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

WILLIAM R. WATSON. One of the most enterprising of Greene count agriculturists is William R. Watson, now living practically retired in Springfield. He believed from the outset of his career that the "wisdom of yesterday is sometimes the folly of today," and that while the methods of our ancestors in tilling the soil were all right in their day, yet in the twentieth century we have been compelled to adopt new methods and farm along different lines, in view of the fact that conditions of climate, soil, grains, etc., have changed since the days of the pioneers. Mr. Watson has been a close observer of modern methods and is a student at all times of whatever pertains to his chosen life work and he has therefore met with encouraging success all along the line, and while comparatively young took his place among the leading farmers and stock raisers of a locality noted for its fine farms and adroit husbandmen.

Mr. Watson was born in Robberson township, Greene county, Missouri, July 11,1854. He is a son of Spencer and Margaret (Holloway) Watson, both natives of Tennessee. The mother was a daughter of Minter Holloway, an old settler in Tennessee. The parents of our subject grew to maturity in their native state and there received the usual limited educations in the country schools of those early days and they were married in their home locality, continuing to reside there until the spring of 1852, when they made the overland journey to Greene county, Missouri, arriving here on May 10th. They bought and entered land in Robberson township, which they developed into a good farm by hard persistent work and there they resided until December 5, 1866, when they removed to Cass township, this county, and there the death of the father occurred on June 20, 1887, being born on December 9, 1823. He was a Southern sympathizer during the war between the states but he was not in the service. Politically he was a Democrat, and he held membership in Wesley Chapel Methodist Episcopal church, South.

William R. Watson, of this sketch, grew to manhood on the home farm where he worked hard when a boy, and during the winter months he attended the district schools, entered Drury College in 1877 and in 1878 took up his studies at Morrisville College in Polk county. After leaving school he began his life work as a teacher and for ten consecutive years followed this profession with much success in the schools of Greene county, then began his career as farmer on his own land in Cass township. Working hard, looking well to details and being on the alert for new and better methods of doing things he prospered with advancing years and he is now owner of a well-improved and productive farm of six hundred and ninety acres in Cass township, on which is to be seen a large residence and a group of substantial outbuildings. Here he has long carried on general farming and stock raising on an extensive scale, making a specialty of the mule business. He is at present making his home on Benton avenue, Springfield, owning a cozy residence there. He left the farm on August 26, 1911, his object being that his children might have better school facilities.

Mr. Watson was married on October 12, 1884, to Laura Boston, a daughter of Thomas Y. Boston, an old settler of Cass township, and a prosperous farmer and well-known citizen in the northern part of the county. Our subject began housekeeping on a sixty-two acre farm near Harold, November 6 1884. Our subject's first wife died on March 3, 1889; she was the mother of two children, the second of whom died in infancy; it was named Olga: the other, Nannie, was born December 26, 1885, who married Ray Chumm, lives in Carthage. On September 25, 1890, Mr. Watson took for his second wife Clara Boston, a sister of his first wife. To this second union six children have been born, namely: Agatha, born on August 9, 1891, who lives at home, was graduated from Drury College in June, 1915, with the degree of Bachelor of Arts; Minnie, born on February 10, 1893. Willie, born on December 16, 1895; Pauline, born October 7, 1897, and Florence, born on February 19, 1899, are all attending the Springfield high school; Helen E., born on July 12, 1906, died when four years old.

Politically, Mr. Watson is a Democrat but has never been especially active in public affairs. He is a Royal Arch Mason, a member of Ash Grove Chapter, Blue Lodge membership, O'Sullivan Lodge No. 7, Free and Accepted Masons, at Walnut Grove; he also belongs to the Modern Woodmen lodge at Cave Spring. The family are members of the Methodist Episcopal church, South, at Pearl, Cass township. , Personally, he is a well-educated, well-read gentleman, with correct views in all the relations of life.

Mr. Watson is especially proud of the time spent in the interest of the public schools of Greene county. He enjoys the distinction of being the oldest member, in point of service, of any school board in Greene county. He has always been a man to whom any deserving teacher could come for advice and sympathy, for, being an old teacher he has always known the needs and ambitions of those in this profession. As chairman of the school board he put his energy and zeal into the work and, placed the Pearl district school at the head of the list of schools of Greene county, which position it held until he left the district and ceased giving his attention to the rural schools.

Although Mr. Watson paid more taxes than any other citizen of his school district he always advocated and voted for the constitutional limit for school purposes.


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