WILLIAMSON BURTON SIMPSON was one of the early pioneers of Grayson county and contributed in a large measure to its progress and development as it emerged from pioneer conditions and took on all the evidences of an advanced civilization. The nineteenth century might properly be termed the age of utility, especially in the west. The vast regions beyond the Mississippi were in that period opened up to civilization and he honored pioneers who founded homes in the fertile but undeveloped regions were men who had to contend with the trials and difficulties of pioneer life. Theirs were lives of toil. They were endeavoring to make homes, to cultivate farms and establish business enterprises. Their importance to the community, however, cannot be overestimated, and the comforts and luxuries which we today enjoy we largely owe to the brave band of pioneer men and women who came to the southwest during its primitive condition. It is also encouraging and interesting to note that many who came here empty-handed worked their way upward from a humble financial position to one of affluence, and that as the years passed and the country improved, prosperity attended their efforts and wealth rewarded their earnest endeavors.
To this class of honored men belonged Williamson Burt Simpson. He was born in Boone county, Kentucky, March 18, 1833, and came to Texas with his parents, William and Rebecca (McPherson) Simpson. This was in the year 1845, when the son, Williamson, was but twelve years of age. The family settled in Titus county, Texas, and afterward removed to Colorado county.
Mr. Simpson, of this review, aided with the family in the labors of pioneer life and continued an active factor in business affairs until he enlisted in the Confederate army. He served throughout the war in General Price’s division and was once wounded. At the close of hostilities he returned to Texas and in 1872 came to Denison, which was just being laid out and settled. It was an embryo city with as yet little done in the way of improvement, but Mr. Simpson believed that it has a bright future before it and identified his interests with the new town. He engaged in business here and built the first brick residence erected in Denison. It is still standing at the foot of Gandy street near the yards of the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad Company. As the years passed by Mr. Simpson was connected with various business enterprises and contributed in large measure to the welfare of Denison through the promotion of its industrial and commercial activity. At length his labors brought to him a gratifying competence, and being relieved of the necessity of further activity connection with business life, he retired several years prior to his death and spent the evening of his days in the enjoyment of a well earned rest.
On the 22nd of December, 1853, Mr. Simpson was united in marriage to Miss Lucy M. Bridges, who was born in DeKalb county, Alabama, and is a daughter of Ephraim and Elizabeth (Newman) Bridges. On the 22nd of December, 1903, they celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in this city. During the fifty years of their married life there had never been a death in the family. Theirs was largely an ideal relation, their mutual love and confidence increasing as the years went by and they met together the joys and sorrows, the adversity and prosperity of life. They became the parents of nine children and the family record is as follows: John Lewis, the eldest, born in Titus county, Texas, married Miss Ida Cleaver, of Gainesville, Texas, where they now reside. They have two children, William and John, both of whom were born in Gainesville. William E. Simpson, whose birth occurred in Titus county, is now living in St. Louis, Missouri. Rebecca Elizabeth, also a native of Titus county, is the widow of Judge Richard Maltby, of McKinney, Texas, and has two children, Grace and Richard, both born in McKinney. James N., who was born in Colorado county, Texas, married Lizzie Toppin and lives in Dallas, Texas. Burt A., born in Colorado county, Texas, was married to Alice Morgeson and had four children: Walter, Elizabeth, Georgie and Burt, all born in Gainesville, and for his second wife he chose Lillian Whiteman, of Louisiana. They now reside in Ardmore, Indian Territory. Sterling P. Simpson, born in Colorado county, Texas, married Gertrude Seasfeldt and they have three children, Gertrude Jack and Richard, all born in Gainesville, where the family home is maintained. Arthur O. Simpson, also a native of Colorado county, is living in Ardmore. Minnie Eleanor, born in Denison, is the wife of Henry C. Ashley, of this city, and has a son, Henry A., also born in Denison. Lucy Simpson, a native of Denison, completes the family.
Williamson B. Simpson, the father, was a member of Denison Camp, No. 885, United Confederate Veterans, and he gave his political allegiance to the Democracy. He died October 17, 1904, at the age of seventy-one years. He was regarded as a wise counselor in his political party, but he disliked the publicity of office and therefore always refused official preferment. He was a generous and benevolent man, ever ready to extend a helping hand to the poor and needy and especially willing to assist those who were anxious to engage in business for themselves. He recognized the brotherhood of the race, but was always quiet and unassuming in his assistance to others. As a citizen he was public spirited in a eminent degree, deeply interested in the welfare of his country and the prosperity of his community. His death seemed a personal bereavement to the majority of the citizens of Denison, for he was honored and esteemed alike by young and old, rich and poor.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. I, pp. 631-633.