Fred P. Watson

Deeds are thoughts crystallized and according
to their brilliancy and luster do we judge of the worth of an individual
to the community in which he lives. The study of the life of the progressive
business man and public-spirited citizen, seldom fails to offer much of
pleasing interest and valuable instruction. The subject of this review,
who is the head of one of the largest business firms of Mount Vernon, Illinois,
and a man of much more than local repute in industrial and commercial circles,
affords a striking example of the type of American character and progressive
spirit which conserves public interest while promoting individual enterprise
and success. Fred P. WATSON is a representative of the best elements of
western and eastern life, inheriting as he does the sturdy characteristics
and sterling qualities for which his ancestors on both sides of the family
were distinguished, his father having been a native of Illinois, and his
mother of New England. He was born July 22,1865, in Mount Vernon, being
one of four children whose parents Samuel H. and Anna A. (GOETSCHIUS) Watson,
who are mentioned elsewhere in these pages, and spent his childhood and
youth in the city of his birth, receiving early in life the instructions
which made for practical mental development and strength of character which
formed the foundation of his subsequent career as one of the most successful
and influential business men in the southern part of his native commonwealth.
In due time he became a pupil of the schools and after attending the same
until finishing the prescribed course of study, entered a college in St.
Louis, where he made substantial progress in the higher branches of learning
and earned an honorable record as a diligent student of the higher branches
of learning. At an early age he became interested in business pursuits
and after receiving a valuable practical training under the direction of
his father, subsequently became associated with the latter in the handling
of implements pianos, and organs, the firm thus constituted becoming in
due time the most successful of the kind in Mount Vernon, and earned for
the partners a wide reputation in commercial lines throughout Illinois
and other states. Later the elder Watson retired from the enterprise, leaving
the management in the hands of the junior member of the firm who, after
a successful career of ten years, affected a co-partnership in 1890 with
his brother, Harry W. WATSON, under the firm name of Fred P. WATSON &
Brother, which continues and now commands a very extensive and lucrative
business, being the largest and most successful enterprise of the kind,
not only in Southern Illinois, but in the entire Middle West. The growth
of this large and far-reaching establishment which has been remarkable
bears eloquent testimony to the ability, judgment and reliable business
policies of the members of the firm who are classed among the most enterprising
and progressive business men of their state, and whose continued success
thus far bespeaks still greater advancement in years to come. Since 1888,
the year in which the enterprise was established, it has grown from a modest
beginning into a mammoth concern, the meanwhile adding collateral branches
of trade as the Patronage increased until at this time the business takes
a very wide range, including wholesale and retail dealing in pianos, organs,
Piano-players, music-boxes, Phonographs and many other kinds of musical
instruments, also rubber-tired novelties, buggies, surreys, phaetons, spring,
freight and farm wagons and other vehicles in addition to which the firm
in also among the largest wholesale manufacturers of harness in the state,
besides dealing extensively in saddlery, collars, whips, robes, dusters,
saddle blankets, pads of all kinds, brushes, curry-combs, turf goods and
leather. Two years after the organization of the present firm it suffered
a severe loss by fire but immediately thereafter was commenced in a new
and much larger and more commodious building, which being completed in
due time is now one of the finest and most attractive structures in the
city. It is a large three-story brick edifice, with thirty thousand feet
of floor space, admirably situated in one of the best parts of the city
and furnished throughout with everything calculated to facilitate business
and make it a model of the kind. Ten traveling salesmen represent the firm
on the road, in addition to whom a large number of clerks and artisans
are employed, the growth of the business being such as to call for extra
men from time to time in order to meet the demands of the trade. In addition
to the main house in Mount Vernon the firm has so extended its interests
as to require a number of branch houses, the most important of which at
the present time are at Paducah, Kentucky; Marion, Hernn and Carbondale,
Illinois, all doing a profitable business and steadily growing in magnitude
and importance. The firm prestige it has gained in industrial circles has
given it an influence second to that of no other house of the kind in the
country. Both members are accomplished business men whose ability has long
been recognized and appreciated and whose judgment in matters connected
with their various lines of trade is seldom if ever at fault. Fred P. WATSON
is a gentleman of high character and unimpeachable integrity and the continuous
growth and success of the firm is largely due to his fine executive ability
and familiarity with broad views of men and things, believes in progress
in all the term implies and realizing the need of the public, has endeavored
by every legitimate means within his power to meet the same and at the
same time build up a business which shall redound to his own financial
success and add to his reputation and influence as one of the leaders in
a branch of trade which has done much for the advancement of his city and
given it an honorable standing among the important business centers of
the state. Aside from his immediate industrial and commendable interest,
Mr. WATSON is connected with other enterprises, being a director of the
Ham National Bank of Mount Vernon, and for a number of years a heavy stockholder
in the same, also a stockholder in the Third National Bank, besides owning
stock in various local industries which he helped promote and the success
of which is largely due to his untiring efforts. Not only in the business
world has he demonstrated his judgment and discrimination but also in the
social life of Mount Vernon, where he is recognized as a forceful factor
and leader, whose efforts have contributed materially to the welfare of
the city and the happiness of the people. Although long in the public view
he is destined to occupy a still larger place in the sphere of endeavor
to which, in the main, his attention has been devoted and to take a more
active and prominent part in the affairs of his fellow men in years to
come than in time gone by. Mr. Watson is a thirty-second degree Mason and
stands high in the confidence and esteem of his brethren of the Mystic
Tie in the local lodges with which he holds membership and throughout the
state. He is also a Shriner, Knights Templar, a member of the Knights of
Pythias. He is a Republican and well informed concerning the principles
and history of his party, but he is by no means a politician in the sense
the term is usually mentioned, nevertheless he discharges the duties of
citizenship as becomes a true American and is ever ready to maintain the
soundness of his opinions and support his favorite candidates. He is a
member of the First Methodist Episcopal church and has been the superintendent
of the Sunday school of his church for years and is otherwise active in
church work. The domestic life of Mr. Watson dates from July 31, 1906 ,
when he was happily married to Miss Alenia JOHNSON, of Mount Vernon, daughter
of Dr. A. C. JOHNSON, one of the city's successful physicians and surgeons
and trustworthy citizens, the union being without issue. Believing in using
the good things of this world to useful and practical ends Mr. WATSON has
surrounded himself with many of the comforts and luxuries of life, not
the least being a pleasant and attractive home, which is the abode of ideal
domestic happiness and the center of a gracious and generous hospitality
which is liberally dispensed to all who cross the threshold. 

SUBMITTED BY: Misty Flannigan
Dec 22, 1997

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