Josiah Watson & Martha McCormack

Martha and Josiah Watson were likely my fifth great-grandparents. I say “likely”, because it’s one of those cases where there is only circumstantial evidence. There are family trees that list them as the parents of Tarlton / Talton Watson, my fourth  great-grandfather. They were also neighbors in Montgomery County, Tennessee. (See 1841 enumeration below.)

In researching whether or not they were Talton’s parents, I’ve learned a lot about Josiah and Martha. They were born about 1792 – 1796. From census records, we know they were from Virginia and married there between 1814 and 1818. Buckingham and Henrico counties are listed on family trees as their place of residence.

Martha’s last name is McCormack, McCormac or McCord on all the family trees I’ve ran across, but I don’t know who their source is. (See below for a biography on one of their children, which lists her last name as McCormac.) No one has a clue who her parents were.

I’m not sure about Josiah’s parents either. Some say they were George Watson and Comfort Wilkerson / Wilkinson. An old Montgomery County, Tennessee deed lists a Josiah and Josiah Jr., possibly referring to Josiah as junior. Therefore, some people say his parents were Josiah Watson Sr. and Jane Taylor. I am going to research this more.

1805 – From Montgomery Co. TN Deeds Vol 3 (1802-1807) Deed Book C, page 17:
Indenture made this 4th day of March 1803, between James Watson of Alexandria and District of Columbia, and John Benson, Esq., of Fredericksburg, VA, for and in consideration of the sum of three hundred dollars to him in hand paid, for a tract of land lying in Mero District, and containing two hundred and seventy-four acres, being part of a tract granted to James C. Gorham and conveyed by him to James Watson, and lying on the bank of Red River.
Test: Josiah Watson, John Watson, John McIver, Anthony Thornton, Jos. Watson, Jr. John Gibson, Jr. John Taylor, Jr.
Signed: James Watson

Thanks to Steve Watson for this info. 

The couple has at least 12 children credited to them:

Oldest child – possibly a daughter?
Thomas Jefferson Watson 1818–1900
Tarlton Talton Watson 1819–1862
Joseph Watson 1824–
Stephen Watson 1826–
James Watson 1827–
John Watson 1830–
Martha A Watson 1830–
Nancy Watson 1834–
Susan Watson 1838–
George Watson 1840–
Sarah Jane Watson 1843–

The oldest son, Thomas Jefferson Watson, has a short biography featured in a publication from 1886.

Article in a History of Tennessee at the Newberry Library. The article is on a Thomas J. Watson in Montgomery County, Tennessee (believed to have died October 25, 1900). The article or the book was published in 1886.

WATSON, Thomas J. was born 1 Jan 1818 near Richmond Virginia. His father, Josiah Watson, born near close of last century (1790s (?) in Va. and was of Scotch-Irish

He (Josiah) was a soldier in the War of 1812 and was in the famous Battle of New Orleans. In 1814 he married Miss Martha McCormac, a native of Va., and of Irish descent.  To this union 12 children were born, of whom our subject is the 2nd. When Thomas J. Watson was a small boy his parents moved to Montgomery County., Tn. and in a short time moved from there to Marion Co., Il. leaving our subject and a brother and sister here. The father of our subject died just before close of the late war and his mother is still living, at the advanced age of 91 years. Her eyesight is so good that she does not use spectacles and she now has her 3rd set of teeth. Our subject was educated at county schools and before becoming  of age he learned the cooper’s trade, which business he followed for some time. He then purchased the farm where he has ever since resided. On January 15, 1845 he married Miss Elizabeth Ann Rudolph (in Montgomery County) a native of this county, and a daughter of Jacob and Martha Rudolph. They had the following children: Gustavus E., Thaddeus N., Ella W., Benjamin T., William R., John M., Margaret W., and Wallace W. Mr. Watson owns a very good farm, and until recently he had an interest in the Cumberland Flouring Mills. Our subject is a democrat, and a member of the Fredonia Lodge of F. and A. M. He and family are members of Cumberland Presbyterian Church and one son is a minister of the gospel. (Credit)

Josiah fought in the War of 1812 as a Private in Captain George Booker’s Virginia Militia and under Captain John Morgan. His dates of service were December 30, 1813 until April 11, 1814 and August 1, 1814 until February 4, 1815. (Source: Pension index and US Headstone Application)

From Virginia, the family moved to Tennessee. In 1836, Josiah is listed on the District 9, Montgomery County, Tennessee tax list. He is listed as owning 90 acres of “school lands”. Here is an old forum that discusses school lands. The State of Tennessee made communities set aside so many acres for schools and colleges. I don’t fully understand why/how Josiah was living on this land.

On the 1840 Montgomery County census, Josiah is listed with:
1 male under 5 (George)
2 males 10-14 (James, John)
1 male 15-19 (Stephen?)
1 male 40-49 (Josiah)
1 female under 5 (Susan)
2 females 5-10 (Nancy, Martha A.)
1 female 10-14 (Unknown daughter)
1 females 40-49 (Martha)

In 1841, there is an enumeration of “free white male persons” in District 9 of Montgomery County, Tennessee:
Watson, Josiah
Watson, Thomas
Watson, Taitton (Tartlon)
(Source: Montgomery County, TN County Court Minutes Book 21 website)

Josiah and his family are listed twice on the 1850 census. This is actually a great find, because it tells us they moved in 1850. One census is from Montgomery County, Tennessee and the other in from Williamson County, Illinois.

On October 4, 1850, Josiah was listed on the Agriculture U.S. Selected Federal Census Non-Population Schedules. He stated on June 1, 1850, he owned 20 acres of land worth $100 and the value of his farm improvement and machinery was $50. He had two horses and two cows; their value was $130. He grew 1,000 bushels of corn. Finds like this make me so happy. I love learning details about my ancestors’ lives.

Thanks to Amanda Trill for gravestone photo.

Sadly, Josiah is said to have died August 1853 at the age of about 61. There is a US Veteran Headstone application in 1937, 84 years after his death. In his son’s biography above, it sounds like he died later than 1853, around 1865. I think he died before 1860, because he’s not on the 1860 census.

Martha is living in Williamson  County, Illinois on the 1860 census with her younger children. She disappears after that.

Her death date is listed as May 26, 1890 or May 26, 1897 in Marion, Williamson County, Illinois, in most family trees. There is no documented source.

There is a War of 1812 military pension application that I was able to view the index card for. It is undated. There might be more info about Josiah and Martha in the pension file.

I’ve also had a hard time figuring out where most of their children ended up. This family sure has many mysteries.

I have tried my best to piece together what we know about this family. I am hopeful to learn more. If you have any information to share about Josiah and Martha, please email me at

One thought on “Josiah Watson & Martha McCormack

  1. Pingback: Tarlton Watson – Down Home Genealogy

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