100-year old Mother Georgia Mae Sims at her home in Marion City. Ms. Sims, who came to Marion County with her family from rural Georgia in the 1950’s, is one of the founding members of Marion’s Mt. Zion Church. Mother Sims is pictured here with a photograph of her mother, held by her daughter, Ms. Harriet Sims: an accomplished Marion County musician & R&B singer.

Musician, Church Leader, & Memory-Keeper


Mother Georgia Mae Sims is a cornerstone of Black spiritual & cultural life in Marion County, and is the oldest living memory-keeper in Marion City’s Black community. Mother Sims emigrated to Marion County by train with her family from rural Georgia in the 1950s — the height of Jim Crow-era segregation and racially-motivated anti-Black violence in the U.S. South. They arrived in a Marion County where racism very much still existed — it just presented itself in less obvious ways. The Sims family helped established Marion City’s “Shantytown” — a beloved Westside neighborhood that provided housing, gardens, and some of the comforts of home for Marion’s rapid influx of interconnected Black families from Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and other points south, who were all fleeing the violences, lynchings, and uncertainties of life in the U.S. South at the time. The Sims family went on to help join Marion City’s Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church: one of the longest-lasting historically Black churches in the county (founded in 1921!). Mother Sims was instrumental in the programming of music, foodways, and theatrical performances & presentations at the thriving church; and was involved in formal & informal Black cultural & community organizing throughout her life in Marion County.

Mother Sims celebrated her 101th birthday this spring. Happy Birthday to you, Mother Sims; and thank you for your beautiful work helping build Black community, livelihoods, spirituality, & futures in Marion County throughout your illlustrious life in our county.


Visit Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church at 475 E. Fairground Street || Marion, Ohio || 43302 — Please contact the church prior to visiting during the COVID-19 pandemic, in case special hours/operations/procedures apply.


Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church: tel. 740.387.6970


Local History & Memory; Church History


Memory-Keeping; Spirituality in Marion County


Ms. Harriet Sims (L), renowned Marion County musician, sits with her mother, Mother Sims (R), a 100-year-old resident of Marion City & key player in the history of Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church. Mother Sims emigrated to Marion with her family from the South at the height of Jim Crow racist violence, to find work & a new start in Marion.