Biographical Sketches 513
distinguished for wealth and culture in the slave-holding antebellum
days. Her father was Henry A. Foote; her mother's maiden name was
Nancy Pitchford. On her twentieth birthday she became the bride of
William Gaston Simmons, the son of a wealthy Montgomery County
planter, whom she had met at a Wake Forest Commencement. Soon
after her marriage her husband was called to Wake Forest College as
professor of Chemistry and Natural History. He continued in this
work until June, 1888, teaching in the time many other branches as
the needs of the institution demanded. This was his life-work, and
Mrs. Simmons was in it all a worthy helpmeet to him. When the work
of the College was suspended during the War they remained and ran a
boarding school which with slight interruptions was continued until
the work of the College was resumed in January, 1866. In this work
Mrs. Simmons had a large part.
Though Mrs. Simmons' contributions to the life of the College were
many, not the least was that of joining with her husband in keeping
the educational torch burning during the dark and trying hours of the
War and Reconstruction. Though reared an only daughter in a home
of wealth, and with a retinue of servants, yet when the time came she
knew how to dispense with many of these and put her hand to help in
a period of want. When the College opened after the War the
dormitories were almost without furnishings. Mrs. Simmons, as the
bursar's wife, came to the rescue and out of her private stores supplied
the want. Was there need of a blanket, a spread, a broom, a dust cloth,
she was appealed to, and she would find the desired article even
though she robbed her own household. There were at the time meager
boarding facilities at Wake Forest. To meet the need Mrs. Simmons
opened a boarding house for the students, in this way and in many
others doing all in her power to give the young men of the day an
opportunity for education. At Commencement times she and Dr.
Simmons kept open house, often feeding more than one hundred
guests a day, setting tables continuously from noon until after dark.
The expense would be one-tenth of the salary of her husband, and
salaries were small in those days.
The task of reopening the college after the war fell primarily to Dr.
Simmons. Soon he had associated with him Dr. William Royall, and
Professors L. R. Mills and W. B. Royall. They heard the appeals for
help uttered by young men anxious for an education but without the
means of securing it. All honor to the noble teachers who met these
young men half way! And all honor to their wives, too, for half the
sacrifice was theirs. And one of these wives was Mrs. Simmons.
Great as was her work of love in pursuing hospitality and minister-