Biography of John Watkins

       John Watkins was born in Fairfax County Virginia on 20 Oct. 1755. His father was Joseph Watkins who came to Virginia as an indentured servant in 1735 at the age of 17. Not a lot is known of Joseph except he was listed on Renters Row in the Colony Census of Fairfax County from 1761-1774. Joseph married Elizabeth Bushell on 26 Jun 1750 in Fairfax County. John Watkins being their 3rd child. After 1774 the family had moved to Orange County, North Carolina where John and two of his brothers George and William entered the Revolutionary War. According to John's application for a pension from that war in Giles County, Tennessee dated 7 June 1832 John served in the North Carolina line and Georgia Militia. After the war it seems his father had died and the family moved further south into South Carolina where it is said John was married four times and had twenty six children. It has been proven he was married three times and had at least ten children. John married his last wife Mary Claiborne born in 1792 in South Carolina in 1807 and moved with her and two sons by a previous marriage James and David to Greenville, South Carolina where in June 1810 he was listed on the County Census. By then John and Mary had two more children, John and Lewis.

       Between that Census in June 1810 and Jan. 1811 John moved his family to Giles County, Tennessee. In June 1811 John put his mark on a document to move the town of Elkton from where it was previously granted permission from the Tennessee Legislature to be established.

       While living in the area of Dist. 1 in Giles County, John and Mary had six more children. Joanna, Hannah, Simon Peter, Solomon, George and Amanda. John was listed as a farmer on all Census in Giles County and in 1824 John was granted 57 3/4 acres and another 50 acres in 1825 in Giles County. In Lincoln County, Tennessee John was granted some 229 acres, just across the county line. All of John's children were raised in and around Giles County some moving to Lincoln County and some to Limestone County, Alabama, just across the state line. John died 22 Jan. 1860 at the age of 104 years 2 months and 14 days. The paper in Pulaski published a mortuary report reporting 8 days but the correct days are 14. When John died in Giles County his wife Mary and all 10 children were still living along with 35 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren. Sense Jan. 1811 some 9 generations of the Watkins family related to John have either been associated or lived in or owned land in Giles County, Tennessee. To my last count some 2500 people are direct descendants of this Revolutionary War soldier that could neither read nor write.

Mike Watkins
Copyright 2004