John P. Simpson, judge and businessman, was born on October 17, 1806, in Sumner County, Tennessee. He moved to Bonham, the county seat of Fannin County, in 1836. Two years later he helped protect the frontier community from Indian raids as part of a county ranger company that patrolled the area. He was elected county sheriff in 1839 and built, at his own expense, the first county jail. Over the next few years he donated land for the county courthouse and provided property that housed the original businesses of Bonham. In 1843 Fannin County voters selected Simpson chief justice of the county. In the 1850s he built the town's first gristmill and cotton gin. During the latter years of his life, Simpson devoted himself to reconstructing the history of Bonham and Fannin County. He provided a number of historical articles to the Bonham News throughout the late 1870s and early 1880s. Simpson married Sina Needham, and the couple had three children. He was a Mason. On January 13, 1884, he died at his home five miles outside Bonham. Simpson Park in Bonham is named after him.
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Floy Crandall Hodge, A History of Fannin County (Hereford, Texas: Pioneer, 1966).
Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
Politics and Government
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
“Simpson, John P.,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed June 26, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
June 1, 1995