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SIMMONS, Hon. William Leroy S. - 1890 Bio (1812-1900)


Posted By: Joey Stark
Date: 8/25/2007 at 20:18:13

Portrait and Biographical Album of Jefferson and Van Buren Counties, Iowa, Printed 1890 by Lake City Publishing Co., Chicago
Pages 347-348

Hon. William Leroy S. SIMMONS, who is extensively engaged in stock-raising on section 12, Locust Grove Township, Jefferson County, first set foot on Iowa soil in 1842, at which time he made a settlement in the township of which he is now a resident. However, he did not make a permanent location until 1853. A native of Clermont County, Ohio, he was born in 1822, the fourth child in a family of five children that graced the union of Adam and Sarah (HITCH) SIMMONS. Throughout his entire life Adam SIMMONS followed farming, and in Ohio his death occurred in 1828. His wife long survived him, dying in 1875. They were pioneers of the Buckeye State, and lived upright lives which won them the respect of the entire community.

W. L. S. SIMMONS was but six years of age when his father died. He continued to make his home upon the farm, but in his youth learned the brick-mason's trade, which he followed during his residence in Ohio, and for a short time after coming to Jefferson County. With a desire to benefit his financial condition and to provide for himself a home, he came West. In 1843 he pre-empted eighty acres of land on section 3, Locust Grove Township, and began developing a farm, but afterward traded that for a sixty-acre tract on section 12. With land upon which not a furrow had been turned or an improvement made, he found that he had no easy task before him, but of a determined nature and possessing unremitting industry, he would not be deterred from his purpose, but overcame the obstacles in his path and worked his way upward to a position of affluence.

Returning to his native county in 1852, Mr. SIMMONS was joined in wedlock with Miss Sarah WEAVER, who was born in Ohio, and is a daughter of Samuel and Catherine (ROBINSON) WEAVER. Her parents were natives of Virginia, but at an early day emigrated to Ohio, where they spent the remainder of their lives. Mr. WEAVER was called to his final rest in 1863, having survived his wife several years.

In true pioneer style, on a farm but little improved, Mr. and Mrs. SIMMONS began their domestic life, and by their united efforts have secured a comfortable home, in which may be found not only the necessities, but many of the luxuries known to this age. Their union was blessed with seven children, but only four of the number are now living: Eben Frank, the eldest, is an attorney-at-law of Fairfield, Iowa; Charles Walter acquired his literary education in the schools of Mt. Pleasant, being graduated from the academy of that place, and then began fitting himself for labor in foreign missionary fields. He was graduated from the Garrett Biblical Institute, of Evanston, Ill., in 1888, and the same year married Miss Luella BARTLETT, of Mt. Pleasant, and started for India, where he has since been engaged in missionary labor, being sent to that field by the Methodist Church. Owing to failing health he returned to Iowa, and is now at home. Sarah Belle and Nancy Wright, the two daughters of the family, are still with their parents.

Mr. SIMMONS may truly be called a self-made man. The farm which he now owns and operates embraces two hundred and twenty-seven acres, all under a good state of cultivation, and he also has considerable money invested in fine stock. He is making a specialty of the breeding of full-blooded Short-horn cattle and Poland China hogs, and has done not a little for the advancement of the grade of stock in the county. In other ways he has also been identified with the county's interests. Every enterprise of merit finds in him a supporter; he is a friend to all social, educational and moral interests, and is a generous contributor of charitable and benevolent work. He and his wife are consistent members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, of Brookville, and their upright lives, which are in harmony with their professions, win for them the confidnce and regard of the community. Mr. SIMMONS has served on the School Board, has been Township Clerk, and in 1876 ably represented his district in the Iowa Legislature. Socially, he is a member of Abingdon Lodge, No. 104, A. F. & A. M. As an early settler of the county he bore all the hardships and trials of pioneer life, but may well feel honored that he had a part to perform in the work of progress and development which places Jefferson County in its present exalted position of to-day. When he settled in this community Fairfield was only a small trading post, and Keokuk and Burlington were the nearest markets. Wild game, which was then very plentiful, furnished many a meal for the settlers. The Indians were still frequent visitors, and much of the land was was (sic) still unclaimed. The traveler of to-day can scarcely realize that in less than half a century all this change has been brought about, and the pioneers, who wrought the transformation, certainly deserve unlimited commendation.

In early life Mr. SIMMONS was a Whig, and on the formation of the Republican party he joined it, and has since been a supporter of its principles.

*Transcribed for genealogy purposes; I have no relation to the person(s) mentioned.


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