Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens
HENRY T. WATTS. Restlessness causes many of us to leave our parental halls and seek our fortunes in distant lands. Some people feel this wanderlust spirit so strongly that they have no control over it. Offer to them whatever inducements you please--wealth, honor, a pleasant home--they will not yield to them, but rather struggle against the hardships which the building up of a new domicile in a foreign land implies. It is exactly this hardship that attracts them. They dislike nothing more than the monotony of a well-regulated life, and consider themselves well repaid for their troubles by the charms which ever-changing enterprises offer them. Another cause for emigration is the attraction which another occupation holds out to the new-comer. It is the outcome of the excellent and infallible law of supply and demand. These are doubtless some of the reasons that have brought millions of Europeans to America, among them being the Watts family, of which Henry T. Watts, foreman of the air room at the Frisco's North Side shops, Springfield, is a creditable representative.
Mr. Watts was born in London, England. December 18, 1868. He is a son of Robert Watts, a native of Summersetshire, his birth having occurred near the town of Yoeville, England, and there he grew to manhood, was educated and married. He was there engaged in wool buying until he emigrated with his family to the United States, in 1872, having first traveled through Canada, and located in St. Louis, Missouri, where he took up the carpenter's trade and worked as a journeyman. After remaining in' St. Louis ten years he removed to Springfield, in 1882, where he followed carpentering, contracting and building for a number of years; also worked as coach carpenter and bridge builder for the Frisco railroad for many years. His death occurred at his home here in 1908 at the age of sixty-eight years, and he was buried in Hazelwood cemetery. He was a member of St. John's Episcopal church in England, but after coming to Springfield he united with the Baptist church. His wife, who was known in her maidenhood as Emily Baker, was born, reared and educated in the same locality in England of which he was a native. She is residing in Springfield with her unmarried daughter at their home on Sherman street, and she will be seventy-two years of age on July 4, 1915. To these parents the following children were born: Alice, Mollie, Bessie, Henry T., Frederick, Minnie and Frances.
Henry T. Watts was four years old when his parents brought him to America. He spent his boyhood in St. Louis and received a common school education, which was very limited, for he went to work when only nine years of age, and has supported himself since that time, his record being one of self-reliance, grit and unswerving perseverance, and he is deserving of much credit for what he has accomplished. When a boy he worked for the newspaper known as the Springfield Southwest, the name of which was later changed to the Southwester. He held the position of "printer's devil" for three years, then worked as pressman for some time at the plant of the Springfield Patriot, and later was pressman on the Springfield Republican. As pressman he turned out the first daily paper in Springfield, in the building opposite the Metropolitan Hotel on College street. He remained in the employ of the Republican five or six years. From there he went to Johnstown, Pennsylvania, in 1886, and was there during the memorable flood, then went to Pittsburgh, but later returned to Johnstown. He subsequently worked as machinist at Rankin, Pennsylvania, with the Braddock Wite Company, and learned his trade there. Returning to Springfield on a visit, he accepted a position at his trade in the Frisco's North Side shops, first being under instructions, then worked during the year of 1888 as regular machinist, and continued as journeyman for sixteen or seventeen years, when he was transferred to the round-house as air brake inspector in the North Side shops, which position he held for four years, then was promoted to foreman of the air room there, in July, 1909, and is still holding this position, and discharging his duties in an able and acceptable manner. He has ten men under his direction. They do repair work for the entire system.
Mr. Watts lives at 1352 Clay street, where he bought a lot and had a neat dwelling erected according to his own plans. He was married in 1880, to Minnie Sterling, a daughter of John and Mary (Shepard) Sterling. Her father is a farmer near Crocker, Missouri. She grew up in this state and, received a common school education.
The union of our subject and wife has been without issue.
Politically, Mr. Watts is a Republican. He is prominent in fraternal circles, being, a member of the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, the Royal Arch, the Blue Lodge, the White Shrine and the Order of the Eastern Star, also the
Woodmen of the World, the Loyal Order of Moose and the International Association of Machinists.
Springfield-Greene County Library