The Simson Brothers own one of the largest mercantile businesses on
Seward Peninsula, conducting stores in Nome and Council. Abe Simson is one
of the pioneer merchants of Nome and was the first member of the firm to arrive
in this camp. He came down the river from Dawson and landed in Nome September
6, 1 899. He did not bring a stock of goods with him, as the object of the trip was to
investigate the new camp and see what opportunities it might offer for the establishment
of a business. But after arriving he thought it best to stay, and began business in a
small way by buying and selling goods and handling merchandise on commission.
Abe Simson is a native of Haverstraw. New York, and was born November
15. 1869. He is the second son of a family of eight, six boys and two girls.
His father was a merchant. When he was four years old the family moved to
Germany and the subject of this sketch did not return to the United States until he was
sixteen years old. His education was obtained in Germany. He started in business at
the age of seventeen and began by taking retail orders.
When he was nineteen years old
he opened a store in Croton, New York, and subsequently with his eldest brother, S. Simson, established another store in Suffern, New York. It was the largest mercantile institution in this town. In 1898 he sold out his interest in New York and with his brother
Ben started for Dawson, via Chilkoot Pass. They pulled their freight over the trail and
built the boat in which they descended the Yukon. After several months devoted to
prospecting in the Klondike region, they got weary digging for gold and determined to
engage in business with which they were familiar. They began by buying and selling outfits. They returned to the states that winter and in the spring of 1899 came back to
Dawson with a stock of goods and opened a small store. The reports from Nome induced Abe to make a trip to the new camp.
In the spring of 1900 Ben Simson arrived in Nome with a stock of goods. This was the first stock of goods received in
Nome this season. The firm did an extensive business, but on account of the fire risk
they retired from the field at the end of the season of 1903. But Ben got the fever to go
to Nome again, and in the spring of 1904 he returned and bought out the N. A. T. & T. Co. Abe Simson is a broad-minded, public-spirited citizen.
Source: Nome and Seward Peninsula by
R. S. Harrison. Seattle: The Metropolitan Press, 1905.