James Watkins, one of the wealthy farmers of Clayton County, was born in Morristown, St. Lawrence County, N.Y., Sept. 22, 1833, son of Jerred Watkins, who was born in 1795, and Lura (Wood) Watkins, born in 1798. They were married in Malone, N.Y., in 1819, and had a family of nine children, eight living, viz.: Pamelia, Delia, Charles, Lois, James, Henry, Eunice and George. Mr. Watkins by occupation was a carpenter, and joiner. In 1825 he left New York and emigrated to Lorain County, O., where he remained until the spring of 1852 when he came to Clayton County, which was his home until his death which occurred Jan. 1, 1867. The mother, still living, is in her eighty-fourth year. The subject of this memoir was eduated in the common schools of Ohio, and when fifteen years of age commenced to learn the trade of blacksmithing, which he followed until he was twenty-three, when he learned the trade of stone mason, working at the same from 1856 until 1863, with the exception of one year. In 1863 he took a trip to California, where he remained three years and three months, then came to Clayton County. He purchased the old homestead in Farmerburg Township, and engaged in farming one year, and from that time until 1875 followed his trade. He then purchased his present home. He owns seventy-five acres of land, all under a high state of cultivation, valued at $75 per acre. On May 1, 1872, he married M.J. McNeil, a daughter of H.V. McNeil. She was born in Lindsay, Upper Canada, Dec. 18, 1848. They are the parents of three children, viz.: Lowell, Annie and Mac. Mr. Watkins has never taken any interest in politics, having never cast a vote at an election. When he came to the county he was in debt, but he went manfully to work and by judicious management has accumulated a fine property, and is now ranked among the wealthiest men of the township.
source: History of Clayton
County, Iowa, 1882, p. 1066-1067
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