Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens
Lawrence County Pennsylvania 1897

PROF. JAMES A. WATSON,*

[p. 662] a respected and honored school-teacher of Lawrence County, who is most highly esteemed for his exceptional success in matters educational, and who for six years was superintendent of schools of the county, is living on his farm in Wilmington township, near Fayetteville, but has not given up altogether his vocation as an educator for the calling of a farmer. He comes from a good, respectable family of agriculturists, who have given material assistance in the developing of Lawrence County.

The great-grandfather of our subject, John Watson, was born east of the mountains and removed to Fayetteville in 1811, where he engaged in agricultural pursuits, and made his home on the Whereham farm of 150 acres. This property, when he took possession of it, could hardly be called a farm, for it was as yet almost unimproved and a dense forest covered the greater part of it; under the supervision of our subject's worthy ancestor, the trees were felled and the soil gradually and slowly made ready for the growth of crops. He then bought the land, which is now owned and farmed by Prof. Watson. It was here that death came to him suddenly and without warning in 1826, when he was aged sixty-five years; he happened to be driving a yoke of oxen attached to a wagon, and in some manner was thrown from the vehicle upon a rock in the roadway, and his neck broken. His wife, who was a Miss Wilson of Juniata Co., Pa., bore him three childrenóDr. William of Bedford Springs, Hugh, a school-teacher, and James, the grandfather of our subject.

The grandfather, James Watson, spent most of his life near Fayetteville, and his occupation for a number of years was the operation of a distillery, which he constructed himself. Upon his father's decease, he bought the interests of the other heirs to the homestead and made the old place his home until death, supporting himself and providing for the wants of his family by cultivating the farm that his father had tilled before him. In 1835 he was elected to the position of sheriff of Lawrence County in which position he acquitted himself with credit, making himself generally feared by the evil-doers. Late in life he married Catherine Douglass, and the members of their family were: John, deceased; William J., the father of our subject; Robert; James: and Catherine.

Prof. James Watson, in whom the interest of this sketch centers, is a graduate of Westminster College, and also of the Edinboro State Normal School and Grove City College, where he pursued his studies until he had completed his education and fitted himself for his chosen profession of teaching. In 1890 his work was given the prominence that was the fruit of untiring toil and endeavor to fulfill his duties as an educator, and he was elected superintendent of the county schools, holding this position for six years. He exhibited marked qualifications for the office, and added during his term of office much to the efficiency of the schools throughout the county. He is popular not only among his fellow-educators and teachers but also among the general public, which is ever ready to appreciate honest endeavor and superior work.

In 1896 Prof. Watson bought one hundred acres of land near Fayetteville, where he has established his home, but does not anticipate entering largely into agricultural pursuits. His wife Elizabeth, daughter of John Graham, left him at her death three daughters, named: Anna, the wife of G. E. Daniels; Nellie, who married M. D. McCarthy; and Margaret, the wife of C. W. Wilson. Some time had elapsed after Mrs. Watson's demise when the Professor chose an estimable lady, Mary Bingham, daughter of James Bingham, to preside over his household and share his fortunes. Prof. Watson is a sturdy Republican, politically, and is enabled by his position to work intelligently for the party. He is a man of great force of character, decided in his opinions, and when he is convinced that he is right, he expresses his views fearlessly. He has been a great reader and deep thinker, and his large experience, both in the field of the educator and in general business relations, have tended to great self-reliance and stamina, which are the most admirable qualities in a man's possession. He and his family are faithful members of the church of their choice, the Presbyterian. Having made for himself a place in the difficult life-work he has undertaken, Prof. Watson commands the respect of the entire community and is regarded as an authority on matters educational.


Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens Lawrence County Pennsylvania
Biographical Publishing Company, Buffalo, N.Y., 1897

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