Jonathan Fairbanks and Clyde Edwin Tuck

Past and Present of Greene County, Missouri

Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens


JAMES WATSON. Success comes to the deserving after all, though it seems sometimes that this is not the case. The man who puts forth the proper effort long enough and hard enough will achieve just about what he set out to achieve. This fact was realized early in life by James Watson, another of the sterling Tennesseeans who have cast their lot in Greene county, and by so doing have benefited alike themselves and us. He has now passed his three score and ten years' limit of the Psalmist, and is living in retirement in his home in Republic, after a long and successful career as a general farmer and stockman. His life record has been especially characterized by the most absolute integrity of word and action, which has gained for him the unqualified respect of the entire community. Added to this is a spirit of good fellowship and geniality which has brought to him a large circle of warm friends.

Mr. Watson was born in Monroe county, Tennessee, September 2, 1842. He is a son of Thomas and Bersheba (McCray) Watson, and was one of ten children, eight of whom survive.

The father of these children was born in Tennessee and there grew up and married and engaged in farming until the year 1844 when he removed with his family to Greene county, Missouri, and he spent the rest of his life on farms in this and Lawrence counties, dying about 1863. He served six months in the Confederate army during the Civil war, when he was killed in Arkansas, being assassinated by his own comrades, he having attempted to escape further service in the army. The mother of our subject was born in Tennessee in 1890 and there resided until removing with her husband and children to Missouri. She spent the latter years of her life in Greene county, dying here in 1900 at the advanced age of eighty years. She was a woman of heroic mettle and after the death of her husband returned from Arkansas to the farm in this county and reared her small children in comfort and respectability, and gave them such educations as could be obtained in that day in the country schools.

James Watson grew to manhood on the home farm, in Greene county, having been but two years old when his parents brought him here from Tennessee, and he worked hard when a boy assisting his mother in making a living. He received his education in the district schools. In the early part of the war between the states he enlisted in 1862 in the Eighth Missouri Cavalry, in which he served three years in the Union army and saw considerable hard service, taking part in many of the campaigns, and battles of that noted regiment. He was incapacitated for some time as a result of sun stroke, but was retained for active service until honorably discharged in August, 1865.

After returning home from the war Mr. Watson resumed farming which he continued in Greene and Christian counties in an eminently satisfactory manner, becoming owner of valuable and productive farming lands, which he brought up to a high state of improvement and cultivation and on which he carried on general farming and stock raising on a large scale up to a few years ago, when he retired from the active duties of life and is now living retired, surrounded by all the comforts necessary to happiness in old age, as a result of his earlier years of activity.

Mr. Watson was twice married, first, in 1861, to Martha Ann Brashears, a daughter of Walter Brashears and wife. She was a native of Tennessee. She survived twenty-eight years after her marriage, her death occurring in 1899. In the year 1893 Mr. Watson married for his second wife, Louisa Balcom, a daughter of John and Amanda (Swadey) Balcom. She was born in 1844, in Greene county. She was the mother of five children by a former marriage, two girls, three boys, namely: Alice, born in 1874, now Mrs. Alice Cantrell; Charles, born 1878; James Thomas, born 1881; John Lawrence, born 1884, Mary Ellen, now Mrs. Fred Keltner, of Springfield.

Mr. Watson's second union has been without issue, but he is the father of twelve children by his first wife, five of whom are now living, namely: William, of Goodland, Kansas; Robert, of southern Missouri; John, of Republic township; Mary, now Mrs. C. O'Neil, of Oklahoma; Malinda, now Mrs. William Garroutte, lives in Missouri.

Politically, Mr. Watson is a Republican. He is a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, Post 219, at Republic, in which he has carried the flag for the past thirty years, and has been active in the work of the same. He belongs to the Christian church. Mr. Watson was justice of the peace for twelve consecutive years and served on the school board for thirty years.

[928-929]


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