The Coming of Our Watsons to America

Image of the Vale of Avoca, Ireland

By Anna Burton, 1943

Our Watsons in America descended from a Joseph Watson of Alston Moor, Durham County, England, who came to Ballymurstra mines, Vale of Avoca, Ireland, about 1785. He understood the art of “dialing” of mine surveying, was given a mining position, and was called Captain over one of the mine departments. Besides this, he loved music, taught it, and was himself an excellent singer and a talented player on the flute. He was a man of unshrinking honesty and integrity.

He married Elizabeth Cooper, a member of a prominent family nearby the mines in the Vale of Avoca. Their sons were: Thomas, Joseph, and Charles. Their daughters: Mary, Hannah, and Dorothy. The father and mother died at an early age.
Joseph married a Dublin lady, lived in that city, but passed away without children. Charles, a soldier in the British Army for 17 years, returned to the Vale of Above, married a Mrs. Flood, went to the Sandwich Islands and died there. Hannah was married to a Mr. Ashworth, had four sons, prominent in the Methodist ministry in Ireland and in America. Both parents came to Canada. Dorothy was married to a Mr. Gavin and went to Australia. Mary and her husband, Robert Livingston of the Vale of Avoca, lived there until coming to America.
The remaining child of Joseph and Elizabeth (Cooper) Watson is their eldest, Thomas (the teacher); he was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, a college of Oxford, England, one of the two great universities of England and one of the leading universities of the world. It goes without saying that he had a very good education, was one of the best arithmeticians and bookkeepers within many miles of the Vale of Avoca, and like his father, was an excellent flutist. He often directed the choir in the Castlemacadam Church, the prominent Established Church in the community, and at times, served as church clerk. At first, he held a position in the Dublin Custom House, but on health failure, he returned to the Vale of Avoca and taught the Castlemacadam School of the Established Church there for a number of years; then another school at the Meeting of the Waters, Vale of Avoca. In these two schools his own children of school age and those of the Livingstons of Avoca of similar age were taught by him. Later he went to Red Cross, about four miles away, and taught a school of the Establish Church for a number of years. Here all his last years were spent. From his occupation, to distinguish him, we call him, “Thomas Watson, the teacher.”
His wife was Elizabeth Livingston, of the Vale of Avoca and sister of Robert and Hugh Livingston, of the same place. The children were eleven in number and were as follows: Joseph, John, Thomas II, Wingfield, William, Elizabeth (or Betty), Charles, Robert, and Mary Anne.
Seven of the children migrated to America first. These are now given in the order of time and migration.
1. Joseph Watson went from Red Cross, County Wickow, Ireland to England, 1844; mined, married Sarah Broadhead at Batla Church, England, reached Crow Branch, Clifton Township, Wisconsin, 1866; left in short time to go to neighborhoods of Pittsburg, PA to mine.
2. John Watson left Red Cross, Ireland, 1844; went to England, mined; married Alice Barlow 1846; lost one children there; started for America 1848; came to New Orleans, LA., lost two children there with ship fever; mined at St. Louis one year; arrived in Clifton Township, Wisconsin, 1849.
3. Thomas Watson II went from Red Cross, Ireland to Dublin, Ireland, married Margaret Nelson in Dublin, January 22, 1846; landed after 7 weeks and 3 days on sea at New Orleans, April 21, 1847, stayed about 5 years in Louisiana; came up Mississippi River; wife and child, Mary Ann, in steamboat explosion at St. Louis, MO., all reached Crow Branch 1851.
4. Wingfield Watson left Red Cross, Ireland, March 3, 1848; came to New Orleans, LA, April 21, 1848 (Voyage 7 weeks, 3 days); cholera in 1848, ague (?) later; at St Louis a while; attracted and converted to Mormonism there; reached Crow Branch, Wisconsin, 1850; married Mrs. Jane (Chisholm) Thompson at Mifflin, Wisconsin, August, 1850. Her song by Theodore Haynes Bayley, English poet, 1797-1839 distributed.
5. William Watson left Red Cross, Ireland, before 1851; came to New Orleans, LA to his brother, Thomas; at St Louis about 1852; was killed and buried there. His death occurred March 23, 1855.
6. Ellen Watson of Red Cross, Ireland, arrived Crow Branch, Wisconsin in 1852 in company with Margaret Mater (afterward Mrs. Boaz Harrod), and Bessie Mates, also Margaret Livingston (later Mrs. James Hunt).
7. Charles Watson of Red Cross, Ireland, migrated to America in 185_. He came first to St Louis, MO, and afterward in 1854 reached Clifton Township.
8. Betty, Robert, Hannah and Mary Watson started from Red Cross, Ireland, with their father, Thomas Watson, the teacher, and their mother, Elizabeth (Livingston) Watson, both of Red Cross, Ireland. They were accompanied by Robert Livingston, his wife, Mary (Watson) Livingston; their son, Robert; their daughter, Sallie (Livingston) Wilson and husband; an orphan boy, Wm Redman, in the neighborhood, all of the Vale of Avoca, Ireland; also by Mr. and Mrs. Henry Ayres; and by Mr. and Mrs. Harry Greville and daughters, Jane (afterward Mrs. Charles Livingston, Sr.) and Isabel (afterward Mrs. John Correll), all of Shankhill Castle, Shankhill, Ireland. They were joined in New York by John Livingston; his wife, Jane Livingston, and little son, Robert Charles. A great sorrow had come to the company in the illness and death of Thomas Watson, the teacher, a few days at sea from Liverpool. He was buried at sea on Good Friday, April 6, 1855. (There is a tombstone at Rock Church cemetery in memory of him.)
With the exception of Mr. Watson (the teacher), all reached Crow Branch, Wisconsin from Galena, Illinois, May 19, 1855. Mrs. Correll, now of Mineral Point, Wisconsin, is the only one of this group now living. (1943)
These migrations brought all the living ones of our Watsons from Ireland, and all of these but the father and son, each barred by death, reached Crow Branch, Clifton Township, Grant County, Wisconsin!
This is a very notable, creditable example of family loyalty—a loyalty seldom found today covering such a long distance and with such a large family with the many disadvantages to be met on the long journey and in a new country!


Margaret (Livingston) was married to a James Hunt who may have been my great great uncle.
I am trying to confirm if James Hunt although born in Ireland in 1841 came to Wisconsin after 1861 from Haysville, Wilmot Twp., Waterloo County, Ontario (actually called Upper Canada at that time), Canada.  Any info regarding James Hunt would be appreciated, maybe it will expand my family tree considerably.

By Jeff Hunt


short answer is no. Although I wish I knew more about James Hunt, he was born about 1825 in Ireland. Was married when he got to New York to a Susan Hannon, had three children(the first died as an infant). Went to war, and as the story goes, she heard he had gotten killed in action and move on and got remarried and moved to Michigan.  James Hunt then moved to Livingston area(Clifton Twp) and married Margaret Livingston. My mother remembers his two children, her great uncles James & Richard(Dick) coming here to find out about their father when she was a young girl. 


By Craig

Hello, I came across your page today. Interested in whatever information you may have on Jane Chisholm, the wife of Winfield Watson. I am a descendant of her (through Robert, her child from her first marriage, who was adopted by Winfield Watson). Very grateful for anything you have. I collected everything I know from an article about Winfield Watson in the 2009 Journal of Mormon History.