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The Watson Family of Marion County WV

James O. Watson

James O. Watson

The immigrant ancestors of the Watson family, so numerous in West Virginia and in the vicinity of Fairmont, Marion county, at this time, were James Watson and John Haymond. The Watsons and Haymonds have been conspicuous names in Maryland and West Virginia and have had much to do with the development of the country and in making laws and enforcing the same in several commonwealths in this country. Among its members have been revolutionary soldiers, Indian fighters, and those who went forth to do battle in the days of the civil war. In each position in which they were placed with responsibility resting upon them, they have proved themselves worthy the name of pioneer, soldier and statesman.

(I) James Watson, immigrant, was born in Scotland, and with three brothers came to this country prior to 1740 and settled in St. Mary’s county, Maryland. He married Mary Greene, a relative, family tradition says a sister of General Nathaniel Greene, of revolutionary fame.

(II) James Greene, son of the Scotch emigrant, James Watson, was born in St. Mary’s county, Maryland, February 23, 1756, died in Monongalia county, Virginia, March 8, 1834. He married, about 1785, Ann (Dyson) Swan, a widow (daughter of John and Lydia Dyson), born September 6, 1759, died in Monongalia county, August 27, 1817. Children: Margaret (Cox), born 1787; Thomas, mentioned below; Henry, 1790; Mary Greene, 1792; James Dent, 1794. The father of this family was a planter and slave owner, and a noted Indian fighter. He was a member of the Church of England.

(III) Thomas, second child and first son of James Greene Watson, was born October 2, 1788, near Port Tobacco, Charles county, Maryland, died near Smithtown, Monongalia county, Virginia, September, 1857. He married Rebecca Haymond, born in Harrison county, Virginia, March 21, 1796, died in Monongalia county, Virginia, April 4, 1845. Children: James Otis, mentioned below; William Hay- mond, 1818, died 1862; Thomas Greene, 1821, died 1865; Cynthia Ann, 1824, died 1882; Margaret Cassandria, 1826, died 1835; Joseph Calder, 1832, died 1887; Frances Rebecca, 1834, died 1883, married a Moderwell; Martha Dent, 1837, died 1905; Herain Augustus, 1839, died 1887. The father, Thomas Watson, was a civil engineer and county surveyor. In his religious faith he adhered to that of the Episcopal church. The mother, Rebecca (Haymond) Watson, was the daughter of William and Cynthia Carroll Haymond. William Haymond was born near Rockville, Maryland, June 11, 1771, died at “Palatine Hill,” Virginia (now West Virginia), July 8, 1848. Married, March 13, 1793, Cynthia Carroll, born March 29, 1774. Her mother was a Miss Heath, of Virginia, and her father was James Carroll, of Maryland. William Haymond was the son of William Haymond, born January 4, 1740, in Frederick county, Maryland, near Rockville, died at Quiet Dell, Harrison county, Virginia, November 12, 1821, and Cassandria (Clelland) Haymond, born October 25, 1741, died December 23, 1788. William Haymond Sr., when only fifteen years of age, was with General Braddock’s army on the march to Fort Duquesne (defeated on Monongahela river, July 9, 1755); was with General Forbes in 1758, in successful expeditions against Fort Duquesne. In 1759 he enlisted in Virginia in a company commanded by Colonel George Washington. Company was disbanded at Fort Lewis, near Staunton, Virginia, February 24, 1762. In May, 1773, he moved from Maryland to the district of West Augusta, Virginia, settling near what is now Morgantown. Upon the formation of Monon- galia county, in 1776, he was a justice of the peace, deputy surveyor, coroner and sheriff. At the beginning of the revolution he was appointed captain of militia, serving at Prickett’s Fort, 1777, promoted to major in 1781, which office he held until the close of the war. The father of William Haymond was John Haymond, born in England, coming to America prior to 1734.

(IV) James Otis, eldest child of Thomas and Rebecca (Haymond) Watson, was born May 17, 1815, near Benton’s Ferry (now Marion county), Virginia, died at Fairmont, June 12, 1902. He was educated by teachers at home, later attending private school in Morgantown.

He was the real pioneer in West Virginia coal development and will certainly always have a place in history as the “Father of the Coal Industry” of the Upper Monongahela Valley. After the first railroad was constructed through Fairmont, in 1852, he immediately opened up the first coal mine, called the American Coal Company, in what is now the city limits of Fairmont. He pushed the enterprise along by his energy, tact and keen foresight, and finally before his death witnessed the formation of the Fairmont Coal Company. In 1852 Mr. Watson built a suspension bridge over the waters of the Monongahela river, connecting Fairmont and Palatine. When asked by a large coal corporation’s representative from Baltimore, then competitors of the Watson coal mining industry, how it was that he could make money and successfully operate his mines, when they had difficulty in making a profit in their large mining operations, Father Watson remarked that while “You have large offices in the east, a salaried president, secretaries, clerks, and a mule boss and mine boss, I am my own president, my own secretary and my own mule boss and mine boss, and carry my office in my hat.” This but illustrates the sturdy, practical character of Mr. Watson, who knew every department of his large coal industry, from the lowest to the highest, and by dispensing with unnecessary clerks and officers, he was enabled to realize a handsome profit annually, in other words he cut expenses to the minimum. Politically Mr. Watson was a Democrat and held the offices of clerk of the circuit court, county surveyor and other local positions, always taking keen interest in the general welfare of his city, county and state. He was not a member of any clubs or secret fraternities, but in church connection was of the Episcopal denomination.

He married, July 7, 1841, in what was then called Middleton, but now Fairmont, Matilda Lamb, born July 13, 1822, daughter of Leonard and Donaldson Lamb, who were married February 13,

1818. Leonard Lamb came from Massachusetts to Monongalia county, Virginia, to contract iron ore furnaces. Children of Mr. and Mrs. Lamb: Sylvanus, Matilda (Watson), Verlinda (Guseman), James D., Ann (Higginbotham), John B., Henry C., Mary Virginia (Westfall), Caroline and Moses E. Lamb. Children of James Otis and Matilda (Lamb) Watson: 1. William Henry, mentioned below. 2. Caroline Margaret, born April 25, 1844; married Aretas Brooks Fleming, September 7, 1865; children: Robert Willie Fleming, deceased; Gypsy F. (Mrs. Ward) ; Ida Watson (Mrs. Miller, deceased) ; Virginia Watson; George Watson; Brooks Fleming. 3. Ida May, born July 25, 1846. 4. Sylvanus Lamb, mentioned below. 5. George Thomas, born June 29, 1851, deceased; married Margaret Virginia Fleming, October 17, 1872. 6. Lucy Lee, born February 9, 1854. 7. Mary Rebecca, born September 1, 1856; married Conrad Albert Sipe, November 28, 1878; children: Frances Hogue (Mrs. Hutton), Lucy Anderson, Mary Watson. 8. James Edwin, mentioned below. 9. Frank Ellsworth, born February 18, 1861. 10. Clarence Wayland, mentioned below.

(V) William Henry, son of James Otis and Matilda (Lamb) Watson, was born August 11, 1842. He received a practical education, and in later life turned his attention to farming, in which line of work he has been highly successful. He married, April 29, 1869, Molly Grove. Children: Frederick, deceased; Anna Grove (Mrs. Rohrbaugh) ; Margaret; Mary (Mrs. Lowe) ; Henry W.; Caroline (Mrs. Peddicord) ; Ruth, deceased.

(V) Sylvanus Lamb, son of James Otis and Matilda (Lamb) Watson, was born in Fairmont, West Virginia, December 27, 1848. He obtained a public school education and was reared on a farm, his first work off of the farm being in the mines known as the American Mine, owned by his father, the first operated in West Virginia. He was also engaged five years in the cattle business on his own account. The better years of his life, however, have been spent in the coal mining industry. He is now treasurer of the Consolidation Coal Company, which is the largest bituminous coal company in the world. He is also interested in the electric lines, being president of the Fairmont & Clarksburg Railroad Company, the greatest electric line in the state. He is president of the Fairmont Gas Company, which does an extensive business. He has always been active in politics, being a leader in West Virginia in many movements of his party, the Democratic, but has always refused public office. In his church relation he is an Episcopalian. He married, March 25, 1875, Lydia Jane, daughter of Matthew Fleming, of Fairmont, West Virginia (see Fleming genealogy in this workLINK). Children: James Otis, mentioned below; Albert Thurman, mentioned below; Elizabeth Crane (Mrs. Randall) ; George Thomas, mentioned below; Ida Watson, deceased.

(V) James Edwin, son of James Otis and Matilda (Lamb) Watson, was born at Fairmont, West Virginia, January 8, 1859. He secured his education at the Fairmont public schools and Eastman’s Business College, Poughkeepsie, New York. He is a coal operator. He spent the major part of his life in the coal industry. In 1885 he took charge of the J. O. Watson coal interests which practically contained all the coal operations in this district, at that time, and was at the head of same until his health failed in 1899, about which time he gave up the active management of the coal business. He was one of the original stockholders and promoters of the Montana Coal & Coke Company and before the F. M. & P. railroad was completed he with others purchased small tracts of coal at Montana, and on July 7, 1886, with a few men, with J. C. Gaskill in charge, commenced grading for necessary side tracks. This mine was the first to successfully make coke in this field, and the development of same was practically the beginning of the development and making of the Fairmont region. On July 1, 1890, he bought at forced sale in front of the court house the entire property belonging to the West Fairmont & Marion Consolidated Coal & Coke Company which then owned the West Fairmont, Marion and Shaft mines, all three of which had been abandoned at that time, and the Marion and Shaft mines allowed to fill up with water. He then organized the West Fairmont Coal & Coke Company, and these mines have been worked successfully since. This same company purchased in August, 1894, what is known as the New England Mine, from the New England, Fairmont & Western Gas Coal Company. An expensive railroad and bridge across West Fork river had been built by this company who worked the mines a short time and then abandoned them, allowing the railroad and mine improvements to go to wreck; when bought by the West Fairmont Coal & Coke Company, the railroad was rebuilt, mines newly opened up, necessary and expensive improvements made, the town of New England built, and this mine now has the largest capacity of any single mine in Marion county.

He was also interested and a director in the Gaston Gas Coal Company and the Briar Hill Coal & Coke Company. These four companies were the nucleus for the formation of the Fairmont Coal Company (now the Consolidation Coal Company). He was one of the organizers of the Bank of Fairmont (now the National Bank of Fairmont) in 1895, and has been president of the institution since its organization. He is president of the Watson Company, which company owns the Watson Building in which is located the National Bank of Fairmont, the offices of the Consolidation and other coal companies and corporations, including the Fairmont & Clarksburg Traction Company, Fairmont Gas & Light Company, and Fairmont Chamber of Commerce. The Watson Company also own a large acreage of valuable real estate in the suburbs of the city of Fairmont. He is president of the Fairmont Development Company, Fairmont, West Virginia; Watson, Malone & Miller Company, Fairmont, West Virginia; the Watson Coal Company, which company owns valuable coal lands in the “Pocahontas District,” on lines of the Norfolk & Western railroad, in McDowell county, West Virginia, and are being operated by two different companies under lease, on royalty basis, from the Watson Coal Company. He is director in the following companies: The Ohley Coal Company (which company own a large tract of coal lands on the Cabin Creek branch of the Chesapeake & Ohio railroad, in Kanawha county, West Virginia, and is now being operated by four different companies, operating seven mines, on a royalty basis, under lease from the Ohley Coal Company),Fairmont & Clarksburg Traction Company, Fairmont Development Company, South Side Land Company, Watson Coal Company, Watson Company, Fairmont Gas & Light Company, the Consolidation Coal Company. Politically he is a Democrat. In church connection is of the Episcopal denomination.

He married Mattie Elizabeth Moderwell, September 1, 1890. Children: Sue Kearsley, Virginia Fleming, deceased; James Edwin, Otis Moderwell, deceased; Robert Lamb.

(V) Hon. Clarence Wayland Watson, present United States senator, son of James Otis and Matilda (Lamb) Watson, was born May 8, 1864, at Fairmont, West Virginia. He received a good education, beginning with the public schools of his native city, and next at the Fairmont State Normal School. He was busily engaged in coal mining and dealt in coal lands until 1893, when he commenced opening mines in conjunction with his brothers, which fact fitted him to take the place occupied by his brother, J. E. Watson, when his health failed. In 1900 he formed the Fairmont Coal Mining Company for the purpose of selling the output of the district, and in 1901 he with his associates purchased the companies forming the Fairmont Coal Company and later purchased a control of the Consolidation Coal Company from the Baltimore & Ohio Company, merging the Fairmont Coal Company and the Somerset Coal companies into the Consolidation Coal Company. He also bought a controlling interest in the Northwestern Fuel Company’s docks at Duluth and St. Paul; also the Metropolitan Coal Company’s docks, giving facilities on the Great Lakes as well as on the Atlantic seaboard, Boston, Providence, etc. He has many other business interests, including a stock farm with some of the finest horses in the world. Politically Mr. Watson is a Democrat and was elected to a seat in the United States senate in 1910 from West Virginia. His having been engaged all of his active life in business of great importance and used to dealing with corporations and associated with men high in authority and influence in the industrial world, he was naturally selected for this high position where he can best represent the interests of West Virginia, his native state.

Mr. Watson married, October 10, 1894, Minnie Lee Owings. Mr. and Mrs. Watson occupy the old Watson homestead whereon stands the original log house erected more than one hundred years ago, and still in a fine state of preservation. Nearby is their magnificent mansion within immense grounds.

(VI) James Otis (2), son of Sylvanus Lamb and Lydia Jane (Fleming) Watson, was born March 25, 1875. He was reared in Fairmont, where he attended the public schools, graduating from the high school and the State Normal of Fairmont. Later he entered the University of West Virginia and still later Harvard University. His youth was spent on his father’s farm, and when sixteen years of age he commenced working in vacations at the coal mines, and continued with the coal company as superintendent and assistant to president until 1903, when he engaged in business for himself, including some time ranching on plains of Colorado, continuing until 1909. Since the last- named date he has been the general manager of the Fairmont & Clarksburg Traction Company, as well as one of its directors and stockholders. He is a director of Fairmont Trust Company and other companies. He married, in June, 1902, Ella Brandon, daughter of Charles E. Bartlett, of Fairmont. Children: Elinor Bartlett, born May 20, 1903; Mary, March 10, 1905; James Otis Jr., June 11, 1906; Bartlett, February 10, 1910.

(VI) Albert Thurman, son of Sylvanus Lamb and Lydia Jane (Fleming) Watson, was born January 22, 1877. He received his education in the public schools in Fairmont, later attending the State Normal School. Before finishing school in 1893 ne spent some time in the engineering corps of the coal company, later, after finishing school in 1895, in the merchandise department, and in the auditing department, and in 1900 became assistant purchasing agent, and January 1, 1901, was promoted to purchasing agent, which position he still occupies, for the Consolidation Coal Company, Cumberland & Pennsylvania Railroad Company, Fairmont & Clarksburg Traction Company, Fairmont Gas & Light Company, and a large number of subsidiary companies. For a number of years his offices were located in Baltimore, but in 1908 he brought his offices to Fairmont, where all purchases for the companies mentioned are made.

In 1903 he married Florence Davis, of Montclair, New Jersey. They have one son, Albert Thurman Jr., born October 18, 1904.

(VI) George Thomas, son of Sylvanus Lamb and Lydia Jane (Fleming) Watson, was born February 12, 1880. He was educated in the Fairmont public schools, State Normal School and State University. His vacations were spent at work in the different departments of the coal company. Upon leaving school he started working at New England Mine, going from there to Murray and Beechwood mines as superintendent, and in 1901 returned to Gaston and New England Mine as superintendent. When the power and mechanical department of the coal company was formed he was made superintendent, and in 1907 was made general manager of the Fairmont & Clarksburg Traction Company, giving that up in 1909 to become vice-president of the Consolidation Coal Company, in charge of West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Kentucky operations, with offices at Fairmont. Mr. Watson also continues as stockholder and director in the traction company,and is a stockholder and official in a number of subsidiary companies, at the present time president of the First National Bank, Jenkins, Kentucky; director in the Fairmont Trust Company; director Chamber of Commerce, Fairmont Building & Investment Company; president Fairmont Mining Machinery Company.

He married, October 15, 1901, Elizabeth Bussing, of Cincinnati. Children: Sylvanus Lamb Jr., born April 12, 1903, Rose Bussing, July 23, 1906; Elizabeth Jane, April 3, 1911.

Personal and Genealogical History of the Upper Monongahela Valley West Virginia, Vol 2, Illustrated, Bernard Butcher, ed; Lewis Historical Publ Co, NY 1912 pp 439-447

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  1. can you tell me about the sonnoncraft castle in fairmont wv

    Comment by nancy stewart | January 16, 2011 | Reply

  2. need more information on the watson family, frank lowel watson, robert watson, and eugene leslie watson. father and sons. my dad eugene watson was born in the early 30’s in marion county.

    Comment by robert m watson | March 14, 2011 | Reply

  3. need more information on the watson family, i do believe my grandfathers name was frank lowell watson, my dads name eugene leslie watson, my uncle robert watson. the sons were born in the late twenties early thirties, they were born in marion county, looking for more extensive information!

    Comment by robert m watson | March 14, 2011 | Reply

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