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Below is a family biography from the book, History of Kentucky, Edition 8a by J. H. Battle, W. H. Perrin and G. C. Kniffin and published by F. A. Battey Publishing Company in 1888.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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THE SIMRALL FAMILY, in Louisville, Ky. In the early history of this State, James Simrall came from Virginia to Kentucky, and settled in Shelby County. He was then a young man — of Scotch-Irish descent — full of determination and energy. Soon afterwards the war of 1812 broke out. He cast in his lot with the Kentucky soldiers, and served throughout the war with distinction, attaining the rank of Colonel, when he returned to his home; his health had been impaired by hard service and exposure; and his estate was much wasted by inattention. In a few years he died, leaving a widow and six small children. His wife was Rebecca Graham, of the same blood with the celebrated John Graham of Scotland. Her chief characteristics were brains, resolution and integrity, together with an undying love for the Presbyterian Church. She betook herself to the difficult task of properly rearing these six children, with her limited means. Her chief aim was to give them a thorough education, and instill into them sound principles, which would serve as a lasting foundation upon which they could successfully build in after life. How nobly she performed this work is attested by the fact that her eldest son, John Graham Simrall, became one of the most prominent ministers in the Presbyterian Church in Central Kentucky; and her youngest son, Horatio F. Simrall, became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Mississippi. Her sons, James and William, successfully followed agricultural pursuits, one in Kentucky and the other in Mississippi. The only other son, Joseph, died before reaching manhood. Her only daughter, Cornelia, was a very remarkable woman. She had all the mental, moral and physical traits which so distinguished her mother, together with rare accomplishments, which made her the center of attraction in every circle in which she moved. She married Thomas P. Smith, who for more than thirty years has performed the arduous duties of Master in Chancery of the Louisville Chancery Court; and by common consent he is admitted to be the ablest commissioner the State of Kentucky ever had. To them were born six children, five of whom are now living in Louisville. Sarah, the youngest daughter of Rev. John G. Simrall, is also living in Louisville. She married Dr. Turner Anderson, who has rapidly gone to the front in his profession, having a large practice as well as being Professor in the Medical Department of the University of Louisville. There is another branch of the Simrall family living in Covington, Ky., represented by Charles Simrall, a prominent lawyer, now the attorney for Kentucky of the Cincinnati Southern Railroad. The descendants of James and Rebecca Graham Simrall are now scattered through five States, in the valleys of the Ohio and Mississippi; and amongst them, lawyers, doctors, merchants and farmers. Wherever you find them, they are, for the most part, robust, strong-minded, self-willed and honest people. The following sketch of Judge John Graham Simrall, one of the younger generation — who is taken as a representative of the family — was prepared by a distinguished member of the Louisville bar, just after Judge Simrall had been elected Judge of the Louisville Law. and Equity Court:

“Hon. John G. Simrall, Judge of the Louisville Law and Equity Court, who, after less than three years’ service on the bench, occupies a distinguished position among the judges of the State, standing in the front rank of the judiciary of the courts of original jurisdiction, was born in Fayette County, Ky., March 18, 1840. His father was Rev. John G. Simrall, a Presbyterian minister, greatly venerated for his purity of character, gentle disposition and earnest zeal for the church. He was noted for good judgment and great common sense, and was a useful, successful leader of religion. His mother is a daughter of Waller Bullock, who was an influential citizen and prosperous farmer of Fayette County. Past seventy years of age, she is full of vigor of mind and body, and admired and respected for a rare combination of gentleness with force and strength of character. After receiving the preparation afforded by a country school, John G. Simrall entered Centre College at the age of fourteen, and at seventeen graduated with the second honor in a class of forty-seven. This class contained a number of men who have become famous, and was perhaps as marked for talent as any that has been sent out from the old college. Senator Blackburn, Governor McCreary, Judge Delaney, Judge Joseph Hunt and Enoch E. McKay were all members of it. The president of Centre College at that time was Rev. John C. Young, whose energy, splendid scholarship, eloquence and noble character gave it life and fame. The influence of this great and good man over the minds and characters of the young men was strong and lasting. He gave them a love of learning, an admiration of the sublime and beautiful, a devotion of duty and truth, combined with a reverence for things sacred, which remained with them always.

“After leaving Centre College Mr. Simrall for a year or more taught school in the family of Junius Ward, in Washington County, Miss., and soon after commenced the study of law at Lexington, under the direction of Judge Robertson. In 1859 and 1860 he attended the law lectures of Judge George Robertson, and in 1860-61 was in the senior class of the Louisville Law School, graduating in March, 1861. The professors in the Louisville Law School at that time were Judge Henry Pirtle, Judge W. F. Bullock and Judge Horatio F. Simrall. Judge Simrall has always esteemed himself peculiarly fortunate in having been a student under the eminent lawyers named. The foundation of the knowledge of law that he laid under their guidance, and the example which their careers and symmetrical characters afforded him, he has always regarded as most beneficial to him throughout his professional life. A short time after receiving his diploma the young lawyer formed a partnership with Judge William S. Bodley, and commenced practice at the Louisville bar. This business connection continued until the death of Judge Bodley, in 1878. Mr. Temple Bodley and Judge Simrall then formed a partnership, and the firm of Simrall & Bodley continued until the fall of 1882, when Gov. Blackburn appointed John G. Simrall Vice-Chancellor to fill out the term of Hon. Alfred T. Pope, who had resigned. In August, 1884, Judge Simrall was elected, for a term of six years, Judge of the Louisville Law and Equity Court, a court which was established by the legislature in March, 1884, to take the place of the Vice-Chancellor’s Court. He was elected without opposition, so universal was the wish of the bar and the people that he should remain on the bench.

“During his twenty years at the bar Judge Simrall was successful in building up a large and valuable practice, and had many of the best business houses of the city for his clients. His firm had been concerned in very large suits, and had the reputation of being among the best business lawyers of the bar, as well as able and learned in the common law and in equity. Much of the laborious office work and the equity practice of the business was done by Judge Simrall, and the skillful and accurate manner in which he dispatched business won for him the confidence of his clients and the respect and admiration of his brethren of the bar. His reputation as a lawyer of talent and learning was thus well established, but he had been little before the public, and was not widely known to the people at the time he became Vice-Chancellor. When he was spoken of as a probable successor of Judge Pope, a member of the bar was asked by a leading merchant what he thought of Mr. Simrall for the position, and was answered that it was not often that such men as Simrall could be induced to go upon the bench, and the State would be fortunate if he were appointed and would accept. This estimate of his capacity and fitness has been proven a just one by the practical test of a three years’ trial of his qualities as judge. To say that he commands the unqualified confidence of the people and the lawyers would not be more than just; and this confidence extends as much to his character as a man as to his learning, ability and discrimination as a judge. In his brief service on the bench he has shown much knowledge of the law and capacity for work, such industry, patience and urbanity as to make him deservedly popular. But the qualities which have made his reputation and given him a stronghold upon the people are his independence and integrity. There is a universal belief that this judge sits as the representative of justice, indeed, knowing only the law and right, with courage to order and adjudge that which the law and the facts demand. Justice is rendered in the manner of the pure days of the State, without fear and without favor. Having the greatest amount of firmness, he has that honesty of mind which can see its own errors, and that sense of duty which compels him to repair the error. No man more readily recedes from a misdirection given a jury in the hurried pressure of a trial, or is more amenable to argument. Having formed his opinion after full deliberation he is steadfast, unwavering. The amount of labor which Judge Simrall does in ten months of each year is something wonderful. The combination in his Court of Common Law and Equity jurisdiction, not existing in either the Common Pleas or Chancery Court, renders his office the more difficult to fill. He has little leisure except in vacation, for he goes from a jury trial to an equity case, and from the latter to the former. Certainly it has been the fortune of the Law and Equity Court to get, in the distribution of cases under the law, more than a full share of difficult and heavy cases. The judge has kept up his work and borne himself nobly under the pressure, and well earned a summer’s rest. Judge Simrall was married in 1863 to Miss Cornelia, daughter of Thomas P. Smith of this city, and has one child, a daughter, now approaching young ladyhood. Judge Simrall, in private life, is one of the most agreeable of men. Always dignified, he is easy in manners, very fond of conversation, in which he bears a full share, and as natural in his enjoyment of wit and humor as a boy. His reading and culture are broad, and his scholarship and attainments show the continued application of his mind to those studies for which his taste was formed in youth. He is a member of the Second Presbyterian Church, and one of the great admirers of the late Dr. Stuart Robinson. In a very eloquent speech which Judge Simrall delivered before the Centre College alumni a year ago, he said that he was conscious that his mind had been developed and his character formed by the fortunate facts that he had gone to college to Dr. Young, studied law under Judge Robertson, and for twenty years listened to the preaching of Stuart Robinson — all good influences to bring out the good which nature had planted in the boy and man, born of such a father and mother and tenderly guided and instructed through the years of childhood.” On the 1st of January, 1886, Judge Simrall resigned his position and resumed the practice of law. At a large meeting presided over by General James Speed the bar adopted the following resolutions: “Upon the retirement of Hon. John G. Simrall from the bench, his brethren of the bar desire to express their appreciation, of the judicial fairness, integrity, industry, firmness, and ability, that he has shown, and of the patient courtesy he has extended during the exercise of the important and difficult duties of his official. life; and the chairman is instructed to transmit, a copy of this tribute to Judge Simrall and to request of the Louisville Law and Equity Court that it may be entered upon its records.” [January 4, 1886.] The universal regret caused by his resignation was thus expressed by a leading contemporary: “Judge Simrall’s resignation.—The city and State have lost a most valuable servant by the resignation of Judge Simrall as Judge of the Louisville Law and Equity Court. In the four years of his service he has, by his marked ability, his ceaseless energy, his courage, urbanity and scrupulous fairness, commended himself to the people of Louisville and Kentucky as few men have ever done. His resignation is a loss which all will feel, and the reported cause for it — the disproportion of his salary as a judge to his income as a lawyer — may well give cause for thought to those who have occasion to consider public economy in judicial salaries. Judge Simrall has fast been making a wide reputation as a jurist, both in and out of this State. His decisions have been so well considered and fair, and his opinions have been stated with such clearness, learning and force, as to attract the attention and commendation of the highest courts throughout the country.”

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This family biography is one of 195 biographies included in the Jefferson County, Kentucky section of the book, The History of Kentucky, Edition 8a published in 1888 by F. A. Battey Publishing Company.  For the complete description, click here: History of Kentucky, Edition 8a

View additional Jefferson County, Kentucky family biographies here: Jefferson County, Kentucky Biographies

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