Born in Frederick, Maryland, on the 21st of September, 1839, [Edward C. Simmons] is a son of Zachariah T. and Louise (Helfenstein) Simmons and was but seven years of age when brought by his parents to [St. Louis], where he pursued his education in the public schools, completing his studies in the high school, which was located on Sixth, between St. Charles and Locust streets. Who would have thought as they watched him serving his apprenticeship at the hardware trade with Childs, Pratt & Company, on Main street, near Vine, having entered their employ at the age of sixteen years, that he was one day to become the foremost exponent of that line of business in the world. His term of indenture continued three years, at the end of which period he entered the employ of Wilson, Levering & Waters, a recently organized firm that had just established business at No. 51 North Main street. There his ability, close application and fidelity enabled Mr. Simmons to steadily work his way upward, and at the end of four years, on the retirement of Mr. Wilson from the firm, he was admitted to a partnership under the style of Levering, Waters & Company, thus becoming one of the proprietors of the business on the 1st of January, 1863. When Mr. Levering died, a year and a half later, the business was reorganized under the firm name of Waters, Simmons & Company, and so continued successfully until 1872, when Mr. Waters retired. He was succeeded in partnership by Isaac W. Morton, and the firm name was changed to E.C. Simmons & Company. In 1874 this partnership was succeeded by the corporation of the Simmons Hardware Company, soon to control the largest hardware business in the world. Mr. Simmons was one of the first business men of St. Louis to appreciate the advantage of the liberal provisions of the Missouri laws as applied to corporations, and was one of the pioneers in the entire United States in incorporating mercantile concerns, thus setting an example that has been most extensively followed since. He was led to this step by the purpose and desire to give his worthy employees an opportunity to invest in the stock of the company and thus reap the more direct reward of their labors. The name of the Simmons Hardware Company has become synonymous with the hardware trade of the country, and the growth of this mammoth concern is attributable in large measure to him whose name introduces this record...
On the 1st of January, 1898, Mr. Simmons, together with his friend and associate, Mr. Morton, retired from active business...He was an important factor in bringing to St. Louis trade from remote sections, his salesmen having covered every state and territory in the Union. He had always believed St. Louis to be the most favorably located of the large cities as a jobbing center and has been enthusiastic on the subject of its commercial possibilities. He has witnessed its development from a small and inconsequential town with but limited industrial and financial interests into the fourth city of the Union, and to this result has largely contributed. It would be impossible for a man of his resourcefulness to confine his efforts alone to one line. His activities have covered a wide range, and at all times the city has been either a direct or indirect beneficiary. In addition to his mercantile enterprises he has largely interested in banking, having been at different times and for long periods a director of the Boatman's Bank, the St. Louis National Bank of Commerce and the St. Louis Trust Company.
In 1866 Mr. Simmons was married to Miss Carrie Welch, a daughter of George W. and Lucy Welch, and their three sons are: Wallace D., now the president of the Simmons Hardware Company; and Edward H. and George W., who are vice presidents of the company...
...Mr. Simmons has never been neglectful of his duties of citizenship and feels that each individual owes his community a service according to his abilities and opportunities. In 1880-1 he was a member of the St. Louis police board, which is given credit for the permanent closing of every public gambling house in a single night. He is a member of the Episcopal church and his Christianity has ever been of that practical character which recognizes that religion is largely a matter of personal service to one's fellowmen. He belongs to the St. Louis, Noonday, St. Louis Country and Commercial Clubs. He has manifested a philanthropic spirit that gives ready response to a call for needed aid from individual, organization or municipality, and St. Louis acknowledges her indebtedness to him along many lines.
-St. Louis, The Fourth City: Volume 3; pp 104-107
Simmons was, as I mentioned yesterday, the field captain of the Civil War-era Commercial Base Ball Club. He died in St. Louis on April 18, 1920, and, interestingly, an obituary that I've read states that he was born in 1829 and not 1839, as the above biographical sketch states. I have no evidence that supports either date but the 1839 date of birth makes a bit more sense, given that he would have been in his twenties during the war years and in the athletic prime of his life.
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