THE WATSON FAMILY
The Census of 1790 shows Hezekiah Watson, 1 - 3 - 3, in Litchfield Town,
Litchfield County, Conn. Old Village Cemetery
Hiram Watson, one of Jefferson's most respected men, died at his
home in this village Feb. 04, aged 75. He was a son of Hezekiah Watson,
who came from Chatham, Conn. And settled near Fultonham, Schoharie Co.,
in the early part of the present century now about to close. About 1830
he moved to Jefferson and engaged in the mercantile business. The store
was the building on the lower side of Col. Judd Park, now owned by
C. R. (or K.) Murphy and used as a tenement house. He was also interested in
the ashery business that time a paying industry in this town. After
being at this stand for some time he bought the store now occupied by
H. D. Vaughn, where he continued for a few years.
When his father came to Jefferson, Hiram was about 5 years old and
as soon as he was old enough he helped his father in the store. After
his father's death he continued the business for himself a few years
and then sold to Hezekiah Avery and went to Rome, N. Y., working in
a dry goods store for about two years. He was then a clerk in J. D.
Hubbard's store, after he returned to Jefferson, for about 7 years.
About 30 years ago he married Ophelia Hubbard and lived in the little
place on the east end of the village until his death.
He was a man such as leave the world better for having lived. He was
a member of the Methodist Church for nearly 50 years always an untiring
worker in it and its Sabbath School. For nearly 20 years Saturday night
prayer meetings were held at his home. Rev. G. C. Francis paid a beautiful
tribute to his memory at his funeral at the M. E. Church and the
burial was in the Jefferson Cemetery. Courier, Sept. 16, 1899.
Mrs. Ophelia Watson died at her home in this village Jan. 2, aged 87 (97?).
She was the daughter of Darius Hubbard, one of the early pioneers of this
town. J. D. Hubbard and Mrs. Harriet Wade of this place, a brother
and sister, are the only ones left of the family. Jan. 06 10 (1910?).
Hezekiah Watson was town clerk in 1830. Hiram Watson, 1847-1850,
1852-1853, 1875, 1878.
20 years ago: B. H. Avery and C. H. Murphy each have an old ledger
used by Hezekiah Watson, back in the thirties. The entries are carried
out in pounds, shillings and pence. In some the accounts it is
noticeable that nine-tenths of the entries are for whiskey and that
the price paid at that time was about 44 cents a gallon. Oct. 22, 1914.
<Page 2 of original text>
Elkanah Watson, "Jefferson Farmer"
It is a pure guess, but unless it is known to the contrary, that
Hector Taylor's son Watson got his name from knowledge that Elkanah
Watson owned lands in that neighborhood than from Hezekiah Watson.
It has been my lot to discover in recent years to learn that John
Bouton who came to America in 1635 was not, as stated in The History
of Fairfield, Conn., to have been "authentically" traced to the
Chamilly Family of France, as a brother of Noel Bouton, marshal of France,
and Herard Bouton, Lieutenant General of the Armies of Louis XIV, both in
high favor with that monarch. I believed it. It was accepted by the
compiler of the Bouton-Boughton Family. A French genealogy of 1733 shows
that Jean Bernard Bouton, brother of Noel and Herard died at Severne after
the second battle of Norlingen in 1645. An account of the ancestry in
Vol. IV, pg. 153 of a series of large volumes by George Norbury MacKenzie
says the Richard de Montfitchet one of the barons who compelled King John
to sign Magna Carta, and one of the twenty-five barons chosen to
see that the king did as he agreed, was the ancestor of Thomas Fitch of
Norwalk, Conn., from whom I am descended. The British Dictionary of
Biography ends an account of Richard de Montfitchet with the statement
that Richard died without issue and his estate passed to his three
sisters. The New York Public Library made a careful search and said that
Richard did not have issue of his body.
It is not likely that anyone else would have taken the pains to look
up the facts and it was mostly an accident that I ran across the facts.
There are other records of nearly as interesting ancestry which I hope
may sometime find their way to the Stamford library. But, whatever else
fails, let us try to tell the truth.
<Page 3 of original text>
Elkanah Watson, "Jefferson Farmer"
The article in the Mirror-Recorder, Dec. 26, 1946, calls attention
to one of the most notable persons who is known to have had any connection
with the town. How far the July G. L. F. Calendar was responsible
for the heading and the story down the Pittsfield, Mass.,
does not appear. (?) If it or anyone else has evidence that he ever saw
the lands in Jefferson which he owned, I would be very glad to have
The Schoharie County Clerk's office shows these dealings:
For ten years and a half my office as superintendent of schools
looked out on the famous "great elm in the public square in Pittsfield,
Mass." We lived on the top of Jubilee Hill, so named from a great
agricultural celebration held here, some of the exercises at a high school
exhibition taken from what was said and read there. This was so
long after Watson's life there that my first awareness of him was
of his land dealings in Jefferson.
"At first a successful business man at Albany, N. Y.", omits some of
his most notable experiences. Born at Plymouth, Mass., 1758. At the age of
17, he was sent by his apprentice master from Providence with a ton and
<Page 4 of original text>
Elkanah Watson, "Jefferson Farmer"
a half of powder for Gen. Washington's army. Two years later he
went to Charleston and other southern ports with $30,000 to be invested
in cargoes for the European markets. In 1779 he was the bearer of dispatches
from the American government to Benjamin Franklin, at Paris, who
gave him letters of introduction to prominent English statesmen. He went to
Holland and Flanders, and returned to Newport, bringing with him a
present of books for which he visited Washington at Mt. Vernon to
deliver. He said of that, "I remained alone in the society of Washington
for two days, the richest of my life."
"In 1789 he removed from Providence, R. I. To Albany, N. Y., where for
eighteen years he was an active promoter of public enterprises." In
1807 he removed to Pittsfield and became there a real farmer. How long
he lived in New York City is not clear, but it must have been between 1797 and
1801, and it may have been because he found his wife Rachel there.
He "made his mark", but it was not as a "Jefferson farmer" living in a
log house and clearing a few acres as many of the real farmers of that
time did in Jefferson. It is possible that he made a trip to select his
land in Jefferson, but I have seen no evidence of it in the published
accounts of his life. It is a pleasure for me that I spent a summer on
the Parsons farm which he had owned.
Hiram Watson, "one of Jefferson's most respected men", died Feb. 04, 189_.
I had a more friendly acquaintance with him than with most of the older
men in Jefferson village. His obituary said his father, Hezekiah Watson,
came from Chatham, Conn. The Century Atlas shows no Chatham in Connecticut,
but Chatham on the southern shore of Cape Cod and the county seat
of Columbia County, N. Y. Chatham, Mass. is nearer to Plymouth, Mass.,
where Elkanah Watson was born and Chatham, Mass. is nearer to Connecticut.
There is no indication in Jefferson, as far as I know, that there was
any relation between Hezekiah and Elkanah.
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