Biography - Francis Simpson

FRANCIS MARION SIMPSON, one of the leading merchants of Vienna, Johnson County, was born at this place January 23, 1838. His father, John Simpson, was born in Lexington, Ky., and his father, Maj. William Simpson, was long a resident of that city, whence he removed to Johnson County, Ill., in 1805. He was one of the first settlers of the county, settling here when it was a part of the Northwest Territory, and practically uninhabited except by Indians. Upon removing to Johnson County, he located ten miles northeast of the present site of Vienna, and secured a tract of timber land, upon which he erected a double log house such as were common in those days. This he opened to the public as an hotel, and it was one of the first hotels in Illinois. While a resident of Kentucky he dealt in livestock, and in the line of his business made several trips to Detroit, and after coming to Johnson County he also made several trips with cattle to that city. He improved his farm and resided upon it until his death. The maiden name of his wife was Polly Jones.
John Simpson was reared in Johnson County, until he was eight years old, when his parents moved into Vienna. After he grew to manhood he engaged in mercantile pursuits at Simpson Springs. Later he removed to Vienna, and engaged in business there until his death, in 1864. There were then no railroads in this part of the State, and it was his custom to buy his goods in Louisville, Ky., take them down the Ohio River to Golconda, and thence by teams to Vienna. His wife in maidenhood was Elizabeth Sheerer, and was, it is believed, born in Johnson County. She was a daughter of David Sheerer, who was a native of Frankfort-on-the-Main, and a pioneer of Johnson County. She died in 1846, leaving nine children.
Francis Marion Simpson is the only one of the nine now living. He was eight years old when his parents died, after which he lived with a married sister until he was eighteen years old, when he started out to care for himself. He was first employed in driving an ox-team at $6 per month. Afterward he was employed on a farm for a time, and at twenty years of age he began clerking in a general store at Reynoldsburgh. In April, 1861, he removed to Vienna with a capital of $400, and forming a partnership with W. W. Peterson, started a general store, and he has been engaged in the same business the greater portion of the time ever since. For a period of twenty years he was engaged in the drug business, and for the past four years he has been engaged in the dry-goods business. In addition to these several lines he has also been interested in farming.
Mr. Simpson was married first in 1861, to Miss Julia Jinnett, a native of Johnson County, and a daughter of N. B. and Mary (McCorkle) Jinnett. She died November 7, 1869. His second marriage occurred October 24, 1871, and united him with Mrs. Maggie A. (Beal) Copeland. She was a daughter of Stephen Beal, and the widow of Samuel L. Copeland. By his first marriage Mr. Simpson had one son, William C., who is engaged in the drug business. By his second marriage he also had one son, Francis M. Before the war our subject was a Douglas Democrat, but he has been a Republican since the breaking out of the war. He has served as a member of the village board, and was appointed Postmaster by President Grant, serving fourteen years. Socially, he is a member of Vienna Lodge No. 150, A. F. & A. M.; Vienna Chapter No. 67, R. A. M.; Cairo Commandery No. 13, K. T.; and of Egyptian Lodge, K. & L. of H. Mr. Simpson is one of the most distinguished citizens of Vienna, and one of its foremost business men. Starting with but little education and no capital, he is in the best sense of the word a self-made man.

Extracted 16 Dec 2016 by Norma Hass from 1893 Biographical Review of Johnson, Massac, Pope, and Hardin Counties, Illinois, pages 489-490.

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