ITS HISTORY AND TRADITION
T. M. WATTS
Thomas McCoy Watts, a member of one of the honored pioneer families of Iowa,
has long been the recognized leader of the drug trade in Holstein, and his
name also figures conspicuously in public affairs. He was born April 3, 1882,
on a farm in Keokuk county, Iowa, and his father, George W. Watts, was a
native of Owens Grove, Greene county, Indiana. He was born November 22, 1850, and was the fourth child of Charles W. and Mary Ann Watts, in whose family were ten children, seven sons and three daughters.
When George W. Watts was four years old his parents joined the bands of
immigrants who journeyed westward in covered wagons drawn by oxen to settle on the prairies of the newly admitted state of Iowa. They crossed the Mississippi river in the fall of 1854 and spent the following winter with the Donohue family at Washington, Iowa. In the spring of 1855 they moved to the open prairie three and a half miles west of Hedrick, where they endured the hardships of the early settlers and reared their large family. In the winter months the children attended the old log schoolhouse with its puncheon floor and slab seats, receiving the best education afforded in those early days. In the summer of 1875 George W. Watts became acquainted with Estella White and on April 27, 1879, they were married at the old White homestead, situated a mile east of Fremont.They established their new home just across the road from the old place and there lived for three years. In 1880 Mr. Watts built a store at Butler, Iowa, and embarked in business as a merchant and grain buyer. Soon afterward he was made station agent for the new Iowa Central Railroad and opened the Butler post office. In 1886 he returned to the property south of Butler, where he spent seven years, and in 1893 purchased a farm adjoining the town of Hendrick. There he resided from 1894 until his demise on June 10, 1924, at the age of seventy-three years, six months and nineteen days. His widow was born in Iowa, and she now makes her home in Fremont. Of his brothers and sisters the following survive: H. A. Watts, of Hendrick, Iowa; H. D. Watts, of Enid, Oklahoma; and J. M. Watts, of Wallace Idaho. To Mr. and Mrs. George W. Watts were born seven sons: J. C.,m Jr., of Hedrick; Thomas McCoy of this review; F. V., who lives at Melstone, Montana; H. A., Jr., of Fremont, Iowa; L. H., of Odebolt; L. J.; and Lee R., whose home is in Corning.
Mrs. Watts' parents, John Q. White and Elvira Huff, were married in 1844 and
on February 8, 1914, at their home in Fremont, celebrated the seventieth
anniversary of their marriage. When they located in Mahaska county there were
but two houses where Fremont now stands, and in the work of development and
progress they bore an important part. Mr. White was born July 24, 1824, in
Dearborn county, Indiana, and his wife was born July 15, 1828, in Shelby county,
that state. They were married at the home of the bride's parents, in the
same house in which Mrs. White was born, and the ceremony was performed by the Rev. John Reece, a Baptist clergyman. In the fall of 1848 Mr. White came to the west and purchased two hundred and forty acres of land in Cedar township, Mahaska county. This land was later known as the Charles Lott farm and is now owned by John H. Harist. Mr. White returned to Indiana and on April 2, 1849, with his wife and two children and a small company of other homeseekers, started overland for Iowa. The spring of 1849 was an extremely wet one and much difficulty was encountered in traveling, as the horses would cut through
the sod. They were almost four weeks in making the trip and finally arrived at their destination on April 29. In the fall of 1852 Mr. and Mrs. White revisited their old home in Indiana, going and coming by the overland route, and in 1853 the family moved to Fremont. There Mr. White opened a general store, which he conducted until 1861, and during that period served for eight years as postmaster of the town. In 1861 the family moved to a farm just east of
Fremont and the place has since been known as the old White homestead, although it is now the property of George Helm. They remained on the farm until 1890 and then returned to Fremont, where they spent the remainder of their lives. At one time Mr. White owned eight hundred acres of land and his holdings stretched north and south for more than two miles. While living on his farm east of the town he bought and sold stock and was one of the pioneers in that business. People from many sections of the state were entertained at the White home, which was known far and wide for its warmhearted hospitality.
Mr. and Mrs. White were the parents of twelve children. Frances, the
eldest, is the wife of J. P. Brownfield, a traveling salesman living in Monroe,
Iowa, and they have three daughters. Mary Jane is the widow of G. L. Phillippe
and makes her home in Fremont. She has four children, two sons and two
daughters, and all are married. Rachel E. is the wife of Frank Rockley, a retired
farmer residing in Hendrick, and they have three children, two sons and a
daughter. James A. married Miss Frances C. Reynolds and their only child,
James A., Jr., died August 27, 1885. George W. married Miss Belle Wray and
passed away May 21, 1877, leaving one child, a son. Florence A. is the wife of C. A. Eastburn, a prosperous farmer living north of Fremont, and they have four
children, a son and three daughters. John Q., the seventh in order of birth, died July 14, 1860, at the age of three years. Estella is the widow of George W. Watts. Eva became the wife of Walter A. Wells, head of the firm of
Wells & Stump, a large plumbing concern of Oskaloosa, Iowa. Harry, a traveling salesman now living in Kirksville, Missouri, married Miss Hattie Lawson, by whom he has three children, a son and two daughters. Webb W., a well-to-do
farmer residing near Bloomfield, Iowa, married Miss Minnie Bottorff, and they have three children, a son and two daughters. Rhoda is the wife of A. W. McClain, who owns and operates a productive farm situated west of Fremont.
Thomas M. Watts was a pupil in a country school near Butler until March, 1894, when his parents moved to a farm in the vicinity of Hedrick, and there he attended the public schools. In 1901 he was graduated from the Hendrick
normal and high school and in 1902 was a student in the academy of Drake University at Des Moines, Iowa. During 1902-3 he taught a country school and in the fall of the latter year entered the pharmaceutical department of Drake
University, completing his course in June, 1905. He engaged in clerking for a year and in February, 1906, purchased his present store in Holstein. He is an
expert pharmacist, well acquainted with the chemical combination of drugs, and in filling prescriptions is thorough, painstaking and reliable. He carries a fine stock and his success is due to the fact that the master formula of his business - honor, integrity and trustworthiness - has ever remained unchanged.
On June 30, 1909, Mr. Watts was married, in Holstein, to Miss Mattie
Kastner, a native of Iowa, and they have two daughters, Ruth Maurine and Betty Mae. Mr. Watts is a Scottish Rite Mason and a Noble of the Mystic Shrine. He is affiliated with the Christian church and his political allegiance is given to the republican party. He is deeply interested in everything that touches the welfare and progress of his community and since 1910 has been secretary of the local school district. He has been president of the Holstein Fire Company and is third vice president of the Iowa Pharmaceutical Association. He was honored with its presidency in 1917 and in 1918 was reelected, while he is
now serving on the executive committee. For over twenty years he has been a member of the American Pharmaceutical Association and the National Association of Retail Druggists, and he also belongs to the Iowa State Historical
Society. He likewise has membership in the Sons of the American Revolution, a grandfather in the fifth generation back having served in a Pennsylvania regiment during that conflict. Mr. Watts is a loyal Iowan and displays in his
character the substantial qualities of his pioneer ancestors. He is a citizen of worth, and merits and receives the respect of his fellowmen.