The Goodspeed Biographical & Historical Memoirs of Western Arkansas


Charles J. WATKINS, Sr., is a member of the firm of Watkins Bros., merchants, who are doing a prosperous business at Mount Ida. They have the largest and best- paying establishment of the kind in the county, and sell all kinds of merchandise at the smallest possible margin.  Mr. Watkins was born in Hamilton County, Tenn., near Old Harrison, October 17, 1847, to William and Martha (Rodgers) Watkins, a short history is given in the sketches of John A. Watkins, to whom three children were born: Charles J., Elijah R. (who was born on January 6, 1830, and died in 1874 in Montgomery County, Ark., where he had risen to prominence as a farmer; he left a widow and two children), John A. (was the youngest of the family and is now a prominent attorney and ex-representative of this county).  The subject of this sketch was reared by his grandparents, in Tennessee, until after he was a lad of eleven, and in the school of that State he received a practical education.  In 1866 he came with his grandfather, William Rodgers, to Arkansas, but after one year spent near Camden, in Ouachita County, he came to Montgomery County and here, after a time, began farming for himself, a calling he continued to follow until 1881, when he and his brother, John A., formed a partnership in the mercantile business.  In 1866 he was married to Miss Susan E. Henegar, of Tennessee, but she died in the fall of the same year, and in 1868 he espoused Miss Ruanna Mayberry, of this county, her people being old settlers of this region from Kentucky.  To them a family of six children has been born: Mary A., Mattie May, John G., Robert, Cordelia, and Grover C.  In 1871-72 Mr. Watkins served as justice of the peace, then resigned his position.  He and his wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, and he belongs to Mount Ida Lodge No. 140, of the A.F. & A.M.   He has always been a Democrat.  He has been a successful business man, and he and his brother are the largest taxpayers in the county.  As they started out in life as poor boys, this fact speaks well for their ability as financiers.  Charles J. owns 320 acres of fine land near Washita, on the Ouachita river, and he and his brother are joint owners of 820 acres on the South Fork. This is the finest farm in the county, and a large portion is in an admirable state of cultivation. page 493

Hon. John A. WATKINS is an eminent and talented attorney residing at Mount Ida, Ark., but his birth occurred in Hamilton County, Tenn., December 20, 1851, being a son of William and Martha (Rodgers) Watkins, natives of Tennessee.  The father died at an untimely age of twenty-six years, having been a very successful farmer throughout his life.  After his death his widow married J.C. Witt, and in Hamilton County, Tenn., passed from life in 1859.   Mr. Witt still surviving her, a resident of Nashville, Ark.  He first removed to Texas, in 1859, then to Missouri, in 1865, and in 1880 settled in Montgomery County, Ark., soon after taking up his abode in Nashville, where he is holding the position of city marshal.   Although he has been a merchant of Nashville, his principal occupation throughout life has been farming, but during a short residence in Conway, Faulkner County, Ark., he also held the position of marshal.  He entered the Confederate service  while in Texas. and throughout the war served east of the Mississippi river, and participated in many battles.  The subject of this sketch was reared by his grandfather, William Rodgers, in Hamilton County, Tenn., and there he received the advantages of the common schools.  When fourteen years of age he was taken to Fayetteville, Ark., by Mr. Rodgers, and was put to school in the State University at that place, as a law student, having studied for some time under George G. Little.  He was admitted to the bar at Mount Ida., Ark., in 1875, and there has continued his practice, with flattering results, up to the present time, first being associated with G. Witt, his half brother.  In 1878 Mr. Watkins' services to his party, and his fine intellect became recognized, and he was elected to the position of county treasurer, and was re-elected in 1880, and in 1882 was chosen to represent Montgomery County in the Lower House of the State Legislature, and served two terms of two years each.  In 1875 he and O.H. Overstreet opened a general mercantile store at Mount Ida, and at the end of four years Mr. Watkins succeeded his partner his partner, soon after forming a partnership with Eli Smith, the firm being known as Eli Smith & Co, for one year. C.J. Watkins, his brother, next became his partner, and the firm has since been known as Watkins Bros.  Although they started with little means, they now do an extensive business, and Mr. Watkins is now the heaviest tax payer in the county.  He was married in 1878, to Miss Rebecca Smith, a daughter of Elia Smith, of this place, and by her has five children: Charles T., George T., Margie, John A., Jr., and Florence.  Mrs. Watkins is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, and Mr. Watkins is a Knight Templar in the Masonic fraternity,  He has represented his lodge in the Grand Lodge of the State three times, and his political views  is a Democrat. page 493-494

John WELCH is a farmer of Gap Township, Montgomery County, Ark., but was born in Overton County, Tenn., in 1833 to Thomas F. and Elizabeth (Oliver) Welch, the former born in Tennessee in 1812, and the latter in Georgia in 1810.  They were married in Overton County, Tenn., and when their son John was six months old they moved to Hardemam, County, West Tenn., and in 1853 to what is now Montgomery County, where the father died in 1871, and the mother in 1883, the former a minister of the Missionary Baptist Church, of which the mother was also a member.  He was a farmer also, and socially was a Royal Arch Mason.  His father, who was of Irish descent, died in Hardeman County, Tenn., having lived the honest and independent life of the farmer.  George Oliver, the maternal grandfather, was also a worthy tiller of the soil, was a soldier in the War of 1812, being with Jackson at New Orleans, and died at Mississippi.  John Welch is the second of nine children, five now living, and all the sons with the exception of himself are ministers of the Missionary Baptist Church.  John was reared on the farm with the advantages of a common-school education, and was married in 1852 to Miss Nancy J., daughter of Benjamin and Elizabeth Vaughan, who were born, reared, married, and spent their lives in Hardeman County, Tenn.   The death of Mrs. Welch occurred in 1867, she having borne Mr. Welch ten children, all of whom are living except one.  In February, 1868,  Mr. Welch took for his second wife Mrs. Cynthia Gist, daughter of Judge James H. and Mary West, natives of North Carolina and Tennessee, respectively, their union taking in the later State.  Their removal to Arkansas dates, 1857, but since 1859 they have been residents of Montgomery County.   Judge West was judge of the county and probate courts of Montgomery County two terms, was at one time tax collector, and in 1866 represented this county in the General Assembly of the State  He is also a minister of the Missionary Baptist Church.  Mrs. Welch was born in Hamilton County, Tenn., in 1843, and by her first husband became the mother of four, and by Mr. Welch mother of two daughters.  In 1853 Mr. Welch came to what is now Montgomery County, and has since lived in Gap Township, being the owner of 480 acres of land in different tracts, all of which he has earned by his own efforts.  In 1862 he joined Company C. Forty-second Arkansas Infantry, and fought at Iuka, Corinth, being captured in the last named battle, but was soon after paroled and came home, where he remained until the spring of 1863 when he rejoined his command at Port Hudson, where he was again captured after a siege of forty-eight days.  After being paroled this time he returned home to enter the army no more.  During his service he was twice wounded.   He has been a member of the New Hope Lodge No. 42, of the A.F. & A.M., which he has held nearly all the offices.  He belongs to the Farmers' Alliance, and has been a member of the Missionary Baptist Church since 1852, in which he has been a deacon for some years.  He has also held the office of justice of the peace for a period of six years. page 494-495

Confederate Pension Records
Surname: Welch
Given Name: John
Application Number: 7052
Widow Surname: Welch
Widow Given Name: C.A.E.
State Served From: Arkansas
Division: Infantry
Pension County: Montgomery
Death Date: 2/7/1908
Comments: widow applied 1914

Hiram A. WHITTINGTON has been an active agriculturist for many years, and as such as met with a more than ordinary degree of success.  He was born in New Hampshire on February 17, 1832, to Col. Granville and Cordelia (Wilder) Whittington, both of whom were born in Massachusetts, the later being a native of Boston, and the former of Cohasset. They were married in Boston, in which city they made their home until 1838, when they came to Hot Springs, Ark., at which place they made their home until 1840. They then moved to a farm near Mount Ida, where there mother is still living, where the father died on April 27, 1887, at the age of seventy-nine years.  He was educated in Boston, and learned the book-binder's trade, at which he worked until coming to Arkansas, when he abandoned it after he had devoted one winter to it in Little Rock.  From that time until his death he followed farming as a livelihood, and being a man of splendid judgement and great energy he acquired a large amount of property.  He was judge of Hot Springs County, when Montgomery, Garland and Hot Springs were one, holding the position one term, and after Montgomery County was organized he represented it in the Lower House of the Legislature.  He was internal improvement commissioner for several years, and held other important positions of trust.   For several years he was colonel in the State Militia, and was known as a man of undoubted honor, kindness of heart, and very charitable.  He was a Knight Templar Mason, represented his lodge in the Grand Lodge of the State a number of years, and although formerly a Whig, he became a stanch Democrat after the war.  He was a Southern sympathizer during this time, and was in favor of succession.  His father, William Whittington, was born in England and died in Massachusetts.  A son of his, Maj. Hiram A. Whittington, a brother of Granville Whittington, recently died in Hot Springs, Ark., aged eighty-nine.  The mother of the subject of this sketch is residing on the old homestead in this county, and although she has reached the advanced age of eighty years, she is quite hale.  She is a member of the Christian Church, and has been a mother of ten children, four of whom are now living: Hiram A., Granville N., Horatio B., Cordelia, wife of John S. Elder, of Mount Ida.  The other children died as follows: Junius George, at the age of forty-six years, William A., when thirty-five years of age, and Josiah W., when about twenty.  The other children died young.  The immediate subject of this sketch spent his school days in this county, and after making a home with his father until 1860, he began doing for himself on the farm which he now lives, the principal part of which is covered with timber.   Splendid improvements have been made by Mr. Whittington, and the place is admirably adapted and arranged for a stock farm, to which business he gives much attention.   The greater part of his 200-acre farm is under cultivation, and all the buildings are excellent.  In June, 1863, he joined Col. Ginstead's regiment, Twenty-fourth Arkansas Confederate Infantry, holding the rank of first lieutenant of Company I, but in October, 1863, was discharged at Little Rock.  He afterwards became a member of Company K. Col. Newton's regiment, and served until the final surrender.  While he was in the army his farm had grown up to weeds, his house had been burned to the ground and all property that could be laid hands on was taken away or destroyed.  Thus he had to commence once more at the foot of the ladder, but as has been stated above he has been remarkably successful.  In November, 1860, he married Miss Martha Ann Garrett, a daughter of Jesse B. Garrett of Mount Ida, formerly of Scott County, Ark., the State of birth being Illinois.   Mrs. Whittington died in March, 1886, having become the mother of the following children: Jefferson D., Ada E. (now married), Hiram A., Cordelia, and Clara J., living.   Mr. Whittington is a Democrat and a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. page 495-496

Henry Hardin WILLIAMSON, postmaster at Buckville, Ark., was born in Hamilton County, Tenn., July 29, 1837, a son of William and Malinda (Marsh) Williamson, natives of Surry County, N.C.  They were married in their native State, and lived there and in Tennessee until 1860, when they came to Arkansas and located on the Ouachita River in Montgomery County, the father dying at Hot Springs, while on a visit, when over eighty years of age.  He enlisted in the War of 1812, but peace was declared before he entered active duty.  He was a farmer throughout his life, and, being successful at this succeeded in accumulating a fortune.   He was of Scotch-Irish descent, a member of the Missionary Baptist Church, being a deacon in the same for nearly half a century, and was a life long Democrat.  His wife died about 1872, when nearly seventy-two years of age, she being a member of the missionary Baptist Church.  She bore her husband eight children, five of whom are living: Sarah (widow of John Moon, she now being a resident of the State of Tennessee, Mary Ann (residing in this State, the widow of Joseph Howell), Julia (wife of John C. Freeman, of this county), Malindia (wife of W.F. Housley, ex-sheriff of Hot Springs County), and Henry Hardin.  The immediate subject of this sketch spent his school days in Hamilton County, Tenn., their receiving a fair education in an academy at Waldron's Ridge.  He farmed in his native State until the breaking out of the war, then joined Company B, of the First Tennessee Cavalry, under Capt. Snow and Col. Carter, being afterwards, for three years, and advance guard or scout for Gen. Morgan and others.  During the battle of Stone River he assisted in setting fire to the Federal wagon train at Larvern, Tenn., and afterwards took part in the engagements at Bean Station, Cumberland Gap, siege of Knoxville, and other places.   He was never wounded or taken prisoner, but had several horses shot from under him.   In the fall of 1865 he came to Montgomery County, Ark., and located on a farm adjoining that on which he is now living, taking the first homestead claim in Montgomery County.  He now owns some very valuable land in this county, comprising over 400 acres, a large portion of which is under cultivation.  He is a thoroughly practicable farmer, and, as he has ever given the closest attention to the details of his work, he has been remarkably successful.  This has been acquired through his own efforts since the war, for, on the bitter feeling of the Unionists in East Tennessee, he was compelled to leave that county and much of his property behind him.  He was one of several hundred indicted at Knoxville, Tenn., for treason.  On September 18, 1860, he was married to Miss Mary A. Housley, daughter of G.W. Housley, of Hamilton County, Tenn.,. and to them five children have been born: Jackson C. (a farmer with his father), Mary A.., Henry H. Jr., Nancy J. and William R., all of whom are at home with their parents.  Mr. and Mrs. Williamson are members of the Missionary Baptist Church, and he is a Royal Arch Mason and master of Henderson Lodge No. 147. of the A.F. & A.M. He has represented his lodge in the Grand Lodge of the State several times.  He was elected treasurer of the county after the reconstruction period, serving one term, and has held the position of notary public.  He was the means of having a post-office established at Buckville, and has been its postmaster for two years.  He has made law a study, and many of the people in this section of the country come to him for advice, but has never practiced the profession to any great extent.  He is a man of sound and intelligent views on all subjects, and is well qualified to give sound advice to all who come to him. page 491-492

Hon. Gibson WITT.  The profession of law has attracted the best talent of this county , and a striking instance of this is seen in the gentlemen composing the firm of Watkins & Witt, for they stand at the very top of the bar in the State of Arkansas.  Mr. Witt was born in Hamilton County, Tenn., May 2, 1858, to J.C. and Martha (Watkins) Witt, both of whom were born in Tennessee, the former being a native of Hamilton County.  He grew to manhood there, followed the occupation of farming, but after the death of his wife, in 1859, he went to Texas, where he remained until the close of the war, at which time he went to Missouri.   He resided in different portions of the State until 1875, when he moved to Van Buren County, Ark., and in 1877 settled in Conway,  Faulkner County, and about 1880 came to Montgomery County, but is now a resident of Nashville, Ark.  Held the position of city marshal of Conway, and is now filling that position in Nashville.   His wife, whose maiden name was Rogers, the widow of William Watkins at the time he married her, died when the subject of this sketch was thirteen months old.  He was reared to the age of five years by his Grandmother Witt, with whom he resided in Texas for some time.  He later rejoined his father, and made his home with him until he attained man's estate.  He was given a fair education in the schools of Glasgow, Mo., and completed his knowledge of books in Quitman College and the State University at Fayetteville.  In 1881 he turned his attention to the study of law, under his half brother, John A Watkins, at Mount Ida, and in August, 1883, was admitted to practice by Judge H. B. Stewart.  After practicing his profession alone for some time, he in April, 1886, formed a co-partnership with his half-brother, Mr. Watkins, which connection has since existed.  In February, 1888, he was licensed to practice in the Supreme Court of the State.  Soon after leaving school he became county examiner of schools, and help that position continuously for four years.  He was elected a representative to the State Legislature in 1888, and again in 1890, both times by large majorities, and is now discharging the duties of the last-named office.  He served on the judiciary committee and memorials, and was active in supporting a number of important measures.   December 26, 1883, his marriage with Miss V. A. Owen, of this county, was celebrated, she being a daughter of James P. Owen.  To them three children have been born: Jerry, Earl and Lessie.  Mr. Witt is a Mason, and in his political views is a stanch Democrat. page 496-497

"The Goodspeed Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Western Arkansas"

Montgomery County ARGenWeb Project

Looking west. Grapevine Mountain, Brushy Rd, Oden.