James B. Simmons, D.D. (1826/27 – December 17, 1905), Corresponding Secretary of the American Baptist Home Mission Society from 1867 to 1874, was born in the township of Northeast, Dutchess County, New York. His father was a thrifty farmer of German extraction; his mother was of Scotch descent. She was thrown from a carriage and killed when James was but five months old.
He graduated from Brown University in 1851 and Newton Theological Seminary in 1854. He served as a Baptist minister in Providence, RI, Indianapolis, IN, and Philadelphia, PA. He was recruited from Philadelphia by the ABHMS, and was assigned in 1869 to development of missions among the colored peoples of the South and West and Mexico. He was instrumental in this role in the early development of Shaw University, Benedict College, Virginia Union University, Morehouse College, and the defunct Roger Williams University of Nashville and Leland University of New Orleans.
He was an early benefactor of Hardin-Simmons University.