Written by Jo Ann Hopper
David Edward Watkins was born December 16, 1851 in Dover, Tennessee the day after his father David Watkins had been fatally injured by a team of run-away horses. David Watkins was buried December 20, 1851 in Dover, Tennessee, so David Edward never knew his father. His mother (Note: Tennessee marriage records show a David Watkins marrying Mary J. Ramsey, October 18, 1834; Mary Jane Andrews February 27, 1849 and Judge Davis of Granbury, giving Emmett Watkins as his source, recorded David’s wife as Mary Jane Anderson, b. October 12, 1827 in Tennessee, daughter of Maxwell Anderson. Tennessee marriage records show that Maxwell Anderson married Rebecca Dawson in 1825) Mary Jane Watkins married James Folks around 1853 and David Edward grew up in this household with his older sister Tennessee Alice Watkins, John H. Folks, Mary D. Folks, and Martha A. Folks.
Again Judge Davis noted that before the beginning of the Civil War, the Folks family moved to Jefferson County, Illinois. It was here that David Edward Watkins attended school. The 1860 Census for Jefferson County, Illinois records James Folks, 32; Mary J. Folks, 32; Tennessee A. Watkins, 10; David E., 8; John R. Folks, 6; Mary D, 3; Martha A., 2; all born in Tennessee and Rebecca Anderson 62, born in North Carolina.
James A. Folks enlisted in the army October 12, 1864 as a private in Company F 32nd Infantry. After the war the family moved back to Tennessee. In the 1870 Stewart County Tennessee Census, Mary Folks was listed as the head of the household. Mary Jane (Watkins) Folks was buried January 11, 1878, near the grave of David Watkins in Dover Cemetery.
David Edward’s father, David Watkins, was born July 15, 1811 in Llanerfyl, Montgomeryshire, Wales to Evan Watkins (b. February 20, 1766) who married Margaret Davies, October 30, 1794. David’s brothers included William Watkins (1795), Evan Watkins (March 28, 1798), John Watkins (February 07, 1801), Thomas Watkins (March 4, 1804), and Watkin Watkins (January 29, 1809). (This information comes from Bishop’s transcript, 1665-1836, Church in Wales, Parish Church of Llanerfyl.)
David’s father, Evan, never came to America, but two of his uncles did. Watkin Watkins came to America in 1801 and settled first in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and they moved to Radnor, Ohio in 1806. Thomas Watkins came to this country in 1818, first settling in Ebensburg, Pennsylvania and then moving to Radnor, Ohio in 1822. According to Judge Davis’ files David came to America when he was about twelve years old with his widowed mother and grew up in Ohio. He became a stage coach driver and operated a stage coach line. Later he was a farmer in Tennessee.
January 11, 1871, David Edward Watkins married Carolyn Adelia Daniel, daughter of Robert C. Daniel and Martha J. Dawson in Standing Rock, Stewart County, Tennessee. They had, at least, three children born in Stewart County, Tennessee: Edward I. (Zate), July 30, 1873; Robert Clifton, May 9, 1876, and William (Will) David, August 4, 1878. They left Dover, Tennessee and came to Texas like others of that area: the Daniel, Cherry, and Fitzhugh families. They settled in Hood County after the 1880 Census was taken, so Charley H. (b. September 30, 1880) may have been born in Tennessee. The other children were probably born in Texas: Thomas Clyde, July 28, 1882; Grover Cleveland, November 19, 1884; Emmett, February 26, 1887; George D., July 19, 1889; Forrest; Fred; and Gertrude, 1898.
At first, David Edward farmed land about one and a half miles northeast of Tolar, rented from his father-in-law, R.C. Daniel. Later he bought the place and was a farmer and stock-raiser. He also operated a general store or grocery store on the main street Tolar for a number of years, rebuilding it after the great fire that destroyed much of the Tolar business district. When David Edward retired, he sold the store to P.H. Thrash.
After he retired to his home, which he seldom left, David Edward continued to serve as a director of the Continental State Bank of Tolar. Frequently the directors met at the Watkins home. He was an active Mason and Methodist. He was also a man of strong conviction and determined will; within the family this sometimes translated into “contrary” and the expression “as contrary as Grandpa Watkins” was occasionally used to describe a family member.
In 1922, David Edward and Carolyn Adelia Daniel Watkins celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary, surrounded by many grandchildren. They also celebrated many more years together. David Edward died in 1935 and Carolyn Adelia in 1937. They were both buried in Strouds Creek Cemetery, Tolar, Hood County, Texas.
For ancestors of David Edward Watkins and Carolyn Adelia Daniel, see Robert Clifton Watkins’ ancestors.