John Watson and wife Martha (Unknown) sold four hundred and four (404) acres of land on Beaver Dam Creek, York County, S.C. on December 22, 1809. John’s father, Samuel, died November 10, 1810. Samuel’s will names John as a co-executor of his estate. It can be assumed John and his family left South Carolina for Tennessee sometime after the death of his father. His entire family traveled with him from South Carolina to Tennessee. No positive proof of John’s whereabouts is available until 1820 when he is listed as settling on Hardin Creek in Eastern Hardin County. Also listed as settling in nearby Wayne County at the same time is a brother-in-law, John Akin. John Akin was married to John Watson’s sister, Mary Watson Howe Akin. The Akin family had previously lived in Maury County, Tennesse prior to moving to this area. This indicates John could have lived in Maury County before settling in Hardin.
When John and Martha settled in Hardin County they built a large log cabin on the land not too distant from the Tennessee River. John had brought with him from South Carolina a large bible purchased in 1804 for ten dollars. It is in this bible that the records were recorded that provides the greatest and most important part in the beginning of the research for the history of the John Watson family.
Consistent in the Watson family was their
deep religious conviction. When
John left South Carolina he had obtained a note from the Bethel Church in York,
South Carolina, written on a small piece of paper, stating he was very worthy of
teaching the beliefs of the Church. By
1830, John was instrumental in organizing the first Methodist Church Hardin
County. The church was located in a
log building near his home. Watson’s
Church, later known as Watson’s Chapel. John
was also instrumental in establishing the Methodist religion in Savannah, after
the city was established.
The following contribution was made by Ashley Watson.
The Rev. John Watson
Transcribed by Ashley Watson from undated handwritten
(an explanation of the document is written on the back by
Dixie Exeline Smith and will follow the text of the memoir).
Arthur Allison (Al) Watson in History of Hardin Co,
Tenn writes: I have served the people six years as Justice of the Peace,
twelve years as County Surveyor, Ten years as Deputy County Court Clerk, ten
years as Clerk, and twelve years as County Judge.
Rev John Watson the first Methodist preacher in
this territory died in 1842. He had
acquired good property and had some slaves which he devised in his will but
those who were less than twenty on years of age were to be freed when they
reached 21 yrs. of age. The older
ones to be freed except he had 2 slave women to stay in bondage as long as his
wife lived but the wife died before the Dr died and a lawsuit resulted as to the
2 negro women in question but they were set free. This man, Watson had led a very useful life.
He was all the time financially able to not have to labor himself but he
labored through the week and preached on Sunday.
He gives his large Bible and his hymnbook to his son James L and directs his five sons in law to have a book or bible each.
Some one may want to know if this man was akin to the author of this book
(A.A. Watson). Yes, he was first
cousin to A.A.Watson’s grandfather, David Watson of Lincoln Co.
Note on the back side of paper)
Arthur Allison Watson (1858-1937) was my father John’s (1853-1915) brother, and wrote a column for the Savannah Courier for a number of years. Late in life he began a history of Hardin Co, but his house burned and he lost most of his notes in the fire and never completed his history. His daughter-in-law Susan (Stewart) Watson wife of his son Allen; began to help him reconstruct his history but he died before they could do much with it. This is the only page I have of her effort. I have about 30 of his newspaper column, “Bits of Hardin Co. History”
John moved to Hardin in 1817.
My uncle Al knew his Hardin County history and knew the Watson family
history better than any of the other members.
I was born in Hardin county near Savannah.
My family moved to Oklahoma in 1907 when I was twelve.