Descended through his father from Daniel Webster, and through his mother from Roger de Coigneries, who came to England with William the Conqueror, it might well be expected that William Edgar Simmonds would make his mark in the world. Also he was another "Connecticut Yankee," being born at Canton, Connecticut, November 24, 1842.

His father having died when he was three years old, the mother succeeded in giving the children an excellent education. At the age of 16 William worked and contributed to the support of the family, saving enough besides to finance a normal school training for himself. From 1860 to 1862 he taught school, and then entered the Union army as a volunteer.

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