Simmons High School, second school erected by community builders. A rare snow occurring in the twenties. Note updated vehicle from the early "jitney Model T's" used to show visitors around the farm and ranch community. One of the Matkin children stands in front. Just to her right above the school roofline and behind the school, the windmill used to furnish water for town inhabitants is seen. Photo courtesy Lois Matkin.
After consolidation with Three Rivers in the early forties, the school was torn down by the community. Yellow bricks were carefully cleaned and transported to George West to be used by the George West First Methodist Church parishioners to build a new parsonage.
Live Oak County Historical Commission Chair: "Tige" Brown
LOCHC Marker Chair: Thelma Lindholm
Chair Assistant: Grace Houseton
Simmons Marker Sponsor: Live Oak County Commissioner's Court (Bill Huff, Co. Clerk)
Year Unveiled: 1969
Simmons, Texas, Texas Historic Subject Marker Text:
SITE PLANNED FOR A REGIONAL TRADE CENTER
ORIGINALLY RANCHLAND, BOUGHT IN 1900
BY DR. C. F. SIMMONS (WEALTHY ST. LOUIS
MANFACTURER OF "LIVER REGULATOR'), WHO
ALSO BUILT THIS ALL-FAITHS CHURCH, 1908.
AFTER SIMMONS' SON AND HEIR DIED OF
SNAKE BITE, HE SOLD 60,000 - ACRE RANCH
TO 4,200 SMALL FARMERS AND PROVIDED
BUILDINGS FOR THIS RURAL COMMUNITY.
APPLICATION NARRATIVE AND BIBLIOGRAPHY FOR OFFICIAL TEXAS HISTORICAL SUBJECT MARKER
[Texas Historical Markers were a new THC program in 1964 and in formative stage during 1968 when this subject marker application was submitted and approved. The narrative is not in current required format but includes interesting insight into the community at that time historically. The first part is a history of the Simmons' Community All-Faiths Church (Photo below courtesy Lois Matkin) until then present 1968. The second is a history based primarily on Dr. Simmons publicity brochure, "Home, Sweet, Home".]
The Simmons Church
by Grace Murray
When Dr. Charles F·. Simmons sub-divided his ranch in 1907 and sold it to 4200 purchasers, he pledged himself to build a community church and a school. True to his promise, he engaged carpenters, under a foreman, Mr. Prather, and sent them in to erect these public buildings. The lumber was hauled from Beeville and the buildings were completed before the end of 1908.
Dr. Simmons was a member of the Methodist Church; and the carpenters, thinking to please him, painted the words M. E. Church over the church doors. When Dr. Simmons saw this, he ordered the painters to repaint the glass and cover the letters, stating that he had built the church to be used by all denominations, not by one only. His wishes in this matter were complied with and, to this day, the building has been and is being used by any denomination in the community.
Soon after the building was finished, an inter-denominational Sunday School was established with J. F. Steele as Superintendent. The women of the community organized a Ladies Aid and set about raising money to purchase furniture for the church. Dr. Simmons had failed to provide furniture for the school or church, but through the efforts of the community, seats were soon provided and services were begun. Two carpenters, who donated their skill and time to making desks and tables, especially for the school, were local citizens, T. L. Murray and P. E. McDonald.
Some of the early worhippers in the church included the families of P. E. McDonald, A. M. Tullis, W. S. Moss, T. L. Murray, W. Goodwin, C. H. Wedding, and Mrs. Ada Pursley. As other families moved into the community, they also took part in the worship service.
There were no regular preaching services at the church, but ministers often came from other communities to hold protracted meetings, as they were called. Among these early ministers was a Baptist minister, J. M. Cunningham, who came occasionally for a week's service.
In 1909, W. S. Moss was elected superintendent. He and his wife and daughter, Mrs. Mary Tullis, took an active part in the church work. Mr. Moss served as superintendent for 7 years. His daughter led the singing and taught a Sunday School class. Through the efforts of Mrs. Moss, various Church of Christ ministers came to the community to hold services. Among these were Hatton B. Gist, L. R. George, Mr. Wainwright, and Mr. Holland. Mr. Gist came summer after summer and did much to further the cause of religion in the community. Since this was the first organized Church or Christ in this part of the County, members came from the newly organized towns of Three Rivers and George West to worship at Simmons, until they could get their churches organized. Among the early members of the Simmons Church of Christ were the Moss family, the Julians, the Eccels, the Neals, and later the Calvins, Websters, J. N. Bell, and Mrs. Grace Houseton.
After the Methodist Churches were organized at Three Rivers and George West, their ministers came to hold serices at the Simmons Church occasionally. Among these were Mr. Wheeler and Mr. Marshall, followed in later years by Mr. Washington, Mr. Parrish and Mr. Mack. A. M. Foster also preached on special occasions. Members of the Methodist Church included Mr. and Mrs. W. C. Matkin,Mrs. A. M. Tullis, Mr. and Mrs. C. E. Freeman, and later Mr. and Mrs. Reagan Matkin, Mrs. Rowena Sawyer, and Mrs. Clem Nolan.
About 1922, W. S. Gibbs, a Baptist minister, came to preach at Simmons. For years, he came regularly once a month for Saturday night and Sunday services. Through his efforts the Baptist Church was formally organized in Simmons. The first deacons were D. L. Hicks and J. H. Everett. Later, Dan James and B. K. Autry held those positions. A Baptist Young People's Union was organized. Some of the charter members of the Baptist Church were Mrs. T. L. Murray, Mrs. J. T. Nations, Mr. and Mrs. D. L. Hicks, Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Everett, Mr. and Mrs. Richard Wood, Mr. and Mrs. T. A. Secrest, Mr. and Mrs. Roland Pursley, Mr. and Mrs. S. B. Thrasher, Mr. and Mrs. B. K. Autry, and Mrs. Cora Sawyer.
During the 1930s, the Pentecostal religion was introduced into the community. Mr. Kluck was the first preacher, followed by a number ef others, among whom was Mr. Colter who held services at different times over a period of years. Among the adherents to this faith were Mr. and Mrs. B. E, Fisher, Mr. and Mrs. W. W. Kolb, Mrs. Isaac Smith, Mrs. E. McCallay, Mrs. Ivis Barrow, Mr. and Mrs. Mancel Jones, Mr. and Mrs. Amos Jones, and the Tom Smith family. In time, the Pentecostal people ceased having services in the community church and built themselves a tabernacle in which to worship.
About this time, a preacher named Mr. Hawkins came to Simmons and held services for several weeks at a time over a period of a few years. He was a preacher for the Church of God (Seventh Day). He was followed by a Mr. Snow and Mr. Unzicker; the membership of this church included the A. M. Samford family, the D. E. Griffins and the Edwards family.
To settle any question concerning the use of the church building, a governing body was set up to act as trustees. A trustee was chosen from each denomination represented in the community at that time. The first trustees were Mrs. W. C. Matkin, Methodist; W. G. Carrol, Sr., Church of Christ; Mrs. B. E. Fisher, Pentecostal; E. P. Rathke, Baptist; and B. K. Autry, trustee at large. Later, Mrs. A. W. Houseton was appointed to represent the Church of Christ; D. L. Hicks, Pentecostal; Richard Wood, Baptist; and Fred Hudson, trustee at large.
Community Singing has been a part of the church worship at Simmons since the founding of the community. In the early days, Mrs. Mary Moss Tullis played the piano, while her husband, Russell sang a deep bass with the singers. Everyone sings, regardless of whether he has had any special musical training or not. Singing has truly been a community affair, with young and old participating. As the years have passed, different pianists and different song leaders have come and gone, but the community still offers praise to God in song. Reagan Matkin was pianist for years. Song leaders have included Mrs. Reagan Matkin, Mrs. Rowena Sawyer, Mrs. Thelma Hicks Hudson and her sons.
During the time that Live Oak County was having singing conventions in different places, the Simmons church entertained the convention several times. Dinner was served at noon and everyone enjoyed sharing a meal together as well as they enjoyed singing together.
In early days about 1921, Mr. Gay from Clegg taught an old-fashioned singing school at the church. He taught the pupils to read notes and to sing different parts in the songs. In 1938, a Stamps-Baxter representative taught a singing school in which the people of both Simmons and White Creek communities participated. The school was held at the Simmons church and lasted ten nights.
In 1947, Mrs. C. E. Freeman became superintendent of the Sunday School and served in that capacity until the late 1950s when he and his wife moved. Under his leadership, two Sundays a month a Baptist minister held services, while on the other two Sundays a Methodist minister held services. For awhile during this period Archie Warren, Church of Christ minister, taught a Bible study course each Thursday night.
On September 7, 1957, the community of Simmons celebrated its fiftieth anniversary. The celebration was held at the community church. Mrs. J. F. Gray was principal speaker. It was truly a time of reunion. People from all parts ef Texas came back to join the celebration and to once more be a part of the gathering at their old church.
For more than sixty years, the community church at Simmons has been the place of worship for people of different faiths who have worked in harmony with each other. The feeling of love and fellowship pervades the assembly, and friendship, neighborly kindness, and a reverence for God is instilled in all. The church has witnessed the happiness of weddings, golden wedding anniversaries, and the sorrows of funeral services. Its threshold has been crossed by the running feet of children and the feeble steps of old age. Through all these years, its spire has pointed to Heaven, inviting one and all to enter and join with their fellowmen in worship of their Creator. May the spiritual life of this church live on in the future as it has in the past!
by Thelma Lindholm
[Lindholm to the THC]The enclosed booklet, Home, Sweet Home, will be used as primary information
for this part of the article on Simmons,' City.
There was only one of these booklets located in 1968. It belongs to A. T. Secrest of Simmons City. There were thousands published when Dr. Simmons put his ranch on sale, each prospective land buyer received one. Where or by whom it was published is not given, on page 4 is the only reference made. Pages 5 through 9 and 18 through 21--Texas, The Grandest of them all are self explanatory. Pages 10 through 17 and 22 through 39 are pictures of Dr. Simmon's Ranch house and other pictures of ranch places.
It is regrettable the pictures are not plain, but their caption explains them. [Pictures included by THC on the CD used as reference for this website are only blurs and serve only as a distraction to readers. They are not included here. Otherwise, this narrative is as presented to THC and should aid readers with research.] On file in the Live Oak County Clerk's Office, George West, Texas is a book of seven maps, titled: Dr. Chas. F. Simmons, Nueces River Farm a subdivided area in accordance with his own plan of Sale Surveyed by S. T. Chalk, 1907. These Map sheets are 40 in, by 60 in. Map on page 2 shows how Dr. Simmons subdivided his 60,000 acre ranch for sale. Map 3 is of the town site. Maps l and 4 through 7 show his ranch by sectional division. The location of the water wells, tanks, irrigation flumes are marked on the respective Map.
Pages 3 and 4 of Home, Sweet Home "he sold his business and extensive real estate holdings in St. Louis and removed to Live Oak County, Texas, on a ranch of about 60,000 acres ... purchased for his only son, whose accidental death ...."
County Clerk's Office, George West, Vol. M, pp. 286 through 289. Recordings show Dr. Simmons acquired what was known as the Bell Ranch and acreage from British American Mortgage Company Limited of New York City, N.Y. Total acreage about 51,000. Vol. M. pages 342-3 show recordings of his acquiring what is known as the Fant Ranch and acreage from S. B. Turner and Albert R. Shattuch, State of New York--Co. of New York. When you add the acreage bought from the above, the total is considerably more than 60,000 acres.
"Accidental death of the son:" Dr. Simmon's son was living on and managing the ranch. One day while out on a cattle round-up, he sat on a log to eat his lunch, a rattle snake was coiled to the side of a log. The snake struck him above the knee or in the back of the knee. The young man died before they could get him to a Doctor.
Plans for selling the 60,000 acres by the Home, Sweet Home plan was formulated by Dr. Simmons.
The (22) Rules Covering the sale of the land: Pages 40 through 44. Rules (1st) through (4th) should be read at least three times then come out to Simmons and you will understand what Dr. Simmons was trying to explain.
On page 42 in the original Home Sweet Home, this inset at the bottom of the
page has the appearance of having been antiqued.
Rule (22nd) page 44: accordlng to Lawyer R. E. Schneider, Jr. of George West, Dr. Simmons has heirs living in San Antonio, 1968, and some time in the 1930s the heirs, through court's proceedings, got the $50,000 plus accumulated interest on the grounds that a rail road would not be going through Simmons.
County Clerk's Office, George West, Texas: There are three Volumes of Deeds, a copy of one of the Deeds is included. Mr. Huff, County Clerk, 1968, said Dr. Simmons purchased the three Volumes---you will find in the wording of the inclosed copy: Book C.F.S.I. (Charles F. Simmons-Bk.l) the other two Volumes are the same only numbered 2 and 3.
On pages 1 through 4 of Volume 1 is found a copy of the 22 Rules as found in Home, Sweet Home pages 40-44. Each Volume has two deeds to a page. Vol.1 - pp. 5--640;Vol. 2 pp. 1-638. Vol. 3-pp. 1--575. Volume 3 closed with 1907 making a total of 3696 Warranty Deeds issued at the close of 1907 prior to the opening of the town.
Checking the states buyers lived in, Texas residents ranked first. Most buyers were from Counties far removed from Live Oak County. The number of buyers from the state of Oklahoma were almost the same as from Texas. Buyers from twenty-nine other states were listed-from Maine to Florida, the Great Lakes Region, Washington to New Mexico, fewer were from the warmer areas--more from arid and mountain regions. Home, Sweet Home paid off.
Copy from the National Archives-Record Group No. 28-Showing Post offices in Live Oak County. Page 431 shows a Post office was established in Simmons on December 13, 1907, Dave E. Goodwin was appointed by the President-Chas. M. Wedding followed him, appointed by Congress on March 5, 1908. Andrew J. Wilson, May 5, 1910, then Wm. C. Matkins who served until December 31, 1948 at which time the Office was closed. Since then the mail is sent out from the Three Rivers office on Star Rt. No. 1.
Where is Simmons, this 60,000 acre- Home, Sweet Home? Driving South on U. S. Highway No. 281 through Live Oak County just about 2 1/2 miles South of Three Rivers there is a Highway Marker to turn right on Farm Road No. 1024--Marker reads 7 miles, Simmons. Traveling North on No. 281, approximately 7 1/2 miles from George West--same sign same marker.
from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 6, 1910
DR. C. F. SIMMONS, MEDICINE MAN AND DUELIST, IS DEAD
St. Louisan Made Fortune and Had Record of Four
Affairs of Honor
SHOT IN TEXAS FIGHT
Dies at Excelsior Springs, Where He Once Fought
From Behind Pole.
Dr. C. F. Simmons, once a picturesque St. Louis character and noted as an impromptu duelist, died of Bright's disease at Excelsior Springs, Mo. yesterday.
After making a fortune through the manufacture and sale of a patent medicine, Dr. Simmons departed from St. Louis 10 years ago, announcing that he meant to retire from business.
As a diversion in his declining years he added $1,000,000 to his fortune selling land and rasing cattle in Texas. He also added two more marks to his dueling record.
Shoots A Bank Clerk
While in business in St. Louis in 1898 he had a rapid-fire affair of honor with Emil Davison, a bank clerk. Davison was trying to take a revolver from his pocket. Dr. Simmons shot him twice.
There was no prosecution, as Davison said the fight was the result of a misunderstanding involving the good name of a member of Dr. Simmons' family.
Dr. Simmons while in St. Louis fought with his bookkeeper, George McBain. The bookeper (sic) was stabbed with an erasing knife.
At Beeville, Tex., in 1905, Dr. Simmons was wounded in a revolver duel with J. H. Hamilton, but not before he had shot and seriously injured Hamilton, in a quarrel over stray cattle.
Daughter at Bedside
At Excelsior Springs in 1906, Dr. Simmons and Norman H. Chamberlain exchanged shots from behind telegraph poles on the main street of the town. The quarrel started because of Dr. Simmons' allegations that Chanberlain had made a slighting remark about a young woman employed in Dr. Simmons' office.
Dr. Simmons' daughter, Mrs. William H. Freudenstein of 4054A Clayton Avenue, was with him when he died.
The Honorable Jim Huff, County Judge for Live Oak County, welcomes you to the Live Oak County Historical Commission (LOCHC) Website. The Live Oak County Historical Commission is an arm of the Live Oak County Commissioners' Court; appointees are selected at the beginning of odd numbered years and serve two year terms. Judge Huff and the Live Oak County Commissioners support and approve actions of the LOCHC in coordination with the Texas Historical Commission (THC).
Live Oak County Commissioners:
Precinct 1: Richard Lee
Precinct 2: Donna Kopplin Mills
Precinct 3: Mitchell Williams
Precinct 4: Emilio Garza
The Commissioner's Court is committed to the preservation of our county's history. Judge Huff and your local commissioner welcome suggestions.