Joseph Saunders and Mary Ann (Barratt) Watson

Extracts from "Eliza Louisa Watson" By Aloa Dereta -  

Joseph Saunders (Sanders, Sanderson?) Watson was apparently born in the area of London, England, on November 9, 1819. One source shows London, Voxhall (Vauxhall) Parish, and a second refers to Middlesex. In any event, both references are in the London area. There is an oral family legend that Joseph Watson had run away from home and changed his name and therefore it has been impossible to trace his family. Edwin Watson told his family that Joseph's parents were very wealthy and had on deposit in a bank in England millions of dollars. Joseph had lost his papers proving he had changed his name and his descendants could, therefore, not prove lineage. Edwin was supposed to have gone back to England to try and achieve documentation to prove his lineage but to no avail. At the time of the beginning of the First World War the money, which had lain in the bank for over fifty years, reverted to the Crown. There are some obvious holes in that story but I still wanted to include it here.

The name of a father is shown on the family group records in possession of many of the family, but there does not seem to be any documentation for that selection and the lineage remains unproven. Edwin did the temple work for many of the Watson family and on the sheet for Thomas Watson, he claimed lineage as a nephew. This would certainly be more plausible than to suppose Thomas was Joseph's father at the age of 16. Also if Joseph had changed his name, Thomas Watson would not be the name of his father. Did he take his mother's maiden name and Thomas then was his uncle? This is a matter for others to research.

Mary Ann Barratt was born in Staffordshire, in the town of Burton-on-Trent, on January 3, 1819, the daughter of Joseph Barratt and Ann Cotton. Joseph Barratt, her father, Again, legend has it that Joseph Barratt was a landlord, owning and renting houses. Mary Ann continued to live in that area until her emigration to America.

Joseph Sanders Watson was a stonemason. It was by this means that he made his living. When times were slack and there was no work he would take jobs in gardens and greenhouses. One day a gentleman for whom he was working gave him a "love apple" as they were then called. There was an ancient tradition that if a suitor could induce his lady love to eat one she could not refuse his arduous suit. The gentry actually served them on their tables to company, as well as to their families. Mary Ann thought the tomato so beautiful she placed it on a saucer and put it on the mantle as an ornament. Eliza watched it hoping she would soon get to taste the lovely thing. As the days went by, moisture began to collect so she decided to try it. It was not sweet. The beautiful fruit was sour and had a horrid taste, and most unusual flavor. Eliza ran screaming and frightened to her mother saying she had been poisoned. After Ann's reassurance, Eliza spat out the tomato and washed out her mouth.

Joseph and Ann were the parents of a large family. They were married November 5, 1838, at Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England. Their first child was a son, William Henry Watson, who was born November 22, 1839, at Burton-on-Trent. He was christened November 28, 1839. The birth was registered with the Registrar's Office on December 28, 1839. At the time of his birth in 1841 the family was living on Little Burton Street in the town of Burton-on-Trent. On July 28, 1841, shortly after the 1841 census was taken, Mary Ann gave birth to a second son, Joseph Barratt Watson. Sarah Ann was born 18 December 1843. She was born on Anderstaff Lane in Burton. The Parish records show a christening date of January 1, 1844. Her birth was registered with the Registration Office January 5, 1844. Her birth was not even registered, therefore, before the little one had died, on January 4, 1844. Her cause of death was "convulsions."

Edwin Watson was born December 15, 1848, and by the time the 1851 census was taken the family which by then consisted of Joseph, Ann, William Henry, Joseph Barratt, and Edwin, were all living in the township of Burton Extra in the Ecclesiastical District of Christ Church, the town of Burton-on-Trent, at #63 Back Lane. April 26, 1851, Albert Edward was born. The family were still living in Burton Extra, Burton-on-Trent. Also by 1851, the family had accepted the gospel. They had heard the elders preaching on the streets in their town and turning to Mary Ann, Joseph said, "Mother, this is what we have been looking for." They were baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints. Mary Ann was baptized first, on June 15, 1851, and Joseph soon followed her on June 30, 1851. William Henry was baptized the same day as his father. Joseph Barratt Watson was baptized July 17, 18 , (year not legible). Apparently the family's baptismal records did not follow them and they were re-baptized, both in person and by proxy several times after their emigration.

John Isaac Hart heard the gospel and was converted in England. He was persecuted for his religion and lost his job. He subsequently walked over 6,000 miles throughout England preaching the gospel and then left for America. I believe the Watsons were influenced by John. When he returned, as he did several times on missions to England, he organized companies to emigrate to Utah. One such company involved the Watsons.

Following their conversion, their lives certainly' changed. By 1853 the family had moved to Branstone, a suburb of Burton-on-Trent, and it is there on 13 September 1853, that Eliza Louisa was born. She was the second daughter, but the only one living at the time of her birth. The family lived at #106 Village Street, still in the Ecclesiastical District of Christ Church. 

Eliza tells us that her parents were humble, hard-working people. Being the first girl she says, "I was a favorite with my father. Needless to say, he was my idol. Mother claimed father spoiled me. At meal times he saw that I got more than my share of delicacies, such as there were."

"At the dinner table father would ask me which I would rather have, a lady's slice oŁ bread or a flower boy's slice. of course, I asked for a lady's slice and received a thin, well-buttered slice. Then he would ask the boys which they would prefer, a gentleman's slice or a flower boy's slice. When they said a gentleman's slice he would cut a slice nearly an inch thick and butter it sparingly."

Clara Ann Watson was born April 6, 1856, and the family was growing large. Eliza tells a bit of their home life:

[Some quotes from Joseph's daughter Eliza: ]

"By the time I was five years old (1858) I had learned to do my household chores, dusting, drying cups and saucers, hemming of small clothes and knitting my own garters which were an inch wide, twenty inches long, and knit of a soft cotton yarn or string. These were wrapped tightly around the leg at the top of the stocking, then the stocking wrapped or rolled down over the garter. They were tight and held the stocking up very well."

Selina Agnes, another daughter, was born July 4, 1858, but she was not to live either. she died in 1859. The family were living in Branstone when she was born and her birth was registered August 9, 1858.

Eliza further describes her life:
"About this time, (1858) I started to school and entered the third class which was the lowest grade. We were taught the alphabet numbers and to write them. Our schoolmaster was very stern and much feared. There was no play or recess but part of the school day was spent in separate classes, the boys under the master learning woodworking, gardening, simple leather work, etc., while the girls were taught sewing, mending, knitting, and proper ways to perform simple household tasks. Etiquette was also taught,: how to address elders, how to extend proper courtesy to nobility, and how to speak to them, such as, 'My Lord' or 'My Lady.' This applied to titled people or landed gentry. We were taught also how to curtsey, when to speak and when not to speak, etc. We remained in the third class until the master was satisfied we knew all that was required of us and the following year we could attend the second class."

"In England in those days, it was customary for little girls to wear thin cotton dresses over a dark wool or linsey-woolsey dress as one would wear an apron or pinafore. A ribbon was drawn from the neck of both dresses down through the loose sleeves and drawn up to be tied with a bow at the shoulder, leaving the little arms bare to the chill winter winds. No coats were worn except to church on Sunday. Little girls' arms were covered with chillblanes which often broke out in great ugly sores and were very painful and itchy, and hard to heal."

September 1, 1860, Ann Watson gave birth to Mary Jane, her last child. Joseph Sanders Watson and Ann Barrett Watson were still living in Branstone. They were very staunch in the faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints. Ann often told her family of an incident at the time of Mary Jane's birth when a call came from the heads of the church for a sum of money a pound (equivalent to about $5.00), for the Salt Lake Temple. Ann chided Joseph saying, "Where shall we get the clothes for the one that is coming and how shall we clothe and feed the ones we have?" Joseph's answer was, "Ann, if you didn't have a crust of bread in the house I would answer that call!" The next day a lady drove up in a fine coach and had her coachman bring in food enough to last the family two weeks and an amount of flannels, woolens and fine cotton, lace, ribbon, and lovely yarn, enough to make a layette for twins. Thus, Mary was the best-dressed infant in the family.

When the 1861 census was taken the family was living at #106 Village Street in Branstone. William was married but Joseph was yet at home, shown as being 19 years of age, a labourer. Edwin, Albert Edward, Eliza Louisa, Clara Ann, and Mary Jane were all at home. Their father had but a year to live. Joseph Saunders Watson died on November 13, 1862.

Eliza was greatly affected by the death of her father. She says: "When I was nearing the completion of my second year in school, my father died suddenly while suffering from a hemorrhage caused by breathing fine particles of stone. At the death of my father I ran frantic with grief from one neighbor's house to another. I shall never forget the sight of the blood oozing from his mouth and nose during his last struggle for life and the difficulty in breathing."

"After father's death I could no longer go to school. My older brothers went to work in the mines and Albert hired to gentleman brewer as a stable boy. My mother obtained the laundry from the gentleman's estate: the dainty apparel of th` gentleman and his lady; also that belonging to their staff of servants, the household linens, scullery cloths and stable towels. It became my duty to mind my two smaller sisters, Clara and Mary, run errands for mother, and call for and deliver the laundry in a large hamper that sat in a small wagon. As soon as possible I did much of the housecleaning and had more responsibility placed on my shoulders than a child should have."