On this day, 26 February 1942, Rumsey S. Watts passed away. He was my 2nd great-grandfather.
Born on 7 December 1859, in Russellville, Cole County, Missouri, Rumsey was the son of John K. Watts and Cynthia Ann Payne and younger brother of John W. Watts, who was born circa 1858.
On 13 June 1860, the Watts family lived on a farm in Moreau Township, Cole County, Missouri. Residing in the home were father John K. Watts (age 25), mother Elizabeth (age 29), John W. (age 2), and Rumsey (age 2 months). The farm was valued at $300, and the Watts personal property was appraised at $150.
Less than a year after this federal census, tensions between the North and the South exploded. On 12 April 1861, the first shot was fired on Fort Sumter; the American Civil War had begun. Although Rumsey was too young to be aware of the situation, his parents were more than cognizant of this discord, especially considering that they were residing in a border state, an area hotly contested by both Union and Confederate sympathizers. Rumsey’s father John K. Watts and grandfather Rumsey Shuler Watts were pro-Union; so much so that they both enlisted on 12 March 1862, in the Missouri State Militia, 13th Regiment Cavalry, Company E. On 2 February 1863, their regiment was reorganized and renamed the Missouri State Militia, 5th Cavalry Regiment, Company E.
Meanwhile, on the homefront, sister Florence Virginia Watts was welcomed to the family on 31 October 1863.
Back on the front lines, both father John K. Watts and grandfather Rumsey Shuler Watts continued serving until the end of the war. They were both honorably discharged on 6 April 1865.
Two years later, young Rumsey welcomed another brother, John Boon Watts, on 24 July 1867.
A second sister, Mary Frances Watts, came along three years later on 2 February 1870.
In May 1875, sister Bettie Ann Watts was welcomed to the family.
On 4 December 1879, Rumsey S. Watts wed Sarah Blank in Cole County, Missouri. She was the daughter of Andrew Blank and Manerva Wear. At the time of their marriage, Rumsey was 19 years old and Sarah was 15.
On 29 June 1880, Rumsey and Sarah Watts were enumerated on a farm next door to his parents’ Clark Township, Cole County, Missouri farm.
A few months later, in September 1880, wife Sarah (Blank) Watts died, most likely in childbirth. She was only 16 years old. Grief-stricken, young Rumsey buried his wife in Blank Cemetery, located in Russellville, Cole County, Missouri.
Luckily, Rumsey found love again two years later, marrying my 2nd great-grandmother, Margaret “Maggie” Barbara Miller, daughter of John Miller and Anna Fisher, of Stringtown, Cole County, Missouri, on 16 November 1882.
Almost a year later, on 6 October 1883, the couple welcomed their first child, Walter Gus Watts.
A couple of years passed. Then, on 8 December 1885, son John Andy Watts was born in Cole County, Missouri.
A third son, Frank William Watts, arrived on 2 October 1889.
Son Herman A. Watts was welcomed to the family on 24 February 1892.
Then in November 1893, after four sons, the couple was finally blessed with their first daughter, whom they named Stella A. Watts.
Three years later, on 16 September 1896, son Fredrick Boone Watts (my great-grandfather) arrived in the household.
A sixth son, Louis John Watts, was born on 2 June 1899, in Cole County, Missouri.
The next year, on 8 June 1900, the Rumsey Watts family was enumerated in at their farm Russellville, Cole County, Missouri. Residing in the household were Rumsey (age 41), wife Margaret (age 46), sons Walter (age 17), John (age 15), Frank (age 11), and Herman (age 8), daughter Stella (age 6), and sons Fredrich (age 4) and John L. (age 1). Living on the farm next door was his brother John Boon Watts, sister-in-law Alice, and five nieces and nephews.
Two years after this census, daughter Nellie Marie Watts was born on 3 September 1902.
Sadly, two years later on 1 August 1904, Rumsey’s father, John K. Watts, passed away in Russellville, Cole County, Missouri. He was laid to rest in nearby Campbell Cemetery.
That next year, daughter Ollie Cathryn Watts was welcomed to the family on 10 February 1905. She was Rumsey and Maggie’s final child.
A few months later on 5 November 1905, the couple’s eldest child, Walter Gus Watts left the home when he wed Mollie McClure.
Two years later on 23 June 1907, son John Andy Watts married Maggie Della Enloe, daughter of Lewis Jasper and Ida J. Enloe.
On 19 April 1910, the Watts family was enumerated in Clark Township, Cole County, Missouri. Living on the farm were Rumsey (age 50), Margaret (age 47), Frank W.(age 20), Herman A. (age 18), Stella A. (age 16), Fred B. (age 14), Louis J. (age 10), Nellie M. (age 7), and Ollie M. (age 5).
A year and a half later on 24 December 1911, daughter Stella A. Watts married Alonzo West.
On 28 July 1914, on the other side of the world, Archduke Franz Ferdinand—heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire—and his wife Sophia were assassinated by Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip. Those gunshots heralded the start of the Great War, also known as World War I.
A little over a year later, on 16 September 1915, death would arrive on the Watts’ doorstep, when Rumsey’s beloved wife Margaret “Maggie” Barbara (Miller) Watts died at the age of 52 after suffering for eight months from a hydatid tumor in the liver. Hydatid cysts in humans are caused when eggs of the dog tapeworm taint the water or food supply and are ingested. These eggs eventually end up in the organs, primarily the liver. Liver hydatidosis can cause dissemination or anaphylaxis if a cyst ruptures into the peritoneum or biliary tract. Grief-stricken, Rumsey buried Maggie in Campbell Cemetery, not far from the final resting place of his father.
The next year in 1916, son Herman A. Watts wed Elva May Stevens.
On April 6, 1917, the United States officially entered World War I. During the next year and a half, millions of Americans served overseas and supported the homefront war effort.
On 17 March 1918, son Frank William Watts wed Jennie Belle Shoemaker, daughter of Horace Shoemaker and Mary Frances Toler, in nearby Moniteau County, Missouri.
Three months later, on 24 June 1918, newlywed Frank William Watts joined the war effort, enlisting in the U.S. Army, 130th Infantry, Company M, as a private. He would fight in the final months of the war. When the armistice was achieved on 11 November 1918, Frank William Watts, along with all of the others who served their country, was finally able to enjoy peace after so much war. 1918 Mar 17
On 6 April 1919, son Fredrick Boone Watts married Osa Irene Stark (my great-grandmother), daughter of John Daniel Stark and Elizabeth Jane Campbell.
The next month, son Frank William Watts was honorably discharged from the army, returning home to his wife.
On 28 January 1920, the Watts family was still living on their farm in Clark Township, Cole County, Missouri. Residing in the home were Rumsey (age 60), Louis (age 20), Nellie (age 17), and Ollie (age 15).
Four years passed. At some point after the 1920 Census, son Louis Watts married Virgie C. (surname unknown.) Nuptials for daughter Nellie Marie Watts also occurred after this date, with her groom being Robert W. Steenbergen.
Sadly, during that same time, when Rumsey was celebrating his children’s marriages, he was also mourning the loss of his mother, Cynthia Ann (Payne) Watts, who died on 28 March 1924, in Russellville, Cole County, Missouri. She was just two days shy of 92 years.
Five years passed. Then, on 16 February 1929, daughter Ollie Cathryn Watts, the final child living at home, left her father’s home when she wed Walter J Schatzer, son of Joseph Julius Schatzer and Sophia Anne Peters.
On 5 April 1930, the U.S. Census shows that Rumsey Watts was still residing on his Clark Township, Cole County, Missouri farm. It is questionable whether he was still farming the land, as he was 70 years old, and no farmhands were residing on the property. There is a possibility that he had purchased a tractor to farm more efficiently. However, this would have been very expensive. It is more likely that Rumsey had either retired from farming or had been financially impacted because of the Great Depression and could not afford to pay farm laborers.
It is most likely that he gave up farming, either by choice or by necessity, because a decade later on 1 April 1940, Rumsey Watts (age 80) was enumerated on the Moreau Township, Cole County, Missouri farm of his son Frank William Watts (age 50). Also living there were Frank’s wife Jennie Belle (age 42) and their nephew Hershel Elroy West (age 22), who was working as a farm laborer.
Then, just two years later on 26 February 1942, Rumsey S. Watts died in Russellville, Cole County, Missouri. He was 82 years, 2 months, and 19 days. The cause of death was acute nephritis due to renal insufficiency. Rumsey also suffered from Mönckeberg’s sclerosis, a form of arteriosclerosis or vessel hardening, where calcium deposits are found in the muscular middle layer of the walls of arteries. Rumsey was buried next to his wife Margaret in Campbell Cemetery, Cole County, Missouri.