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WATKINS, David

David WATKINS, a well known citizen of Steuben township, has been a resident of Marshall county a period of sixty-three years. He is a native of Athens county, Ohio, born February 14, 1817, and is the son of Isaiah and Mary (DOUGLAS) WATKINS, both of whom were natives of Virginia, the former being of Welsh descent and the latter of Scotch. They were married, however, in Ohio, where they resided until the death of the husband and father, when, in 1834, the widow with three children, emigrated to Illinois, locating in Marshall county. One son, Jehiel, preceded the family, and had made a home here, and through his advice the remainder of the family came out. Jehiel, after remaining here twenty-five years, removed to Taylor county, Iowa. The family located within one mile of where David now lives, taking up a claim and improving a farm. Here the widow lived until called to her reward at the age of about eighty years. The three children coming with their mother were David, our subject; Mary J., who wedded Isaac TANQUARY, and removed with him to Livingston county, where he died in 1895; and where she still resides; and Lucinda, who married James TANQUARY, of Steuben township, who also died in 1895. She still resides in Steuben township.

On coming to this country the WATKINS were in very limited circumstances, and on the death of the mother David kept the family together until the marriage of his sisters. He commenced life for himself, working for ten dollars per month, using the wages obtained in payment of the home farm. He was twenty-eight years old before he felt that he could safely wed. He was then united in marriage with Eliza Jane HOSKINS, a daughter of Josiah HOSKINS, a pioneer of Steuben township. Immediately after the wedding ceremony he removed with his young bride to his present farm, the first one opened on the prairie. An industrious, hard working man, he settled right down to business, and from time to time added to his original purchase until he is now the possessor of about eight hundred acres of as fine land as lies within the borders of Marshall county. While carrying on general farming, if it can be said that he has made a specialty of any one line, it is that of a cattle grower, having at all times upon his place from one hundred to one hundred and fifty head of fine cattle. He is not what is usually termed a feeder of cattle, but raises a high grade of animals. Attending strictly to his business he has made a success in life.

In 1856, Mr. WATKINS was bereft of his wife, she dying leaving two children – Lucinda, who died at the age of sixteen; and Wesley, the present supervisor of Steuben township. Mr. WATKINS subsequently married Eliza Jane BREWSTER, of McDonough county, Illinois, who also died some twenty-seven years ago, leaving two children – Albert W., who married Mary Eva VanANTWERP, and lives on an adjoining farm to his father’s; and Eliza Jane, who is her father’s housekeeper. She was educated in music at Eureka college, and is a lady of rare attainments, a member of the order of the Eastern Star, well known and universally esteemed.

David WATKINS is in all respects a self-made man. His education, obtained in the old pioneer log school houses, was necessarily limited, but he has been a silent though a close observer of men and events, and is therefore a well-posted man. He is an attendant but not a member of any church. In his younger days he was quite a sportsman with gun and rod. He has always been an admirer and lover of a good horse, and yet loves to be astride of that noble animal. While nearing his four score years, he is yet in the enjoyment of fair health and is living in peace with all mankind. In politics he is a democrat, but never an office seeker.

Wesley WATKINS, the only son of David and Eliza Jane (HOSKINS) WATKINS, is a native of the manor born. His entire life has been spent in Marshall county, where he is well known and universally esteemed. He is the owner of a fine farm adjoining that of his father, known as the old John HOSKINS farm, Mr. HOSKINS having been his uncle. Growing to manhood in his native county, he was educated in its public schools. In politics he is a democrat, having early imbibed the principles of that party. He was first appointed supervisor to fill the unexpired term of John HAYDEN, deceased, and has twice been re-elected, now serving his third term as a member of the county board. For some time he has been a member of the democratic central committee of the county, representing his township, and usually is a delegate to the county conventions, where he exercises considerable influence. Fraternally he is a Mason, a member of Sparland Lodge, No. 441, and Sparland Chapter, also the order of the Eastern Star.

Extracted March 2011 by Norma Hass from The Biographical Record of Bureau, Marshall and Putnam Counties, Illinois, 1896.

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