Simpson, George Allen (1852–1937)

By: H. Allen Anderson

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: July 1, 1995

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George Allen Simpson, buffalo hunter and pioneer settler in the Panhandle, was born on February 28, 1852, in Boone County, Missouri, the son of John and Marietta (Foster) Simpson. His father died when George was a small boy. His mother, who also had two daughters, later married a man named Gibbs. Gibbs moved his new family to Nebraska and then Colorado while hunting buffalo for railroad construction crews. In 1867 the family traveled down the Goodnight-Loving Trail to South Texas. They purchased cattle on the way and planned to start a herd of their own. In 1868 Gibbs's sons Elijah and Billy trailed the herd to Baxter Springs, Kansas. After living in Ellis County, Texas, for five years, the Gibbses and their trail hands drove a herd north over the Chisholm Trail, but danger from Indians and rustlers forced Gibbs to dispose of his cattle near Caldwell, Kansas. At Fort Dodge he formed a buffalo-hunting group with Elijah and Billy and his stepson, George A Simpson. George's mother and two sisters cooked for the hunters. They began their operations in the upper Arkansas valley in eastern Colorado. At Bent's Fort, Simpson met Sylvania Wood and her family, whom he accompanied to the Canadian valley in the Texas Panhandle in the spring of 1875. The hunters established their operations at Hidetown (later Mobeetie), near the newly established Fort Elliott. With such men as John R. Cook and Sylvania's brother Buck, Simpson hunted the entire Panhandle-South Plains region for the next two years, until the buffalo were nearly exterminated. The men gradually made a great profit from the hides they shipped to Fort Griffin and Dodge City through the Rath and Hamburg firm. On October 4, 1877, George A. Simpson and Sylvania Wood became the first couple on record to be married in the Panhandle. A Lieutenant Taylor performed the ceremony at Fort Elliott, and Lt. Theodore H. Eckerson, the post adjutant, drew up the certificate, on which he erroneously recorded the date as October 5. During the next two years the Simpsons lived near Junction in Kimble County, where they operated a gristmill. However, thieves stole most of their horses and cattle, and in 1880 they moved back to Wheeler County. They homesteaded land on Russell Creek near Mobeetie for five years and later bought property on Dry and Clear creeks in Hemphill County. The Simpsons produced vegetables and supplies for the local market, raised a few cattle, and were said to have grown the first domesticated flowers (zinnias) in the Panhandle. They had two sons and five daughters. Simpson helped organize Hemphill County in 1887 and was a member of its first commissioners' court. For sixty years the Simpsons were prominent citizens in the town of Canadian. George died there on November 21, 1937; Sylvania lived her remaining years with her daughter at Las Cruces, New Mexico, where she died on September 30, 1939. She was buried at Canadian next to her husband. The Simpsons' land on Clear Creek later became the site of the Canadian country club.


John R. Cook, The Border and the Buffalo: An Untold Story of the Southwest Plains (Topeka, Kansas: Crane, 1907; rpt., New York: Citadel Press, 1967). Sallie B. Harris, comp., Hide Town in the Texas Panhandle: 100 Years in Wheeler County and Panhandle of Texas (Hereford, Texas: Pioneer, 1968). James M. Oswald, "History of Fort Elliot," Panhandle-Plains Historical Review 32 (1959). F. Stanley [Stanley F. L. Crocchiola], Rodeo Town (Canadian, Texas) (Denver: World, 1953).

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

H. Allen Anderson, “Simpson, George Allen,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 20, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

July 1, 1995