Simpson, John Nicholas (1845–1920)

By: Naomi Hatton Kincaid

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: June 1, 1995

John Nicholas Simpson, cattleman and businessman, son of William Morrow and Elizabeth (Rhea) Simpson, was born in Jamestown, Tennessee, on March 1, 1845. At the age of sixteen he enlisted in the Confederate Army; he served in the Fourth Tennessee Cavalry and later as assistant inspector general on the staff of George D. Dibrell. Simpson moved to Texas in 1866, first to Waco and then to Weatherford. About 1872 he and James R. Couts entered the cattle business with the Hashknife brand and with headquarters at the present site of Abilene Christian University in Taylor County (see HASHKNIFE RANCH). Simpson presided at the organization of the Stock Raisers Association of Northwestern Texas at Graham on February 15, 1877, and at Buffalo Gap on August 7, 1879. In May 1881 he sent his Taylor County cattle to the Pecos River area and bought the Millett brothers' ranch and cattle in Baylor County. With his new partner, William E. Hughes, he formed the Continental Cattle Company, which was merged with the Mill Iron Cattle Company on February 5, 1884, to form the Continental Land and Cattle Company. Until 1888 Simpson was manager of the company, which had cattle on three Texas ranches as well as from 25,000 to 70,000 head in Montana. Simpson was director and president of the Exchange Bank, Dallas, and became vice president when it became the First National Bank of Dallas. He was also vice president of the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad. As president of the Dallas County Fair in 1885 and of the State Fair of Texas in 1893, 1919, and 1920, he promoted livestock interests. He was Republican candidate for governor of Texas in 1908. On June 6, 1875, he married Sue Sloan in Weatherford. They had one son. Simpson died on June 26, 1920, and was buried in Dallas.

Dallas Morning News, June 27, 1920. History of the Cattlemen of Texas (Dallas: Johnson, 1914; rpt., Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1991).


  • Ranching and Cowboys
  • Activism and Social Reform
  • Civic Leaders
  • Business
  • Patrons, Collectors, and Philanthropists
  • Ranchers and Cattlemen


  • North Texas
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Dallas

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

Naomi Hatton Kincaid, “Simpson, John Nicholas,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 22, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

June 1, 1995

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