W. L. Watt
W. L. Watt, one of the highly esteemed residents of
Lima, now living retired in his pleasant home at No. 133 North Pierce
street, can remember when this busy, populous city consisted of but a
few scattering houses, not more than one or two being constructed of
brick. He was born in this city, April 27, 1836, and is a son of Hudson
Watt, once a very prominent citizen here.
Hudson Watt was the pioneer shoe manufacturer in Allen County and
was identified with nearly all the early important business enterprises.
He was born at Flemmingsburg, Kentucky, and came in 1808 to Ohio,
settling in Champaign County. After his marriage in 1829 he continued
to live there until 1833, when he came to Lima and immediately became
one of the leading factors in the development of the city's resources.
He was, as noted, one of the earliest as well as one of the largest shoe
manufactures in this section, and later he embarked in a general
mercantile business which he continued during his business career. He
was very active in the Whig party and later became just as closely
allied with the Republican Party. For years he was a leading business
man of Lima. He retired in 1868, his sons succeeding him.
W. L. Watt was reared and educated at Lima and was about 20
years old when he entered his father's general store, although he had
been more or less connected with the shoe manufacturing business from
early youth. At the time his father did business under the firm name of
H. Watt, which at a later period became H. Watt & Sons and still later,
upon the father's retirement, Watt Brothers.
The opening of the Civil War turned the young merchant's
attention from his former peaceful pursuits and, in July, 1861, he
enlisted as a private in Company I, 27th Reg., Ohio Vol. Inf. which was
mustered into the service at Camp Chase, Columbus, Ohio. The regiment
was assigned to the Army of the West and spent the first nine months in
Missouri, mainly pursuing the Confederate forces under General Price,
finally, after a pursuit of 3,200 miles, engaging the enemy in battle at
New Madrid, Missouri. Later the 27th Ohio went down the Mississippi
River to Fort Pillow and then back again and up the Tennessee River to
Pittsburg Landing. The regiment then took part in the siege of Corinth
Mississippi, occupying Corinth until the battle of Iuka, after which
they were assigned to provost duty at Memphis for six months. Returning
then to Corinth, the 27th Ohio was a part of the Ohio brigade, which
fought the battle of Corinth on October 3-4, 1863. They then started
for Chattanooga, Tennessee. Reaching Pulaski, they assisted in opening
up to traffic the Nashville & Decatur Railroad. In the following spring
they moved on to Chattanooga. The regiment, a part of General
McPherson's force, went through Smoke Valley and flanked the Confederate
troops at Resaca, earning well-merited applause from their comrades and
the country in general. The 27th Ohio made a fine record in all the
battles of the campaign which resulted in the capture of Atlanta, taking
part in the siege of that city, and it was Mr. Watt's brigade, assisted
by another, that made the final charge which drove the enemy across the
Chattahoochee River on that memorable occasion. It was during that
gallant charge that Mr. Wat suffered the injury which retired him from
active service for a time. A bullet wound in the kneepan is not a
pleasant thing to endure and Mr. Watt was obliged to lay aside his
musket for a time.
At Marietta, Georgia, to which point he was conveyed, he met an
old friend and rested with him from July 5th until July 18th, when he
returned to his regiment, being under the necessity of wading the
Chattahoochee River in order to rejoin it in front of Atlanta, where he
arrived in time to participate in the battle before that city of July
22nd. It was on this day that the brave and beloved General McPerson
fell. On the third day the movement was made by General Sherman's
forces, which resulted in the Confederates evacuating Atlanta. The 27th
Ohio helped to fight the battle of Jonesboro and was then sent to
Marietta, where our subject was put in charge of a battery and sent on
to Chattanooga to turn over some ordnance. In November, 1864, he came
home, with the rank of captain, his commission dating from July, 1864.
Mr. Watt then entered his father's store as a salesman and in
1866 he became a member of the firm. After his father' retirement from
business in 1868, the firm became Watt Brothers, and this continued for
six years, when the firm style became J. D. & W. L. Watt, and this was
retained until 1882, when our subject withdrew. He then embarked in a
shoe business in which he continued until the winter of 1886-87. Since
then he has occupied himself in extensive dealings in real estate,
having large interest in this direction, and he has also done
On January 2, 1860, Mr. Watt was married to Marion Augusta Fowler,
formerly of Rochester, New York, and they have one child, Jessie, who is
the wife of M. L. Johnson of Petoskey, Michigan where Mr. Watt and wife
have spent the past 26 summers.
Mr. Watt was a member of the first City Council of Lima, serving
two terms, and has been a member of the Board of Education for one term.
He belongs to Mart Armstrong Post, No. 202, G. A. R. For many years Mr.
Watt has been a member of Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church, and has
serve as a member of the board of trustees since 1866.