Frances Sneed “Fannie” Simnacher, 1912-2016

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Joan Havard and her grandmother, Frances Simnacher, in 2014.

Joan Havard posted on her Facebook page today that her grandmother, Frances Sneed “Fannie” Simnacher, has died at age 104 in the home where she was born on Dogshead Bend in the Montopolis area.

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Joan Havard and her grandmother, Frances Simnacher, in 2014.

Here’s an excerpt from my 2014 profile of Frances Simnacher (she also plays a prominent role in the introduction to my book: “Indelible Austin: Selected Histories”).

“Frances Sneed Simnacher, who turns 102 on Aug. 14 (2014), lives in the house where she was born.

It was built in the 1850s by her ancestors, the Sneeds and the McCarthys, just east of the Montopolis area. Perched above Carson Creek — formerly called McCarthy Creek — it rises just a few yards from a bend in the Colorado River.

When she needed something in town, Simnacher drove a horse and buggy. Once, the horse just fell over dead. But she got there anyway.

“Lots of people came across the river on the ferry,” she recalls, as a distant light appears in her green eyes. “I didn’t go to church too much because it was too far.”

Raised Catholic, she sometimes visited St. Ignatius Catholic Church in South Austin, and she still hangs religious symbols above her tiny kitchen table.

“I helped my mother and daddy,” Simnacher says. “They had so much to do. I couldn’t find a job that would pay anything. Sometimes I’d pick pecans. Of course, we weren’t always beekeepers. We planted cotton. Ran cattle. I even planted mesquite trees.””

UPDATE: The headline to the original post gave the wrong date of birth.


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