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John D. Watson

One of the keen, enterprising, wide-awake progressive men of Uinta County, Wyoming. John D. Watson, now located on the old government meadows at Black Fork, three miles south of Fort Bridger, well merits review in the volume. He was born at Culpeper, Virginia on April 6, 1856 a son of Joseph and Elizabeth (Brennan) Watson, both natives of Virginia and descending from families that have made their home in the land through the earlier and later Colonial epochs, have been distinctive factors in various departments of the state’s public movements for many generations and participants in all the wars of the state from the Revolution onward. His parental grandfather, Walter Watson, who married with a Miss Margaret Ficlau, was not only the proprietor of a large flouring mill run by water power, but had an extensive acquaintanceship by means of his ownership of the popular stage line, running from Fredericksburg to Washington. The Watsons were originally from England, but the mother of our subject was of Irish extraction, her ancestors coming to America long before the Revolution. She was the daughter of Daniel and Mary J. (Abbott) Brennan and became the mother of three sons, John D., Daniel S. and William V. She has long survived her husband and now maintains her home with the subject of this review, John D. Watson received his educational discipline in the Virginia schools until he was nineteen, when he entered the employ of a government contractor, with whom he remained from 1876 to 1880, thence proceeding to St. Louis and becoming identified with railroading until November 1883, hence passing the seceding winter at his old Virginia home, in the spring he went to Colorado, where for a year he was engaged in the nursery business. Coming to Fort Bridger in May 1885, his first employment here was the superintendence of the fine herd of thoroughbred Hereford cattle owned by Doctor Brewster, which continued with mutual satisfaction for sixteen months, when finding an opportunity to engage in the government transportation service as an assistant to the veteran contractor, Lot Winston, he assented the change. After giving acceptable labor in this direction, in 1887, he succeeded Mr. Winston as contractor on the transportation of government supplies, from and to various points but more especially to Fort Bridger and Duchesne. That the government deemed the contract an important one is evidenced by the fact that Mr. Watson furnished a bond of $10,000 for the faithful performance of his duty. Under his administration, however, there was neither delay nor trouble. His record was the cleanest one on the books of the various posts and contrary to the former practice, not one of the posts were ever-delayed one day in the receipt of the expected supplies. In 1888 Mr. Watson, in association with David Kay, the well known commission man of Ogden, Utah contracted to furnish fuel, feed and forage to Fort Bridger and Duchesne in Utah, Fort Russell, in Wyoming and Forts Sidney, Niobrara and Robinson in Nebraska. It may be mentioned as of interest that in one item alone, that of wood, they furnished 10,000 cords at prices varying from $4.60 to $9.00 per cord. In 1890 Mr. Watson individually contracted to construct four miles of the Utah Northern Railroad and applied all of his energies and capital to the task. Unforeseen difficulties were encountered, however and the contract proved disastrous, sweeping away all of his financial accumulations. Disappointed, but not disheartened, Mr. Watson returned to Fort Bridger and when the reservation was opened for settlement, he filed claim to the land where he had previously located and there engaged in raising a high grade of horses, cattle and sheep. His mother also acquired a tract of 160 acres of land on the reservation, which is added to the acreage he controls. Here his admitted skill and judgement is of most excellent service ad in this profitable industry he is again forging rapidly to the front, being one of the truly representative stockmen of the county. He owns a registered prize winning ram, which carried off the first premium at one of the dominion exhibitions of Toronto, Canada. It sheared to within a small fraction of twenty-five pounds of wool in the spring of 1902. His herds are of the finest strain, the horses being graded Clydes-dales and his cattle, graded Durham’s and in these lines of finely-bred animals he is truly a public benefactor, entitled to the high credit he is receiving. On February 9, 1888, Mr. Watson wedded with Miss Mary Sheehan, a daughter of Daniel and Margaret (Connell) Sheehan, emigrants from Ireland, her mother being a daughter of Daniel Connell and a granddaughter of Daniel Hafey, the popular Celtic poet, the families being intermingled with those of historic luster and patriotism. Of their children we note: Francis J., died an infant; Daniel X.; John A.; William B.; Marguerite Mae; Michael C.; Peter A.; Elizabeth L.

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