James Elmo Simons




James Elmo Simons

James Elmo Simons was born 09 Feb 1870 in Smith County, Texas and died 30 Jun 1935 in Bay City, Matagorda County.  He married Annie Elizabeth Duffy 11 Nov 1896 in Matagorda.  She was the daughter of Peter J. Duffy and Margaret Vogg.  She was born 18 Jun 1877 in Matagorda and died 30 Jun 1935 in Bay City.

James Elmo Simons came into the world about a month after the death of his father, John James Simons.  Since he was a small child and didn't work well on his step-father's farm, he was apprenticed at an early age to a pharmacist In Athens, Texas by the name of Collins.  Mr. Collins, recognizing his ability, sent him to the Kentucky Medical School in Louisville, Kentucky where he graduated with honors and as President of the graduating class in 1894. 

He was appointed Camp Physician of the J.B. Jones convict force located near Weldon, Houston County, Texas in 1894.  In a letter dated 19 February 1894, his duties were outlined by L.A. Nattry, Superintendent of Penitentiaries.  Quoting from the letter, the duties were as follows:

1.  You are to do the practice of medicine on the above named farm, visiting the camp once a day, whether sent for or not, and oftener if necessary and examine into the physical condition of the convicts, making to the sergeant or myself such suggestions as you may deem necessary in regards to the sanitary conditions of the camp, the diet of the convicts, and giving to the Sergeant such instructions as you may deem proper about diet, nursing, and treatment of sick convicts.

2.  You are promptly to attend any and all calls to visit a sick convict or one needing medical attention, and when the condition of a convict requires it you are to visit him as frequently as may be necessary.

3.  You are to perform all surgical operations necessary, and furnish such surgical instruments as may be necessary.

4.  In case of absence or inability on your part to perform your duties you are to have your place supplied by some good physician without expense to the State.

5.  When, in your opinion, it is necessary to remove a convict from the camp to the prison proper you will send me a certificate stating fully said convict's physical condition with your recommendation for transfer.

6.  All necessary medicines will be furnished by the State on your requisition to the Financial Agent, or on requisition of the Sergeant approved by you.

7.  For your services you are to be paid monthly by the Financial Agent of the Penitentiaries the sum of Twenty-five (25) dollars per month.

In addition to this, he opened a private practice of medicine in 1898 with offices at Matthews Store, Caney, Matagorda County, Texas. 

On 11 November 1896, he married Miss Annie Elizabeth Duffy at Christ Church in Matagorda.  According to the announcement of the wedding in the Bay City Breeze, 12 November 1896, "following the ceremony a wedding supper was served at the home of Mrs. A.M. Pelton and a grand ball was given in the town hall.  The bride, a daughter of Peter Duffy of Rockport was born and raised in Matagorda.  Loosing her mother in infancy, she was raised by her aunt, Mrs. Dr. A.M. Pelton.  She is highly esteemed for her womanly virtue and true personal worth.  The groom is bright, ambitious, and talented.  After the wedding they left with the groom's brother, C.F. Simons, to visit the relatives of the groom."

After their marriage, they moved to Bay City, Matagorda County, Texas where James Elmo made a financial success of the practice of medicine.  His clientele was large and he stood well in their confidence.  He was also extremely involved with the activities of his community.  In 1898 he was appointed City Health Inspector and in 1902 he became a charter member of the Bay City Presbyterian church.  As evidence of his financial success, the Matagorda County Tribune, on 25 July 1812, lists him as one for the first automobile owners in the county.

Dr. and Mrs. James Elmo Simons died on the same day, 30 June 1935, both of heart attacks.  A biography of their lives appeared on the front page of The Daily Tribune, Bay City, Texas, July 19, 1935:

“It is not given to many human beings to live in such completeness of union that two hearts really beat as one - but Bay City has had a beautiful example of such an one-ness in the lives of Dr. and Mrs. J.E. Simons, whose deaths came within just a few moments of each other, Sunday, June 30, 1935.

“Mrs. Simons was Miss Annie Elizabeth Duffy, of Matagorda, where she was educated in the public and private schools, until she had finished all the work offered there.  She then went to Victoria where she entered a convent to study the cultural courses offered young ladies.

“During these years, J.E. Simons, who was born in Athens, Henderson County was being educated in the public schools.  After getting what he could there, he went to work in a drug business, having decided on a medical career as his life work - a decision from which he never swerved.  Through the kindness of business friends, he was able to go to Louisville, Ky., to college, from which he graduated in 1893, with his much coveted M.D. degree.  He came to Texas, to begin his life work, and the first professional office of Dr. J.E. Simons, was on the old state prison farm.

“Being a most jovial and social young man, a handsome young doctor, his services were much sought after in other places than in the sick room and we find him one evening in a very fashionable party in aristocratic Matagorda, entertaining one group, then another of young people till he met the fascinating Annie Elizabeth Duffy - and after that time, all of his social plans and activities were centered around her.  He kept the grass well worn on the trail between Caney and Matagorda till early the following year Bay City came into being - a fine new court house was built and Bay City's first gesture as a social center was the formal opening of the county capitol in a grand ball, such as was popular in the "gay 90's".

“In looking through her "treasure chest" (a possession of every girl) the printed program of this dance was found and "Annie Duffy's" card was almost completely filled by three initials: "J.E.S." which was very conclusive evidence of mutual attraction, each to the other.  They were married in 1897, and Dr. Simons took his charming bride to their first home down on "Caney," where they lived for a short time, but before the new year, they decided to make a permanent home in the young but important county capitol.  Over muddy roads they traveled to move their household effects to Bay City, where they had selected a plat of ground for their home and they built there.

 “The materials for their home had to be brought down the Colorado River, on barges, and with ox teams was transported to the spot where now stands the "Simons home."  This was one of the first "fine houses" built in the new town, and in the years which have come and gone since 1897 - the ‘Simons home’ has played its part in the social life of the city.  Dr. and Mrs. Simons have even been a large part of the ‘anchor’ which has held Bay City on the road to the enviable goal she achieved.

“In church life, they were always leaders, being members of the Presbyterian Church did not keep them from taking a prominent part in any and all religious activities.  There was never a question in the minds of the citizenry as to where Dr. and Mrs. Simons stood on any subject.  They were bold, courageous and initiative in their manner of culture and of life, as they saw it.  In the rounds of his professional life Dr. Simons found unlimited opportunity for leadership in every moral issue which arose.  During the years together they read - studied - and discussed their work, and lived lives of such harmony that to think of them apart would be to do them an injustice.  In the home, the mother was the "queen" - but the father was her king - their three children living and growing in such an atmosphere that made for them well rounded out home makers, themselves.  The father and mother have lived - and their lives will be reflected in the lives they built to follow after them.  Dr. Simons was by nature - and by election - a "doctor."  His manner of life was "healing", and we thought as we watched the hundreds who passed their bier looking for the last time upon the faces of the man and woman who had nursed them to health from perhaps death's door - "these are they whom they served" - and the tears that blinded the eyes of these men, women and children were tears of real sorrow - real friendship, and real gratitude.  The colored man was there - the old black mammy - they mingled their tears with the friends of wealth and position.

“The crowds stood in mute reverence.  Those two gray caskets, placed side by side, told a story rarely told.  Those flowers shed a perfume, symbolic.  Dr. and Mrs. Simons met life together, they solved their problems together, they served humanity together, they worshipped their God together, theirs was a one-ness of purpose, so molded together were they that even death could not sever those ties and they could not be separated even in death so they entered eternity together.  Truly, two hearts that beat as one.  The three homes they left are not desolate - just lonesome, for the hand that guided them, will still be the influence that leads on, on, and ever on for Wathan, Bryan and Madelene, the children of the Simons' home.  In life-in death-together!”

Their daughter, Madelene Shelby Simons Beckenbach, wrote a more personal account of their death:

“My mother and father last visited us in Houston on Friday, June 28th 1935.  They came over spending the day and returned to Bay City the same day.  The next day, Saturday, June 29th, Ed and I went to Bay City to visit my folks for the weekend.  We got into Bay city about 5 PM, went directly to my father's office, which was in the southeast corner of the Matagorda Pharmacy building, to get a typhoid serum inoculation.  The morning of the 30th of June 1935 my father went to his office and was to return at 11 AM to accompany my mother, my husband and myself to the little white frame Presbyterian Church which our family had attended a great number of years.  My father returned about 10:30 AM complaining of a pain in his chest from which he could get no relief.  My mother put him to bed and immediately started trying to ease him.  He ate no lunch but did not get entirely relieved until my brother Dr. BE Simons came in and gave him some medicine.  He went off to sleep and awakened about 3 PM feeling much better.   He wished to go for a drive so after he drank a cup of coffee, my mother, my father, my husband and I started out for a drive.  When we asked where to go, Daddy wanted to go out to old Bucks Bayon Road and on down through Chances Prairie meeting the Caney Road at Cedar Lane.  This territory was where my father first practiced medicine and where my father and my mother spent their first happy year together, he pointed out to us some of the first old settlers homes as well as an old gate he had driven horse and buggies through on his trips from Caney to Matagorda to visit my mother before they were married.  We turned back to town at Cedar Lane and about ten miles out of Bay City without uttering any sound of pain or distress, my dear, precious Daddy went to sleep for a long quiet rest from this world in which he enjoyed living.  My brave, heroic mother was stunned beyond words, she held my father's head into Bay city but when she was relieved of the actual weight of his head, she collapsed and even though my poor, grieving, yet faithful brother worked with her for twenty or thirty minutes, she never rallied from the first shock.  My Daddy left us about 15 minutes to six, June 30th 1935 and my mother about 6:20 PM the same day.  My father was 65 years, 4 months, 21 days of age, my mother 58 years 14 days.  They were buried July 1, 1935 in Cedarvale Cemetery, Bay City Texas.”

The Simons Family about 1920

Children of James Elmo Simons and Annie Elizabeth Duffy were:

1.  Catherine Elizabeth Simons was born 19 Oct 1898 in Bay City, Matagorda, Texas died from pneumonia 23 Mar 1900 in Bay City, Matagorda, Texas.  She was buried at Cedarvale Cemetery, Bay City, Texas.




2.  James Wathen Simons was born 01 Feb 1903 in Bay City, Matagorda County, Texas, and died 22 Feb 1973 in Wharton, Texas of cancer.  He married Anna Mae Kidd 08 Sep 1928 in Houston, Harris, Texas.  She was born 07 Oct 1894, and died Nov 1981.  James Wathen followed in his father’s footsteps and received his M.D. degree from Baylor University in Waco, Texas.  He worked as a physician for the Texas Gulf Sulfur Company in New Gulf, Texas until his retirement.  James Wathen Simons and Anna Mae Kidd raised three children.  Jack Hamblem Simons, who was Anna Mae’s son from a previous marriage, died 16 September 1972.  James Wathen Simons, Jr. lives with his wife, Ruth, on the Simons ranch in west Texas.  Robert Elmo is a retired dentist.




3.  Bryan Elmo Simons was born 10 Jan 1906 in Bay City, Matagorda County, Texas, and died 03 Oct 1962 in Bay City.  He married Lenore Alice Hall 27 Jan 1930 in Dallas, Dallas County, Texas.  She was born 30 Jan 1911 in Dallas and presently lives in Bay City.  Bryan Elmo also graduated from Baylor with an M.D. degree and stepped into his father’s practice in Bay City.  He and Lenore also raised three children.  Barbara Lenore passed away in Bay City 18 February 2007.  Bryan Elmo, Jr., after a long and successful career as a physician in Bay City retired to Fort Worth where he passed away 22 March 2000.  James Kirk Simons was a dentist in Longview, Gregg County, Texas for many years before recently retiring.





4.  Madelene Shelby Simons was born 28 Mar 1913 in Bay City, Matagorda County, Texas, and died 12 Sep 1985 in Longview, Gregg County, Texas.  She married Edwin Ford Beckenbach 30 Aug 1933 in Bay City, Matagorda, Texas, son of Charlie Beckenbach and Lucy Richardson.  He was born 18 Jul 1906 in Oak Cliff, Dallas, Texas, and died 05 Sep 1982 in Syracuse, New York.  She will be the subject of Generation 7.



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)


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)


  John James Simons Home Madelene Shelby Simons