John Simmons (1796-1870)
“It is my will to found and endow an institution to be called Simmons Female College, for the purpose of teaching medicine, music, drawing, designing, telegraphy, and other branches of art, science and industry best calculated to enable the scholars to acquire an independent livelihood.” -John Simmons
John Simmons was born on October 30, 1796 in Little Compton, Rhode Island. As a successful Boston businessman, he was able to take his earnings and invest them in real estate. Upon his death in 1870, those investments accounted for more than $1.7 million. In his will, he requested that 90% of his property be used for the establishment of a female college. And thus, in 1899, Simmons Female College was incorporated. The first classes were held on October 8, 1902 and in 1915, ‘Female’ was dropped from the College’s name. Today, Simmons College is a nationally recognized private university that educates about 2,000 undergraduates each year. John Simmons is buried at Mount Auburn in Lot 585 on Central Avenue. The central monument at the lot was erected in 1861, after the death of his wife. In 1922, his family added the inscription ‘Founder of Simmons College’ above his name.