Capt. S.H. Watson, ex-Mayor of Mt. Vernon, has been prominently connected
with the business and political interests of this place, and all who know him respect
him for his honorable and straighforward career. He was born in Mt. Vernon, November 5, 1838,
and is a son of John H. Watson, a native of Kentucky. His great-grandfather, John Watson,
was born on the Isle of Man, and founded the family in America in Colonial days.
His son, Dr. John W. Watson, was born in Virginia, January 10, 1777, in early life went
to Kentucky, and afterward brought his family to Jefferson County, ILL. He was one of
its first physicians and occupied a prominent place in professional and social circles.
He died June 3, 1845, respected by all who knew him. His wife, Frances Watson, was a
sister of Joel and Joseph Pace, twin brothers, who were numbered among the honored pioneers
of Jefferson County, and who were the founders of the family in Illinois. Official positions
were held by them, and in business circles they were widely and favorably known, Joel following
merchandising, while Joseph carried on agricultural pursuits.
John H. Watson, the father of the Captain, was a contractor and builder, and for twenty-five
years served as Justice of the Peace. He was also Master in Chancery for several years, and
his fidelity to all duties, whether public or private, won him the respect and confidence of
the entire community. He died in Mt. Vernon, September 26, 1861, and his loss was deeply mourned.
He was one of a large family of children, including Joel F. Watson, of Mt. Vernon, the wealthiest
citizen of Jefferson County, and the father of Albert Watson, the sable State's Attorney, of
this county, and Dr. Walter Watson, a prominent physician and politician, who is now a member
of the Democratic State Central Committee, and a candidate for Congress in his district.
The mother of the Captain was in her maidenhood Elizabeth M. Rankins. She was born in
North Carolina, July 26, 1805, and went to Tennessee with her father, Robert Rainkins, who
in December, 1825, brough his family to Mt. Vernon. She was married December 13, 1827, to
John H. Watson. She was a lady of good education, of kindly disposition, and a devoted wife
and loving mother. She lived to an advanced age, and died in Mt. Vernon, June 5, 1891, at
the age of eighty-five years, ten months and ten days. During the great cyclone of 1887, she
was alone in the house with her daughter, Mrs. Miler. The storm struck the dwelling,
completely destroying it, but left her sitting in her chair, only slightly injured. She
lived far beyond the allotted age, but the shock no doubt hastened her death.
In the Watson family were nine children, six sons and three daughters. John R. died in Iowa
about 1862; William D. in interested in mining in Silverton, Colo.; Amelia J. became the
wife of Bennett S. Miller, and died in 1893; Thomas P. is living in Mt. Vernon; Milla is
the wife of John A. Wall, who served in the late war, but is a newspaper man by profession,
and for nearly five years was Postmaster of Mt. Vernon; Capt. Joel P. served in the Civil War
as aid-de-camp on Gen. John M. Palmer's staff, and is now a real-estate dealer of Ashley, ILL.;
Dr. J.H. is a prominent physician of Woodlawn, ILL., and the present member of the State
Legislature; and Nancy died in childhood.
Captain Watson was reared and educated in Mt. Vernon, and began business as a grain dealer.
He afterward dealt in agricultural implements, establishing the large house which is now the
property of his sons. On October 1, 1860, he was married to Miss Anna Augusta Goetchius, a
native of Massachusetts, and the only child of Isaac D. and Elizabeth Goetchius, the former
of whom was of German descent, and who was an extensive railroad contractor. At the age of
sixteen she came to Illinois with her father, who was building the Air Line Railroad from
Fairfield, ILL., to St. Louis. He died in Paducah, KY., while engaged in railroading.
Mrs. Watson had excellent educational advantages, and is a most accomplished and agreeable
lady. They have two sons, Frd P. and Harry W., who are now engaged in the agricultural
implement business. The latter has recently returned from California, where he was Teller
in the University bank of Los Angeles, brought with him as his bride the cultured daughter
of Judge R.M. Widney, who was President of that bank.
The year after the marriage of our subject, the Civil War broke out, and he promptly
responded to the call for troops, enlisting July 25, 1861, in Company G, Fortieth Illinois
Infantry. He distinguished himself on the battlefield of Shiloh, and for meritorious conduct
was made Second Lieutenant and becaem aid-de-camp on the staff of Gen. C.C. Walcutt, and later
on the staff of Gen. John M. Corse. Subsequently he was made Inspector of the First Brigade,
Second Division Fifteenth Army Corps, and was later promoted to the rank of Captain. He served
in the Atlanta campaign, and went with Sherman on the celebrated march to the sea. His army
record is an honorable one, of which he may well be proud.
When the war was over, Captain Watson returned home and once more resumed business as a
dealer in grain and implements. For a numer of years he successfully carried on operations
along this line, but at length sold his business to his son, and is now practically living
retired. In 1891 he was brought forward as a candidate for Mayor, by his fellow-townsmen,
who, looking to the best interests of the city, wanted to elect a man having large property
interest and one in favor of making improvements that would be of benefit to the majority.
They found in the Captain a public-spirited and progressive man, and he was elected on the
issue of city improvements. He adhered to his policy, and his enterprising and progressive
movements have made Mt. Vernon one of the most beautiful cities in the state. Throughout
life he has been a supporter of the Republican party, has served as Chairman on the County
Central Committee for the past twelve years, and is now being urged to allow the use of his
name as candidate to represent his county in the Legislature of his state. Socially he is
a member of the Grand Army of the Republic and is a Royal Arch Mason. In addition to his
other interests, he owns the Harrison Block, on Broadway, as well as one of the loveliest
homes in Mt. Vernon, in which he is now spending his days in ease and comfort, enjoying a
rest which is well deserved.
Source: Portrait and Biographical Record of
Clinton, Washington, Marion and Jefferson Counties, Illinois
Published by Chapman Publishing Co, Chicago - 1894
Submitted By: Sandy (Whalen) Bauer