JEFFERSON COUNTY IL 
BIOGRAPHIES

 
FRED P. WATSON
FRED P. WATSON. Deeds are thoughts crystallized and according to their brilliancy and luster do we judge of the worth of an individual to the community in which he lives. The study of the life of the progressive business man and public-spirited citizen, seldom fails to offer much of pleasing interest and valuable instruction. The subject of this review, who is the head of one of the largest business firms of Mount Vernon, Illinois, and a man of much more than local repute in industrial and commercial circles, affords a striking example of the type of American character and progressive spirit which conserves public interest while promoting individual enterprise and success. Fred P. WATSON is a representative of the best elements of western and eastern life, inheriting as he does the sturdy characteristics and sterling qualities for which his ancestors on both sides of the family were distinguished, his father having been a native of Illinois, and his mother of New England. He was born July 22,1865, in Mount Vernon, being one of four children whose parents Samuel H. and Anna A. (GOETSCHIUS) Watson, who are mentioned elsewhere in these pages, and spent his childhood and youth in the city of his birth, receiving early in life the instructions which made for practical mental development and strength of character which formed the foundation of his subsequent career as one of the most successful and influential business men in the southern part of his native commonwealth. In due time he became a pupil of the schools and after attending the same until finishing the prescribed course of study, entered a college in St. Louis, where he made substantial progress in the higher branches of learning and earned an honorable record as a diligent student of the higher branches of learning. At an early age he became interested in business pursuits and after receiving a valuable practical training under the direction of his father, subsequently became associated with the latter in the handling of implements pianos, and organs, the firm thus constituted becoming in due time the most successful of the kind in Mount Vernon, and earned for the partners a wide reputation in commercial lines throughout Illinois and other states. Later the elder Watson retired from the enterprise, leaving the management in the hands of the junior member of the firm who, after a successful career of ten years, affected a co-partnership in 1890 with his brother, Harry W. WATSON, under the firm name of Fred P. WATSON & Brother, which continues and now commands a very extensive and lucrative business, being the largest and most successful enterprise of the kind, not only in Southern Illinois, but in the entire Middle West. The growth of this large and far-reaching establishment which has been remarkable bears eloquent testimony to the ability, judgment and reliable business policies of the members of the firm who are classed among the most enterprising and progressive business men of their state, and whose continued success thus far bespeaks still greater advancement in years to come. Since 1888, the year in which the enterprise was established, it has grown from a modest beginning into a mammoth concern, the meanwhile adding collateral branches of trade as the Patronage increased until at this time the business takes a very wide range, including wholesale and retail dealing in pianos, organs, Piano-players, music-boxes, Phonographs and many other kinds of musical instruments, also rubber-tired novelties, buggies, surreys, phaetons, spring, freight and farm wagons and other vehicles in addition to which the firm in also among the largest wholesale manufacturers of harness in the state, besides dealing extensively in saddlery, collars, whips, robes, dusters, saddle blankets, pads of all kinds, brushes, curry-combs, turf goods and leather. Two years after the organization of the present firm it suffered a severe loss by fire but immediately thereafter was commenced in a new and much larger and more commodious building, which being completed in due time is now one of the finest and most attractive structures in the city. It is a large three-story brick edifice, with thirty thousand feet of floor space, admirably situated in one of the best parts of the city and furnished throughout with everything calculated to facilitate business and make it a model of the kind. Ten traveling salesmen represent the firm on the road, in addition to whom a large number of clerks and artisans are employed, the growth of the business being such as to call for extra men from time to time in order to meet the demands of the trade. In addition to the main house in Mount Vernon the firm has so extended its interests as to require a number of branch houses, the most important of which at the present time are at Paducah, Kentucky; Marion, Hernn and Carbondale, Illinois, all doing a profitable business and steadily growing in magnitude and importance. The firm prestige it has gained in industrial circles has given it an influence second to that of no other house of the kind in the country. Both members are accomplished business men whose ability has long been recognized and appreciated and whose judgment in matters connected with their various lines of trade is seldom if ever at fault. Fred P. WATSON is a gentleman of high character and unimpeachable integrity and the continuous growth and success of the firm is largely due to his fine executive ability and familiarity with broad views of men and things, believes in progress in all the term implies and realizing the need of the public, has endeavored by every legitimate means within his power to meet the same and at the same time build up a business which shall redound to his own financial success and add to his reputation and influence as one of the leaders in a branch of trade which has done much for the advancement of his city and given it an honorable standing among the important business centers of the state. Aside from his immediate industrial and commendable interest, Mr. WATSON is connected with other enterprises, being a director of the Ham National Bank of Mount Vernon, and for a number of years a heavy stockholder in the same, also a stockholder in the Third National Bank, besides owning stock in various local industries which he helped promote and the success of which is largely due to his untiring efforts. Not only in the business world has he demonstrated his judgment and discrimination but also in the social life of Mount Vernon, where he is recognized as a forceful factor and leader, whose efforts have contributed materially to the welfare of the city and the happiness of the people. Although long in the public view he is destined to occupy a still larger place in the sphere of endeavor to which, in the main, his attention has been devoted and to take a more active and prominent part in the affairs of his fellow men in years to come than in time gone by. Mr. Watson is a thirty-second degree Mason and stands high in the confidence and esteem of his brethren of the Mystic Tie in the local lodges with which he holds membership and throughout the state. He is also a Shriner, Knights Templar, a member of the Knights of Pythias. He is a Republican and well informed concerning the principles and history of his party, but he is by no means a politician in the sense the term is usually mentioned, nevertheless he discharges the duties of citizenship as becomes a true American and is ever ready to maintain the soundness of his opinions and support his favorite candidates. He is a member of the First Methodist Episcopal church and has been the superintendent of the Sunday school of his church for years and is otherwise active in church work. The domestic life of Mr. Watson dates from July 31, 1906 , when he was happily married to Miss Alenia JOHNSON, of Mount Vernon, daughter of Dr. A. C. JOHNSON, one of the city's successful physicians and surgeons and trustworthy citizens, the union being without issue. Believing in using the good things of this world to useful and practical ends Mr. WATSON has surrounded himself with many of the comforts and luxuries of life, not the least being a pleasant and attractive home, which is the abode of ideal domestic happiness and the center of a gracious and generous hospitality which is liberally dispensed to all who cross the threshold. 

SOURCE: WALL'S HISTORY OF JEFFERSON CO 1909
SUBMITTED BY: Misty Flannigan 
Dec 22, 1997 


 
 
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