Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Tombstone Tuesday ~ John Simmons, College Founder, buried at Mount Auburn Cemetery

This memorial was photographed at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts

August 29, 1870,
aged 78 years.

born at Provincetown
Sept. 1, 1797
died at Boston
May 30, 1861


The plot card lists the following names:

1. Rev. Samuel H. Stearnes Dec. 26, 1837, age 35
2. Samuel French, Sept. 5, 1839, age 73
3. Theodore Simmons, June 11, 1840, age 0 yrs, 10 months, 0 days
4. Lorenzo Simons, Feb. 12, 1841, age 18
5. Frank Simmons, Feb. 4, 1844, age 11 weeks
6. John Simmons, Jr. , May 21, 1846, age 25
7. Ella Simmons, Feb. 17, 1853, age 1 year, 8 months, 0 days
8. A Female Stillborn, Sept 19, 1854
9. Stillborn Simmons, July 31, 1855
10. Genevieve Simmons, Jan 27, 1857, age 0 years, 5 months, 0 days
11. Theodore Simmons, May 15, 1858, age 29
12. Ann Simmons, June 2, 1861, age 63
13. Harriet W. Simmons, Nov. 20, 1866, age 37, 11 months, 13 days
14. John Simmons, Aug 31, 1870, age 74
15. Alvina S. White, Apr. 7, 1886, age 49
16. Mary Ann Buffum (from R.I.), Oct 12, 1887, age 67, 6 months, 0 days
17. William Arnold Buffum, Jan 30, 1901, age 79

note #2 here in error, should be 584

Notes on this side of the plot card indicate an iron fence was installed in 1927, and removed 1932 "by order of the trustees of John Simmons", and the granite steps and curbing removed in 1963.

"4 flowering shrubs in front & is surrounded by the same and 1 Arborvitae"

When I visited Mount Auburn to take these photographs, the memorial had recently been re-landscaped by the alumni association of Simmons College.


John Simmons, son of Benoni Simmons and Nancy Bailey,  was born on 30 October 1796 in Little Compton, Rhode Island and died on 29 August 1870 in Little Compton.  He married Anna Small on 29 October 1818 in Boston. He was a direct descendant of Moses Simmons/Simonson, who was a Pilgrim in Leyden, Holland along with the other separatists who came to Plymouth, Massachusetts on board the Mayflower.  Moses Simmons arrived on board the second ship, the Fortune, in 1621.  John Simmons was also descended from more well known Mayflower passengers John Alden, Priscilla Mullens and Myles Standish.

John Simmons left Rhode Island in 1814 to come to Boston as a tailor.  He had his own shop by 1818, and in 1844 was the owner of the largest clothing business in New England.  He revolutionized the men's clothing business by introducing ready-made suits in several sizes.  He died in 1870, leaving the bulk of his fortune to found a woman's educational institution "It is my will to found and endow an institution to be called Simmons Female College.... to enable the scholars to acquire an independent livelihood".

Unfortunately, the Great Boston Fire of 1872 destroyed Simmons real estate investments in the downtown area of the city.  By 1899 his trust fund had recovered enough to found Simmons College. It is a private women's undergraduate college and co-educational graduate school in Boston's Fenway neighborhood.

For the genealogy of John Simmons, see the book The Ancestry of John Simmons: Founder of Simmons College, by Henry Sherburne Rowe, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Riverside Press, 1933.

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Copyright (c) 2014, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

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