Simon W. Wiess

Simon W. Wiess

Birth
Poland
Death 13 Aug 1868 (aged 68)
Evadale, Jasper County, Texas, USA
Burial Jasper County, Texas, USA
Memorial ID 72944083 · View Source
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Born in 1800 to middle-class parents of German origin, Simon Wiess left Lublin, Poland at sixteen years of age and went to sea to make his fortune. (In 1800, Poland was in turmoil and Lublin belonged to the Austrian empire.) Family tradition has it that Simon Wiess was the third or fourth son in a Jewish family and therefore wasn't entitled to any inheritance. We are told he was given a ship when he was fifteen (1815) and he began his extensive travels which continued up until about 1830.
His great admiration for Napoleon Bonaparte causes us to wonder if he ever met Napoleon or perhaps one of his lieutenants. Though the record of his travels is sparse, we know he was in Constantinople, April 2, 1825 and later that year was in Asia Minor. Napoloeon was defeated and exiled to Elba in April of 1814. He retook Paris in March of 1815, leading to his rule of "One Hundred Days". His defeat at Waterloo was decisive, and he again abdicated and surrendered to the British in June of 1815. (This is about the time Simon left home to go to sea.) He was exiled to Saint Helena, an Island in the South Atlantic West of Africa, where he died six years later in 1821.
Simon Wiess had been sailing since he was 15. Andre Massena died when Simon was 17 and Napoleon died when he was 21.
He visited many places in Europe, Asia Minor (Turkey), the West Indies, Central and South America, and Mexico. He traveled extensively in the United States and lived for a time in Louisiana before making Texas his home. He could read, write and speak fluently seven languages. He is said to have owned several sailing vessels and engaged in the trade between New England and the West Indies.
Records of his travels can be found in Masonic records, for he was a Royal Arch Mason at Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey), April 2, 1825, and went to Asia Minor (now Turkey) the same year where he held a prominent position in the Masonic circles. His first recorded visit to the United States was on February 22, 1826, when he visited the Mt. Lebanon Lodge in Boston Massachusetts. He was in Santo Domingo on August 17 1828, where he participated with the Masonic fraternity. He visited the Albion Lodge at Barbados, West Indies, and received the degree of Past Master. On the ninth of May, 1829, he visited the Amity Lodge _______ on the registry of the Right worshipful G.L. of Ireland. On May 11 1829, he visited the Integrity Lodge number 259 at _______ and there received Mark Master degree. June 2 1829, he visited Union Lodge No. 462 at Georgetown Demarara, and we find that in 1840 he visited Galveston and participated with Harmony Lodge No. 6. In 1847, he met with DeWitt Clinton Lodge No. 129 in Jasper County, Texas. Two years later, on April 17 1849, he met with the Woodville, Texas Lodge.
Jim Sturrock wrote "according to the meeting records of Milam Lodge # 2 (Originally Louisiana Lodge # 41) that Simon was the first Tiler and later was a member of the Jasper lodge. William Sturrock leased the top floor of his store building to the lodge. William and Simon were character witnesses for Sam Houston in a civil trial. These things we read and copied at Nacogdoches." "We have heard that Simon brought the papers granting lodge status to Texas' Holland Lodge #1 also known as LA lodge # 40 and gave them to Sam Houston who had them in his saddle bags at San Jacinto. We are not sure of the latter, only heard them."
One account says he was the first member of the Jewish faith to reside in Jefferson County, though he was never known to practice his religion in Texas -- especially after marrying Margaret Sturrock, a Scotch Presbyterian. Margaret was plagued with chills and fever and Simon looked for another place to be their home, settling at what is now known as Wiess' Bluff.
An admirer of Napoleon Bonaparte, he named his first son for him and he named his youngest son for Napoleon's lieutenant, Massena. Family lore also says he brought acorns from the oak trees planted around Napoleon's grave to plant in America, but the evidence says that his son Mark brought the acorns, probably to honor his father's memory. It is said he became a Christian when he settled in Southeast Texas where he was scorned and distrusted by the people there until they came to respect him as a man of honor.
Simon Wiess first visited Texas in 1833 and by 1836 was Deputy Collector of Customs for the Republic of Texas at Camp Sabine (now the town of Sabine Pass) near the border of Texas and Louisiana. It was a military post of the United States at that time.
He purchased the Old Stone Fort built by the Spaniards in 1779 and operated a trading post in it. William Sturrock later purchased the fort from Simon. The fort has been rebuilt and is now a tourist attraction in Nacogdoches.
He became a Neches River cotton broker at Wiess Bluff, Jasper County, in December 1839 after having operated unsuccessful stores at Nacogdoches, Beaumont, and Port Neches between 1836 and 1839.
In 1840, he loaned Sherod and Solomon Wright $500, presumably for improvements to their settlement at Pinetucky, which ran along the Wiess Bluff-Jasper Road near Sherod Wright's homestead. Pinetucky was later named Magnolia Springs.
By 1843 he was operating a peck mill at Wiess' Bluff to chip the bark from logs and square the timbers. It was the beginning of the area's early lumber business, which would make his sons and other Beaumonters wealthy. Just before the turn of the century, his sons owned the Reliance Lumber Company which was soon cutting 20 to 50 million feet of lumber per year -- the largest enterprise in Beaumont and one of the largest sawmills in the world.
He was appointed postmaster at the post office in Patillo, Jefferson county, Texas beginning December 9, 1852 and then, July 21, 1853, at Wiess' Bluff.
He wrote the following letter of admonition to his sons:
" Wiess' Bluff, January 1, 1866
"My dear boys:
"As you have just started in business, I think it is my duty to give you a little advice, and with the hope that you will take it, observe it, for your own good. 1st, do not force, or persuade anyone to buy your goods; 2nd, have but one price; 3rd, open no liquors to be drunk in your store; 4th, credit no one; 5th, don't make your store a harbor for loafers and idlers; 6th, spend your leisure hours in reading and in the best society; 7th, don't be discouraged even should the times be dull -- hold on and you will prosper in due time; 8th, stand to all your contracts. I have committed (in business) several errors which I hope to prevent in you, if you will avail yourselves of my advice; 9th, you will lose custom and character if you permit drinking in your establishment. These are my injunctions as well as judge Wingate's to you. Should you fail or not, heed our advice which is all intended for your good.
"In conclusion, I will say to you that my anxiety for your welfare and prosperity has prompted me to give you this advice -- I show this to your mother and she joins me in these admonitions to you and we will pray for your happiness and welfare.
"Don't hesitate to say No on all proper occasions, as it will save you many dollars and much disappointment. It is my desire that you preserve these lines as a token of admonition.
"And wishing you a happy New Year and may God bless you is the prayer of your affectionate father
Simon Wiess"
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No record has been found of Simon's parents or of his early years in Lublin, Poland. Pat Blue quotes Dr. Hooks' book "Be What You Seem to Be! A History of William Hooks", pp 154-155, which alleges Simon changed his last name from Weiss to Wiess. Carol Bromley, on April 26, 1999, said that Simon's family name was changed from "WIESHAUN" which means "white house", and that she was told this by Lucille McGaffey (possibly Carol's grand-aunt Lucille Wiess McGaffey?). A Simon Wietska has a birth record from Lublin Poland from the year 1800, father Simon Wietska and mother Agnes Lisouona (LDS microfilm 937, #494). The month and date are unclear, but appear to be Jan 1.) - See more at: http://mykindred.com/cloud/TX/getperson.php?personID=I1444&tree=mykindred01#sthash.eOr8T1Sk.dpuf


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  • Created by: Homer King
  • Added: 6 Jul 2011
  • Find a Grave Memorial 72944083
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Simon W. Wiess (1 Jan 1800–13 Aug 1868), Find a Grave Memorial no. 72944083, citing Weiss Cemetery, Jasper County, Texas, USA ; Maintained by Homer King (contributor 47410672) .