Captain Alexander M. Watson, of Pittsburg, and father of Captain William J. Watson, the postmaster of that city, whose history is given elsewhere in this volume, is one of the most prominent of the early pioneers to this section of Kansas. The Watson family has been leading participants in the business and public activities of Kansas since before the war, in many of the events of the terrible ante-bellum period, in the industrial and agricultural development subsequent thereto, and in the calm of prosperity and civic advancement of the past few years.
The family originated in Scotland and was of that hardy and thrifty stock. Captain A. M. Watson was born in Edinburg, Scotland, in 1836, a son of Matthew and Elixia A. (Macartney) Watson. Matthew Watson, with his entire family, emigrated from the land of the hills and heather in 1842, locating first in Canada, and in 1843 moved to Rochester, New York, where he lived till 1852. He returned to Canada for a short time, and in 1853 went to Michigan, and thence the family went further west to Livingston county, Illinois. In 1859 the family, with the exception of Alexander, emigrated to the territory of Kansas, locating on the "Neutral ground," about two miles north of Cato, in what is now Bourbon county, the present counties not being organized at that time; the place of their settlement is just a short distance north of where the north line of Crawford county now runs. Here Matthew Watson, assisted by his family, took up land and worked hard and finally made a productive and valuable ranch of six hundred and forty acres. The country was very sparsely settled at that time, savage men and animals and primitive conditions had not yielded and shrunk westward at the approach of the civilizing white man. The range was free and unfenced, and cattle had everywhere to roam. In 1872 Matthew Watson removed from this place to the northern part of Cherokee county, where he developed another fine farm, on which he lived until his death, in 1895. He was a fine character, an honor and an adornment to the early civilization of the state, and this with his Scotch sturdiness made him successful in his business affairs. His wife died in 1882.
Charles Watson, a brother of Captain Alexander, was associated with his father in these ranch and farm enterprises for a long period of years, and since his father's death he has been living in Pittsburg. He is a most interesting and entertaining old Kansas resident, and recalls many interesting and historical events that occurred during the years subsequent to the family's settlement here in 1859. He was born in Edinburg, Scotland, in 1837. He is one of the relicts of the devastating border warfare which was the most awful element of the Civil war. He enlisted August 24, 1861, in Company C, Sixth Kansas Cavalry, and served along the Missouri-Kansas line. On August 24, 1862, just a year after his enlistment, he was wounded at Coon Creek, near Carthage, Missouri, was taken to Fort Scott, where his leg was amputated below the knee. This disabled him for active army service, although he remained for some time in the ambulance corps.
Alexander M. Watson remained in Illinois after the rest of the family came to Kansas, and on December 10, 1861, enlisted, at Geneva, Illinois, as a private in Company D, Fifty-second Illinois Infantry, which joined the Army of the Tennessee under Grant. He fought at Fort Donelson, Shiloh, the siege of Corinth, Missionary Ridge, and numerous skirmishes. On December 25, 1863, his time having expired, he re-enlisted at Pulaski, Tennessee, in the same regiment. May 5, 1864, he joined Sherman's army at Chattanooga, participated in all the battles of the Atlantic campaign, and was at the battle of Altoona Pass. November 19, 1864, he was promoted to captain, and took his company through to the sea with Sherman, thence went north through the Carolinas to Goldsboro, and after Johnston's surrender accompanied the victorious army of Sherman to Washington, where he was at the head of his company in the grand review, being mustered out at Louisville, Kentucky, July 12, 1865.
In August, 1865, Captain Watson came to Kansas to join his wife, who had preceded him and had been staying through the war with his father's family. After remaining awhile with them in Bourbon county he came to Crawford county, and on February 1, 1866, took up a claim on Lightning creek, Osage township, about twelve miles west of where Pittsburg now stands, and here he developed a fine farm. He has the distinction of being one of the oldest living settlers of the county. He lived on his Crawford county place until 1869, then moved back to the old homestead in Bourbon county, trading off his farm in Crawford county to his brother Will. He later went to Parsons, Kansas, and was also in Emporia until 1876. He had some contracts on the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad which kept him busy until 1880, in which year he took up his residence in Pittsburg, which was then an incipient but rapidly developing town, and he has lived here ever since. He was foreman for the Kansas and Texas Coal Company for seven or eight years, although his time has been chiefly occupied as a contractor, and he has erected a number of buildings in the city. He is one of Crawford county's most highly esteemed old-time citizens, and has done his full share in promoting the useful enterprises of city and county. He was married on January 1, 1861, to Miss Sarah Jane Hadley, and she died at Emporia, Kansas, in 1876.Pages 569-572 from A Twentieth century history and biographical record of Crawford County, Kansas, by Home Authors; Illustrated. Published by Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, IL : 1905. 656 p. ill. Transcribed by Carolyn Ward, in November, 2003.
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