The earliest information
on the Watkins Family genealogy and history was provided by Wells
Watkins (1818 - 1906), an uncle of Kimmel K. Watkins. Additional
information was added by Kimmel, and by distant cousins in the
Kimmel line (ancestors of K.K.'s mother).
Extensive research in the
family's ancestral state of Delaware was done by my second cousin
Ralph Watkins, grandson of Dorr and Opal Richards Watkins, and son
of Dick and Evelyn Pittman Watkins. Despite his efforts as well as
work by other researchers, we have never been able to go back beyond
Robert and Rachel Holliday Watkins, who lived in Kent County DE, and
died in the late 1700s. We do have evidence that Rachel was the
daughter of William Holliday and Phoebe Morris.
Ralph compiled the
history below from various sources in 2002, and has graciously given
permission to post it on line.
Generation - Robert Watkins and Rachel Holliday
The earliest record
relating to our branch of the Watkins family is from the eve
of the American Revolution. One of the most important
characters in the drama of the Declaration of Independence was
a delegate from the state of Delaware, Cesar Rodney. As the
break with England approached in early 1776, Rodney had
returned to his Delaware home from the Continental Congress in
Philadelphia. He organized local militia to prevent loyalists
in Delaware from seizing power. In his absence, however, the
Delaware delegation was evenly divided, with one delegate
opposing independence and the other in favor. As the Congress
had already agreed to declare independence only if every state
voted in favor, it was critical to secure Delaware’s vote.
The pro-independence leaders sent a message to Rodney to
return to Philadelphia. He received the message on July 1 and
rode his horse all night to arrive in Philadelphia on July 2,
just in time to break the deadlock before the crucial vote.
There are several statues in the state of Delaware showing
Cesar Rodney on horseback, galloping toward Philadelphia and
The Watkins connection to this story comes from Cesar
Rodney’s role as a justice of the peace in Kent County,
Delaware. Robert John Watkins and his wife, Rachel Holliday
Watkins, lived in Kent County in an area known as the Duck
Creek Hundred. On May 3, 1776, Rachel’s brother William
Holliday died. Under his will, Robert Watkins was named as
executor and Samuel Watkins, Robert’s oldest son, was named
as a beneficiary. An accounting of the estate was signed by
justice of the peace Cesar Rodney on June 29, 17761 - just
shortly before the judge was summoned to return to
Cesar Rodney statue
Despite this close brush
with an historic figure, it appears that Robert Watkins played no
role in the Revolution, as he and his increasing family were listed
on the annual censuses conducted by Delaware. As a colony and in its
early years as a state, Delaware had a head tax imposed on every
male over 18 (including "free negroes" who were listed
separately). The lists of people to be taxed, "levy
lists," were assembled by "hundreds." In Delaware,
there is a subdivision of the county called a hundred - originally
in England, it was a group of 100 families, but it evolved into just
a convenient subdivision of the county. Robert Watkins and his
children lived in Duck Creek Hundred, the northernmost hundred in
Kent County. On a map of Delaware, the middle county is Kent, and
Duck Creek Hundred is a few miles along the northern border with New
Castle County (you may see Duck Creek flowing through it). Although
many of the records are lost, Thomas Watkins is listed in all the
existing ones from 1773 up to 1797. Robert Watkins is listed from
1773 up to 1788. (No Watkins were listed in Duck Creek Hundred in
1774, but their absence appears to be temporary, as both Robert and
Thomas Watkins are listed in years on either side.) The Thomas
Watkins on the levy lists is probably a brother to Robert, however,
since the 1782 Delaware census shows the Robert Watkins household
with 1 male over 18, 4 males under 18, 1 female over 18 and 2
females under 18. (My guess as to the discrepancy in the number of
boys and girls from 1782 to 1789 is that a daughter died and another
son was born.) These tax records indicate that the family owned no
land. Even if the family had money to buy land, the unsettled
conditions of the Revolution may have interfered. A survey of the
land records for Kent County revealed that no sales or purchases
were recorded from mid-1776 until 1784, when the war ended with the
signing of the Treaty of Paris.
The young family did not
have long to enjoy the new nation’s independence: On May 12, 1789,
Rachel Watkins, James Scotton, and Acquilla Attic filed a bond in
the county court on behalf of Rachel Watkins as the administrator
of the estate of Robert Watkins, who had evidently died shortly
before. The name "Rachel Watkins" is written at the
bottom, with a mark between "Rachel" and "Watkins," and an annotation
indicating that she probably could not read or write.2 The young
widow later married one of the executors, Clayton Curwell, on
October 26, 1790.3
An accounting in the
Orphans Court filed May 30, 1793, names as the children of Robert
Watkins: Samuel, James, Robert, Sarah, Christopher, and Thomas. For
all except Thomas, the costs included "4 months and 24 days
board and schooling, 4 pounds, 15 shillings" followed by an
entry for "Cash pd. Schoolmaster, 16 shillings, 8 pence."
I surmise from the omission of schooling for Thomas that he was the
youngest. It was interesting to note that the values of the estate
were given in pounds, shillings, and pence, evidence that the new
money system based on the dollar had not yet been accepted. Further
distributions and corrections to the earlier distributions were
filed through 1802, by which time James Scotton, one of the original
executors, had died.4
1. Delaware Archives,
Kent County, Register of Wills, A.24, 218-221, Liber L, Folio 180
2. Delaware Archives,
Kent County, Register of Wills, Liber M, Floio 194
3. Delaware Archives,
Kent County, Vol. 2, p. 73
4. Delaware Archives,
Generation - James Watkins and Sara Fisher
Economic conditions in
Delaware were hard after the Revolution. A review of the census
reports indicated that many people had migrated west in search of
land. The Northwest Territories, land that is today Ohio, Indiana,
Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, was just being opened to
settlement. The Watkins brothers moved to Ohio early.
One clue that may
explain why they moved to the area around Steubenville, Ohio
is that John Holliday, possibly a relative of their mother,
Rachel Holliday, had operated an inn across the river in
Holliday’s Cove. That settlement is now known as Weirton,
West Virginia. John Holliday was an early settler in what is
now Weirton, West Virginia, arriving in 1776 along with two
sisters, Sally and Ann. He was in his 40's or 50's at the
time. He was sent by "the council at Fort Pitt" to
find a location for a fort near the Ohio River. The fort was
built and was referred to as Holliday’s Fort and the area
around it became known as Holliday’s Cove. John Holliday
operated his inn at the site until his death in 1787.1
Additional research is needed to determine if this John
Holliday was related to Rachel Holliday.
On March 6, 1805,
James Watkins married Sara Fisher in Jefferson County, Ohio.2
Jefferson County is today the area in and around Steubenville,
Ohio. Sarah and her brother Stephen Fisher inherited and sold
an interest in their father’s land in Jefferson County.3
Because the record of this transaction listed the spouses of
both Sarah and Stephen, it confirmed their identities in the
next land transaction record. On May 8, 1819, Stephen Fisher
and his wife Elizabeth sold to James Watkins and his wife
Sarah a quarter-section of land in Wayne County, Ohio, near
what is today the town of RIttman.4
Reconstructed Fort Steuben
Stephen Fisher had
purchased the land from the United States government in 1816.5
Land records show that James’ brothers Christopher and
Thomas also purchased land nearby. They were pioneer settlers
of the county. (See 1830 map of Milton Township, below, with
large areas without ownership designated - indicating that
this land was still unsettled.)
James and his wife
Sarah had eight children: Susan, Elizabeth, John, Robert,
Rachel Ann, Wells, James, and Benjamin. James Watkins died on
August 6, 1836. I could find no record relating to the funeral
or burial of James Watkins. Although the children’s shares
in the family land were purchased by John Watkins (including a
sheriff’s sale in 1840 evidently arranged to transfer the
interests of the minor children), by 1850, the entire Watkins
family had left Wayne County.6
of Holliday’s Cove, Mary Shakley Ferguson, 1976, pp. 12,
Marriage records - Jefferson County, Ohio: No.
96 James Watkins & Sarah Fisher
do hereby certify that the marriage of James Watkins and Sarah
Fisher was solemnized by me a Minister of the Gospel on the seventh
day of March in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and
five by virtue of a license issued by the clerk of JeffersonCounty bearing date the 6th day
of March 1805.Given
under my hand the 16th day of March Anno Domini 1805.
--Lyman Potter, M.G.
and duly recorded the 16th day of March Anno Domini 1805.Jn. Ward, Clerk
Land records, Jefferson County, Ohio, deed recorded April 28 A.D. 1812
Wayne County, Ohio, Recorders
Office records for 1819.Stephen
Fisher had purchased the land from the United States in 1815, indicating his address as
“Jefferson County, Ohio” in that purchase.
Wayne County, Ohio Recorders Office, deed
recorded 23 day of July A.D. 1816.
Review of census records
Generation - James H. Watkins and Nancy Kimmel
James Holliday Watkins, born
April 1, 1820, was only 16 at the time of his
father’s death.James and
his brothers Wells and Benjamin were minors and the WayneCounty court appointed Christian Knup (or
Krup) as a guardian.Accounts
were filed with the court until April 4, 1841 for this guardianship.
James H. Watkins
Nancy Kimmel Watkins
on photos for a larger view)
James H. Watkins married Nancy Kimmel in Wayne County, Ohio,
and the couple moved to GraftonTownshipin LorainCounty, where they were listed in the
census of 1850. At that
time, their children were William, age 7; Oliver, age 4; John I, age
2; and Sarah E., aged 2 months. The family later moved toFultonCounty, apparently in 1853.
June 11, 1853, James H. Watkins purchased
from Wells Watkins, his brother, a parcel of land in FultonCountyin the southwest quarter of
section 2, township 7 north, range 8 east. This was located immediately west of Swanton, Ohio, north and east of Delta,
Ohio in what is now FultonTownship.
(See parcel marked “1" on the map.) This parcel
had originally been purchased from the United States by Africa Spaulding, then sold to James’ brother Benjamin
Watkins, who sold it to Wells Watkins.James and Nancy evidently lived on this parcel for only
6 years, selling it in 1859 to the heirs of Mary Cowles.
map of FultonTownship from 1858 shows the property
owned by J. Watkins in the southwest quarter of Section 2
with the remainder of that quarter-section still owned by A.
H. Watkins and his wife Nancy next purchased 35 acres in
section 30 of SwanCreekTownship (see parcel marked “2")
on December 5, 1863 for $500 and sold it to Jacob
Detwiler in 1865 for $750.The next land purchase occurred in 1866, as James
bought land in section 25 of YorkTownship from Martin Fernwald and sold
Richard Terwiliger on the same day.The third transaction noted on the map is the purchase
by Nancy Watkins from John and Margaret Watkins, on March 17,
1873, of 18 acres in the northwest corner of
the northeast quarter section of section 5, in Swan Creek Township,
marked as “3" on the map. This land was sold by Nancy and James on
April 28, 1876, a mere three years later.
On October 4, 1879, Sarah Garwood sold lot 13
of “Palmers Addition” to Wauseon to Nancy Watkins, for $500.Nancy owned this land until December 11, 1899, six years after the death of James
and three years before her own death, but at that time it sold for
only $50, a significant loss, perhaps due to a depressed economy.
census of 1870 recorded a large family for James and Nancy: 6
sons (William, Oliver, John, Kimmel, George, and Frank) and 1
daughter (Nancy), ranging in age from to 25 years, with the oldest
two sons listed as farm laborers.James Watkins lived until 1893, and was buried in the
FultonUnionCemetery, near the land on which he had
made his living. His
wife Nancy survived him by about 9 years, dying in 1902.
Fulton County Courthouse in Wauseon, OH
Either on April 1, 1841 or September 1, 1841
History of Fulton County, Ohio, Frank Reighard, p. 253
Barber’s Abstract.FultonCounty’s deed records were destroyed when
the Ottokee courthouse burned in 1864, but duplicate records keyed
to parcels of land (called “abstracts”) were accepted in the
County Recorder's Office.) See
Appendix , p1.
FultonCountydeed records, Vol. 19, pp. 418, 419
Census of 1870, Fulton County,
Ohio, FultonTownship, Family #260; Appendix, p. 2.
Generation - Kimmel Kyper Watkins and Priscilla (Tillie) Richardson
Kimmel Kyper Watkins was born
June 16, 1859 in LorainCounty.
He was a son of James Holliday and Nancy (Kimmel) Watkins. Kimmel said that his parents did not give him a middle name,
but allowed him to choose one when he came of age. As there was a family named “Kyper” in
FultonTownshipat that time, it is possible that he
chose that name because the Kypers were neighbors and friends.
K.K. & Tillie wedding photo (1884)
K.K. & Tillie, probably 1913
on photos for a larger view)
Kyper Watkins and Tillie Jeanette Richardson were married July 16, 1884 by the Rev. S.C. Garwood.
could not find land ownership records for the early years of
their marriage. However,
in 1910 they purchased land in section 5 of FultonTownship, 60 acres described as bounded
by a line beginning 35 rods north of the southeast corner of
the northeast quarter.The approximate location is shown by an arrow at the
top center of the map at right - a bit south of where the Ohio
Turnpike now crosses County Road 5. (A “rod” equals 16.5 feet, so the property began
about 1/10th mile north of the mid-point of the section.)
Reighard’s History of Fulton County, published some time
between 1918 and 1922, contained the following
biographical entry for Kimmel Kyper Watkins:
Kyper Watkins. The
Watkins family story embraces several Ohiocounties, Kimmel Kyper Watkins, of
FultonTownship, having been born June 16, 1859 in LorainCounty.
He is a son of James Holliday and Nancy (Kimmel) Watkins. The father was born in
WayneCountyand the mother in SomersetCounty.
They married in Wayneand in 1850 they moved to Lorain, and three years later they removed
to FultonCounty, locating in
They cleared a farm, and a few years later they bought a
timber tract in YorkTownship.He died in 1893 and she died in
were ten children in the Watkins Family: Milton, Oliver, John,
Sarah, Mary, William, and Ella, deceased, Kimmel K. of this sketch,
George, who lives in Swanton, and Frank in Toledo.
When Mr. Watkins was thirteen he began working by the month,
doing for himself. On July 16, 1884, he married Tillie J. Richardson, of
Swan Creek. She is a
daughter of George H. and Laura (Blake) Richardson. After two years in Fulton Township Mr. Watkins removed to
Kane County, Illinois, where he worked as a broom maker
and by the month on farms for four years.
Watkins returned to FultonCounty he rented land from 1892
until 1910, when he bought sixty acres where he has since lived,
although since 1918 a son works the farm. The children are: Earl, who works the farm; Ethel, deceased;
Opal, wife of George Mason, of Pike; Ross, of Pike, married Fern
Sheffield; Orra, who was married February 7, 1920 to Florence
Bruner; and Dorr, at home. The
family are Methodists. Mr. Watkins is a republican, and he is a
justice of the peace. He
has been school director and township trustee. He belongs to the Berry Grange at Ai.
This is a brief reference to one of the families and one of the
individuals who have played an earnest and hard working part in the
affairs of FultonCounty for many years. It is a well known fact that in America success can be
achieved by men who begin life without capital, and a case in point
is that of Mr. Watkins, who had no other assets than a trade and the
qualifications of industry and skill as a farm worker, and he raised
himself through successive stages of farm hand and farm tenant to
independent ownership of a good country home and a place of
influence in his community.
Kimmel and Tillie had four sons (Earl, Ora, Ross, and Dorr Clark)
and two daughters, Ethel (who died in childhood), and Opal.
Kyper Watkins served as a trustee of Fulton Union Church at the time
its new building was constructed in 1910, following the burning of
the original building after a lightning strike.
of Fulton County, Ohio.
See Appendix, p. 3
FultonCountydeed records, Col. 112, p.
From History of FultonCounty, Frank Reighard, p. 253
Other Family Members
Watkins (Uncle of Kimmel Kyper Watkins)
Watkins, born in Jefferson County, Ohio, April 7, 1818, left there in
August 1838 and journeyed nine days to reach FultonCounty. Here he settled
and endured the hardships of pioneer life.
first winter he carried his grist three miles on his back to a horse
mill; walked to Perrysburg to market, starting on Monday morning and
returning on Saturday evening. He paid $15 per barrel for flour, 15¢
a lb. for pork, $1.50 a bushel for potatoes, and at that time Wells
had to chop two and a half cords of green wood for a day's work, for
which he was paid 50¢.
Indians were numerous, and the nearest village was Maumee, and this
continued for some time after the early settlement of the township.
Wells served in the Civil War, Co. H, 130th Reg. Ohio Volunteer Inf.
in 100 days service.
13, 1975, quoting Mikesell’s History
of Fulton County, p. 183)
Watkins (Uncle of Kimmel Kyper Watkins)
Watkins was born in Wayne Co., Ohio, Oct. 20, 1810 and died Feb. 27, 1897, age 86y, 2m, 7d. He was one of the hardy pioneers of Northwestern Ohio and moved in 1838
to FultonCounty and began life in
the backwoods with no light at night save that of the open
in their settlement, the wolves howled outside, but he felt safe
with his faith. In 1843, he married Rachel Zimmerman, who preceded
him several years ago in death. In 1869, he united with the UnitedBrethrenChurch. He lived to see
the Indian trails over which he carried his grist to distant Maumeeon his back
crossed by a network of railroads, and the slow mail coach give way
to telephone and telegraph lines. No wonder this man in his
declining years was often heard to say, "I thank God with all
my strength to have lived in this great age." He is survived by
three children, seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren. The
funeral was held at the Fulton Union Church on Monday, conducted by
Rev. William Clark.
“Old Obituaries” in “Pioneers Around Delta, Ohio,” column in
the Delta Atlas, November 15, 1978.
Watkins (Grandson of Christopher Watkins, second cousin of Kimmel
W. Watkins is another of those worthy citizens who were born and
reared in Fulton County and have here upborne the high reputation of
a name honored in the county from the early pioneer days, and his
has also been the wisdom to hold tenaciously and effectively to the
great basic industry of agriculture, through connection with which
he has met with a measure of success which stands to his credit and
which can not be other than a source of gratification to him.
is one of the representative farmers of Fulton Township and not
far-distant from his present fine homestead, in the same township,
was the parental home in which he made his debut in the drama of
life, on the 25th of
November, 1847. He is a son of Wesley and Catherine (Fesler) Watkins, the former of
whom was born in Wayne County, Ohio, February 23, 1816, and the latter
was born in Pennsylvania,
January 3, 1825. Their marriage
was solemnized in FultonCounty, in January 1846,
and they became the parents of six children, of whom George W. was
the first born.
Alonzo, born February 13, 1848, died September 20, 1878; Thomas,
born August 8, 1851, is a successful farmer of Pike Township; Lewis
C., born May 21, 1856, is identified
with railroading operations in the South; William W., born January 24, 1871, is a resident of Nebraska and is a railroad
man; Libbie Jane, born September 19, 1863, is the wife of
Thomas H. Fraker, a farmer near Delta, FultonCounty.
honored father died on the farm now owned by his eldest son, on the 24th of
September, 1869, and his wife died September 16, 1889. They were
well-known pioneers of the county, where they lived lives of signal
honor and usefulness and they held the unqualified esteem of all who
knew them. George W. Watkins was educated in the district schools of
his native township, where he has maintained his home from the time
of his birth, and he has been continuously associated with the work
of the old homestead farm, of which he became the owner in 1880,
having purchased the interest of the other heirs. In politics, Mr.
Watkins was originally a Democrat, but in 1884 he transferred his
allegiance to the Prohibition Party, whose cause he supported for a
number of years by ballot and influence, and in the election of 1904
he exercised his franchise in support of the Republican candidates,
National and State.
touching the genealogy of Mr. Watkins it may be said that his
grandfather, Christopher Watkins, was one of four brothers, and his
brother Robert came to FultonCountyin the early
1830s, securing, in association with his son, Christopher, one
thousand acres of land in Fulton and Pike townships.
20, 1880 was solemnized the marriage of George W. Watkins and Miss
Mary E. Biddle, who was born in Wayne County, Ohio, May 23, 1854, being the
youngest of the children of George and Nancy (Lawrence) Biddle, the
former of whom was born in WayneCounty, and the latter in
Pennsylvania, the respective
dates of nativity having been March 11, 1808 and January 25, 1813. Mr. and Mrs.
Biddle were married in WayneCounty whence they
came to FultonCountyin 1860, locating
on a farm near Delta, and they passed the closing years of their
lives in YorkTownship, the father
passing away in August, 1878, and the mother was summoned to the
life eternal, August 21, 1902.
the children, the following brief data are entered: Henry, born
January 4, 1833, died December 5, 1888; Nancy, born September 9,
1835, is the wife of Adam Geitgey, a farmer of Wayne County; Rachel,
born December 18, 1837, is the wife of Simon Snyder, of Delta;
Benjamin, born April 28, 1840, is a resident of Toledo; Jacob, born
February 5, 1843, died in Delta, February 7, 1885; John L. born
March 21, 1846, resides in Delta; Samuel, born November 11, 1848,
died in infancy; George W., born November 23, 1851, is a resident of
Clinton Township; and Mary E., the youngest, is the wife of Mr.
The County of Fulton,
Thomas Mikesell, editor, Whippoorwill Publications, 1905, pp. 612