Thursday, December 25, 2008

James Coleman Watson, 100 years old, buried on Christmas Day 1949

Every Christmas, I find myself thinking of one of the major events in my mother’s family history. My great-great grandfather, James Coleman Watson, died on December 23, 1949 at the age of 100 years and 28 days. He was buried on Christmas Day at Shield Cemetery in Coleman County, Texas. This photo was taken on his 95th birthday on November 25, 1944. He had a remarkable lifespan, from the Civil War to the aftermath of World War II. He died in a nursing home in Brady, Texas but had only lived there five months. Prior to that, he lived with Uncle Booker and Aunt Lottie Watson. Although becoming very frail, he never lost his mental faculties. His death certificate lists the cause of death as “Cerebro-Vascular Accident due to Genealogical Senility”. Here’s his obituary from the Coleman, Texas newspaper, which is liberally embellished with a few old family stories:

100 Year Old County Resident Buried Christmas Day in Shield Cemetery

Mr. James Coleman Watson, 100 years and 28 days old was buried in the Shield Cemetery, Sunday, December 25. Dan Fogarty, minister of the Church of Christ in Coleman, officiated. Funeral services were held from the Shield Church of Christ.

James Coleman Watson was born in Bowie County, Texas November 25, 1849. When he was one year old, his parents moved to Grayson County, where he remained until 1903, when he came to Coleman County. He has been a resident of Coleman County since that time. He was married to Elizabeth Hale in Grayson County in 1869. To this union eleven children, six boys and five girls, were born. Mrs. Watson preceded him in death in 1924. Mr. Watson was laid to rest beside his wife in the Shield Cemetery. Two daughters also preceded him in death.

Mr. Watson’s father was a big plantation owner at the end of the Civil War when all the slaves were freed. He could tell a lot of interesting experiences of the olden days. His father fought in the Texas and Mexican War and was present at the Battle of San Jacinto, when General Santa Anna was captured with an army of 1600 Mexicans. Mr. Watson’s mother was a first cousin of Ben Milam.

Mr. J. C. Watson was believed to be the county’s oldest resident. He observed his 100th birthday anniversary in Brady on November 25, with a large number of his family and their families visiting with him. He was a member of the Church of Christ for 65 years.

Survivors are six sons: William B. (Booker) Watson, Rockwood; A. L. Watson, Portales, New Mexico; Carey Watson, Shield; J. C. Watson, Pittsburg, Texas; E. N. Watson, Sherman; O. D. Watson, Edinburg; three daughters: Mrs. Jennie Carter, Colbert, Oklahoma; Mrs. Mary Lawhon, Sweetwater; and Mrs. Lee Powers, Sweetwater. Sixty-seven grandchildren, 193 great-grandchildren, 105 great-great grandchildren, and a sixth generation child also survive.

Pallbearers, all grandsons, were Wayne L. Watson, Sherman; Darwin Watson, Santa Anna; Nap Watson, Santa Anna; Elmer Watson, Santa Anna; Willie Auten, Odessa; and James Auten, Odessa.

Flower bearers, all granddaughters and granddaughters-in-law, were Billie Mae Schrader, Lonettia Watson, Edith Guffey, Claudia Davis, Melba Auten, Ruby Auten, and Mary Tom Watson. Thelma Watson and Thelma Stewardson were flower managers.

© 2008, copyright Stephen Mills