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
SUBMITTED BY: Misty Flannigan Dec 1997