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 William Watkins

William Watkins

Birth
Westport Point, Bristol County, Massachusetts, USA
Death 23 Apr 1900 (aged 85)
New Bedford, Bristol County, Massachusetts, USA
Burial New Bedford, Bristol County, Massachusetts, USA
Memorial ID 100018689 · View Source
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William Watkins, son of Thomas and Mary (Davis) Watkins, was born in the village of Westport Point, Westport, Massachusetts, June 22, 1814. His educational advantages were limited to the village schools of that day. In 1828, soon after passing his fourteenth year, he came to New Bedford and entered the commission and grocery store of Jacob Parker, continuing in his employ until March, 1832, when he was offered and accepted a situation as clerk with Elisha Dunbar & Co. (Edward C. Jones), a firm of high standing, ship chandlers and importers, and dealers in bar iron; also managing owners and agents of ships in the whaling business. During the eight years of his employment
with this firm, Mr. Watkins was their book-keeper and mainly in charge of their merchandise business, having a partial interest in the profits of that department for the last three years. The senior partner, Capt. Elisha Dunbar, one of New Bedford's foremost and most highly respected citizens, and ship-master in the merchant service before adopting mercantile life, died in November of 1839.

At the close of its business year, February 1, 1840, the firm was dissolved, and, as previously understood, the junior partner, Mr. Jones, continued the business, more especially the whaling interest, with a view of increasing it largely; this purpose he carried out during thirty years of close application, using great caution in selecting officers for his ships, with exceptionally profitable results. Mr. Jones made fair proposals to Mr. Watkins to join him in partnership; but as the latter had not capital to invest in shipping, he decided to follow business with which he was familiar, and hence established himself in the ship chandlery and iron trade in April of 1840. This was continued until 1878, during twelve years of which his brother, George D. Watkins, was associated with him as partner, the firm being W. & G. D. Watkins (1851 to 1862 inclusive).

During the first thirty years of this period several whaling vessels were added to the business. In 1878 William Watkins disposed of his stock in trade to Watkins & Handy. He began selling out his whaling interest in 1873, and disposed of the last ship in 1880. There is not a blemish upon this long and successful career, and its close found Mr. Watkins with a standing in the community, as well as beyond its limits, that was, and has ever since remained, of the highest character.

In 1847 he was made trustee of the New Bedford Institution for Savings. In 1870 he was made a member of its board of investment, and in January, 1877, was chosen president of the corporation to succeed the late William C. Taber. In 1852 he was made a director of the Mechanics' Bank (now Mechanics' National Bank), and remained in the office until 1879, when he was tendered the presidency of the First National Bank and was unanimously elected. He remained in that position eleven years, when he declined longer service. He was trustee in the New Bedford Five Cents Savings Bank a few years, until the statute limited the trustees to one bank. He was a director in the Potomska Mills Corporation from the beginning; and was director in several marine insurance companies of New Bedford, in the years of activity in the whaling business.
Mr. Watkins married Melissa M., daughter of Lemuel and Melissa Kollock, of New Bedford on Oct 3, 1843; she died in May 29, 1873. They had two daughters, Melissa Kollock, born Oct. 28, 1844, who married Emery Davis Potter of Ohio, June 1, 1901, and Emma C., 1849 – 1933, and a stillborn son, July 14, 1857.
Taken from "History of New Bedford and It's Vicinity, 1602 - 1892" by Leonard Bolles Ellis; published in 1892.


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  • Created by: D J Pimentel
  • Added: 1 Nov 2012
  • Find A Grave Memorial 100018689
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for William Watkins (22 Jun 1814–23 Apr 1900), Find A Grave Memorial no. 100018689, citing Rural Cemetery, New Bedford, Bristol County, Massachusetts, USA ; Maintained by D J Pimentel (contributor 47148697) .