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Watson Families, Mercer County, Illinois

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Alternate Spellings - None Found

Links - Ballard, Jackson, Epperly

Contacts - Nancy Johns, descendant of James and Hannah Jackson Watson provided us with much information. If you feel you are related to Nancy through this family contact us on the About Us page and we will forward correspondence to her.

Early Watson Records

The various Watsons we have found in Mercer County at an early date include: 1840 Township 14N Range 1W (future Rivoli Twp) Abner Watson, 1 male 60-70 and 1 female 40-50. 1840 Township 14N Range 4W (future Millersburg Township) James Watson, 2 males 20-30, 2 males under 5, and 1 female 20-30 (see below for 1850 census). 1850 Township 15 North Range 4 West (Future Duncan Township) #688 William Watson, 46, stone cutter, born England, Jane B, 40, born England, and Edward, 17, laborer, born England. 1850 Township 14North Range 5West (future New Boston Township) with an Amos Prouty family: William Watson, 19, laborer, born Ireland.

There is also a curious item in the Rivoli Township Section of the History of Mercer County 1882 (page 746). It indicates that a pioneer Revolutionary soldier named Abram Watson came to Mercer County in about 1838 and gives a fairly detailed account of his war service. It also tells us he lived before that in Warren County and married his second wife there. He supposedly died in May 1847 and was buried on his land claim on Section 29, but was later removed to the Woodhams cemetery and buried with his wife. We have searched what records we could and find absolutely nothing to substantiate any of this story. If anyone has any information on this Abram Watson we would appreciate hearing from them (email on AboutUs page.)

There were also some other early land records: On 11/29/1817 John S. Watson by military warrant obtained the SE Quarter of Sec 32 Township 13N Range 3W and on 11/18/1817 William Watson obtained a military warrant for the SE Quarter Section 24 T13N R2W. For what these military warrants were and why these two Watsons actually did not live in Mercer County (and never even went to Mercer County) see our Part 1 History of Mercer County. At a later date when Mercer was settled we find Samuel Watson who on 6/15/1854 obtained the SWSE of Section 17 T13N R4W by purchase for $1.25 per acre for the 40 acres. We do not know who this Samuel Watson was as he is not found in either the 1850 or 1860 census so had evidently left Mercer by 1860. He might have been the Samuel Watson who married Lucinda Widnier 8/25/1859 in Henderson County which lies just south of the township in Mercer where he purchased property, but the name is too common to know for sure.

As explained on our home page the subject of this web site is New Boston and Eliza Townships but when there are multiple families of the same surname in other townships we include what information we can locate so that relationships (or not) may be determined between the families. When we receive information on other townships from researchers we include it as well to help in the search for connections.

James and Hannah Jackson Watson

This is apparently the family given above in Township 14 North Range 4 West in 1840 as the two small boys appear to be John and Samuel Watson, sons of James and Hannah. We do not know the identity of the second male age 20-30 or if he is related to James or Hannah.

James Watson married Hannah Jackson 9 March 1835 in New Jersey. The marriage date as given by Nancy Johns appears to be correct as their oldest child, John, was born about 1836. We are relatively certain that Hannah was a sister of George, John, and Joseph Jackson of Mercer County since they were all born in England and were living side by side in future Millersburg Township in 1850. Hannah also named two of her sons John and George.

Hannah Jackson Watson is found in 1850 in Township 14North Range 4West in Mercer County (next to probable brothers George and John Jackson): Hannah Watson, 31, born England; John, 14, born Il; Samuel, 11, Il; Thomas, 10, Il; James, 7, Il; Sarah, 6, Il; Mary, 3, Il; George 10/12, Il; Edmund Farwell, 32, farmer, Pa. Father James was not at home and perhaps prospecting in California?

In the mid-1850's Hannah and children joined James Watson in Bodega, Sonoma County, California: 1860 Bodega Sonoma Co Ca #297 James Watson, 58, farmer, Ireland (Note James and Hannah's ages off by 10 yr); Anna, 53, England; James 17, Il; Sarah, 15, Il; Mary 13, Il; Hannah, 6, Ca; Josephine, 5, Ca; John Watson, 71, Ireland; Milton Watson, 20 farm laborer NY (note he matches the age of son Thomas in 1850); H. Barnett, 25, NY; D. Stephenson, 30, Ireland. An interesting sidelight is that John and Sarah Shields Jackson had a daughter Emma born in California and may have gone to California with James and Hannah and then returned to Mercer County (see Jackson link.) In the 1870 census in Sonoma County the ages of James and Hannah are shown correctly and they have added a son Valentine, age 7, born California. They have a number of employees and a minister and family living with them. Son Samuel is not with the family in 1860 and perhaps had returned to Mercer County though we do not find him there nor in adjoining counties in the census.

Samuel and Mary Ballard Watson

Samuel Watson married Mary Ballard, daughter of Robertson and Sarah Ballard, on 15 August 1865 in Mercer County. They are found with Mary's father, Robertson Ballard in the 1870 census in New Boston Township: #70 Robertson Ballard, 57, farmer, born Va; Thomas Ballard, 22, farmer, In; Charles Ballard, 15, In; Samuel Watson, 32, farmer, Il; Mary Watson, 28, Il; Rettie (daughter), 4, born Illinois.
By 1880 Samuel and Mary Watson had moved on to Buffalo, Nebraska: 1880 Dist 152 Gibbon, Buffalo, Ne, #88, Samuel, 42, farmer, born Il; Mary, 38, In; Reta, 14, Il; Floy (daughter),5 Il. In 1900 they are still in Gibbon, Nebraska: #263 Samuel Watson, born Feb 1838, 62, married 35 years, born Il; Mary, Aug 1842, 57, 4 children born, 2 living, born In.

William and Jane Bertha Watson

William and Jane B. Watson are found with son Edward in future Duncan Township in 1850 as listed in the first paragraph above. In 1860 they are found still in Duncan Township: #2535 William Watson, 56, stonecutter, born England; Jane B., 51, born England; and Thomas, age 30, stone mason, born England. Not too far away was son Edward with a new family. William died in Mercer County and is buried in Oak Ridge Cemetery: Died January 12, 1889, age 84 years 11 mo 19 ds. Next to him is a marker for Jane Bertha Watson: Died and was buried at Pomona Ca July 12, 1887, aged 77 years. Son Edward (1832-1904) and wife Nancy (1831-1924) are buried next to them Edward had married Nancy Epperly on 10/23/1853 in Mercer County. Edward and Nancy had a daughter Alice who married Daniel Farmer 11 December 1884 in Mercer County. Daughter Alice Watson Farmer (1866-1933) and grandson Watson W. Farmer (1886-1933) are also buried next to William and Jane.

Edward and Nancy Epperly Watson

Edward Watson married Nancy Epperly, daughter of William and Alice Epperly on 23 October 1853 in Mercer County. They are found in Duncan Township in 1860: #2548 Edward Watson, 28, farmer, born England; Nancy J., 28, In; Sarah #, 6, Il; Alice J, 4, Il. With them is Lenora Landon, age 15, born Illinois. Lenora is evidently daughter of Elizabeth Epperly who married Edmund Landon on 4/14/1839 in Mercer County. We find nothing further on the Landons.

In 1870 Edward and Nancy are found in Duncan Township: #104 Edward J. Watson, 39, England; Nancy, 39, Indiana; Sarah, 16, Il; and Alice J., 14, Il. Alice J. Watson married Daniel W. Farmer 12/11/1884 in Mercer County. He is mentioned in the 1882 History of Mercer County as Professor Daniel Farmer, of Normal, Il, principal of Millersburg school. He is found in 1880 in Normal, McLean, Il as son of Daniel and Susannah Farmer and at that time was a student, born Ohio. There is a marriage for a Sarah and a Sallie Watson so we do not know for sure which is the correct one.

In 1880 Edward and Nancy are in Duncan Township: #54 Edward Watson, 49, farmer, born England, parents born England; Nancy, 49, born In, parents born Virginia; Alice, 23, Il, Eng, In; Robert, 6, Il, Eng, In; Frank Watson, 21, servant, farm Laborer, born Il, father England, mother Virginia; William Watson, 75, born England, parents born England; Jane, 72, born England, parents born England.

In 1900 Edward and Nancy are in Duncan Township District 68: #6 Edward Watson, born Jan 1832, age 68, farmer, married 47 years, born England, parents born England; Nancy J., Dec 1831, 68, 2 children born, 2 living, In, parents born Va; Alice J. Farmer,widow, born Mar 1857, 1 born, 1 living; Watson Farmer, 13, born July 1886, Il, parents born Il; at school. Since Nancy says only two children born this places some question on the 1880 record for Robert, age 6.


10/12/2008 Additions and corrections to the James and Hannah Jackson family and William and Jane Bertha Watson families. Our apologies to Nancy Johns as we had carried her name as Nancy Jones.
10/4/2008 Added a paragraph about Abram Watson, a Revolutionary War soldier who did live in Mercer County according to the 1882 History of Mercer County.