Saturday, August 10, 2013

This Week in Texas Methodist History August 11

Texas Conference Preacher Eulogized as “One of the Best Men in the World”  August 15, 1929

Upon learning of the death of the Rev. W. W. Watts, the editor of the Mineola Monitor, R. H. Carraway, called the deceased “one of the best preachers in Texas, and one of the best men in the world.”

Carraway then related that he had known Rev. Watts for about thirty years and told of the preacher’s extraordinary generosity.  One incident illustrated that generosity. At one of his pastorates Watts was called to the death bed of a woman with 7 children.  Her husband had died without property.  The woman could see that she was about to join her husband in death.  She told Watts, “If you promise to take my children, I can die in peace.”  Watts assured her that he would.  The mother then died, and W. W. Watts kept his word.  He adopted the 7 children, one of whom was an infant. 

Wilson Woodrough Watts was born in Georgia in 1861.  In 1891 he was admitted on trial into the East Texas Conference of the MECS and was appointed to the Marshall Mission and then the  Garrison Circuit.  He went from there to Orange, Beaumont First, and then volunteered as a chaplain in the 1st Texas Regiment in the Spanish American War.  He came back from the chaplaincy to Longview, Nacogdoches, Marlin, Jacksonville, Houston Tabernacle, Pittsburg, and back to Orange.  His last appointment was Presiding Elder of the Beaumont District, and in 1923 became Conference Mission Secretary. 

The seven orphan children from one family were not the only children in the family.  Mrs. Watts (the former Lillie Blalock) had four children of their own, and in addition to the 7 orphan children from one family, they adopted, reared, and educated nine more orphans for a total of 20 children.  Mrs. Watts (born 1872 in Harrison Co.) died in 1912 while they living in Pittsburg.  W. W. Watts then had sole responsibility for the children.  How could he do it?  He obviously needed a great deal of help.  Watts solicited funds from wealthy parishioners to help him carry on this work of taking orphaned children into the parsonage and providing for their sustenance and education.

When death finally came, it was at the home of his daughter Martha in Thomasville, Georgia.


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