Charles Franklin Simmons, rancher and land promoter, was born Calvin Franklin Simmons in Iuka, Mississippi, on September 27, 1853, one of three sons of Dr. M. A. Simmons, inventor of Dr. M. A. Simmons's Vegetable Liver Medicine. Simmons received his early schooling in Mississippi. He reportedly studied law at the University of Virginia and Cumberland University at Lebanon, Tennessee, and attended Jefferson Medical College and the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy. He apparently practiced law in Lebanon prior to 1879, when he purchased his father's St. Louis patent-medicine business. At nineteen, Simmons married Harriet (Hattie) P. Cantrell, of Lebanon, Tennessee; he was the father of three sons and six daughters, but only one son, Harry, and five daughters lived past childhood. Simmons sold his interest in the St. Louis medicine business in 1900 and moved to Live Oak County, Texas, to reside on the 60,000-acre ranch he purchased that year. After subdividing the ranch and establishing the town of Simmons City in 1907, he moved to San Antonio in 1908. That same year he purchased a 95,000-acre ranch in Atascosa County from Daniel and Anton Oppenheimer. He founded a town, first called New Artesia and then Christine, which was incorporated 1910, and platted the townsite of Imogene. He chartered the Artesian Belt Railroad Company in 1908 and laid 38.7 miles of track from Kirk, a siding on the International-Great Northern Railroad southwest of San Antonio, through Poteet, Jourdanton, and his ranch, to Christine. To attract settlers to Christine and Imogene, Simmons wrote and published a pamphlet advertising package deals for lots in town and farm acreage. He was divorced from Harriet C. Simmons in San Antonio in March 1910 and married her younger sister, Martha (Mattie) Cantrell in the same year. Simmons suffered from kidney disease for many years and died from Bright's disease in Excelsior Springs, Missouri, on November 4, 1910. Simmons was a member of the Methodist Church, Knights Templar, Knights of Pythias, Odd Fellows, Redmen, and Knights of Honor. He was buried in Cedar Grove Cemetery in Lebanon. His widow, Mattie Simmons, died in Excelsior Springs on November 11, 1913.
Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.
Michael R. Mulvey | © Texas State Historical Association
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