FHB Thomas A Watson Sr

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Family History Book: Thomas Alexander Watson, Sr. (1878-1934)

Born on 11 November 1878 in Alabama, Thomas was the second son and fourth child of Charles M Watson and Martha Ann "Mattie" Smith. We don't know anything about his childhood except that after his father died (in 1889), he left Alabama for Texas with his mother, two brothers and youngest sister, living in Dallas by 1896. His older sisters had both married, and stayed in Alabama a while longer before also going to Texas with their families. Enroute, his older brother, Harvey Emmett, drowned while crossing a river in 1891, leaving Tom as the eldest sibling in the shrinking family and the "man of the house" at the age of just 13.
According to his death certificate, Thomas was a mechanical engineer, listed there as "retired" even though he was only fifty-six at the time of his death. He had been in precarious health for some years, suffering with a heart condition (chronic endocarditis), arterio-sclerosis, and "frontal lobe atrophy" for about 16 years, although his primary cause of death was listed as pulmonary edema and cardiac failure. The brain lesion was diagnosed by autopsy, but had been suspected because of his seizures and sometimes violent behavior. We don't know the cause of this condition, although given his occupation as a millwright it could have resulted from a work-place accident. Eventually the seizures became so bad that he lost his job because the mills were afraid he would fall into the machinery. If he belonged to a trade union he would have had some financial protection, but he didn't believe in them, so his wife and sons had to go to work to support the family. Ida worked as a seamstress, while the boys had large paper routes. After they graduated from high school, the girls also took jobs as secretaries.
On 10 January 1900 he married Ida Cora Alexander. They had six children, including twin boys who died as infants, one at only two days old, and the second at age six and 1/2 months. The children were:
Thomas A Watson, Sr. died on 27 December 1934, and is buried at Sparkman Hillcrest Memorial Park in Dallas, Texas. He was originally interred at Oakland Cemetery in South Dallas, but was removed to Hillcrest in 1954 along with the remains of several other relatives when the neighborhood deteriorated and was considered unsafe to visit.

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