By Glenda L. Willis
1957 W. Cusco Pl.
Tucson, Az. 85705
William Cowen Simmons was the son of
Joseph Simmons and Martha A. Cowen
Simmons. He was born 8 Feb 1840 in
Greene Co., Missouri. He died of a heart
attack on 3 Jul 1916 and was buried in
Shiloh Cemetery, in the City of Klondike,
Delta County, Texas.
William married Mary Clay Robinett on 20
Dec 1866 in Hopkins County, Texas. She
was born on 10 December 1845 in the city
of Clarksville, Red River County, Texas.
She died on 19 May 1918 in the city of Commerce, Hunt County, Texas and is buried in Shiloh
Cemetery, Klondike, Delta County, Texas.
Children of William and Mary Simmons were:
1. George A. Simmons, born 16 Oct 1867
2. John H. Simmons, born 20 Jan 1869
3. Mary Amanda Simmons, born 8 May 1870
4. Joseph H. Simmons, born 9 Jan 1872
5. Margaret A. Simmons born 12 Jun 1874
6. Edward F. Simmons born 13 Aug 1877
7. James P. Simmons born 16 Jun 1880
8. Emma Elizabeth Simmons born 28 Jul 1882
9. Martha R. Simmons born 6 May 1885
10. Ema Lee Simmons born 28 Dec 1886
11. William Croffard Simmons born 24 Oct 1889
Mary Amanda Simmons was my mother's mother. Mary Amanda married Charles H. James on 10
April 1892. My mother was Bernice Irene James who married Foy Edward Willis. Foy and
Bernice James are both buried in Tucson Arizona.
William Cowen Simmons was my great-grandfather on my mother's side. He enlisted at Paris
Texas in Company H, 9th Cavalry, Ross Brigade on the Confederate side. He was wounded
slightly three times. Some might remember Captain Ross was the one who rescued Cynthia Ann
Parker, who was captured by the Indians from East Texas, when she was a child. She went on to
give birth to Quanna Parker. You can read about her in Ride the Wind.
There is no record of William receiving any Confederate pension.
I have in my possession a newspaper article dated Feb. 8, 1910. It reads as follows:
"On Feb. 8th at his home one and a half miles southwest of Yowell, W.C. Simmons celebrated his
70th birthday with his wife and daughter, Mrs. Margarite Ward, J. L. and R. D. Robinett and
families of Pecan Gap; J. W. Johnson and family of Commerce, Route 1, John Moore and wife,
Mrs Luther Moore and children of Yowell; D. M. Finley and wife of Commerce, and George B.
Simmons, Cooper, numbering in all 43.
After partaking of a fine dinner and enjoying a few hours socially, everyone departed for their
several homes expressing themselves as having had a most enjoyable time.
W. C. Simmons was born near Springfield, Missouri in 1840. He moved to Texas with his father,
Joseph Simmons, in 1844 and settled near the present town of Ben Franklin. In those days there
were no mills for grinding corn and the family used a mortar for making meal. After a short while
they procured a steel hand mill and ground all their corn by hand. The first crop of wheat they
raised after coming to Texas was threshed with a hand rail. The second was tramped out by using
horsed, but in both cases a sheet and two men were used as a separator, the men holding th sheet
while a third poured the grain from an elevated position to the sheet, allowing the chaff to be
blown away by the wind. When grist mills came into use corn and wheat were ground on the
same rocks. For making flour a bolting chest was used which ran by hand, being turned like a
common grind stone and each man was required to bolt his own flour.
In those days hogs grew in the woods and got fat on the mast. Cattle ran at large and beef could
be killed at any season of the year. In addition to this all kinds of quail were plentiful. The first
bear seen by the family was killed by the father on June 2nd, 1846 near the present town of Ancey
and was dragged home with a yoke of oxen. In those days when the fire was out, instead of
matches, fire was started by putting powder on the skillet lid and striking it with the edge of a
common case knife.
The first school house in the community was a very small log house, covered with boards using
rib and weight poles, no nails being used in the making except the door, which was also made
from common split boards. The chimney was of the stick and dirt kind with a fire place large
enough to take a six foot stick of wood.
The floor was make of split logs, the seats were of the same material with holes bored and pins driven in for legs. The teachers were in those days called schoolmasters. All pupils who desired to write were required to furnish goose quills from which the schoolmaster made the pens.
The first Methodist missionary sent to the country had charge of what was called "The Forks of
Sulphur" mission. His work reached from Charleston to Wolfe City, making the round every
three weeks, preaching every day in the week. At one of these meeting, on Christmas eve in
1853, Mr. Simmons professed religion and joined the Methodist church and has been a member of
that church continuing up to the present and expects to be until the end comes.
When the Civil War came on Mr. Simmons enlisted at Paris in Company H, 9th Texas Cavalry,
Ross Brigade on the south side. He served during the entire war, participating in as many as 100
battles and skirmishes, having been slightly wounded three times.
On Dec. 20, 1866 he was married to Miss Mary Robinett, who was born Dec. 10, 1845 in the
town of Clarksville, Texas.
To this union eleven children were born, six boys and five girls, of which number two boys and
five girls are still living. Of the two sons living, E. T. Simmons lives at Savanna, Texas and J. P.
Simmons at Spur, Texas. The daughters, [Mrs. Amanda James], Sabinal Texas; Mrs. Alta
Johnson, Commerce Texas, Route No. 1; Mrs Emma Berry, Rule, Texas and Misses Rullie and
Lee Simmons who are still at home."
©Ron Brothers and Glenda L. Willis, All Rights Reserved, 1999.
7 Sep 1999.
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