Simpson, Jerry, member of Congress, often referred to as the "sockless statesman" from Kansas, was born in Westmoreland county, New Brunswick, March 31, 1842. His father was a masterful man in mind and body, so that young Jerry found at home many of the best old English authors. His mother was of Welsh and English ancestry. She was a self-poised woman of commanding presence and strong character. About 1848 the family removed to Oneida county, N. Y., and when Jerry was only fourteen years of age he began life as a sailor on the Great Lakes, starting in as cabin boy. He followed the lakes for twenty-three years, won promotion by his assiduous attention to his duties, and had command of several large vessels. In the early part of the Civil war he served for a time in the Twelfth Illinois infantry, but was forced to leave the service on account of illness and returned to his life of a sailor. With a view to the comfort of his family he finally gave up his life on the lakes and located temporarily in Indiana, at a time when the Grange movement was at its height. He took a deep interest in the work of the Grange, which led to his study of transportation and the money question. In 1878 he came to Kansas, locating first in Jackson county, where he had a farm and sawmill. After the death of his little daughter the family removed to Barber county, where he engaged in farming and stock raising 6 miles from Medicine Lodge. Mr. Simpson was originally a Republican, having cast his first presidential vote for Abraham Lincoln in 1864. In 1886 and again in 1888 he ran for the Kansas legislature on the Independent ticket, representing the Greenback and Union Labor principles. Both times he was defeated by T. A. McNeal, the Republican candidate. The men were personal friends, however, and in 1890, when McNeal was elected mayor of Medicine Lodge, he appointed Simpson city marshal. The modest duties of this position Mr. Simpson performed as faithfully as if the office had been one of national importance. About this time the Farmer's Alliance began to take a hand in politics. An Alliance convention was held at Kinsley, to which Mr. Simpson was sent as a delegate. Here he attracted general attention by his readiness in debate and he was nominated by the People's party for Congress and elected by aid of the Democrats, who indorsed his candidacy. When nominated he was without money to meet the incidental expenses of a campaign, but his ardent admirers in all sections of the "Big Seventh" district contributed the necessary funds. This campaign was one of the most remarkable in the history of Kansas. In 1892 he was reëlected, but his majority was cut from 8,000 to less than 2,000. In 1894 he was nominated a third time, but was defeated. Two years later, when the free silver excitement swept over the country he was again elected to Congress, this time as a Democrat. Steadily declining health caused Mr. Simpson to seek a home at Roswell, N. M., in 1901, vhere he engaged in the real estate business and acted as agent for the Santa Fe railroad lands. His last public speech was made at Pond Creek, Okla., where so many of his friends and associates had located. He spoke for three hours with the old life and enthusiasm. For years Mr. Simpson was afflicted with aneurism of the heart, and late in Sept., 1905, accompanied by his wife, he went to St. Francis' hospital at Wichita, Kan., for treatment. Two of his most loyal friends, Victor Murdock and David Leahy, were among the few people allowed to see him. He passed away on the morning of Oct. 23, 1905. Mr. Simpson married Miss Jane Cape on Oct. 12, 1870, at Buffalo, N. Y., and two children were born to them.Page 697-698 from volume II of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed July 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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