Biography - Wiley Simmons

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 Tennessee, and came thence to Illinois, and his last years were spent in this county. His wife bore the maiden name of Mary Ann Walker.
The 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 Bloomfield 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 Bloomfield Township until his death, in January, 1867.
Wiley 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.
Our 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 ho rented the farm very advantageously, and has since made his home in Vienna.
Mr. 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. Her marriage with 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 arc members in high standing of the Presbyterian Church.

Extracted 23 Apr 2016 from 1893 Biographical Review of Johnson, Massac, Pope, and Hardin Counties, Illinois, pages 227-228.

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