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


LORENZO TIPTON WATSON, M. D. The record of a life well spent, of triumph over obstacles, of perseverance under difficulties and steady advancement from a modest beginning to a place of affluence, honor and distinction in the industrial and professional worlds, when imprinted on the pages of history, present to the youth of the rising generation an example worthy of emulation and may also be studied with profit by those of more mature years whose achievements have not kept pace with their expectations. Dominated by the highest principles of integrity was the course of the late Dr. Lorenzo Tipton Watson, one of the most distinguished citizens of Springfield and Greene county during a past generation, who, for a long lapse of years was among our leading men of affairs. His life was a varied and useful one and during its course we find him not only a skilled physician, but a successful teacher, farmer, merchant and real estate dealer, and during the nation's greatest crisis he was a soldier. For nearly half a century Greene county had been his home, and his career had crowned so many successes and wrought so many achievements that he had become distinguished for his thrift, energy and enterprise.

Doctor Watson was born near Madisonville, Monroe county, Tennessee, September 13, 1833. He was a son of Barnard and Jane (Holloway) Watson. He was the second child of a family of twelve children. The father was a highly respected and substantial farmer in Tennessee, of old Southern stock, his people and also those of his wife being of the Andrew Jackson type, all courageous and clear in their conceptions of duty. These parents remained in that state until 1847, when they removed to Greene county, Missouri, and secured land west of Springfield on which they spent their declining years. In his early boyhood Lorenzo T. Watson followed the plow on the old homestead, and he was about fifteen years of age when his parents moved to Missouri, but he remained behind in his native state, for he was determined to work his way to an education there. After attending the public schools he entered Hiwassee College at Madisonville, where he made a creditable record. He then taught school three or four years in Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia, and in the fall of 1853 he came to Greene county, Missouri, and taught school two years in Cass and Robberson townships, spending the summer months on his father's farm near Cave Spring. Having cultivated a desire to study medicine, and being ambitious to become a physician and surgeon he began reading medicine while engaged in teaching and saving his earnings to defray his expenses in medical college. He entered the Missouri Medical College in St. Louis, where he made a good record and was graduated in 1859, having defrayed his own expenses with the money earned by teaching. He began the practice of his profession at Hartville, Wright county, this state, and was getting a good start when the Civil war began. He was strong in his Union sentiments and clearly saw that his duty called him to the defense of the country, and without hesitation he entered the Federal army enlisting at Rolla, in October, 1861, in the Twenty-fourth Missouri Volunteer Infantry, and was commissioned assistant surgeon of the same, which he held until in October, 1862, being part of the time on duty with his regiment at various places in southern and southeast Missouri, and the remainder of the time on detached duty in the military hospital at Springfield. In October, 1862, he was promoted to surgeon of the Fourteenth Missouri State Militia Cavalry, with the rank of major, under command of Colonel John M. Richardson and held the position until the regiment was out of existence by the consolidation of the Fourteenth regiments so as to make ten full regiments of that arm of the service, in March, 1863. His services in the army of three years were highly patriotic, efficient and honorable. During his service he was closely associated with Doctor Robberson. Shortly before the close of the war Dr. Watson was honorably discharged and mustered out. Soon thereafter he located in Springfield and began in the mercantile business which he continued for about three years, then sold out and purchased a well improved farm in Cass township, this county, and prospered rapidly as a general agriculturist, stock raiser, breeder and trader. He remained there until 1881, having proven himself to be a man of remarkable industry and energy. No exposure or hardships could daunt the courage of this man. But after ten years as a farmer he sold out and located again in Springfield where he spent the rest of his life in a picturesque brick residence on South street still occupied by his widow, and about which are associations of pioneer and war days. Numerous bullets were fired into it during the battle of Springfield as it was located near one of the forts where a spirited engagement took place. After leaving the farm he engaged extensively in buying and selling real estate. He was eminently successful as a man of business and accumulated quite a handsome estate, valued at a quarter of a million.

Doctor Watson was married in September, 1865, to Josephine Massey, who was born in Greene county, Missouri, in January, 1845. She is a daughter of Nathaniel and Nancy (Ellison) Massey. Mr. Massey was born in Charleston, South Carolina, came to Greene county, Missouri, in an early day and here became a prominent man of affairs, and here Mrs. Watson grew to womanhood and received a good education. She is a lady of sterling attributes of head and heart and. her long life in Springfield has been of decided usefulness. The fortune which Doctor Watson left her has not diminished as a result of her judicious management and rare executive ability. She has long been known as one of our leading philanthropists and the city owes her a debt of gratitude which it cannot repay. Among the liberal donationswhich she has made to worthy movements have been those for the local Young Men's Christian Association and the Young Women's Christian Association. She is now advanced in years, but is well preserved, having the appearance of a woman much younger and she is progressive in her ideas, well informed on current matters and she numbers her friends only by the limits of her acquaintance, owing to her affable manner, obliging and hospitable disposition.

Only one child was born to Doctor Watson and wife, Edward Watson, whose birth occurred in October, 1866, who grew to be a very amiable and promising young man; he met an untimely death by the accidental discharge of a gun while hunting.

Politically, our subject was a Democrat, at one time belonged to the Masonic Order, and religiously he was a member of the Methodist Episcopal church, South.

The death of Doctor Watson occurred November 18, 1903. He was a close friend of Hon. S. P. Hale, formerly president of the Hiwassee College, Madisonville, Tennessee, and in speaking of his death, Mr. Hale said: "In the last conversation I had with Doctor Watson during his last visit to Tennessee about a year prior to his death he expressed himself freely on the subject of death and future judgment: he had no fears of the terrors of death and had an abiding faith in the efficacy of the redemption of sinners made by Jesus Christ, our Savior."

Doctor Watson was an active member of Captain John Matthews Post No. 69, Grand Army of the Republic, and at a meeting a short time after his death, appropriate resolutions were passed by the post, respecting the life and character of the subject of this memoir, a part of which we here reproduce:

"Whereas, In His inscrutable wisdom the Divine Father of all mankind, the Creator of our earth and of the great universe, has permitted the passing away from us of our beloved, honored and never to be forgotten comrade, Dr. Lorenzo T. Watson, who has surrendered his mortal and entered upon immortal life, wherefore, be it

"Resolved, First, that we mourn his death, honor his character and for- ever cherish him in our memory. Second, That we extend to his ever faithful wife and widow, and to all his family, our most affectionate consolation in these, their days of immeasurable bereavement. We now humbly pray our Heavenly Father to so console her and them with the outpouring of His Holy Spirit, and of His all-pervading love, that the sad burden now so heavily weighing upon them may be removed, and that they may possess the peace which passeth all understanding, and which comes to those who bow in submission to the decrees of nature and the providence of God. Our greeting to her and them is, and ever is Sursum Corda.

"Comrade Watson requested that he be accorded the honors of a Grand Army burial by the post, and accordingly, on Sunday, November 22, 1903, we loyally and with tender affection of our hearts, performed that sacred and sad duty by consigning the mortal body of our comrade to the sheltering bosom of mother earth in Hazelwood cemetery.

"Comrade Watson was successful in every vocation and enterprise and we are glad to pay tribute to his creditable achievements worked out by him in his long, useful and patriotic life, which closed when he had attained his allotted three score and ten. Doctor Watson was thoroughly honest. No taint of the least lack of integrity has or ever can stain his life or character. His word was as good as his bond with surety. He amassed a fair fortune which was his own by the labor of his mind and hands. He was never guilty of the oppression of any man. He was a liberal supporter of the church and a very substantial contributor to every public enterprise. His life has been one of great credit to himself, his family, his community, to this state and the state of his birth. He lived the life of a gentleman and died the death of a Christian."

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