Wiley SIMMONS, a retired
farmer living in Vienna, was born in what is now
Simpson Township September 23, 1837, and represents one of the pioneer
families of Johnson County. His father, who bore the same name as
himself, was born in Bertie County, N. C., September 24, 1801, and was
a son of Thomas SIMMONS, who is supposed to have been a native of the
same State. During somE period of his life he removed to
came thence to Illinois, and his last years were spent in this county.
His wife bore the maiden name of Mary Ann WALKER.
father of our subject was young when his parents removed to Tennessee,
and he grew up there amid primitive scenes, and was married to Mary A.,
a daughter of Hezekiah ERVING. She was born December 11, 1802, and died
on the home farm in Blooomfield April 11, 1869. Mr.
SIMMONS migrated from Tennessee to Missouri with his family in 1832,
and resided in that State until 1836, when he came to Johnson County,
accompanied by his wife and the five children that had previously been
born to them, the entire journey being made with teams. He settled in
what is now Grantsburg Township, buying a tract of Government land, and
building the log house in which our subject was subsequently born. In
1855 he sold that place, after making many valuable improvements, and
from that time resided in what is now Bloomfleld Township until his
death, in January, 1867.
SIMMONS, of whom we write, is one of a family of eight children, and
his boyhood was passed amid pioneer scenes on the old farm where he
was born. Johnson County was then in a wild and sparsely settled
condition, and he may be said to have grown with its growth, and it may
be his pride that he has helped to develop its rich agricultural
resources. In his early days the people were mostly
home-livers, obtaining their food from the fertile soil and from the
wild game, such as deer, turkeys, etc., that abounded in this region
before it was much settled. Their clothing was the product of the skill
of the mothers, wives and sisters of the pioneers in carding, spinning
and weaving wool and flax. There were no railways, and all travel was
with horses or oxen, or on foot, over rough roads or no roads at all.
subject under these influences grew up to be a stalwart, self-helpful
man, and adopted the calling of a farmer, to which he had been bred. He
lived with his parents until he was twenty-two, assisting in the
management of the farm, and then, a few months after marriage, he took
the entire charge of it, having it under his control, and residing on
it until 1865, when he bought land in Tunnel Hill Township. He dwelt
upon that place several years, but in 1888 he rented the farm very
advantageously, and has since made his home in Vienna.
Simmons was married April 10, 1859, to Miss Mary McGOWN, in whom he has
found a loving and true helpmate. Mrs. SIMMONS was born in Williamson
County March 18, 1841, a daughter of Lewis and Sarah McGOWN.
our subject has been hallowed to them by the birth of four children:
Cazal, Mary J., Letha A. and Margaret C. Cazal married Mahala BENSON,
and they have six children. Mary married R. M. JACKSON, and they have
three children. Margaret married Ad HOOKER, and they have one child.
Letha is at home with her parents, and is their stay in their declining
years. The family is well known and greatly respected, and all are
members in high standing of the Presbyterian Church.
transcribed by Nan Starjak
The Biographical Review of Johnson, Massac, Pope and Hardin
Biographical Publishing Co., 1893
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