June 1859 in Nashua NH, and died 3 July 1950 in Brookline MA. She married 6 Oct 1881 in Haverhill MA to William R. Piper, son of James M. & Minerva Piper. He was born May 1857 in Ohio, and died in 20 June 1904 in Arlington MA. They were living at 243 Park Ave in Arlington MA at the time of his death, and both are buried in Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, Arlington MA. This article is about her. See above.
U.S. Census > 1900 United States Federal Census > Massachusetts > Middlesex > Arlington > District 657
Piper, James M. Head W M Jan 1833 67 married 30 yrs NH MA NH merchant, books
Piper, Minerva wife W F Feb 1834 66 married 30 yrs 1 ch 1 living NY CT CT
Piper, William son W M May 1857 43 married 15 yrs Ohio NH NY
Piper, Leonora A. d-in-law W F June 1860 40 married 15 yrs 2 ch 2 living NH NH NH clairvoyant
Piper, Alta L. granddau W F May 1884 16 single MA Ohio NH
Piper, Minerva S. granddau W F Oct 1885 14 single MA Ohio NH
Chander, Ellen, servant W F May 1880 20 single Sweden Sweden Sweden
1920 United States Federal Census > Massachusetts > Suffolk > Boston Ward 25 > District 588
Piper, Leonora Head F W 58 Widowed MA Canada-Eng England
Piper, Minerva dau F W 34 single MA Ohio MA
Piper, Alta dau F W 35 single MA Ohio MA
1930 United States Federal Census > Massachusetts > Norfolk > Brookline > District 19
Piper, Leonora E Head F W 70 widow NH MA NH
Piper, Minerva M. dau F W 44 single MA Ohio NH vocal teacher
Social Security Death Index Record
Name: Minerva Piper
Last Residence: 02107 Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States of America
Born: 7 Oct 1885
Died: Feb 1972 [22 Feb 1972, Boston MA]
State (Year) SSN issued: Massachusetts (1963 )
Contributed by Chris Dunham
I found the marriage record of Lenora Simonds and William Piper in Mass. VRs [vol. 327, p. 151]. They were married 6 Oct. 1881 in Boston, she a resident of Haverhill, Mass., aged 23, born in Nashua, N. H., the daughter of Stillman and “Anna” Simonds.
Children of William R. & Leonora (Simonds) Piper
1. Alta L. Piper, b. May 1884. Single in 1920; died before 1972.
2. Minerva S. Piper, b. 7 Oct 1885 in MA, d. 22 Feb 1972 in Boston MA, unmarried; a vocal teacher in 1930 U.S. Census. From Boston Herald (Boston MA) Thursday February 24, 1972, page 10: “PIPER–In Boston, February 22, Minerva M., daughter of the late William and Leonora Piper; sister of the late Alta L. Piper. Funeral service at the Waterman Chapel, 495 Commonwealth Avenue, Kenmore Square, Boston on Friday, February 23, at 3 PM.”
[Editor’s note: article updated 11 November 2014]