James Watson, living in Piper City, is connected with the agricultural interests of the county, and, moreover, in his life record proves the fact that success is not a matter of genius, as held by some, but is the outcome of clear judgment, experience and indefatigable energy. He was born in Clarion county, Pennsylvania, September 12, 1856, his parents being William R. and Sarah Jane (Pullock) Watson, who were natives of Clarion county, Pennsylvania. The mother died when her son James was about ten years of age and the father afterward married again and removed with his family to this county. He is now living in Benton Harbor, Michigan. By his first marriage he had three sons and one daughter, while the children of the second marriage were two sons and three daughters.
James Watson, who is one of the two surviving sons of the father's first marriage, was a resident of the east until 1869, when, at the age of thirteen years, he accompanied his father on the removal to the middle west, the family home being established about five miles northeast of Piper City in Pella township, Ford county. Mr. Watson has since been identified with the interests of this part of the state except for one year, 1876, spent in Chicago. Excluding that period, he has always followed farming in Ford county and still superintends his agricultural interests, although he is now living partially retired at Piper City. He started out on his own account when about eighteen years of age and then worked by the month for seven or eight years. Ambitious to engage in farming on his own account he rented land from J. A. Montelius for ten or twelve years, carefully conducting the work of the fields so that in the course of time he had an income sufficient to permit his purchase of one hundred and sixty acres of land on section 27, Pella township. He bought this of Mr. Montelius on the 28th of April, 1890. It was his first property and with characteristic energy he began its development, bringing the fields under a high state of cultivation so that he annually gathered good crops of the cereals best adapted to soil and climate. Today he is the owner of a half section of land in Garfield county, Oklahoma, which he purchased in September, 1906. Four years ago he built his present residence in Piper City and has since lived partially retired, although he gives supervision to his farming interests. His home, containing eight rooms, is built in modern style of architecture and is one of the attractive residences of the town.
On the 12th of August, 1880, Mr. Watson was united in marriage to Miss Clara Jane Francis, who was born in Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania, December 8, 1862, and went to Valparaiso, Indiana, with her parents. The father died there and Mrs. Watson afterward came to Ford county, at the age of nine years, to live with her grandmother, Sarah Ruff, who was a native of Pennsylvania. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Watson have been born two daughters: Alma May, now the wife of Wilfred McKee, who is living on her father's farm in Pella township and by whom she has one child, Watson J.; and Esther Belle, the wife of Edward Lyons, also a resident farmer of Pella township. Mr. and Mrs. Lyons also have one child, Myron James.
In his political views Mr. Watson has always been a stalwart republican and gives active support to every progressive public movement that tends to prove of general benefit. He belongs to the Modern Woodmen camp of Piper City and holds membership in the Presbyterian church. His life has been ever honorable and in all relations he has been found trustworthy. He certainly deserves much credit for what he has accomplished. His life has been one of unfaltering activity and diligence and as the years have gone by he has gained a comfortable competence and now derives his income from valuable farm holdings. Moreover, the methods that he has employed in his business career have been such as will bear the closest investigation and scrutiny.

Extracted 16 Oct 2016 by Norma Hass from History of Ford County, Illinois, From Its Earliest Settlement to 1908, author E. A. Gardner, Volume 2, pages 626-629.

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