|Dr. John W. Watson was a native of Maryland,
born in 1771. He was removed by his parents to Virginia when a small boy
and was there reared. He studied medicine and was a graduate of Jefferson
Medical College. He married in Virginia in 1811, moved to Bourbon County,
Ky, and soon after to Pendleton County of the same state. After about ten
years, he turned his face westward and arrived in Mt. Vernon in 1821. His
journey was overland with a two-horse wagon with his family and all his
earthly possessions. He settled on a farm known as Mulberry Hill and spent
his first winter in a corncrib. The following year, 1822, he bought land
one-half mile north of Mt. Vernon where he remained and managed his farm
in connection with his duties of his profession until he died, which occurred
June 3, 1845.
He was the first physician in Jefferson County, and his practice extended over a great portion of this part of the state. He often made trips of fifty to one hundred miles long on horseback. In 1828 he was called on a professional visit to Williamson County, and from the long ride his journey, and he was obliged to borrow a horse to get back to his home.
It is said that quinine used in treating malaria at that time cost him $10.50 an ounce.
As his professional duties did not require all of his time, he was called upon to assess the entire county, for which he received $17.00.
He was the father of Joel F. Watson, the grandfather
of Judge Albert, Dr. Walter and Howard Watson, and great-grandfather of
colonel Joel Watson of this city.
Dr. John W. Watson came to Illinois in 1821, arriving November 21. He lived kon the Mulberry Hill until the next spring, when he, or rather John and Asa, built a large crib on the place a mile north of town, where he afterwared lived. The crib had two or three apartments, one for grain, one for a toolhouse, etc., and into one of these they came and lived till a hickory log house could be raised, the same that Thomas Hunt tore down about twelve years ago. This year (1822), the Doctor rented ground from John Wilkerson near Union, and by the next he had opened land of his own. He was the first physician that was located in the county, and in that day he paid well for his drugs. An ounce of quinine that he got of Atwood, in St. Louis, cost him $10.50, and an ounce of veratrum that he got from Philadelphia, $40. He was County Assessor in 1822 and 1823, when his fee amounted to $17, and the whold revenue to $70. The home dressed fawn skin cover that he or his boys made for his Assessor's book is still preserved in the Clerk's office. Mrs. Watson died March 3, and the Doctor June 3, 1845. His children were John, who died in Virginia in 1803; Virginia, who was married to John Summers in 1824; John H., who married Betsy Rankin in 1827; William B., who married Margaret and afterward Sarah Leonard; Asa B., who married Diana Ham in 1833; Joel F., who is among us and well known; Amelia, who died single, and Horry M., who married Minerva Cummins. Joel Pace located on his farm adjoining Dr. Watson's in 1823, as before stated, and there reared a large family, lost his venerable companion in 1877, and himself died, in 1879, at the age of eighty-nine years.
SOURCE: "History of Jefferson County, Illinois"
Wm. Henry Perrin 1883
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