George C. Watson
Posted by Jean Crowl 7 May, 2009
From the Portrait and biographical record of Hancock, McDonough and Henderson counties, Illinois : containing biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the county (1894)|
May, 1894. Lake City Publishing Co.
GEORGE C. WATSON, deceased, who for many years carried on agricultural pursuits in Henderson County, was born in Detroit, Mich., on the 25th of November, 1818. His parents were George and Lucy (Willis) Watson. The Watson family is of Scotch origin, and was probably founded in America during early Colonial days.
The paternal grandfather of our subject, Elkanah Watson, was a native of Plymouth, Mass. He published a journal under the title of " Men and Times of the American Revolution," and from it we glean the following facts: "During the latter part of the struggle for independence, when he was twenty-one years of age, he went to Europe, where he spent several years engaged in merchandising. During this period he was on intimate terms with Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and others of the most eminent of his countrymen. He crossed the Atlantic in 1779, in a small, swift-sailing packet, constructed for the purpose of conveying dispatches, and landed at St. Martin's, at the port of Rochelle. After his return to America, he visited Gen. Washington at his home in Mt. Vernon."
The parents of our subject had five sons: Frederick, Frank, Edward, Charles and George C. The last-named was only an infant at the time of his father's death. His mother afterward married again, becoming the wife of Maj. Leonard, a soldier who had seen active service. Soon after his father's death, George C. Watson was taken to the home of his grandfather, Nathan Willis, in Massachusetts, and there lived until thirteen years of age, when he returned to his native city.
When a youth of sixteen years our subject began earning his own livelihood by clerking in a clothing-store in Detroit, where he remained for about six years, a faithful and trusted employee. He then secured a Government position, being appointed Paymaster for several different forts in Michigan. He served under his step-father, Maj. Leonard, acting as assistant and clerk. He thus served until twenty-five years of age, when he began studying medicine with a physician of Detroit, and also took a course of lectures in that city. He never practiced, however, circumstances causing him to engage in other pursuits. In 1844 he went to St. Louis, and near that city purchased a farm, upon which he lived for seven years. The two succeeding years of his life were spent near St. Louis as overseer of a slave farm, and he then again went to St. Louis. His next service was with the St. Louis and Pacific Railroad Company, with which he remained for a short time, when, in 1850, he came to Henderson County.
Soon after his arrival, Mr. Watson purchased the farm on which his widow now resides. He was married on the 19th of February of that year to Miss Catherine Welch, daughter of Morris and Margaret (Hogan) Welch. The young couple began their domestic life upon the farm, which at the time of its purchase was wild and unimproved land. It was first bought by an uncle of Mr. Watson, as a soldier's claim, for $13. Every improvement upon the place was the work of our subject. He transformed the wild tract into rich and fertile fields, and erected a commodious residence and all the necessary outbuildings. For many years he successfully carried on farming and stock-raising, and his well-directed efforts brought him a handsome competence.
Unto Mr. and Mrs. Watson were born seven children, namely: Lucy, who died in 1872; Frank H., who operates the home farm; George M., who follows farming in Rozetta Township; May; Annie; Mark and Charles D.
In his political views, Mr. Watson was a Democrat, and always kept well informed on the issues of the day. He was a public-spirited and progressive citizen, and the best interests of the community always found in him a friend. He never withheld his support from any public enterprise, and all interests calculated to prove of public benefit received his hearty support and co-operation. He started out in life for himself emptyhanded, but, possessing a resolute spirit, he won success, and worked his way upward from a humble position to one of affluence. His death occurred June 3, 1877, and his remains were laid to rest in Fall Creek Cemetery.