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William H. Simpson

He was born in Buffalo, NY. He was accomplished in the area of the Arts. He later died on 10-9-1872.
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William H. Simpson's untimely death at age 35 deprived the world of one of its most talented artists. Even at his young age, he had been recognized by many important personalities, such as Bishop J. W. Loguen, whose portrait he painted in 1854.

Simpson was born in Virginia (or Maryland, there's some discrepancy in the record) circa 1836. His parents were John and Prudence Simpson. John's birthplace is also listed as Virginia and Maryland. The family moved to Buffalo, New York in the early 1840s. John was a barber. He was very active in the community, an active abolitionist, and a leader in founding two of the first churches in the city. In 1850, John Simpson was one of the founders of the East Presbyterian Church, the third church established by African Americans. He was one of a handful of dissidents who left the Vine Street African Methodist Church to create this new congregation. In 1860, the East Presbyterian dissolved, and Simpson and his compatriots founded St. Philip's Episcopal Church.

The younger Simpson was a student at the Vine Street African School, the segregated school established by the city for African American students. According to a contemporary and well-known abolitionist, author, and lecturer, William Wells Brown, Simpson was not a good student. He was too occupied with drawing. In a sketch of the artist, Brown described Simpson as being "of non-mixed Negro blood, small in stature, a rather warm and womanly countenance, firm and resolute eye, gentlemanly in appearance and intelligent in conversation."

Brown had lived in Buffalo for nearly a decade from 1836 until 1845. He lived on the same street as the Simpson family and was involved in many of the community's abolitionist activities. Brown continued that Simpson, a native of Buffalo, had a "liberal education" and had an early inclination to draw. He preferred to sketch his classmates instead of doing math. This attitude "often gained him severe punishment."

Simpson died of consumption on October 9, 1872. He is buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, New York.