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A visit to a 19th-century homeplace of my greatgrandfather Samuel W. Watson


Last edit 2018-12-20 .
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My first cousin Larry Watson mentioned that his father had referred to a particular location as the "Sam Place," describing it as a homeplace of our greatgrandfather Samuel W. Watson. Earlier, I had only known Grandpa Sam's last homeplace, a Georgia Centennial Family Farm, that is located on the Mark Watson Road (named after my grandfather Mark A. Watson). My mother grew up on this place and I spent time there during my youth and still do. At the time, I was unaware that Grandpa Sam, the baby in the family, and his father, Mark R. Watson, removed to Irwin County toward the end of the 1800s. At some time, I will record certain facts and inferences, viz. that Mark R. moved to Irwin after and possibly because of his second marriage. Mark R. died in 1898 while living in Irwin County and Samuel W. moved back to Berrien County in 1905, purchasing the homeplace I knew from Stephen Lewis, whose spouse was my greatgrandfather Sutton's sister. (Mark R. Watson was profiled by Huxford, but I believe was mistaken re Racheal Slaughter's father.)

Of course, I was interested in visiting. Larry obtained permission from the current owner, his friend and relative.


This Google-Earth overview shows the approximate GPS of the settlement of the Sam Place (Google Earth 2018 data). Please note (1) the Radio Station Road on the south (labelled on southwest corner), (2) Hiway 76 on the north (labelled on the northwest corner), and (3) the J. Henry Gaskins Road ("278" on the image).

The settlement lies just north of the intersection of a line drawn south from the western edge of Gaskins Pond and a line drawn from the southwest corner of Gaskins Lake and passing through the sharp curve on the J. Henry Gaskins Road.

The gated entrance to the settlement is approximately 31 12' 38.6" N, 83 08' 10.4" W (2017 Accelerato cell-phone data).

A closer view indicates a barn and house. (Structures are about 7 o'clock from the respective labels.) As I understand, the barn was constructed by J. Henry Gaskins (the son of John A., who was Mark R.'s nephew) and is thus "modern." I have no information concerning the house, but it appears to be older.

Independently, John Roberts and Marian Duggan (both related to me distantly through the Boykins) told me that the Luther Floyd family lived here, too. From Mama's Recollections, I know that the Floyd residence was near the last Sam Watson Homeplace, so it fits. (Luther's spouse and my greatgrand mother Betsey nee Boykin were siblings.) For more on the Luther Floyd family, see page 4 of Marian's history.

Upper panel: House, left. Concrete pillar, upper right, may be of use in dating the construction if it is original. Furnace for syrup kettle, lower right.

Lower panel: Barn, left. Cross-section of log showing tight rings, upper left. Primitive means of securing barn doors and even some residences, below right.

Confirmation of oral accounts by use of historical records is prudent. Thus, to the Berrien County Clerk's office, . . .

On a modern map of Berrien County land lots, I identified the features noted above (viz., location of Hiway 76 and the Radio Station Road). The red lines correspond to those in the top image. Sam's Place was thus in Land Lot 173, 10th District. On looking at qPublic, I believe that this location lies in Parcel 089 7 000.

In 1892, all of lot 173, 490 acres, was purchased by Samuel W. Watson from his father Mark R. Watson. Original deed. My transcript.

In summary, the historical record corroborates our oral history. Of course, more information is welcome.


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