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James Elmo &
Annie E. Duffy
Simons Family



Children: l to r
Bryan Elmo Simons, Sr.
Madelene Shelby Simons
James Wathen Simons
Parents: J. E. and Annie Elizabeth Duffy Simons

Dr. and Mrs. Simons


It is not given to many human beings to live in such completeness of union that two hearts really beat as one - but Bay City has had a beautiful example of such an one-ness in the lives of Dr. and Mrs. J. E. Simons, whose deaths came within just a few moments of each other, Sunday, June 30, 1935.

Mrs. Simons was Miss Annie Elizabeth Duffy, of Matagorda, where she was educated in the public and private schools, until she had finished all the work offered there.  She then went to Victoria where she entered a convent to study the cultural courses offered young ladies.

During these years, J. E. Simons, who was born in Athens, Henderson County was being educated in the public schools.  After getting what he could there, he went to work in a drug business, having decided on a medical career as his life work - a decision from which he never swerved.  Through the kindness of business friends, he was able to go to Louisville, Ky., to college, from which he graduated in 1893, with his much coveted M.D. degree.  He came to Texas, to begin his life work, and the first professional office of Dr. J. E. Simons, was on the old state prison farm.

Being a most jovial and social young man, a handsome young doctor, his services were much sought after in other places than in the sick room and we find him one evening in a very fashionable party in aristocratic Matagorda, entertaining one group, then another of young people till he met the fascinating Annie Elizabeth Duffy - and after that time, all of his social plans and activities were centered around her.  He kept the grass well worn on the trail between Caney and Matagorda till early the following year Bay City came into being - a fine new court house was built and Bay City's first gesture as a social center was the formal opening of the county capitol in a grand ball, such as was popular in the "gay 90's".


In looking through her "treasure chest" (a possession of every girl) the printed program of this dance was found and "Annie Duffy's" card was almost completely filled by three initials: "J. E. S." which was very conclusive evidence of mutual attraction, each to the other.  They were married in 1897, and Dr. Simons took his charming bride to their first home down on "Caney," where they lived for a short time, but before the new year, they decided to make a permanent home in the young but important county capitol.  Over muddy roads they traveled to move their household effects to Bay City, where they had selected a plat of ground for their home and they built there.

The materials for their home had to be brought down the Colorado River, on barges, and with ox teams was transported to the spot where now stands the "Simons home."  This was one of the first "fine houses" built in the new town, and in the years which have come and gone since 1897 - the "Simons home" has played its part in the social life of the city.  Dr. and Mrs. Simons have even been a large part of the "anchor" which has held Bay City on the road to the enviable goal she achieved. (Simons house as it appears in 2007.)

In church life, they were always leaders, being members of the Presbyterian Church did not keep them from taking a prominent part in any and all religious activities.  There was never a question in the minds of the citizenry as to where Dr. and Mrs. Simons stood on any subject.  They were bold, courageous and initiative in their manner of culture and of life, as they saw it.  In the rounds of his professional life Dr. Simons found unlimited opportunity for leadership in every moral issue which arose.  During the years together they read - studied - and discussed their work, and lived lives of such harmony that to think of them apart would be to do them an injustice.  In the home, the mother was the "queen" - but the father was her king - their three children living and growing in such an atmosphere that made for them well rounded out home makers, themselves.  The father and mother have lived - and their lives will be reflected in the lives they built to follow after them.  Dr. Simons was by nature - and by election - a "doctor."  His manner of life was "healing", and we thought as we watched the hundreds who passed their bier looking for the last time upon the faces of the man and woman who had nursed them to health from perhaps death's door - "these are they whom they served" - and the tears that blinded the eyes of these men, women and children were tears of real sorrow - real friendship, and real gratitude.  The colored man was there - the old black mammy - they mingled their tears with the friends of wealth and position.

The crowds stood in mute reverence.  Those two gray caskets, placed side by side, told a story rarely told.  Those flowers shed a perfume, symbolic.  Dr. and Mrs. Simons met life together, they solved their problems together, they served humanity together, they worshipped their God together, theirs was a one-ness of purpose, so molded together were they that even death could not sever those ties and they could not be separated even in death so they entered eternity together.  Truly, two hearts that beat as one.  The three homes they left are not desolate - just lonesome, for the hand that guided them, will still be the influence that leads on, on, and ever on for Wathan, Bryan and Madelene, the children of the Simons' home.  In life-in death-together!

The Daily Tribune, Bay City, Texas, July 19, 1935 - Front Page


Dr. J. E. Simons in his office.


Their daughter, Madelene Shelby Simons Beckenbach, wrote a more personal account of their death:


My mother and father last visited us in Houston on Friday, June 28th 1935.  They came over spending the day and returned to Bay City the same day.  The next day, Saturday, June 29th, Ed and I went to Bay City to visit my folks for the weekend.  We got into Bay city about 5 PM, went directly to my father's office, which was in the southeast corner of the Matagorda Pharmacy building, to get a typhoid serum inoculation.  The morning of the 30th of June 1935 my father went to his office and was to return at 11 AM to accompany my mother, my husband and myself to the little white frame Presbyterian Church which our family had attended a great number of years.  My father returned about 10:30 AM complaining of a pain in his chest from which he could get no relief.  My mother put him to bed and immediately started trying to ease him.  He ate no lunch but did not get entirely relieved until my brother Dr. B. E. Simons came in and gave him some medicine.  He went off to sleep and awakened about 3 PM feeling much better.   He wished to go for a drive so after he drank a cup of coffee, my mother, my father, my husband and I started out for a drive.  When we asked where to go, Daddy wanted to go out to old Bucks Bayou Road and on down through Chances Prairie meeting the Caney Road at Cedar Lane.  This territory was where my father first practiced medicine and where my father and my mother spent their first happy year together, he pointed out to us some of the first old settlers homes as well as an old gate he had driven horse and buggies through on his trips from Caney to Matagorda to visit my mother before they were married.  We turned back to town at Cedar Lane and about ten miles out of Bay City without uttering any sound of pain or distress, my dear, precious Daddy went to sleep for a long quiet rest from this world in which he enjoyed living.  My brave, heroic mother was stunned beyond words, she held my father's head into Bay city but when she was relieved of the actual weight of his head, she collapsed and even though my poor, grieving, yet faithful brother worked with her for twenty or thirty minutes, she never rallied from the first shock.  My Daddy left us about 15 minutes to six, June 30th 1935 and my mother about 6:20 PM the same day.  My father was 65 years, 4 months, 21 days of age, my mother 58 years 14 days.  They were buried July 1, 1935 in Cedarvale Cemetery, Bay City Texas.




A large assemblage of people gathered at the Methodist Church Monday afternoon to witness and hear the funeral ceremonies as conducted by Rev. Ernest F. Deutsch, pastor of the Presbyterian Church for two of his members, Dr. and Mrs. J. E. Simons, who died late Sunday afternoon not over an hour apart.

Perhaps not in the memory of one person in all that huge throng of sorrowing friends could there be found one who had ever been called upon to attend such an unusual funeral ceremony. As the two caskets banked high with beautiful flowers were arranged, side by side before the altar the deep and sacred solemnity of the occasion impressed all deeply as they realized it was the only ceremony of the kind they had ever known.

The procession was made up of hundreds of loyal friends, neighbors, church associates and others who esteemed them in life and grieved with the sons and daughter at the hour of death.

The active pallbearers were Paris Smith, Dr. S. R. Sholars, W. R. Horn, Jr., Luther Robertson, H. G. Gilmore, R. E. Baker, Roy Shoultz, Hamilton Savage, J. W. Ingram, F. E. Dye, Roy Starling and Stanley Cernosek.

The honorary pallbearers were Hy. Rugeley, Pat Thompson, Smith Johnson, E. B. Reddock, Sr., B. F. Powell, G. C. Musch, H. H. Parker, J. R. Gusman, Bert Carr, Judge E. N. Krause, M. C. Jaynes of Marshall, Dr. M. D. Levy of Houston, Dr. Lyle J. Loage of Houston, Dr. J. M. Robison of Houston, Dr. C. M. Griswold of Houston, Dr. G. T. Storey, Rev. Odis Rainer, H. A. Blaylock, Wm. Cash, Joe Birkner, P. G. Huston, G. P. Hardy, R. A. Kleska, T. B. Smith, Markham; Walter Brown, Ashwood; Harris Milner, Jack Hinton, G. P. Hathaway, Clemville and G. M. Curtis.

Matagorda County Tribune, July 4, 1935

Garden Bridge Party 1920

Given by Mrs. Simons

in honor of her daughter,


Simons Family

in their yard


February 11, 1897

A. S. Robbins, of the lumber firm of Blades & Robbins, Athens, came in on the steamer Bay City, first of week and has been visiting his nephew, Dr. J. E. Simons, of Caney. Mr. Robbins, or rather his firm took the contract to build the large Simons residence in Bay City and shipped the lumber and material to Wharton several weeks ago but so far owing to the bad roads and the fact that the steamer had more than she could do he has been able to get very little of the material to Bay City, as yet, and is now talking of rafting it down. However, Mr. Robbins likes our country and says all we need is transportation.

Simons Home

March 1932

Photos and articles courtesy of
Sonya Beckenbach Manderson, R. E. & Gayle Simons
and Matagorda County Museum.


Children of James E. & Annie E. Duffy Simons

Three Generations of Doctors


Copyright 2006 - Present by the Simons Family
All rights reserved

Nov. 12, 2006
Jan. 25, 2008