Biography - William Watson

William WATSON, farmer, P. O. Hillsboro. Among the prominent families of Butler Grove Township is that of him whose name heads this sketch. Mr. WATSON, whose portrait appears in this volume, was born in Machery Knappen, parish of Refo, County Donegal, Ireland, January 14, 1800; his father, James WATSON, was a native of Ireland, and was born about the year 1755; he married Margaret McCLARY, a native of Ireland; they had four children, of whom the subject was the eldest; he died in 1825. Our subject was educated in the schools of the country, and emigrated to America, arriving at Albany, N. Y., when he was eighteen years of age; he went from there to Geneva, N. Y., where he remained ten years, then removed to Genesee County and lived there ten years, when, on the 26th of November, 1839, he came to Montgomery County, Ill., and settled on the farm where he now resides, five miles north of Hillsboro. He was married, August 4, 1834, in New York, to Miss Mary TAFT, who was born December 10, 1815, and is a daughter of William and Elizabeth (DAVIDSON) TAFT, all of Ireland; Mr. and Mrs. WATSON have had born to them the following children: William, Aaron, Margaret, John James, an infant (died without name), George W., Anna, Augusta, James, Eliza and Isabella. Mr. WATSON is one of the stanch farmers of the county, who settled in it more than forty years ago; has grown up with it, advanced in prosperity, and has grown in wealth and importance; has become identified with it in its growth and development, and is a part of its history; he has never sought office nor political preferment, but has always been an energetic friend of education, and a determined advocate of all public improvements calculated to promote the welfare of his adopted county. Politically, he is a Democrat, and socially, a warm friend and pleasing companion. His wife is a woman of intelligence, a helpmate to her husband, and a zealous member of the Presbyterian Church. William WATSON, Jr., deceased, the eldest son of the above, died from the accidental discharge of a pistol in his own hand, March 20, 1882; he was born in Genesee County, N.Y., November 20, 1835, and came with his parents to Illinois in 1839; he was never married, but owned a fine farm some five miles north of Hillsboro, and his brother John, and sister Margaret (likewise unmarried), lived with him; he was a dutiful son, and, to the day of his untimely death, never undertook any enterprise without consulting his parents, whose advice and more mature judgement he always heeded; he left to mourn his sad fate his aged parents and his brothers and sisters - Aaron, Margaret, John, George, James, Eliza and Isabella; though not a member of any church, he was a moral man and a constant reader of the Bible; he never swore an oath, was temperate in all his habits, and a firm believer in Christianity; he lived nobly, prospered in wealth, won the confidence of all, and died an honest and upright man. Aaron WATSON, the second son, was born also in New York, February 7, 1837, and brought by his parents to Illinois in 1839; he was reared on the farm, and received his education in the common schools of the county, and began life for himself as a farmer; owns forty acres of excellent land, in a fine state of cultivation, and which joins the old homestead; politically, he is a Democrat, and socially, he is - unmarried. John WATSON, Jr., was born in Montgomery County, Ill., January 28, 1840, and is the third son of William WATSON, Sr.; he was brought up on the farm, and received such educational advantages as the common schools afforded; he began life as a farmer, and purchased eighty acres of land, to which he has added since until he now owns an excellent farm in Butler Grove Township; he is an energetic and industrious farmer, and, like his father, is a good Democrat. George W. WATSON, the fourth son, was born in Montgomery County July 8, 1842; he attended the common schools, and afterward took a regular commercial course in a business college at Poughkeepsie, N.Y., from which he graduated in 1865; he then entered the telegraph office there, in the employ of the Hudson River Railroad, remaining two years, when his health gave way and he was obliged to return home, since which time he has engaged in farming; he lives in Roundtree Township (this county), where he owns a farm of 360 acres of well-improved land. On the 23d of December, 1869, he was married to Miss Lucy A. PECK, a daughter of William H. PECK, of Montgomery County; they have three children living, viz., Estella, Lenna and Rolla; also have three children dead. Mr. WATSON is Treasurer of Roundtree Township. James WATSON, the youngest son, was born on the homestead, in Montgomery County, in 1849; he was brought up on the farm; educated in the common schools of the neighborhood, finishing his education at Hillsboro Academy; he commenced his business career as a farmer and stock-raiser, which business he has successfully followed to the present time; his first purchase of land was twenty-three acres, to which he has since added until he now owns 188 acres of as fine land as any in Butler Grove Township; he makes a specialty of raising and handling cattle, but gives more or less attention to all kinds of stock; he is liberal in his views upon all matters of public enterprise, and contributes freely of his means to promote the prosperity and welfare of his town and county; he has always been identified with the Democratic party, believing its principles to be the foundation stone of our free institutions; he still lives with his parents, and takes care of them in their old age, thereby winning the respect and approval of his neighbors and friends. The Watson family own about two thousand acres of land, well improved and well cultivated; they are noted far and wide for their enterprise, public spirit and generous hospitality.

Extracted 20 Nov 2016 by Norma Hass from 1882 History of Bond and Montgomery Counties, Illinois, Part 2 Biographical Department, pages 206-208.

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