The Handbook of Texas is free-to-use thanks to the support of readers like you. Support the Handbook today.

Font size: A / A reset

Support Texas History Now

Join TSHA to support quality Texas history programs and receive exclusive benefits.

Become a TSHA Member Today »

Simonds, Frederic William (1853–1941)

W. J. Battle Biography Entry

Frederic William Simonds, geologist and teacher, was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts, July 3, 1853, the son of Andrew Wait and Ellen R. (Cox) Simonds. About 1863 the family moved to Richmond, Indiana, and later to San Jose, California. From Indiana, Simonds went to Cornell University and received the degrees of B. S. in 1875 and M.S. in 1876. In 1879 he received a Ph.D. from the University of Syracuse. In 1893 he received an honorary D.S.C. degree at the University of Arkansas. He married Norma Anna Wood of Syracuse, New York, on August 21, 1877; they had three children. Simonds was instructor in geology and paleontology at Cornell, 1875–77, and professor of geology, zoology, and botany at the University of North Carolina, 1877–81. Health considerations sent him to California, where he taught for four years at San Jose High School. In 1880 he became special agent for the fourth census in the department of mineral statistics. From 1887 to 1890 he was professor of geology and biology at the University of Arkansas; from 1887 to 1892, assistant geologist in the Arkansas Geological Survey. In 1890 he joined the University of Texas faculty as associate professor of geology. He was made professor of geology in 1895 and held that position until his death in 1941. He was one of the earliest members of the Geological Society of America, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, president of the Texas Academy of Science (1899–1900), president of the Texas chapter of Sigma Xi (1915–16), and an honorary member of Phi Beta Kappa. Simonds was an inspiring teacher, notable for clearness in exposition and beauty of drawing. He could draw with both hands at the same time. His publications included numerous articles in scientific journals and works on the geology of Texas. He was a Mason and Episcopalian. He died at his home in Austin on March 27, 1941, and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery.

Sam Hanna Acheson, Herbert P. Gambrell, Mary Carter Toomey, and Alex M. Acheson, Jr., Texian Who's Who, Vol. 1 (Dallas: Texian, 1937). Austin American, March 28, 1941. Carl John Eckhardt, One Hundred Faithful to the University of Texas at Austin (197-?). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Who Was Who in America, Vol. 2.


  • Education
  • Educators
  • Sciences, Agriculture, and Engineering

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

W. J. Battle, “Simonds, Frederic William,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 13, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

March 2, 2019