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Collection Title: Watkins (W.H.) Letter

Collection Number: M303

Dates: April 24, 1861

Volume: 1 Item

Provenance: Donated by Mr. Banks W. Van Pelt, Jr. on September 19, 1986.

Copyright: This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Biographical/Historical Sketch:

William H. Watkins was born in Jefferson County, Mississippi, in 1815. His father, Asa Watkins (b.1777), originated from Jefferson County, Georgia, and moved to Mississippi in the early years of the nineteenth century. Asa Watkins became a successful planter and remained in Mississippi until his death in 1840.

William H. Watkins became a Methodist minister and moved from Mississippi in the mid-1830s to Jackson, Louisiana, where he held the position of President at Centenary College. Later, Watkins served in the New Orleans Methodist Conference. While living in New Orleans, he met and married Elizabeth Jones (b.1818), a native of Liverpool, England. Together, the couple reared eleven children -- six sons and five daughters. On leaving New Orleans sometime between 1840 and 1846, Watkins returned to Mississippi and settled in Natchez, where he became a distinguished and influential clergyman of the Methodist Episcopal church, and was a prominent member of the Mississippi Methodist Conference from 1846 onwards. Throughout his life, Watkins served as a Methodist minister in several Mississippi cities, including Jackson and Vicksburg. Watkins died in 1881.

Several of William Watkins' children became notable in later years. William H., John M., and Benjamin Drake became well-known doctors in the New Orleans and Natchez areas; Thomas H. became a successful planter; and Alex F. followed in his father's foot-steps, becoming a notable figure in the Methodist church.

Scope and Content:

This collection contains two photocopies of a letter written by Reverend William H. Watkins, of Adams County, Mississippi, to Dr. C.B. New of Jefferson County, Mississippi. Accompanying the photocopies is a handwritten transcription of the letter, which is helpful due to the illegibility of some sections of the original. Dated April 24, 1861, the letter is a reply to Dr. New concerning the status of a transaction involving land. Details contained in the letter are confusing in places but appear to involve a quest by Watkins to attain a title to a parcel of land currently in the possession of Dr. New. Unfortunately, difficulties have arisen with the transaction, and the letter is an attempt by Watkins to correct the problems.

The collection is of note to anyone interested in the legal history of Mississippi, as the letter provides insight into the formalities associated with the sale of land in the nineteenth century. Included are numerous details concerning legal documents, sale agreements, and land titles.


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