Winfield W. Watson. It is quite possible that Winfield W. Watson, now at the head and the moving spirit of large business enterprises which contribute to the prosperity of many sections and afford employment to scores of men, would have made an excellent farmer had he, in youth, followed the family calling and devoted himself to agricultural pursuits. Possessing as he does the energy, the good judgment and the broad vision that have made him prominent in commercial life, the same qualities, if brought into play, would probably have made him a forward-going man in any line of activity. Fortunately he was able to follow his preferred line in the selection of a career and he can, in retrospect, look back over a life of business success and forward to enterprises of his founding that are growing continually in volume and importance.
Winfield W. Watson was born in a log house on his father’s farm in Kankakee County, Illinois, November 29, 1848. He is a son of John F. and Sarah Jane (Patterson) Watson. His father was of Scotch descent but was born in Kentucky and was a lineal descendant of President Zachary Taylor. Farming was his business during active years. He died at Wilmington, Illinois, in 1899. In 1841 he was married to Sarah Jane Patterson, who was a native of Ohio. She died in Illinois in 1905. They were the parents of the following children: William B., now president of the First National Bank of Momence, Illinois; Margaret Jane Houghton, living in Illinois; Carrie E., who is deceased; Winfield W.; Edwin L., a retired farmer living at Lowell, Indiana; John T., a contractor and builder at Wilmington, Illinois; Charles E., a farmer near Lincoln, Illinois; Merritt E., living in Chicago; Emma, the widow of Dr. A. R. Fouser, of Canton, Illinois; and George M., vice president of the Watson, Durand-Kasper Grocery Company, of which Winfield W. is president.
Winfield W. Watson attended the country schools near his father’s farm until he was fifteen years of age, when he became a clerk in his uncle’s grocery store. When twenty-four years of age he embarked in a grocery business on his own account and he had been active in business ever since. In 1879 Mr. Watson came to Kansas and embarked in a general mercantile business at Osborne and also was president of the Exchange National Bank. In 1890 he removed to Salina, and became president of the National Bank of America, which position he held for many years. He organized and for five years was president of the Acme Cement Company. In 1900 Mr. Watson organized what is one of the largest business enterprises of Salina, the Watson, Durand-Kasper Wholesale Grocery Company, of which he is president. He is interested along other lines also and is president of the Duncan Shingle and Lumber Company of Kansas City, Missouri, which does an extensive business in eleven states.
Mr. Watson was one of the very first to espouse the Good Roads cause in Kansas. He helped to organize the Meridian Road Association in 1912 and had served as president of the Kansas Division ever since.
In politics Mr. Watson had always been a consistent republican, serving as a delegate to the National Convention which nominated Benjamin Harrison for President in 1888. For two years he served as mayor of Osborne and gave the people an excellent administration. Mr. Watson is a life member of the Kansas Historical Society and is also a Knight Templar and a Shriner.
On April 14, 1870, at Momence, Illinois, Mr. Watson was married to Miss Clara Butts, who was born in Michigan. They have one daughter, Florence, who is the wife of K. S. Duncan, of Kansas City, Missouri. Mr. and Mrs. Watson have traveled extensively in European countries as well as in this country and Alaska.