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Tragedy in Tin Can Holler
Chapter 1 and 2

Grace Sims - Serial Killer
Grace Sims, Daughter of Tyre Houston "Ti" Sims and Mary Jane Robinson. Grace Was Depicted as a Serial Killer in the Book, "Tragedy of Tin Can Holler" Written by her Granddaughter, Rozetta Mowery, Daughter of Seignoyst Randolph 'Seigs" Mowery (son of Grace Sims and J Marion Mowery) and Eliza Mae Robinson

Eliza Mae Robinson Mowery - Murdered 1959 by Husband - Seig Mowery - Son of J Marion Mowery and Grace Sims
Eliza Mae Robinson Mowery

The Author - Rozetta Mowery - Daughter of Seigs Mowery and Eliza Mae Robinson
The Author
Rozetta Mowery

(Source) The year 1959 was an uneventful year for most people. In the life of one little 7-year-old girl, Rozetta Mowery, it was a life-altering year. Her mother’s vicious murder left her with emptiness and a heart full of unanswered questions. It took her until she was 53 to find the answers and “the truth.”

Rozetta was born on August 4, 1952, to Seignoyst Randolph Mowery (aka Seig Sims) and Eliza Mae Robinson at Epperson Hospital in the small town of Athens, Tennessee. She was brought home to a two-room shack on the other side of the railroad tracks to a community called “Tin Can Holler.”

She was told her mother named her after Rosita Bazamba, a Spanish dancer who was famous at the time. At the age of 15 she discovered the real spelling of her name when she received her birth certificate while applying for a social security card and a learner’s permit. She was in shock! All of her report cards and anything containing her name were not spelled correctly. Where had this mysterious “Rozetta” come from, or rather, where had she been all those years? It was half a century and what seemed a lifetime later before she found out the truth regarding her last name and what it should have been.

She uncovered the truth about her mother’s brutal murder at the hands of someone she had loved and trusted as a small child in Tin Can Holler. This truth exposed family secrets that had been buried for decades and shocked her entire family and three small communities in Tennessee.

Rozetta’s family tribulations began in Meigs County, Tennessee, a century before she was born and a long time before Tin Can Holler. Meigs County is located in southeast Tennessee. Its county seat, Decatur, is located in the middle of the Tennessee Valley. It’s bordered on the west by the Tennessee River. The northern third of the county is bordered on the west by Watts Bar Lake and the rest of the county is bordered on the west by Chickamauga Lake. The lower third of the county is divided by the Hiwassee River.

Rozetta’s great-grandfather was Tyre Houston Sims. He was named after his mother’s father, Tyre Lawson, Sr. Tyre was the sixth child born of George Washington Sims and Caldonia Lawson, who had 10 children. George and Caldonia were married on July 15, 1844. George was 21 years old and Caldonia was 17. The family was very poor and times were grueling during the Civil War era from 1860 to 1865. The eldest son, William Henry Harrison Sims, enlisted in the 4th Tennessee Cavalry unit in Nashville at the age of 24. After he returned home, he and his wife, Mary, lived next to his family’s farm in Meigs County because George gave his sons acreage from his original homestead when they became men.

George and his sons were loggers and owned a local sawmill. The illiterate children had to work on the farm or at the sawmill and were not allowed to go to school. They also farmed and raised hogs. They were a very private, close-knit family that was feared and considered evil by their neighbors. They had limited association with anyone in their small community. They only ventured to town once a month to purchase needed supplies.

Rozetta’s grandparents, Tyre Houston Sims and Mary Jane Robison, applied for a marriage license in Meigs County, but the marriage license was never returned to the courthouse. There is no legal evidence that they ever consummated their marriage by law. Tyre was 27 years old and Mary Jane was 28. Tyre built a small cabin for his bride on the 12 acres given to him by his father. The surrounding farmlands were owned by the Lockmillers on the north, the Davises on the west, and the Fikeses on the east; to the south were Brickell Ridge and the McMinn County line. Tyre continued to work with his brothers harvesting lumber for their sawmill, raised hogs and farmed his 12 acres.

Mary Jane had a lot of health issues. These health problems caused her to have many miscarriages. On September 21, 1886, at the age of 34, she gave birth to Rozetta’s grandmother, Grace Victoria Sims. Her grandmother, Grace, was their only child.

As Grace began to blossom into a young woman, her mother’s health issues worsened. It is not known why she had so many health problems, but she may have had cancer. Grace had to care for her mother and do all the chores her mother had always done. She had been allowed to go to school but dropped out to care for her mother. Grace, still a child, was a big girl and looked older than her age. She was 5 feet 5 inches, with dark blue eyes and long dark brown hair, and weighed around 155 pounds. At this same time, Tyre’s affection for Grace became compulsive and uncontrollable. He began to show her more attention and affection. Grace mistook this as her father’s way of showing her he loved her. His demands and sexual advances increased, and Tyre began abusing Grace worse than incest and completely ignored his wife, Mary Jane. Grace became withdrawn and angry and tried to avoid his advances. Whenever she refused, he would beat her. There was no way to escape the clutches and the control of her father.

Mary Jane, although she knew what was happening to her daughter, was too weak and ill to stop it. Even in the best of health Mary Jane had never been able to stand up to Tyre, because she knew he would also beat her. Family secrets, no matter how terrible, were never spoken back then. This was an era of secrecy and those remained within the family.

Chapter 2

As Grace approached her late teen years she became very rebellious and began drinking. On one occasion she was seen drunk, riding her mule through the city of Decatur wearing only her gun and holster belt around her waist. In 1905, when Grace was 19 years old, she met Cleveland Smith, a married man. She could always get moonshine from him. They became drinking buddies and partners in crime. She and Cleveland Smith were arrested numerous times for trespassing, public drunkenness, carrying a pistol, public profanity, manufacturing moonshine, and lewdness. Lewdness during that time period was unmarried couples living together. Grace never served any jail time in Meigs County. She only had to pay the fines.

Because of her abuse at the hands of her father, Grace became a very vicious and evil woman with a hateful disposition. She also became a callus, fearless woman who did whatever she desired. She was charged twice in 1905 for felonious assault but was not arrested. Again, the local authorities only made her pay the fines.

Cleveland’s wife, Elizabeth, divorced him, but he did not want to marry Grace and this made her very angry. She stopped seeing him and began to drink more. Once again she was arrested numerous times for public drunkenness and paid the fines. She continued her crime sprees but did so in the Chattanooga area, where she and a group of teenage boys would rob mom-and-pop stores. She would also steal other peoples’ mail from their mailboxes, looking for money.

None of the local women would associate with Grace, and the local men would cross the street to avoid passing her on the sidewalk when she came to town to do her shopping. The local men said she was “meaner than a diamondback rattlesnake.”

Because Grace was half German and half Italian she inherited a spirit of energy. She also may have had some type of chemical imbalance in her brain. Today she would possibly be diagnosed with hallucinations and schizophrenia. This could explain her bizarre behavior, or it could have been the moonshine. Grace certainly did not interpret the world in the same way normal people do. The abuse of her father probably enhanced the already pronounced chemical imbalance within her body and mind.

She was extremely divided. She was two different people. This was horrifying to Grace, as she did not know who she was. There were extremes of love and fear that went on within her constantly and she would rationalize what she did as love, because her interpretation of love was so warped from her abuse and her addiction to moonshine. Her left side was the victim and her right side was the aggressor. This is like a dual personality, and she probably had more than two personalities. The only remedy for this condition was to confine people to the insane asylums.

Grace, however, had a clever way with words, especially with men, and knew how to manipulate them. Grace began to travel outside Decatur in search of rich married men. She would be gone for weeks and sometimes a month or more. When she came back she always had plenty of money. With this money, she built a huge barn on the south end of the property and purchased more hogs. Her father had taught her the hog business and how to slaughter them and process the meat. She later built her own house close to the barn on the property which is now called Sims Road.

In 1909, at the age of 23, she met another married man, J. Marion Mowery, who leased the Sims family sawmill that Tyre and his brothers once operated. She did not care that Marion was a married man, because she had no self-respect and did not care what others thought. Because this type of behavior was uncommon for ladies during this time period, Grace became the gossip in the entire town of Decatur. Her reputation was ruined and Tyre was full of shame because of what his daughter had become. He knew he had created a monster but also that he could no longer abuse his daughter. She was out of his control. He had to let her go.

Grace became romantically involved with Marion. She now had her own home where he became a frequent visitor. On June 19, 1910, she gave birth to his son whom she named J. Cornelius Mowery. Eleven months later, May 4, 1911, little Cornelius was dead. He was a beautiful child and looked just like Grace. Because Cornelius was so like her, Grace in her tormented mind, could not allow this baby to grow up. The real reason for his death is unknown, but the rumor around the county was she killed Cornelius and fed him to her hogs. Grace told people he died in his sleep. No gravesite or birth and death records for Cornelius can be found.

She continued her affair with Marion Mowery and once again gave birth to another son on February 4, 1912. She named him Defoyst Marion Mowery. Grace was now 25 years old. Marion would sneak away from his wife and other children in Cleveland, Tennessee, to spend time with Grace and Defoyst, but it was never enough for Grace.

Marion Mowery’s visits were sporadic, and Grace needed money desperately. She would leave Defoyst with her parents and go out of town for weeks at a time in search of more wealthy married men. She always returned home with plenty of money. The townspeople said she was blackmailing these married men after she had affairs with them. If these men didn’t give her money, she would tell their wives about their extramarital affair with her. Of course these wealthy married men paid her to keep her quiet.

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