John Nathan Simpson

Submitted to the West Virginia Biographies Project by:
Tina Hursh
January 9, 2000

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.
Chicago and New York, Volume II
pg. 75 & 76

John Nathan Simpson, M.D. To some individuals are given diversified talents
which they have the ability to utilize for the benefits not only of themselves
but humanity at large. With a broader field in which to labor such men are
able to direct their efforts alon several lines of usefullness, while their own
sympathies are broadened and their characters strengthened. Among the men
whose undoubted gifts have made their names familiar to the present generation
of West Virginians, one who is accomplishing a great and good work along
proffessional lines is John Nathan Simpson, A.B., M.D., dean and professor of
medicine of the University of West Virginia at Morgantown.

Doctor Simpson was born at Mason, Mason County, West Virginia, March 19, 1869,
a son of the late George Perry and Phoebe (Kennedy) Simpson. The American
ancestor of this branch of the Simpson family was Andrew Simpson, who was of
Scotch-Irish stock and who came to the American Colonies from near Belfast in
about 1728, locating first in Boston, Massachusetts, and later removing to
Nottingham, New Hampshire. His son, Josiah Simpson, served as a soldier
during the American Revolution, and in 1778 came West, settling in Meigs County,

Judge Nathan Simpson, son of Josiah Simpson, the Revolutionary war soldier,
was born in Meigs County, Ohio, graduated from the Cincinnati Law School, and
for many years was a leading jurist at Pmeroy, Ohio. At the close of the
Civil war he removed to Mason, Mason County, West Virginia, where he practiced
law and was prominent in the public affairs of the state. George P. Simpson,
son of Judge Simpson, was born at Rutland in Meigs County, Ohio, February 12,
1839, and attended the University of Ohio at Athens, that state, subsequently
reading law under his father and practicing at Pomeroy. He accompanied his
father to West Virginia in 1865 and was located at Mason eight yuears, and
later at Point Pleasant, the county seat of Mason County, where he practiced
law until his death in 1892. Both father and son were members of the
republican party while living in Ohio, but in coming to West Virginia found
that they could not subscribe to the conditions of reconstruction then in
progress and left the old organization, espousing the cause of the democratic
party. They were strongly opposed to the Frick Amendment, which provided
for the disfranchisement of all sympathizers of the Southern cause. George P.
Simpson, an eloquent speaker, who loved campaigning, never failed to take the
stump during periods of electioneering, not for political preferment, but
because of his fondness for going before the people in support of a favored
issue or in opposition to one which he deemed a menace.

Phoebe Kennedy, the wife of George P. Simpson and mother of Dr. John N. Simpson,
was born at Pomeroy, Meigs County, Ohio, March 30, 1844, and died at Point
Pleasant, West Virginia, in 1896. She was a daughter of James and Margaret
(VanSchriltz) Kennedy. The American ancestor of the Kennedy family came to this
country from Scotland in early days, and the family was later founded in
Pennsylvania, when it moved to Ohio and settled in Meigs County. The
VanSchriltz family probably came from Alsace-Lorraine, where its members were of
the nobility. The American ancestor of this branch of the family came here in
about 1790 and were among the first settlers at Gallipolis, Ohio.

Dr. John Nathan Simpson was graduated from Peabody Norman College, Nashville,
Tennessee, in 1891; from the University of Tennessee, Nashville, class of 1893,
A.B.; and from Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, class of 1902,
M.D.; and in 1904 studied in the universities of Paris, Viena and Berlin. In
1902 he organized the School of Medicine of the University of West Virginia,
of which he was dean and professor of physiology until 1920, since then he has
been dean and professor of medicine. It was through his labors that the new
medical building, with its splendid modern equipment, was secured for the
institution. Doctor Simpson was director of the Hygiene Laboratory of Health
of the State of West Virginia Department of Health from 1913 to 1917; was
surgeon of the Cadet Corps of the University of West Virginia from 1902 to 1917;
and August 5, 1917, was commissioned captain in the Medical Reserve Corps, N.A.
During the World’s war he was examiner for Northwest Virginia for the United
States surgeon general’s office for the recruiting of medical officers for
the United Statees. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Medicine, Fellow
of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and Fellow of
the American Medical Association. He is also a member of the Phi Beta Pi,
Theta Nu Epislon and Phi Signa Nu fraternities, is a Presbyterian in his
religious belief, and in politics is a democrat.

On December 20, 1906, Doctor Simpson was united in marriage with Miss Grace
Emily Donley, of Waynesburg, Greene County, Pennsylvania, and to this union
there have come a son and a daughter; John Nathan, Jr., born March 25, 1910;
and Patricia Donley, born December 21, 1914.