WILLIAM A. SIMPSON. - Among those who have been prominently identified with the civic and material development and upbuilding of the metropolis of Wyandotte county few have wielded more potent influence than the well known and highly honored citizen and pioneer business man whose name initiates this paragraph. He has been a resident of Kansas for more than half a century, and during thirty years of this period he has maintained his home in Kansas City, which he has seen advance to a position of staunch prestige and prosperity, as one of the most important cities of this commonwealth. Here he has long been engaged in the real estate and loan business, and through his operations in this line of enterprise he has contributed much to the upbuilding of the city and the development of Wyandotte county. He has stood exponent of the most loyal and progressive citizenship and has concerned himself with the measures and undertakings that have furthered social advancement and industrial and commercial prosperity. Such are the men whose characters and labors render them specially eligible for representation in this history of the county and its people, and it is gratifying to be able to offer in this work a review of the earnest and worthy career of this sterling citizen.
William A. Simpson is of staunch Scotch-Irish descent in both the paternal and maternal lines and is a scion of families founded in New England in the Colonial epoch of our national history, the while he himself claims the old Granite state as the place of his nativity, Mr. Simpson was born at Hookset, Merrimack county, New Hampshire, on the 23rd of October, 1839, and is a son of Samuel and Hannah (Pearson) Simpson, both of whom were born at Deerfield, Rockingham county, that state, where they were reared and educated and where their marriage was solemnized. The father became one of the substantial farmers of Merrimack county, where he also followed the trade of carpenter to a greater or less extent, and he there continued to maintain his residence until 1857, when he removed with his family to Kansas and numbered himself among the pioneers of Douglas county, where he engaged in farming. He passed the closing years of his life at Lawrence, Kansas, and was about eighty-two years of age at the time of his death. He was a son of John Simpson, who served with distinction as a valiant soldier and officer in the Continental line in the war of the Revolution and who is credited with having fired the first gun in the battle of Bunker Hill. He was born at Deerfield, Rockingham county, New Hampshire, and his ancestors came to New England from either Scotland or the north of Ireland. His commission for military office, granted by New Hampshire, has been preserved and is a most interesting historical relic, as is his old flintlock which he carried in the war of the Revolution. The text of his commission is here reproduced:
|State of New Hampshire. (Seal)|
|The Government and People of Said State.|
To John Simpson, Gentleman: Greeting.
We, reposing especial trust and confidence in your fidelity, courage and good conduct, do by these presents constitute and appoint you, the said John Simpson, second lieutenant of Captain Simon Marston's company in the battalion of troops raised within said state for the defense of the states of New England and New York, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Peabody.
You are therefore carefully and dilligently to discharge the duty of second lieutenant, in leading, ordering and exercising said company in arms, both inferior officers and soldiers, and keep in good order and discipline; hereby commanding them to obey you as their second lieutenant, and yourself to observe and follow such orders and instructions as you shall, from time to time, receive from the council and house of representatives of said state for the time being, and in their recess from their committee of safety, or any of your superior officers for the service of said states according to military rules and discipline, pursuant to the trust reposed in you. In testimony whereof we have caused the seal of said state to be hereunto affixed.
The flintlock musket used by John Simpson in the battle of Bunker Hill, and bearing the number 676, is preserved as a family heirloom and is now in the possession of S. N. Simpson, a brother of William A. Simpson, of this sketch. John Simpson was a surveyor by profession and after the war continued to be a citizen of prominence and influence in his home county until his death.
Samuel Simpson, father of him whose name introduces this review, was first married to Polly Pearson, and they became the parents of one son and one daughter, the former of whom died young and the name of the latter of whom was Elizabeth. After the death of his first wife Samuel Simpson married her sister Hannah, who was about seventy-nine years of age when she was summoned to the life eternal. Four sons and one daughter were born of the second marriage, and of the number the youngest is William A., of this sketch; Dr. Timothy G., the eldest, became a successful physician and surgeon and the closing years of his life were passed in West Fairlee, Vermont, where he died at the venerable age of eighty-five years; Samuel N., who is now an octogenarian, resides in Kansas City, Kansas; Henry M., died in 1872, at the age of sixty-one years, and was a resident of Lawrence, Kansas, at the time of his death; and Cleora died, unmarried, at the age of twenty-one years.
William A. Simpson was reared to maturity at Derry, New Hampshire, and in the meanwhile was afforded the advantages of the schools of the locality and period. He was about eighteen years of age at the time of accompanying his parents on their removal to Kansas, in 1857, and here he became thoroughly familiar with the conditions and influences marking the pioneer epoch in the history of the state. From 1858 until 1878 he was identified with the banking and real estate business at Lawrence, the county seat of Douglas county, and during the year 1879 he was acting vice president of the Lawrence National Bank. He then came to Kansas City, this state, where he has been engaged in the real estate and loan business during the long intervening years, within which his operations have been of broad scope and have been fruitful in furthering the development and progress of this favored section of the Sunflower commonwealth. He has maintained his home in Kansas City since 1881 and has at all times taken a deep interest in all measures that have tended to advance its growth and its material and social wellbeing. He was the first president of the Kansas City Mercantile Club, with which he is still identified, and he has been distinctively loyal and public spirited in all civic relations. He was one of those specially instrumental in securing to Kansas City its present fine public library and he has been active in the support of the public schools, which have been brought up to a high standard. He has served as a valued member of the city board of police commissioners, and was president of this important municipal body for three terms. In the early days he and his two brothers took an active part in repelling the raids made in Kansas just before the initiation of the Civil war, when this state was the stage of the most bitter contention incidental to the attempted extension of slavery within its borders.
In politics Mr. Simpson has ever given an unequivocal allegiance to the Republican party and he is well fortified in his convictions as to matters of public polity, as he is a man of alert mentality and of broad information. Both he and his wife are most devoted members of the Congregational church, and in the congregation with which they are identified he is serving as deacon. Apropos of his political proclivities it may further be stated that he cast his first presidential vote in support of Abraham Lincoln and that he has voted for every Republican presidential candidate since that time. Mr. Simpson is a man of kindly and generous nature, tolerant in his judgment of others and ever ready to extend aid to those in affliction or distress. He is well known in the city that has so long represented his home and here he and his wife find their circle of friends coincident with that of their acquaintances. He has gained independence and definite prosperity through his own well directed efforts, and the story of his life affords both lesson and incentive.
In the year 1864 was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Simpson to Miss Louisa B. Prentiss, of Lawrence, this state, where her father was a prominent physician and surgeon who took up his residence in Douglas county in 1855. In conclusion of this brief sketch is entered the record concerning the children of Mr. and Mrs. Simpson: Kate E., is the wife of William S. Hannah, who is a representative citizen of Kansas City, Kansas, where he has been prominently identified with the live stock business; Louisa H., is the wife of John W. Root, of Denver, Colorado; Mary died at the age of thirty-three years; William P., resides in Monterey, Mexico, where he has important business interests; Miss Elizabeth A., remains at the parental home; and Henry L., was graduated in the Kansas State University and is now taking a post graduate course at the University of Wisconsin, at Madison.
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