Henry James Simons




Henry James Simons

Henry James Simons was born 12 Nov 1818 in Sumter County, South Carolina.  He married Margaret Weir Bradley 23 Feb 1842 in Yorkville, Gibson County, Tennessee.  She was born 1820 in Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, and died after 1880, probably in Dallas County, Texas.

Henry is our elusive Simons ancestor.  Virtually everything we know about him comes from hearsay and family lore.  With the exception of his entry in the Simons Family Bible kept by his father, John Joseph, and his marriage to Margaret Wier Bradley, he doesn’t seem to exist in any official documents.  This may be because of the ravages of the Civil War.  When the northern troops passed through the south, many courthouses and their records were burned and lost.

According to his daughter, Mary Lynch Simons Kemper, who was writing in 1896, “After completing his education he studied medicine, and then moved to Yorkville, Tennessee, where he practiced his profession, was very successful and popular.  He was naturally intelligent, highly cultivated and was very polite and the most handsome of the handsome family.  He was a Master Mason and numbered his friends by the thousands.”

It is probable that J.J. sent his sons back to Charleston for their education.  We do know with some certainty that Henry’s younger brother, Elias, received his education in South Carolina so to think that the older boys also made the trip is a reasonable assumption.  In Joseph Waring's History of Medicine in South Carolina, an entry is found in the appendix identifying one J. H. Simons as a graduate of the Medical College of South Carolina, located in Charleston, in March 1837.  The initials are backwards but the date and place work for this to have been our Henry.

Following his return to the family, who was living in Haywood County, Tennessee at the time, and his marriage to Margaret Weir Bradley, it appears that Henry and his family loosely followed his father’s wanderings across the Southern states.  Mary Lynch Kemper’s obituary, found in the Tyler Daily Courier on 25 August 1913, tells us that the family first moved from Tennessee to Mobile, Alabama, lived there for a number of years, then moved to West Point, Calhoun County, Mississippi and, in the 1860s, moved to Texas.

We don’t know where, when or how Henry died.  Descendants of Henry's son, Pugh, have two stories as to how he died.  One has the story that he was shot to death on the porch of his home, in front of his family, because he wouldn't sell his land.  The other says that he was hit by a train.  Either way, it appears that he probably met a violent end.  One story goes on to say that after his death, Margaret moved “to town” and taught school to support the children.

Margaret can be found on the 1860, 1870 and 1880 censuses.  In 1860, she and the children are found in Chickasaw County, Mississippi.  Henry is not shown with the family on the census so the logical assumption could be drawn that he died sometime between the birth of their last child, Elizabeth Ann, in 1853 and the census except, more family lore tells of his working as a physician during the Civil War.  Unfortunately, we have not been able to locate him on any civil war rosters.

There is also a story that somehow Henry was wounded during the war and the Union soldiers wanted to finish him off but their officer called them off because either Henry or Margaret (who, it is said, was tending him) was wearing a Masonic symbol, either a pin or ring.  The Union officer, who was also a Mason, let Henry live because one Mason would not kill another.  However, it is interesting that this same story has come down through the generations in Henry’s brother, Elias’ family.  Only in their version, Elias, who was also a Mason, is the soldier who is wounded.

One thing is clear, the family did move to Texas sometime between the 1860 and 1870 censuses.  There is some reason to believe that they first settled near Temple, Bell County but, by 1870, Margaret can be found living in Tyler, Smith County, Texas with her surviving children, Mary Lynch, Margaret Hannah, William and Pugh.  It appears that by this time the ravages of the Civil War combined with the death of her husband had left the family in dire straights.  Their two surviving sons, William and Pugh, were working as hired farm laborers in order to support the family.  The final official mention we can find for Margaret is the 1880 census.  By that time she had relocated to Farmer’s Branch, Dallas County, Texas where she was living with her youngest surviving child, Pugh, and his family.  As she was 67 at that time, she probably passed away sometime in the 1880s.

Children of Henry Simons and Margaret Bradley were:

1.  John James Simons was born 31 Dec 1842 in Dyer County, Tennessee, and died 31 Dec 1869 in Tyler, Smith, TX, USA.  He married Jane Eliza Shelby 24 Oct 1867 in Perry County, Alabama, daughter of James Madison Shelby and Amanda Ann Henderson.  She was born 12 Dec 1846 in North Carolina, and died 09 Oct 1902 in Henderson, TX.  They had two sons, Cicero Felix and James Elmo.  John James is the subject of the next generation.

2.  Mary Lynch Simons was born 27 Jul 1844 in Randolph, Tipton County, Tennessee, and died 23 Aug 1913 in Tyler, Smith, TX.  She married Henry Baugh Kemper 01 Oct 1873 in Mount Sylon, Smith County, Texas, son of John Kemper and Sena Hunter.  He was born 01 Jul 1844 in St Mary’s, Louisiana, and died 15 Sep 1896 in Tyler, Smith County, Texas.  She and her husband are both buried in Liberty Hill Cemetery, Smith County, Texas.

Her obituary, that can be found in the Tyler Daily Courier-Times on Monday, 25 August 1913, tells us that she was “a faithful Christian from childhood and an earnest church worker in the M.E. Church.  She also served faithfully in the W.C.T.U. and Woman's Missionary Societies until failing health caused her to discontinue much actual service.”

Mary Lynch Simons and Henry Bough Kemper had two children, Lola Earle and William Henry.

3.  Margaret Hannah Simons was born 26 Jul 1846 in DeSoto County, Mississippi and died unmarried on 14 Sep 1876 in Dallas Co., Texas.  According to her sister, Mary Lynch, she is buried in the Kemper Cemetery, near David Byrd.  This is actually the Kemper family plot in Mount Calvary Cemetery in Richardson, Texas.  According to a cousin who has visited the cemetery, Margaret Hannah’s grave is unmarked.

4.  William Worrell Britton Simons was born 21 Jan 1849 in Green Co., Alabama.  He was named after a relative Henry’s, William Worrell Britton, who appears to have moved to Alabama either with or shortly after Henry’s father, John Joseph.  According to stories passed down through William's family, he was a fiddler who traveled throughout the country as an entertainer.  William Simons married Elizabeth Tomlinson on 22 Nov 1870 in Mount Sylon, Smith County, Texas.  He died 11 Aug 1882 in Tyler, Smith, Texas and is buried at New Harmony Church.  Elizabeth was born 14 Jan 1847 in Troy, Pike, Alabama. Following William’s death at the age of 33, Elizabeth remarried John Martin Glover and moved with him and her children to Hamilton County, Texas where she died 10 Mar 1933.  She is buried at Whitenton Cemetery, Hamilton County, Texas.  William and Elizabeth had five children: Mollie, Dorothy Elizabeth, Ella, Evoline and Richard Webb.  It appears that Richard was in some way challenged.  His World War I draft record indicates that he was “feeble minded”.

5.  Eaton Pugh Daves Simons was born 16 Mar 1851 in Lowndes Co., Mississippi, and died 07 Aug 1925 in Rush Springs, Grady, Oklahoma.  He married Louisa Jane Ely 13 Mar 1879 in Ellis Co., TX.  She was born 02 Dec 1857 in Boonville, Missouri, and died 17 Dec 1938 in Rush Springs, Grady County, Oklahoma.

According to a story in Pugh’s family is that Pugh D. was born on a boat coming down the Mississippi River from Tennessee but just told folks he was born "In Mississippi" because "on the Mississippi" was too much trouble to explain.  Pugh D. started working as a cowboy moving herds to the railheads when he was a young teenager, probably to help support the family.

Another story about Pugh, as related by his great-granddaughter, Mary Katherine Sharpe, was that he was “nicknamed ‘Boots’ Simons because he had a pair of Union Jack boots that came up real high on his legs.  While up in the territory, every once in awhile, some fellows would ride up to the gate of the property and call out for "Boots" and he would go out and talk with them, come into the house and gather his things and ride off with them.  He would be gone anywhere from a few days to a few weeks and always came back with cash money.  The family story has it that he was a sometimes part of the James gang.

Pugh and Miss Jane (right in the early 1920s) began their married life in a home he had built in Farmer’s Branch, Dallas County, Texas in 1879.  However, by 1888, they had moved north into Indian Territory (the present state of Oklahoma).  Another story related by Katherine Sharpe is that one afternoon in about 1896, a US Marshall came to the house and was invited to supper.  He ate with them and complimented the meal, then told them that he didn't want to tell them before they'd had their supper, but they had to gather what they could put in their wagon, load up, and be gone at daybreak.  The Indians had decided there were too many white men in their territory and had called in the Federal Marshals.  Pugh and his family had to leave most of their belongings behind, their crops in the field, and most of their livestock and went back to Texas with little more than what they had on their backs.  They ended up in Cooke Co, near Marysville.

Pugh worked his land in Texas but also got work as a teamster for the Army.  He hauled freight from Ft. Smith, Arkansas to Ft. Sill, Oklahoma.  One of his stops along the way, where he would overnight, was at what would later be Rush Springs.  He liked the area and had his land all picked out before the Land Rush.  In 1889, The Indian Appropriations Bill that authorized the opening of the two million acres of land in Oklahoma for settlement. Due to the Homestead Act of 1862, legal settlers could claim lots up to 160 acres in size. Provided a settler lived on the land and improved it, the settler could then receive the title to the land. This lead to what has been called the greatest rush for land in the history of mankind. At high noon on April 22, 1889, 50,000 hopefuls surrounded the area to stake their claim for less than 12,000 homesteads!  Across the territory blasts rang out from gun shot, cannon fire and bugle charge and the race began.  However, a number of the individuals who participated in the run entered early and hid out until the legal time of entry to lay quick claim to some of the best homesteads.  This appears to be what Pugh did.  He successfully laid claim to his land near Rush Springs and moved his family back to Oklahoma in the early 1890s.


Pugh and Miss Jane had eleven children, nine of whom grew to adulthood in Rush Springs.  Their children were: Annie, Maggie, Louisa, Pugh David, Melinda, Martha, Albert,  Sadie, Jimmie, Mary Elizabeth and Dollie Alma.


6.  Elizabeth Ann Simons, born 26 Jun 1853 in Chickasaw County, Mississippi and died Jan 1861 also in Chickasaw Co., Mississippi.  She is buried at the Old Montpelier Church, Chickasaw County, Mississippi.


Nicholaus von Beckenbach (1705 - ca 1750)

Johann Christian Beckenbach (1739 - ca 1790)

Johann George Beckenbach (1772 - 1834)

Johann Jacob Beckenbach (1797 - ca 1850)

Peter Beckenbach (1836 - 1878)

Charlie Geiger Beckenbach (1869 - 1932)

Edwin Ford Beckenbach (1906 - 1982)


John Simons (1715 - 1780)

Shadrach Simons (1758 - 1801)

John Joseph Simons (1793 - ca 1858)

Henry James Simons (1818 - ca 1870)

John James Simons (1842 - 1969)

James Elmo Simons (1870 - 1935)

Madelene Shelby Simons (1913 - 1985)


Heinrich Dufe (ca 1760 - ca 1810)

Peter Joseph Dufe (1784 - 1846)

Peter Duffy (1815 - 1883)

Peter J Duffy (1851 - 1924)

Annie Elizabeth Duffy (1877 - 1935)


William Peake (ca 1800 - ca 1832)

Joseph Peake (1826 - 1876)

Lucy Charlotte Peake (1851 - 1883)


Francis Bradley (ca 1660 - 1737)

James Bradley (1720 - 1788)

Francis Bradley (1743 - 1780)

James Alexander Bradley (1768 - 1839)

Margaret Weir Bradley (1813 - ca 1880)


Shelby Phillip (ca 1650 - 1731)

Evan Shelby (ca 1690 - 1751)

Moses Shelby (1728 - 1776)

Evan Shelby (1748 - 1825)

Moses Shelby (1784 - 1826)

James Madison Shelby (1814 - 1889)

Jane Eliza Shelby (1846 - 1902)


Michael Vogg (ca 1800 - ca 1845)

John Frederick Vogg (1824 - 1901)

Margaret Vogg (1856 - 1878)


Alexander Coachman (ca 1640 - 1671)

Tilney Coachman (ca 1660 - 1716)

John Coachman (1700 - 1750)

James Coachman (1732 - 1789)

Joseph Coachman (1761 - 1814)

Mary Lynch Coachman (1792 - ca 1857)

updated 24 May 2009

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