Carrie Ester (Bonebrake) Simpson was born on November 1, 1879, in Knoxville, Iowa. She was the daughter of Peter Bonebrake and Jessie Fremont (Craddick) Bonebrake. She attended public school in Knoxville and eventually Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa. She soon withdrew from Cornell and began teaching in the Knoxville School District to finance her education. She returned to Cornell and graduated with an A.B. degree in 1903. In December of that same year, she married Howard Edwin Simpson. He was a native of Clarence, Iowa, born on July 9, 1874. He was teaching science and acting as school principal when they met at Knoxville High School. After their wedding, they departed for Cambridge, Massachusetts, while Howard pursued a Master of Arts degree at Harvard University.
In 1905, after Howard graduated from Harvard, he and Carrie moved to Waterville, Maine, where he had accepted a position at Colby College. While in Maine, their first child, Jessie Frances, was born on February 13, 1906.
In 1909, Howard accepted an assistant professorship of geology at the University of North Dakota. He served as a member of the North Dakota GeologicalSurvey from 1910 to 1938, and was its director from 1935 until 1938. He was a very active faculty member, who gave frequent lectures across the state and took many geological survey field trips. He also served as Director of the United States Weather Bureau station at UND for over twenty eight years.
Grand Forks witnessed the birth of three of Carrie and Howard's children. Shortly after their move to Grand Forks, their second child, Robert Bonebrake, was born on November 8, 1910. On January 11, 1915, their third child, Carolyn Cradock, was born. Howard Edwin Simpson, Jr., their fourth and final child, was born on June 27, 1917. Carolyn died in a tragic accident on July 25, 1919, in Grand Forks. Her death preceded that of Howard Simpson, Sr., who died in January 1938, also in Grand Forks.
During her time in Grand Forks, Carrie Simpson was quite active in university affairs and women's groups. She was the first woman president of the University Faculty Club in 1923 and presented a Founder's Day address. She served in many organizations, including: the Franklin Club, Parent Teachers Association, League of Women Voters, Daughters of the American Revolution, and the Y.W.C.A. She also published a book review column in the Grand Forks Herald for many years, worked at the library in 1938-1939 and taught courses in the UND English Department in 1946-1947. She was also chair of the 75th anniversary celebration of the Methodist Church in Grand Forks. It was her work with P.E.O., a women's educational organization, for which she is best known.
She first became involved with P.E.O. while teaching in Knoxville, Iowa. She helped to organize the Grand Forks branch, Chapter D, and served as its first president, in 1913. She also helped to organize a statewide chapter in 1914. She served as North Dakota State President from 1916 to 1917, and as nationwide President of Supreme Chapter, from 1943 to 1945. During these years, she chaired the committee which determined the nature and scope of P.E.O. participation in the war effort, and served on the advisory board for the organization of the National War Production Board. She was invited to be an official guest at the United Nations Conference in San Francisco.
In 1953, she was presented with a Honorary Doctor of Laws degree by Cornell College. The citation praised her as a loyal alum, a writer, and a leader of women, who made major contributions to both national and international activities. She was praised for promoting human welfare and maintaining worthy ideals.
Carrie Bonebrake Simpson died on February 25, 1964.
Donation; March 1976.
OGLMC 878: P.E.O. Chapter D Records
OGLMC 137: Howard E. Simpson Papers