GEORGE W. SIMONS - Mr. Simons was born at Brighton, Sussex county, England, December 8, 1820. His father was Thomas Simons and his mother Mary Ann Munn. His father had visited America as early as 1822, and wished to make his home in this country but could not obtain the consent of Mr. Simons' mother to leave England until 1830. That year the family came to America and first settled at Utica, New York, where in 1831 his mother died. He was gifted with strong, natural musical tastes, and when it became necessary for him to make his own living, he chose music as his support. He obtained a position as organist in Dr. Aydelotte's (Episcopal) church, at Cincinnati, when he was only fourteen years of age. In 1835 he went to Nashville, where he became organist of Dr. Wheat's (Episcopal) church, and subsequently Dr. Edgar's church (the First Presbyterian); he also bean teaching music at Nashville. Late in the fall of 1839 he went to Bowling Green, Kentucky, where, with the exception of one years when he lived at Hopkinsville, resided till 1851. He left Bowling Green to take charge of the musical department connected with a large female seminary at Dixon Springs, in Smith county, Tennessee, but the next year accepted a similar position at Fayetteville, Tennessee. In the fall of 1860 he concluded that it would be better to change his residence to the north. The people of Tennessee were terribly excited in regard to the attitude of the republican party concerning slavery, and freely spoke of the war, which in fact broke out a few months later. Settling up his business in a satisfactory manner he reached Virden, where he had decided to locate, in the fall of 1860. He had been married at Bowling Green, Kentucky, May 14, 1850, to Sarah A. Calvert, daughter of the Rev. Samuel W. Calvert, pastor of the Presbyterian church at Bowling Greene. His sister-in-law, the wife of Rev. William I. Tarbet, resided at Virden. From 1861 to 1864 he lived on a farm three miles east of Virden, which he had purchased in 1859. In 1867 he formed a partnership with William W. Sewall and W. W. Pattison, to carry on the milling business, and in the spring of that year began building a mill, which commenced running December 24, 1867. This partnership has since been in existence with the exception that Mr. Pattison has gone out. An illustration of the mill may be seen on another page. With the recent additions it is the largest mill in Virden. Messrs. Simons & Sewall have endeavored to conduct business on a fair and liberal basis. The mill is amply supplied with the most modern machinery for the production of the best brands of flour. It has never stopped running except from accidental causes from the day it first started. As originally built it cost about eighteen thousand dollars. Several thousand dollars worth of improvements have since been added. It has four run of stone and a capacity of two hundred barrels per day. The flour has been shipped under various brands, principal of which is the "Star" and the "North Star Mills," the name by which the mill is known. The product of the mill has been shipped to all parts of the United States, chiefly finding a market in Chicago, and during the last year large quantities of flour have been manufactured for shipment to England, where it has been sold under the name of the "Paragon" and "Excelsior" brands.
Mr. Simons was first an old line whig, and while in Kentucky, in 1840, though not old enough to vote, took a warm interest in the election of Harrison. His associations in the south were calculated to throw him in sympathy with slavery, but instead, his sentiments were always anti-slavery, and he was as outspoken in pronouncing them as was possible under the circumstances. He voted for Lincoln in1860, and has since been a republican. He joined the Presbyterian church, at Utica, when twelve years old; he became connected with an Episcopal church at Nashville, and joined the Presbyterian church again at Fayetteville, Tennessee, and was made elder soon afterward. He was chosen elder in the Presbyterian church, at Virden, soon after coming to the place, and has filled that position ever since. He has seven children. His oldest son, George Simons, has been first miller for the last four or five years.