Simonton, Texas

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Simonton, Texas
Location of Simonton, Texas
Location of Simonton, Texas
Coordinates: 29°40′47″N 95°59′25″W / 29.67972°N 95.99028°W / 29.67972; -95.99028Coordinates: 29°40′47″N 95°59′25″W / 29.67972°N 95.99028°W / 29.67972; -95.99028
CountryUnited States
StateTexas
CountyFort Bend
Area
 • Total2.37 sq mi (6.14 km2)
 • Land2.35 sq mi (6.09 km2)
 • Water0.02 sq mi (0.05 km2)
Elevation
115 ft (35 m)
Population
 (2010)
 • Total814
 • Estimate 
(2019)[2]
884
 • Density376.17/sq mi (145.22/km2)
Time zoneUTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
77476
Area code(s)281/346/713/832
FIPS code48-67964[3]
GNIS feature ID1347151[4]
Websitesimontontexas.org

Simonton is a city in Fort Bend County, Texas, United States, within the Houston–Sugar Land–Baytown metropolitan area. Simonton is located at the intersection of Farm roads 1093 and 1489, approximately fourteen miles northwest of Richmond, Texas and five miles west of Fulshear, Texas. As of the 2010 U.S. Census, the city population was 814,[5] up from 718 at the 2000 census.

History[edit]

The Simonton Plantation[edit]

The first event that shaped Simonton's history was when James Simonton and his brother Theophilus bought 4000 acres of land in Northwest Fort Bend County in the 1840s.[6][7] The two Simonton brothers built a plantation next to the Brazos River. They raised cotton. The year 1850 is officially designated as the founding year for the Simonton since the 1850 US Census showed the two brothers, their mother, Mary, and Theophilus's wife and two sons residing on the property.[6][8] Another brother, Joseph, and his family moved to the plantation in the 1850s. In 1857, Theophilus helped charter the Richmond Masonic Hall Association, symbolizing the elite status of the SImonton family in Fort Bend County.[9][10] The town of Simonton joined Fulshear and Pittsville as the main rural towns in Northwest Fort Bend County.

American Civil War[edit]

At the onset of the US Civil War, the 1860 US Census shows that the Simonton's owned one of the largest and most prosperous plantations in Fort Bend County with a real property value at $200,000 and personal property valued at $155,000.[11][6] The Simonton brothers have been identified as among the largest slaveholders in Texas.[11] According to the 1860 US census and a subsequent research, there were 105 slaves on the Simonton plantation on the eve of the Civil War.[12] This census also revealed that their plantation had 975 improved acres that produced 11,000 bushels of corn and 600 bales of cotton.[11] Like many Texas plantation owners, they supported the Confederacy.

On January 4, 1864, Joseph, James, and Theo Simonton wrote General J.B. Magruder that they were about to place in Confederate service about 40 [slaves].... The three brothers did not enlist in the Confederate army, but this donation of slaves to the Confederate cause was certainly a material contribution to the cause. After the war, on July 18, 1965, James Simoton signed an amnesty oath to the United States of America."[13]

Post-Civil War Reconstruction[edit]

The plantation was broken up and sold after the war. Tracts of land were sold to incoming settlers. The Simonton's actively resisted the post-Civil War Reconstruction efforts. During the Fort Bend Jaybird-Woodpecker political battles during post-Civil War Reconstruction, the Simonton brothers joined the Jaybirds, a faction within the Democratic Party, who wanted to oust the Woodpeckers, primarily blacks and their white allies, from the county administration.[13] In October1988 in nearby Pittsville, Theophilus Simonton Jr. was arrested by the county sheriff for fatally shooting a local black leader, Lamar Johnson, and injuring his half-brother, Taylor Randonan.[14] This incident gained regional and national[15] attention on the deep racial divisions of the Jaybird-Woodpecker War raging throughout Fort Bend County.[16][17]

End of the Pioneer Era[edit]

The Simonton family's position and presence gradually dwindled after the deaths of the pioneer brothers and the influx of European immigrants who passed through Galveston during the late 19th and early 20th Century.

Theophilus Simonton died by February 2, 1867, the date on which his will was probated. Although he had lost his slaves by the time of his death, his estate was valued at $1,311,010, a considerable sum by the standards of Reconstruction Texas. James died before June 2, 1892, when his will was probated. His estate was valued at $9,014 at that time.[18]

Their deaths accompanied by the industrial revolution that was sweeping the United States drastically altered the economic means, and thus the social and political roles, in Simonton as well as throughout Fort Bend Country.

According to oral history documentation, the Ku Klux Klan was present in Simonton from the early 20th Century, as they were in many Texas small towns, and were especially active due to the influx of foreign-born immigrants, who moved to Simonton to worked as farm and ranch help for the local cattle ranches and pecan groves.[19]

From Busy Town to Quiet Crossroads Community[edit]

The next event shaping Simonton history was the advent, around 1888, of the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railroad. It's said the company wanted the track to run through Pittsville (near what is now Fulshear) where the terrain was more level. However, the landowners in that area refused to sell the railroad a right-of-way because they believed the trains would scare their cattle. So the line was laid across the hills and creeks between Fulshear and Simonton. Water was as necessary as coal for the steam-powered locomotives, and Simonton became one of the main watering stops. With the tracks, came the people. With the tracks also came the opportunity to ship the area's farm produce to other parts of the country.

In subsequent years, Simonton developed into a robust agricultural community. Snap shots of this historical has been noted in several oral historical accounts:[6][20]

  • Red Potato Farming. In 1906, D.H. (Dave) Mullins, who came to Simonton from Kansas, began growing potatoes on a commercial scale – 150 acres that first year. Later he and J.R. Spencer, also from Kansas, working together, planted 1000 acres of red potatoes. Other farmers followed suit; and during one of the best years, 800 railroad cars of potatoes were shipped out of Simonton to places like Chicago, Kansas City, and Cincinnati. The Simonton area became one of the country's major producers of red potatoes.[20] Gradually the red potato demand dwindled due to the onset of a disease and Luther Burbank's development of the white potato. In its place, alfalfa, cotton, pecans, and pure-bred cattle ranching replaced the acres of potatoes.
  • Pure-bred Cattle Ranching. The Simonton-Fulshear-Brookshire became known as the "River Oaks of the pure-bred cattle business" and was tied in closely with the annual Houston Livestock Show.[19] The pure-bred breeders in the community included the Diamond C Ranch (Herefords), Pecan Acres (Brahman cattle), Figure 4 Ranch (Charolais, Brahman, and Charbray), and the Bar C Ranch (Brahman, Charbray, and Charolais).[19]
  • Prison farm. From 1898 to 1909, Simonton was the site of a prison farm. A Captain South was in charge of convicts who cleared the land from Simonton to the Brazos River for farming of ribbon cane for syrup. Until very recently, a barn used by these convicts as a mess hall, bars still on the windows, stood near the Simonton crossroads.[20]
  • Busy Town. During the years that agriculture output was important, Simonton developed a busy "downtown". There were as many as three general stores. One, owned by A.A. (Tom) Mullins, offered a hotel on the second floor with potato buyers and railroad men as regular guests. Another hotel located in the Scruggs home, was run by a Mrs. Bentley, whose culinary skills made Simonton a favored meal stop for travelers. There was also a blacksmith shop, two cotton gins, a lumber yard, a post office and the railroad depot.
  • Education. In 1893, the first school for white students was established in Simonton. A census of eligible school children taken in 1911 revealed 544 students.[20] In 1925, noted Houston architect Louis Glover designed this two-story school for nine grades.[21] The art deco-style building which exists today has a "stuccoed brick symmetrical façade with porticoes, grouped windows and ornamentation tiles."[22] In subsequent years in the Great Depression, the facility was used to host dances, suppers, elections, and church services, The school was annexed into the Lamar Consolidated ISD in 1950.[22] The school for black students was also established.
  • H. Berkman & Co. General Store.[23][19] It was built by Hyman "Harry" Berkman, who came to Simonton from Poland in 1913, during the agricultural boom in Simonton in the early 20th century. The store contained the post office, the general store, and butcher shop.[24] Maurice and Flo Berkman (married June 24, 1956), who were members of the now defunct Jewish synagogue in Warton, Texas,[23] operated store for more than 62 years until their retirement and subsequent move to Houston.[25][23]
  • Dwindling Population. As agricultural output declined and railroad traffic dwindled, people started moving away, mostly to Houston with its growing industry and higher wages. The depot closed in 1953; and it wasn't long before the last cotton gin closed down. Eventually, what was left was a small café, a pecan barn, the post office, a small liquor store and Berkman's general store.[20]

Gradually by 1957, Simonton had changed from a busy small town to a quiet crossroads community. Then came the beginnings of a new stage in the life of the town. Vernon Evans, owner of the nearby Rue Ranch, and his son-in-law, A.E. "Snake" Bailey, bought 850 acres of land along FM 1093 to be developed as a western community with stables and a small arena and club house, the hub around which houses would be built. The development was called Valley Lodge. Valley Lodge subdivision was the first subdivision out of the city of Houston within commuting distance.[26]

International VIP - Chinese Premier Deng Xiaoping's 1979 Visit to the Simonton Rodeo[edit]

In the months following the Sino-US normalization, Deputy Premier Deng Xiaoping visited the United States for nine days in 1979, visiting Washington, Atlanta, Houston and Seattle. On February 2nd during his visit to Houston, he spent an evening in Simonton at the Roundup Rodeo.[27][28] In 1963 the Round Up was built on FM 1093. Also the brainchild of "Snake" Bailey, it is a large indoor rodeo arena in full swing every Saturday night, drawing people from Houston and elsewhere for a taste of the "real west."[29] He rode in a stagecoach, and later a barrel racer gave the premier a cowboy-style duster and a ten-gallon hat, both of which he donned and displayed before the crowd.[27][30][31]

Deng's visit to the Simonton rodeo is considered to be the tipping point in the thaw of US-China relations.[27][32][33]

The Simonton Rodeo closed by 1997 when it was bought and restored by Benchmark Wireline, an oil services company. A China Daily Global video captures the memories of this visit, including Katie Van Dries whose father Luke owned the rodeo at that time.[34][35]

The photographs of Deng in the cowboy hat appeared in American newspapers, displaying a distinctly human side to a previously mysterious Chinese leader.[36] As Ezra F. Vogel, a biographer of Deng, put it, the

"photograph of Deng smiling beneath his ten-gallon hat became the symbol of his visit. It signaled to the U.S. public that he was not only good-humored, but, after all, less like one of 'those Communists' and more like 'us.'" With live broadcasts back to China, these events made news for Deng's home audience, too.[37]

Deng Xiaoping at the onset of his visit to the United States in 1979.


City Incorporated[edit]

In 1979, the community incorporated as the City of Simonton. The population grew to 603 in 1980 and 718 in 2000. In 2010 the population was 814.

Geography[edit]

Simonton, Texas

Simonton is located in northwestern Fort Bend County at 29°40′47″N 95°59′25″W / 29.67972°N 95.99028°W / 29.67972; -95.99028 (29.679783, -95.990302).[38] The center of town is 2 miles (3 km) east of the Brazos River and 16 miles (26 km) northwest of Rosenberg. Downtown Houston is 38 miles (61 km) to the east. According to the United States Census Bureau, Simonton has a total area of 2.0 square miles (5.2 km2), of which 0.004 square miles (0.01 km2), or 0.24%, is water.[5]

Almost all of the City is located within the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) 100-year floodplain of the Brazos River. See the FEMA Preliminary Map 2017.1.30 panel 80 and FEMA Preliminary Map 2017.1.30 panel 90. Real-time river gauges for the Brazos River are available here.

Simonton has been plagued by repeated flooding due to being located one mile east of the Brazos River, and it considered to located in the 100-year floodplain of the Brazos River. The most significant Brazos River flooding recorded were:

  • 1913 Major Flood.[23]
  • October 1991 with 100 homes flooded[39][40]
  • December 1995 with 125 homes flooded and caused approximately $2.5 million dollars damage[41][42]

While plagued by flooding, the City of Simonton purchased two drainage pumps for $95,000 that has reduced the impact of the Brazos River flooding. These pumps were partly paid for by a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP).[46]

Demographics[edit]

Historical population
Census Pop.
1980603
199071718.9%
20007180.1%
201081413.4%
2019 (est.)884[2]8.6%
U.S. Decennial Census[47]

2000 Census[edit]

As of the census[3] of 2000, there were 718 people, 264 households, and 206 families residing in the city. The population density was 354.4 people per square mile (136.6/km2). There were 282 housing units at an average density of 139.2/sq mi (53.6/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 91.64% White, 5.01% African American, 0.28% Asian, 0.14% Pacific Islander, 1.95% from other races, and 0.97% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.13% of the population.

There were 264 households, out of which 34.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 71.6% were married couples living together, 3.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 21.6% were non-families. 18.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 7.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.72 and the average family size was 3.07.

The city population is evenly spread: 25.9% is under the age of 18, 4.7% is between 18 and 24, 29.0% is from 25 to 44, 30.4% from 45 to 64, and 10.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females, there were 102.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $72,833, and the median income for a family was $81,905. Males had a median income of $51,842 versus $30,333 for females. The per capita income for the city was $30,669. About 2.5% of families and 5.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.9% of those under age 18 and 5.8% of those age 65 or over.

Government and infrastructure[edit]

Mayor and Council members[edit]

Name Title Term
Laurie Boudreaux Mayor May 2018 – May 2020
Jake Davis Council-at-Large May 2018 – May 2020
Stacey Gootee Mayor Pro Tem May 2019 – May 2021
Shae Butts Council-at-Large May 2018 – May 2020
Thomas McLemore Council-at-Large May 2019 – May 2021
Stephan Sear Council-at-Large May 2019 – May 2021

US Post Office[edit]

The United States Postal Service operates the Simonton Post Office at 35608 Farm to Market Road 1093.[48]

Public Library[edit]

Fulshear's Bob Lutts Fulshear/Simonton Branch Library, located in Fulshear, is a part of the Fort Bend County Libraries system. The branch, which opened in May 1998, was the third branch built with 1989 bond funds. The land currently occupied by the library was previously the Fort Bend County Precinct 4 headquarters. Bob Lutts, the precinct commissioner, offered the land to the library system. The Fulshear City Council asked the county to name the library after Lutts. The library is now within Precinct 3.[49]

Education[edit]

Simonton is zoned to schools in the Lamar Consolidated Independent School District.[50]

Current zoned schools
Previous zoned schools

Private schools

  • Simonton Christian Academy (Simonton)

The designated community college for LCISD is Wharton County Junior College.[54]


Media[edit]

Simonton is one of the key towns featured in the 2009 documentary "The Heart of Texas Movie"

Notable people[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 7, 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". United States Census Bureau. May 24, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  3. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  4. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  5. ^ a b "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Simonton city, Texas". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved August 31, 2016.[dead link]
  6. ^ a b c d "History of Simonton, TX | Twinwood Cattle Company". twinwoodcattle.com. Retrieved 2020-05-03.
  7. ^ ODINTZ, MARK (2010-06-15). "SIMONTON, TX". tshaonline.org. Retrieved 2020-05-13.
  8. ^ ODINTZ, MARK (2010-06-15). "SIMONTON, TX". tshaonline.org. Retrieved 2020-05-03.
  9. ^ Texas (1898). The Laws of Texas 1822-1897: Austin's Colonization Law and Contract; Mexican Constitution of 1824; Federal Colonization Law; Colonization Laws of Coahuila and Texas; Colonization Law of State of Tamaulipas; Fredonian Declaration of Independence; Laws and Decrees, with Constitution of Coahuila and Texas; San Felipe Convention; Journals of the Consultation; Proceedings of the General Council; Goliad Declaration of Independence; Journals of the Convention at Washington; Ordinances and Decrees of the Consultation; Declaration of Independence; Constitution of the Republic; Laws, General and Special, of the Republic; Annexation Resolution of the United States; Ratification of the Same by Texas; Constitution of the United States; Constitutions of the State of Texas, with All the Laws, General and Special, Passed Thereunder, Including Ordinances, Decrees, and Resolutions, with the Constitution of the Confederate States and the Reconstruction Acts of Congress. Gammel Book Company.
  10. ^ Texas (1898). 1854-1861. Gammel book Company.
  11. ^ a b c Wooster, Ralph A. (1961). "Notes on Texas' Largest Slaveholders, 1860". The Southwestern Historical Quarterly. 65 (1): 72–79. ISSN 0038-478X. JSTOR 30236192.
  12. ^ Campbell, Randolph B. (August 1991). An Empire for Slavery: The Peculiar Institution in Texas, 1821--1865. LSU Press. ISBN 978-0-8071-6170-8.
  13. ^ a b "Texas Pioneers - The Simontons". houstonshomes.tripod.com. Retrieved 2020-05-03.
  14. ^ Caldwell, Clifford R.; DeLord, Ron (2016-03-03). Eternity at the End of a Rope: Executions, Lynchings and Vigilante Justice in Texas, 1819-1923. Sunstone Press. ISBN 978-1-63293-088-0.
  15. ^ Democrat, ID: 2943 ~ Source; October 25, Chronicle~ Date; 1888. "The Beneficiaries of Murder". Lynching in Texas. Retrieved 2020-05-11.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  16. ^ October 18, ID: 3628 ~ Source: The Galveston Daily News~ Date; 1888. "Fort Bend Troubles". Lynching in Texas. Retrieved 2020-05-11.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
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  20. ^ a b c d e "Simonton 77476". www.facebook.com. Retrieved 2020-05-03.
  21. ^ "Details - Simonton School - Atlas Number 5507016950 - Atlas: Texas Historical Commission". atlas.thc.state.tx.us. Retrieved 2020-05-13.
  22. ^ a b "Details - Simonton School - Atlas Number 5507016950 - Atlas: Texas Historical Commission". atlas.thc.state.tx.us. Retrieved 2020-05-13.
  23. ^ a b c d Goodsill, J, and B. Kelly. (October 7, 2010). "Oral Interview with Maurice Berkman." Fort Bend County Historical Commission Oral History Committee. Retrieved from https://www.fortbendcountytx.gov/home/showdocument?id=30518
  24. ^ Liberda, Frank (1925). "[Berkman General Store]". The Portal to Texas History. Retrieved 2020-05-10.
  25. ^ "Berkman recalled as champion of abused and neglected children". Fort Bend Herald. Retrieved 2020-05-10.
  26. ^ https://www.fortbendcountytx.gov/home/showdocument?id=30518
  27. ^ a b c Lomax, John Nova (December 23, 2008). "Simonton's Place in History, Revisited". Houston Press. Retrieved 2020-05-03.
  28. ^ China 1979: Deng Xiaoping visits Texas February 2nd 1979, retrieved 2020-05-09
  29. ^ Lomax, John Nova (2008-12-23). "Simonton's Place in History, Revisited". Houston Press. Retrieved 2020-05-09.
  30. ^ Taylor, Adam (September 24, 2015). "How a 10-Gallon Hat Helped Heal Relations Between China and America". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 8, 2020.
  31. ^ "Rodeo and China | Rodeo China". Retrieved 2020-05-09.
  32. ^ 张洁. "Visit recalled deep in heart of Texas - Chinadaily.com.cn". global.chinadaily.com.cn. Retrieved 2020-05-09.
  33. ^ Texas town remembers Deng's 1979 visit, retrieved 2020-05-25
  34. ^ Texas town remembers Deng's 1979 visit, retrieved 2020-05-09
  35. ^ French, Howard W. (2017-01-20). "Deng's Great Leap". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2020-05-25.
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  37. ^ Taylor, Adam (September 24, 2015). "How a 10-gallon hat helped heal relations between China and America". Washington Post. Retrieved May 9, 2020.
  38. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  39. ^ "Simonton Has A Problem". uh.edu. Retrieved 2020-05-09.
  40. ^ "Acrobat Accessibility Report" (PDF). www.fema.gov. Retrieved 2020-05-09.
  41. ^ "Simonton Has A Problem". uh.edu. Retrieved 2020-05-09.
  42. ^ "Acrobat Accessibility Report" (PDF). www.fema.gov. Retrieved 2020-05-09.
  43. ^ Isaac, Crystal (2016-06-01). "Dozens of cows stranded in flood waters in Simonton". ABC13 Houston. Retrieved 2020-05-09.
  44. ^ Browne, Drew Jordan, Malachy; Cirillo, Chris (2017-08-31). "Before and After: Harvey's Toll on Texas Towns". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-09-01.
  45. ^ "Before and after Harvey's floods". www.cbsnews.com. Retrieved 2020-05-09.
  46. ^ "Acrobat Accessibility Report" (PDF). www.fema.gov. Retrieved 2020-05-09.
  47. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  48. ^ "Post Office Location - SIMONTON Archived 2012-07-20 at archive.today." United States Postal Service. Retrieved on December 4, 2008.
  49. ^ "Bob Lutts Fulshear/Simonton Branch Library." Fort Bend County Libraries. Retrieved on May 14, 2010.
  50. ^ "2015 City Limits Map." City of Simonton. Retrieved on December 29, 2016.
  51. ^ "High School Attendance Zones" (PDF). Lamar Consolidated Independent School District. Retrieved 2021-04-18. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  52. ^ "Map" (PDF). Lamar Consolidated Independent School District. July 2001. Retrieved 2021-04-18. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  53. ^ "Lamar CISD Attendance Zones 2011-2012 School Year". Lamar Consolidated Independent School District. Retrieved 2021-04-19. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) - This is an Adobe Flash document. Use the Adobe Flash Player to view the file
  54. ^ Texas Education Code Sec. 130.211. WHARTON COUNTY JUNIOR COLLEGE DISTRICT SERVICE AREA.

External links[edit]