Search billions of records on



Capt. S. H. Watson

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 

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 
number 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
Pages 289-290

Submitted By: Sandy (Whalen) Bauer

Visit RootsWeb
 HOME | Biography Index Page

Please send additions & corrections to 
Jefferson County Coordinator Cindy Ford
© 2005-2016 by Cindy Ford
All rights reserved