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Carroll County Biographies


The more eastern states have contributed generously of their enterprising citizens to make up the Commonwealth of Illinois. Many coming west in search of newer conditions have found here, especially in fertile Carroll county, an ideal home, and settling down, have turned their attention to improving the locality thus selected. Among those who owe their birth to Maryland, but who are now among the representative people of Carroll county, is Otho Watson, of Hickory Grove, Mt. Carroll township, who resides on section 21. He was born in Washington county, Md., February 23, 1844, being a son of Mathias and Sarah (Roullet) Watson, natives of Washington county, Md. Mr. Watson was a shoemaker by trade, and also farmed. In the fall of 1844, he brought his family to Carroll county, by water from Wheeling, W. Va., to Savanna, and from there drove to Mt. Carroll. Eventually settlement was made on a farm in the southeastern part of Woodlawn township, and Mr. Watson walked to Dixon to enter the land. Later he acquired more until he was a large property owner. He and his oldest son grubbed and cleared the land, and he enjoyed the distinction of being one of the fastest working harvest hands in Carroll county, as he could cradle over 100 schocks of grain a day. Later he sold his farm, settling in Mt. Carroll, where he worked at his trade for a number of years. Politically, a Republican, he was always interested in local affairs, and was assessor for several terms. Well liked by all who knew him, he never made enemies. Early in life he and his wife were members of the United Brethren Church, but later became Dunkards. Mr. and Mrs. Watson had eleven children, of whom Otho was the fifth in order of birth. Two died in infancy, and the others lived until the youngest was over fifty years of age. Those living are: Otho; William, a railroad engineer, who was connected with the service for over half a century, resides at Excelsior, Minn; Richard, who is farmer of Morrison, Ill.; Mary, who became Mrs. Joseph Spealman of Chadwick, Ill.; Daniel, who was a Civil War veteran, and railroad engineer, resided at Toledo, O., where he died November, 1907, aged sixty-six years; Franklin, who is a horseman of Chadwick, Ill.; Sarah, who is Mrs. William Robbe of Mt. Carroll; Reuben, who was circuit clerk for three terms, died in office in 1904, aged fifty-one years, and Elizabeth, who is the wife of Jacob Kline, of Morrison, Ill.

Otho Watson was educated in the district schools of his neighborhood, and remained on the farm until August 16, 1862, when he enlisted for service during the Civil War, in Company C, Ninety-second Illinois Volunteer Infantry, which later became mounted infantry, and still later regular cavalry. Mr. Watson was with General Sherman on his famous southern campaign, and participated in all in thirty battles and skirmishes, and carried dispatches through eastern Tennessee for three month, thus seeing the most dangerous kind of service. At the close of the war, he was mustered out, in July, 1865, and returned to Mt. Carroll where he found employment for several years, as a farm hand. Following this, he rented his father’s farm for two years. Until 1889, he continued to be a renter, then bought a farm of 120 acres in York township, remaining on it for four years, when he sold, again renting four years. He then bought ninety-one acres on section 22, Mt. Carroll township, but sold it in August, 1911, although he had moved off the farm in 1906, since which time he has resided at Wacker or Hickory Grove. In politics, he like his father, is a Republican, and religiously is a Dunkard.

On December 9, 1867, Mr. Watson was married to Sarah Reed, born in Wayne county, O., July 1, 1844, daughter of William and Mary (Buckmaster) Reed, natives of Ohio. They came to Carroll county, Ill., in June, 1846, locating in Woodland township, but in 1859, went to Missouri. With the outbreak of the Civil War, they returned to Woodland township, where Mrs. Reed died in 1871, and Mr. Reed, in 1873. They were parents of eleven children, of whom Mrs. Watson was the fourth in order of birth. Mr. and Mrs. Watson became the parents of six children, three of whom survive: William F., who was born August 9, 1871, lives in Emmet county, Ia.; Alzina, who is Mrs. Thomas Rush, lives in Mt. Carroll township, and was born June 23, 1876; while Garfield M., who was born October 4, 1880, lives at Savanna, Ill., being a railroad engineer. After a long and useful life, Mr. Watson is now enjoying the results of labors well directed, and has the confidence and respect of a wide circle of warm and personal friends.

Contributed by Carol Parrish
Historical Encyclopedia of IL and History of Carroll Co. Vol. II, Munsell Publishing Co. 1913, p. 920-921

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