History of Fresno County - By Paul E. Vandor: L.A. California / 1919 - Page 1501:
JAMES WILLIAM SIMPSON.— A very successful general contractor who is doing a large business is J. W. Simpson, who has the good fortune to have in his wife a person of real natural ability and pronounced energy. The couple are known for their hospitality, and they enjoy the esteem and good will of everyone.
Mr. Simpson was born in Coleman Valley, Sonoma County, Cal., on April 26, 1875, the son of J. F. Simpson, whose birthplace was Medora, Macoupin County, ILL. In 1852* the father crossed the great plains to California, driving an ox team, and here he first followed mining and then lumbering. He settled in Sonoma County, ran a dairy, and about 1876 went to Salinas Valley. In 1882 he came to Fresno City, then a small burg, and worked awhile as a farm hand. Later he engaged in farming on his own responsibility, and leased some of the Bank of California lands. He engaged in grain-farming on a large scale, and ran sixty head of mules and two combined harvesters and reapers. He raised and lost big crops, but later he succeeded in getting water onto his tract, and this saved him from disaster. It was while working with his father that J. W. Simpson helped to improve 580 acres of the Laguna De Tache Grant into an experimental muscat vineyard, the first one on the entire grant of 62,000 acres. Their next venture was the Little Sharon vineyard, 120 acres of the Sharon estate, twenty miles northwest from Fresno, into a muscat vineyard. After this endeavor the elder Simpson retired to private life and now resides on his home ranch, contented and happy in the thought that he has done his full share towards developing the resources of Fresno County. He owns a ranch of forty acres, five and a half miles south of Fresno, on Fig Avenue, known as the home place, which has been his residence for years. He has operated from this point, putting out vineyards on contract. He owns eighty acres in the Kerman district, and 160 acres on Summit Lake.
Mrs. J. F. Simpson was Margaret M. Frazer before her marriage, and she was a native of Illinois. She crossed the plains to California when she was a little girl ; and with her husband she is still enjoying life. Six children blessed their union, and five of them are living.
James William was the second oldest of the family, and was brought up in Fresno County from his seventh year. He attended the public schools, and recalls with affection his first teacher, H. Hadsell, as well as the second, A. M. Drew. He was reared on a farm, and he learned to drive the big teams in the grain-fields. At the age of fourteen, he began to haul wood out of the fields to Fresno, using an eight-mule team. He remained with his father until he was twenty-three, and then he began for himself.
He began dry farming and summer-fallowing, first in 1900, on the site of Roeding Park ; and then he cultivated the Bank of California lands, in the Kerman district, also according to the dry method. His results were varying and not always satisfactory, but when irrigation came, he at once began to make a success of his enterprises. This encouraged him to expand in contracting to improve lands ; he leveled and checked, built ditches and graded, and later he gave up farming to give all his attention to contracting. He more and more built up a reputation that was capital in itself, and improved to a high degree thousands of acres, so that many ranchers were able to start successfully.
In the meantime Mr. Simpson bought forty acres on Jensen Avenue, thirteen miles west of Fresno, which he improved to alfalfa and where he established a good dairy. He set out Thompson seedless grapes and built for himself a nice residence. He undertook contracts all over Fresno County and throughout the San Joaquin Valley, and he even went into the Bay district around San Francisco. He accepted railroad contracts from the Ocean Shore Railroad Company and the San Francisco Railroad, and built the copper mine road from Gordon Switch. For about twenty years he was a general contractor in California, and was successful from the start. One large piece of development work undertaken by J. W. Simpson, in which he was associated with J. F. Kennedy, was that of improving 1,000 acres in what is now known as the Rolinda section. They leveled and checked and sowed alfalfa on the entire tract, and this tract was sold off in small holdings just twenty months from the time they began their important work. During the entire time that Mr. Simpson has been engaged in contracting he has farmed to grain, generally on a large scale. The last big venture was 4,000 acres of the Collins estate, six miles northeast of Clovis, where he raised grain.
At Hanford, Mr. Simpson was married to Miss Ellen Trabucco, a native of Mariposa County and the daughter of John Trabucco, who was also a native. Her grandfather was Louis Trabucco, a pioneer who very early came to Mariposa County, where he was one of the earliest miners and merchants. There, after being the proprietor for years of a well-known store, he died, respected by all who knew him. His wife is still living in Mariposa County. The father, John Trabucco, was educated at the public schools and married Nancy Choisser. who was born in Illinois, and came with her parents, when she was three years old, to Mariposa County; her father was engaged in farming and in the raising of stock, and they still reside in Bear Valley. Mrs. Simpson was the oldest of nine children, was educated at the public schools as a child, and later graduated from the Notre Dame College.
Mr. Simpson is a loyal Democrat, and few citizens work more intelligently and consistently to raise the standards of citizenship and to make the community more prosperous and the locality more attractive.