James Riley Simmons
From the 1889 Goodspeed History
          Hon. James Riley Simmons, who figures prominently in the farming and stock raising interests of Cass Township, was born in Marshall County, Tenn., January 10, 1848, being the son of Lewis and Malinda (Gant) Simmons, both natives of North Carolina, and grandson of Lewis Simmons, Sr., who was also a native of North Carolina, and who made a home for himself and family in Tennessee at a very early date. The Simmons trace their ancestry back to a settlement made in North Carolina by a native of Ireland previous to the Revolutionary War. They were people of medium stature, of strong physique, and were rather tenacious of their religious belief, although their descendant, Lewis Simmons, Jr., was liberal in that regard and tending toward a belief in Universalism. The Gants were of Irish extraction, and made settlements in North Carolina after Revolutionary War times. They followed in general the characteristics of the Simmons. On both sides they were agricultural people, and never owned slaves. Hon. James Riley Simmons was one of three sons and two daughters born to his parents. He was reared in Texas County, where his father had located in 1855, from Marshall County, Tenn., and where his death had occurred from small-pox in 1864, after an active, useful life. The mother is still living, and makes her home with James R. The latter, as soon as grown, engaged in farming and stock raising, and has placed it on a good footing here. He pays attention to the raising and breeding of Short-horn and Durham cattle, Poland-China and Berkshire hogs, Cotswold sheep, etc. He owns 600 acres of land, 350 under cultivation. He was married in Texas County to Miss Mary E. Rust, a native of Warren County, Tenn., and the daughter of Robert and Margaret (Eddy) Rust, natives of Tennessee, who made a home in Texas County about 1854. Mr. Rust lost his life in the Confederate service, in 1863, under Gen. Price. To Mr. and Mrs. Simmons were born five sons and three daughters: Irene, Lewis, Gouley, Lee, Oscar, John R., Jr., Perley, and buried Annie, the second daughter. Mr. Simmons has given his children good educational advantages, which have not been neglected. Mrs. Simmons is a devoted member of the Christian Church. Mr. Simmons is a member of the Masonic Blue Lodge, is Past Master of both Texas and Barnesí lodges and is an Odd Fellow. He has always taken an active part in the politics of the Democratic party, and has ever advocated the principles of the same. In 1887 the people of Texas County signified their appreciation of Mr. Simmonsí labors by giving him a unanimous election as their representative to the Thirty-fourth General Assembly, in which he has served on committees of Agricultural, Claims and Labor. He has always given an important support to all measures tending to the general advancement of his county and State. He has, for the past eleven years, taken an important part in the detection and bringing to justice of criminals, who have sought a haven of safety within the limits of Texas County, and has extended his work in this direction to many points far beyond the limits of this County.

 


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