By Buddy Hazell
Shortly after the American Revolutionary War, five men and their families settled in the “Valley of East Tennessee.” There were: Hugh Watson and his son Patrick Watson, John Long, William Porter and William Wallace. Patrick Watson and William Porter had served in the Revolutionary War. The Settlement was by the Tennessee River close to what is now called Maryville, Tennessee.
Everything went well for them, other settlers moved into the valley, the ground was fertile, and their crops grew abundantly. There was good grass everywhere and their livestock flourished. The young people got married and children were born. Daniel Watson, son of Patrick, married Jane Long and had a son named John Albert Watson who in turn married Ruth Porter, granddaughter of William Porter. John and Ruth produced Samuel Allison Watson, who met and married a newcomer, Sara Elizabeth Largin. Samuel and Sarah had a son, William Edward Watson, my grandfather. But wait! In 1861 the Civil War began. Samuel Watson left his family and home to fight in the war. During the war, Samuel met a man named John Martin Jones, and they became close friends. Near the close of the war, Samuel Allison was awarded the Southern Cross of Honor for valor and bravery beyond the call of duty.
With the war over these two men returned to “The Valley of East Tennessee” to find their families scattered, their homes destroyed and their land sold for taxes. They decided to gather what they could find, farming equipment, livestock and etc. and go to Texas. There were three wagons in this group with not much in the line of possessions, but with a lot of faith in God and a desire to build a better life in Texas. They had gathered 35 horses and mules and 10 head of cattle including four milk cows and a bunch of chickens.
They followed the Tennessee River southward into Alabama and turned due west with high hopes of reaching Texas. Things went well until they came to the Mississippi River. Failing to find a crossing, they turned south looking for a crossing. They entered Louisiana and kept going south until they reached Baton Rouge and found a Ferry Crossing.
Crossing Louisiana, they reached the Sabine River; on the other side of the river was Texas. It was getting late in the day, but they decided to cross over and make camp before dark. Alligators killed one of their cows during the crossing, otherwise everything went well. This was the only loss they had suffered on the trip. Setting up camp they stopped to thank God for the safe journey, and then ate supper and went to sleep. The next morning, they agreed to camp there to rest the teams as well as themselves.
Along the way, God had blessed Samuel and Sara Watson with a son. On July 21, 1874, my grandfather, William Edward Watson was born. Remember John Martin Jones, he had married Sarah Rebecca McGee, who was half Cherokee, and 11 years after William Edward Watson was born, Sarah Jones gave birth to a baby girl, Appa Ann Jones, who would become my grandmother.
The group settled in Bleakwood, Texas, a small community, which was established in 1867. They stayed there several years and moved to Saratoga, Texas, for 10 years, then migrated to Batson, Texas, where they worked in the oil field and lived there the rest of their lives. William and Appa Watson had married and had eight children, one of which was June Valentine Watson, my mother. Born Feb. 16, 1905.