Strangers to Us All Lawyers and Poetry

John Franklin Simmons


Jurist and poet; Harvard University graduate

[Reference: Edwin Anderson Alderman & Joel Chandler Harris (eds.), Library of Southern Literature 399 (New Orleans: Martin & Hoyt Co., 1910)(1907)(Vol. 15, Biographical Dictionary of Authors, Lucian Lamar Knight ed.)]

"John Franklin Simmons, son of Perez and Adeline (Jones) Simmons, was born in the house where he now resides, on the twenty-sixth day of June, 1851. He attended the district school at Rocky Swamp for two years, beginning when he was seven years old. For six years he was a student at Assinippi Institute, where, during the latter part of the time he served as assistant teacher. When he was fifteen years old, in the fall of 1866, he taught, for a few weeks, a private school at East Marshfield, now called Marshfield Hills, established by Rev. Otis Leonard. The following winter, he taught the district school at Whiting street in this town, and, in September, 1868, he went to Phillips Exeter Academy to
finish fitting for college. At Exeter he found himself under some disadvantage but at the end of the year he with two others led the class and, what was somewhat unusual for a single-year student, he had been elected to the Golden Branch Society and was one of its Vice Presidents.

In June, 1869, he passed his examination for admission to Harvard University without condition, being one of the three Exeter men to attain to that rank. He entered the class of 1873, the first class to enter after the present president, Charles W. Eliot, had been elected.

He took a very high position in his college course, both in his studies and as a member of some of the prominent college societies. His ability as a debator and leader was a power recognized by his classmates.

"In the election during the senior year for its class officers, Mr. Simmons was elected orator of the class and received the congratu lations of Pres. Eliot at the close of his oration on Class Day.

At graduation Mr. Simmons received an offer of the assistant professorship of history at the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland; also an offer of an assistant's place in the fitting school of Mr. Hopkinson at Boston, and of several other situations; but, having received the appointment of proctor in the
college, he decided to stay and take up his studies in the Law School. Here he remained for a year and a half, when a good opening being offered as a partner with Hon. Jesse E. Keith, afterwards Judge of Probate for Plymouth County, Mr. Simmons left the law school and began the practice of law at Abington, in February, 1875, under the firm name of Keith and Simmons, having been admitted to the bar at Plymouth before Mr. Justice Aldrich of the Superior Court, at the February term, 1875. This partnership continued for eight years, when it was dissolved by mutual consent and Mr. Simmons formed the partnership of Simmons and Pratt, taking with him Harvey H. Pratt, Esq., who had been a student in his office and who was just admitted to the bar. Mr. Pratt was afterward District Attorney of Plymouth County. The firm of Simmons and Pratt was dissolved in June, 1894. In 1890 they had left Abington and taken offices in Boston, where Mr. Simmons has since practiced law. For fifteen years continuously Mr. Simmons was a member of the school committee of Hanover,
resigning because he was to become a resident of the city of Boston.

Mr. Simmons was for over eight years President and counsel of the South Scituate Savings Bank, succeeding his father in those positions. He was the receiver of the Abington National Bank in 1886, and in six months turned it over to the reorganized bank, becoming himself one of the directors in the new institution. Wliile Gen. B. F. Butler was Governor of Massachusetts, he offered and urged upon Mr. Simmons the position of Insurance Commissioner of this Commonwealth but Mr. Simmons declined it. In 1889, December 26, Mr. Simmons went to Europe in connection with the somewhat important McNally will case, visiting while away. Irelaud, England, Wales, and France.

July 7, 1905, at the invitation of the Bar Association of the State of Indiana, Mr. Simmons delivered the annual address before the meeting of the association at Indianapolis.

At the first old Home Week exercises in this town, in July, 1903,Mr. Simmons delivered the oration, and the poem, which was read on that occasion, was written by him.

On January 10, 1877, Mr. Simmons married Fannie Florence Allen, daughter of Cyrus W. and Mary Folger Allen. Mr. Allen at that time was the pastor of the First Congregational Church at Hanover. Mr. Simmons has four children, Henry Franklin, born June 21st, 1878, who married Eugenia Highriter Jacobs, and has
a daughter Thalia; Mary Fogler Simmons, born October 20, 1880, who married George Alden Curtis, and has a son, Jolm Franklin Curtis, born 1910; Perez Simmons, born June 4, 1892; and Elizabeth Allen Simmons, born August 20th, 1895." [Jedediah Dwelley & John R. Simmons, History of the Town of Hanover Massachusetts with Family Genealogies (Hanover, Massachusetts: Published by the Town of Hanover, 1910)]

"SIMMONS, John Franklin Harvard A.B. 1873. Born in Hanover, Mass., 1851; prepared for College at Phillips-Exeter Academy; graduated Harvard, 1873; student in Harvard Law School, 1873-75; practised law in Abington, Mass., 1875-90, with office in Boston. . . .

Lawyer, was born in Hanover, Massachusetts, June 26, 1851, the son of Perez and Adeline (Jones) Simmons. He traces his descent through his paternal grandmother from six of the Mayflower passengers, among them John and Priscilla Alden, and in the direct male line from Moyses Simmons who came over in the ship Fortune to Plymouth in 1623. Through his mother he is also descended from Elder Brewstcr of the Mayflower. Colonel Benjamin Church, the old Indian fighter who had a grandson at Binker Hill, is also among his ancestry.

John F. Simmons was educated in the public schools of Hanover and in the Assinippi Institute, a private school no longer in existence, and prepared for College at Phillips Academy, Exeter, New Hampshire. He was graduated at Harvard in the Class of 1873, being elected by his class to be the Class Day Orator, and after two years in the law School of that University was admitted to the Bar at I'lymouth, and established himself in practice in the town of Abington, Massachusetts. From 1S75 to 1883, Mr. Simmons was in partnership with Judge Jesse E. Keith, under the style of Keith & Simmons, subsequently with Harvey H. Pratt as Simmons & Pratt, until 1894, when this firm was dissolved. Mr. Simmons opened an office in Boston in 1890 and is now [at the time of this publication] practising there. Among the important litigations in which he has appeared is the McNulty will case, involving about $60,000. While in partnership with Mr. Pratt, Mr. Simmons served for six months as Receiver of the Bington National Bank, and for a long time he was on the School Committee of the town of Hanover. During Governor Russell's administration he was strongly urged for a seat upon the Supreme Court Bench. In Masonry, Mr. Simmons is a Knight Templar and member of the Old Colony Commandery, and in politics he was a Gold Democrat, but now votes the Republican ticket. January 10, 1877, he married Fanny Florence . . . ." [Joshua L. Chamberlain (ed.), Universities and their sons; history, influence and characteristics of American universities, with biographical sketches and portraits of alumni and recipients of honorary degrees (Boston: R. Herndon Co., 1900)]


John Franklin Simmons, The Monroe Doctrine: Its Status ( [Boston], 1907)


John F. Simmons Papers
Library of Congress Online Catalog