With the ongoing celebration of Black History Month in February, the Chesterfield County Historical Society (CHSV) and its African-American History Committee has compiled the...
mimms

Cornelius Mimms

With the ongoing celebration of Black History Month in February, the Chesterfield County Historical Society (CHSV) and its African-American History Committee has compiled the life story of the man behind the naming of Mimms Loop – Cornelius Mimms, a Chesterfield County resident who was born before the Civil War and became an important African-American leader. In his honor, a new exhibit entitled, Cornelius Mimms: A Legend and Legacy opened this month at the Chesterfield County Museum, 6813 Mimms Loop in the Chesterfield government complex. The exhibit will run through the fall.

Cornelius Mimms was born September 17, 1857 during slavery. He was known to be a remarkable man with sterling character who did much for his community. A self-educated attorney-at-law, known as a legal luminary, who as Dean of the Richmond bar, practiced before the courts over a long and honorable career.

Mimms also served two terms, 1881-1883 and 1887-1889, as a county supervisor representing the Midlothian District. He served as supervisor of roads and a supervisor of the poor for the county.

He wielded a wide influence and power in the political life of the county and was considered a model citizen who desired to help those less fortunate to succeed.

Mimms died June 30, 1932 and on his tombstone located in the First Baptist Church of Midlothian Cemetery, it is marked that he was clerk of church for 55 years, superintendent of Sunday School for 50 years and 46 years as lawyer. His motto, “We must follow the right paths to arrive at the right place – Family.”

Audrey Ross, member of the African-American History Committee of CHSV, led the sub-committee for research on Cornelius Mimms. She grew up next door to the Mimms family home. At the time, Cornelius Mimms daughter, Alma Gish Mimms Archer lived in the family home with her children, Clarence and Carl. When Ross moved back home in the 80s, three of Mimms daughters, Bessie, Helen and Ruby, were living in the family home.

Ross said she loves history. About a year ago she started researching Cornelius Mimms because she was familiar with the family. “When I saw how much he had accomplished I knew we had to share his story,” she said. “I knew the family and began talking to his granddaughter [Frances Delores Mimms Hill] about a year ago. The family did not know a lot. Their father did not tell them a lot about him.”

“This was a collaborative effort,” she said. “A team effort – the Chesterfield Historical Society, the Board of Supervisors, the Circuit Court records, Parks and Recreations, the Mimms family – it would not have been possible without the team effort.”

“The opening on Saturday [Feb. 6] was very nice,” Ross said. “About 30 members of the family came and they provided musical entertainment from Devo Dabney, a jazz musician. They spread the word and made it a family reunion.”

“I love researching history, it is fascinating,” she said. “It is important that people come to learn about a man that contributed a lot to the county and the city of Richmond. Now we can meet Mr. Cornelius Mimms.”

The Cornelius Mimms: A Legend and Legacy exhibit will feature items such as law books from the 1870s. The exhibit will focus on Mimm’s family, church, career and community as the legacy he has left behind for his grandchildren, great-children and the community.

Museum hours are Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. There is a suggested donation of $2. Founded in 1981, the Chesterfield Historical Society of Virginia is a non-profit (501©3 organization which serves as the center for Chesterfield County History. Its mission is to collect, preserve, interpret and promote the County’s past for the education of present and future generations. To volunteer, call 796-7121 or visit
www.chesterfieldhistory.com