It is Week 13 in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks’ writing challenge. While some of these themes have been more difficult than others for me, this week’s writing prompt, Nearly Forgotten, juxtaposed well with a post I had already planned on writing today.
This post is about an unforgettable, yet almost forgotten woman, beloved by her family and friends and respected by her community, about whom I did not even know until a few years ago: Cynthia Ann (Payne) Watts, my 3rd great-grandmother.
On this day, 28 March 1924, Cynthia Ann (Payne) Watts, passed away.
Born on 28 January 1832, in Cole County, Missouri, Cynthia was the daughter of William Andrew Payne and Elizabeth Williams. She joined elder sister Mary Ann, born 21 April 1830, and brother Joel, born circa 1831.
In 1836, brother Amos Payne was welcomed to the family.
A year later, on 21 February 1837, brother Nehemiah Payne arrived in the household.
Three years passed. Then, on 9 July 1840, brother James Payne was born.
In 1842, brother John D. Payne arrived in their Moreau Township, Cole County, Missouri home.
A sister, Sarah Payne, came along three years later on 17 January 1845.
Four years later on 17 February 1849, sister Caroline Payne was welcomed to the family.
On 29 August 1850, the Payne family was enumerated in Cole County, Missouri. Residing in the household were father William, age 42; mother Elizabeth, age 35; Cynthia, age 18; Amos, age 14; Nehemiah, age 12; James, age 10; John D., age 8; Sarah, age 6; and Caroline, age 2. William farmed his land, which was valued at $600.
Another brother Charles Payne was born circa 1851.
Five years later, on 23 November 1856, Cynthia Ann Payne (age 24) married John K. Watts in Cole County, Missouri. John, the son of Rumsey Shuler Watts and Elizabeth S. Dawson, was 21 years of age.
Circa 1857, sister Phebe Payne was born.
Two years passed. Then on 7 December 1859, the couple welcomed their first child to the world, a son named Rumsey S. Watts (my 2nd great-grandfather).
Less than a year later, things would change significantly for the Watts family. On 12 April 1861, South Carolina seceded from the North, and soon other Southern states would follow suit. The Civil War had begun. Missouri was a hotly contested border state—a slave state that did not sever ties with the Union. As Missouri was populated by both Union and Confederate sympathizers, armies and supplies were sent to both sides, the state was represented with a star on both flags, and dual governments were established. Discord abounded; family members were pitted against family members, and neighbors fought against neighbors. About 42 percent of the early hostilities of the Civil War occurred in Missouri. In 1861, of the 157 engagements and battles listed in the Army Register, 66 happened in Missouri. In fact, Missouri saw more action than Virginia and West Virginia combined that year.
On 12 March 1862, John K. Watts answered the call to arms, joining the Missouri State Militia, 13th Regiment Cavalry, Company E. His 51-year-old father enlisted with him in the same regiment.
On 2 February 1863, Watt’s regiment was reorganized and renamed the Missouri State Militia, 5th Cavalry Regiment, Company E.
Nearly nine months later, in the midst of war, joy came to the Watts family when daughter Florence Virginia Watts was born on 31 October 1863.
On 6 April 1865, John K. Watts was honorably discharged, returning home to Cynthia and their family.
Two years later, son John Boon Watts was born on 24 July 1867, in Russellville, Cole County, Missouri.
Three years passed before daughter Mary Frances Watts was born on 2 February 1870.
The couple’s final child, a daughter named Bettie Ann Watts, arrived in May 1875.
Around this time, Cynthia (Payne) Watts became an active member of the Cole Springs Baptist Church of which she was a member at the time of her death.
On 3 June 1880, the Watts family was enumerated in Moreau Township, Cole County, Missouri. Living in the household was John K., farmer (age 44), Cynthia (spelled Sintha) Ann (age 47), Florence (age 16), John B. (age 13), Mary F. (age 10), and Bettie (spelled Betty) Ann (age 5).
Sadly, that same year, 1880, Cynthia’s mother Elizabeth (Williams) Payne died in Cole County, Missouri.
Two years later, on 16 November 1882, son Rumsey S. Watts married Margaret Barbara Miller in Cole County, Missouri. Margaret was the daughter of German immigrants John Miller and Anna Fischer.
The next child to marry was daughter Florence Virginia Watts, who wed William Hatter Campbell on 24 April 1884.
In September 1885, son John Boon Watts married Emily Alice Sappenfield.
Finally, daughter Mary Frances Watts wed John Mart Blank on 2 April 1893, in Cole County, Missouri.
Seven years passed, and it was time for the census again. On 19 June 1900, John K. Watts (age 64), Cynthia (spelled Syntha) A. Watts (age 68), and Bettie (age 25) were enumerated at their Moreau Township, Cole County, Missouri farm.
Then, on 1 August 1904, the unthinkable happened. Cynthia’s husband of 48 years, John K. Watts, died on the family farm. He was buried in Campell Cemetery, Cole County Missouri.
As if her heart could not break enough, daughter Florence Virginia (Watts) Campbell died in 1909, at the age of 45. She too was buried in Campbell Cemetery.
The next year, Cynthia Watts and her daughter Bettie were enumerated at their Moreau Township farm on 20 April 1910.
On 8 January 1920, Cynthia Watts and her daughter Bettie were still living at their Moreau Township, Cole County, Missouri farm. With Cynthia’s advanced age, Bettie (age 43) was now listed as the head of the household.
Three years later, circa October 1923, Cynthia Watts was diagnosed with cancer of the neck. Six months later, on 24 March 1924, she began to hemorrhage. The bleeding lasted for four days. Then, two months after her 92nd birthday, Cynthia Ann (Payne) Watts succumbed to both the hemorrhaging and cancer.
At the time of her death, Cynthia was survived by four children Rumsey S. Watts, John Boon Watts, Frances M. (Watts) Blank, and Bettie Ann Watts; 25 grandchildren; 33 great-grandchildren; one great-great-grandchild; and siblings Nehemiah Payne, Charles Payne, Phebe (Payne) Stoney, Caroline (Payne) Webb, and Sarah (Payne) Simmons. Two days later, her grieving family buried her beside her beloved husband in Campbell Cemetery, Cole County, Missouri. The service was presided over by the pastor of Cole Springs Baptist Church.
After the funeral, the local newspaper published this glowing tribute to my 3rd great-grandmother, Pioneer Women Is Gone to Her Reward:
With the passing of Mrs. Cynthia Watts, another of Cole county’s pioneers and most highly respected citizens has gone to the Great Beyond, leaving a multitude of sorrowing relatives and friends to mourn the loss of a real Christian woman whose daily life was a testimony to the fact that she was a true follower of the teachings of Christ.
…The end came as she had lived, peacefully and quietly, a fitting climax to a well spent life. All that medical skill and loving hands could do was done to stay the hands of death but to no avail.
…Being of a cheerful disposition, she had many friends. In fact, to know her was to like her. She was a devoted wife and a more kind and lovable mother never lived. She…often sacrificed her own pleasures for the benefit of others. She always had a kind word for everyone and, in her younger days, the weather was never too cold or bad for her to go to give assistance in times of distress.
…The large crowd which attended the funeral showed the high esteem in which she was held by her neighbors and friends.