San Francisco 1906 Earthquake Marriage Project

Thomas Ward SIMMIE (1881 - 1948)
Myrtle Clare BUCKMAN (1885 - 1968)
Married: 07 May 1906, San Francisco
Thomas Ward Simmie

Buckman FamilyThomas Ward SIMMIE was born in 1881 in San Francisco, the son of James W. Simmie, a sea captain from Scotland, and Mary E. Ward of Ohio. He lived with his parents and siblings (George, James, Albert and Mabel) at 2197 Fifteenth Street.

Myrtle Clare BUCKMAN was born in 1885 in Chazy, New York to Frank Buckman and Nettie Clark. The Buckmans were a farming family with deep roots in Chazy going back to the 1820s. When Myrtle was a young girl, her parents and siblings (Mamie, Elmer, Fillmore and Millard) came to San Francisco and settled into a house at 444 Guerrero Street. (The picture to the right shows the Buckman family. Myrtle is sitting at the piano.)

Myrtle Buckman went to school in San Francisco with a girl named Mabel Simmie. Mabel introduced her friend to her older brother Thomas. Thomas and Myrtle began courting, and became engaged in 1903. They were enjoying a long courtship when the earthquake struck.

Golden Gate refugee park, 1906Both Thomas' and Myrtle's families lost most everything in the disaster. Thomas' brother, Andrew, was killed in the aftermath of the earthquake when a stairway collapsed as he helped a woman removed a trunk from an upper story of her home. In spite of their losses and the chaos surrounding them, Thomas and Myrtle decided that their engagement had been long enough. They were married on the 7th of May, and spent their honeymoon in a refugee tent in Golden Gate Park. One of the gifts they received was a tea cup and matching saucer, which is now in the possession of their granddaughter, Katherine.

On February 10th of the following year, Thomas and Myrtle had a son they called Albert Fillmore. Thomas soon found work as a coal merchant and the little family set up housekeeping at 1939 15th Street, just blocks from Thomas' childhood home. In 1912, they welcomed a daughter named Dorothy Claire.

In 1918, at the age of 36, Thomas registered for the draft during WWI. By 1920, the family had moved to 3238 16th Street. After the death of his mother, Thomas' father, James, joined them.

By 1930 the family had moved to a home at 639 3rd Avenue. Eventually they left San Francisco and settled in northern California. Thomas Ward Simmie died on 17 November 1948 in Solano County. Myrtle Clark Simmie died on 10 November 1967 in Napa County.

During World War II, Thomas and Myrtle's son Albert joined the Army and was captured by the Japanese. During his 3½ years as a prisoner of war, he witnessed the atomic bomb explosion at Hiroshima from his mountainside prisoner-of-war (POW) camp. Albert and his first wife, Mary Daly had five children, Connie, Kit, Beckie, Aura Mary and Tom. His later years were spent with his second wife, Lynn Garrett. Albert died on 26 January 1991 at his home near Santa Cruz.

Credits: Pictures of the Simmie family and story graciously supplied by  Katherine Simmie. Other information gathered from public records. Picture of Golden Gate Park refugee tent from 1906 San Francisco Earthquake Stereoviews. Information about Albert Simmie and his POW experience is from his obituary: Santa Cruz Sentinel, 30 January 1991 , p. A-8. Photograph of Hiroshima from U.S. National Archives, RG 77-AEC.


The mushroom cloud billowing up 20,000 feet over Hiroshima on the morning of 06 August 1945.

05 February 2006 | copyright © 2006 Ron Filion and Pamela Storm. All rights reserved.