Watson's Harverene™ Resort

On the South Shore of Lake Chelan, Washington

Established 1892

Be a Family Again™

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[This article is being published in sections at approximately-monthly intervals on GoLakeChelan.com. The sections are being appended here after each appearance on GoLakeChelan. Please come back regularly to read the rest of the story!]



In memory of those who have come before us and
are no longer with us, and to our ancestors who so
thoughtfully left us this wonderful legacy.

By Robert H. Watson Jr.

Edited and proofread by Keith Little
Photo reproduction by Keith Little


By Keith Little

I've been nearly as hooked on the history of the Watson family and of this region as "Bub" Watson is, ever since the day he introduced me to his remarkable collection of family photos.

Any one of those images, taken alone, may seem to be just another antique picture. But seen together, with a living representative of the family as my guide, and on the very spot of the Watson homestead, they become an enchanting and vivid portrayal of a time that was full of novelty and potential for those who lived it.

There in full view, in images and prose, are the nearly pristine wilderness and the rugged, adventuresome people who came to build new lives upon it. And before me in the present are the results of all that work, all that vision and hope and hardship; in the form of persons and places with all the character and charm you could hope for.

The foresight of the Watsons of those days shows that they were fully conscious of their unique place in history. They understood the newness of what they were doing, and the immense value to future generations of a record of their lives and efforts. The written records are evidence of a sustained and dedicated effort. Photography in those early days wasn't a casual undertaking; its trappings were bulky and costly and time-consuming.

Bub's enthusiasm for this fascinating record is as laudable as it is infectious. He does full justice to his ancestors and their contemporaries. I'm honored to help him present his history - our history - to you.

Table of Contents

A Note from Robert H. Watson Jr.

While I have always loved local and family history, a writer I am not. I will never forget however, the words of my third grade teacher Ruth Pingrey who said "if you enjoy writing; then write." "If you are not a good speller, never let spelling keep you from writing." I thank Mrs. Pingrey for these words of advice.

Personally, I am not a big reader. I just do not seem to find time for it with the exception of reading bits and peaces of history or draft horse articles and so forth. We have guests who stay at Watson's Resort, who can spend an entire week sitting on the beach and reading. While I admire such relaxing qualities, this is not for me.

I have always found our local history fascinating. Perhaps because I can actually see where something took place. History that I can actually put my hands on. I love to go to a location and try to find where an event from the past took place, or where a historic building may have sat.

In my limited reading, it seems that the writers and authors usually have quite a portfolio filled with awards and degrees of some sort; perhaps a degree in history or literature or something along those lines. As for me, I have none. I write for two reasons: because I enjoy history and writing, and because I want to pass on information for future generations to enjoy. That is it.

It is hard to believe that fifteen years has passed since my first real major writing endeavor. It was during the winter of 1995 that my father asked me to put something together for an upcoming celebration which was to take place the coming summer. What a project it was, but oh, what a thrill it was too. As I had stated in that book, there were missing pieces to the puzzle that needed to be filled in. Since that time, more pieces have been found; some by me and some by other family members. The Internet has really changed things since then.

here we are again, adding to the Watson story. Adding a few more bits and pieces. Some are rather minor while others have been huge and exciting. Some are included in this section of history, and some will be added at a later date. I hope you get some enjoyment out of reading this, but most of all, I hope the generations to come find this information helpful and enjoyable.

I would like to thank Keith Little for his interest, advise, time and for the hours and hours of just chatting on the phone. I would also like to thank my family for their patients while working on these projects. They have sacrificed their time to make this expanded bit of history possible. And I am so very thankful for my ancestors. What remarkable people they were.

Robert H. Watson Jr.


"The Early Years"

J. Howard Watson, a man involved in the newspaper profession all his life, first came to Chelan in January of 1892. Prior to arriving in Chelan, he had worked for the Washington Post, Chicago Daily News, Chicago Tribune, Spokane Spokesman, as well as starting some of his own newspapers.

J. Howard was the son of Irish Immigrants Joseph and Rebecca (Sproule) Watson. His parents had immigrated to the United States shortly after their marriage in 1849, during the great potato famine.

Watson, Joseph, Attorney, of Mt. Vernon, was born March 1, 1827 in the town of Ballyreagh, county Fermanagh, Ireland. He was married in Ballinamallard on the seventh day of July, 1848, to Miss Rebecca Sproule, daughter of John Sproule, of Autamuien, county Tyrone and immigrated to American in Aug. 1849.
History of Knox County

They came to America from their Tyrone, Ireland home. After arriving in the United States, they first settled in Newark, Ohio but eventually became residents of Mount Vernon, Ohio. After taking up residence in Mount Vernon in 1852, Joseph was engaged in merchandising with his brother-in-law, Joseph Sproule, who had immigrated to Mount Vernon that year from County Fermanagh, Ireland. Together they operated "Sproule & Watson" merchandising groceries. They remained partners in the enterprise until the partnership was dissolved in 1859.

After the dissolving of "Sproule & Watson", Joseph studied law and in 1861 was admitted to the bar. He entered into a law practice partnership with E. I. Mendenhali. In 1880 the partnership ceased and Joseph opened an office in Columbus, Ohio.

In 1861 he was admitted to the bar to practice law and has continued at his profession ever since. In April 1880, he opened an office in Columbus, Ohio, and was there admitted to practice in the United States courts.
History of Knox County

Joseph and Rebecca raised a family of six children.

Mr. Watson has reared a family of six children - William B., Isabella, John S., Joseph H., Mathew O., and Frank C. -
History of Knox County

Mr. and Mrs. Watson lived devoted Christian lives. They were also strong and determined Democrats in their political beliefs, but despite this, all of Joseph and Rebecca's sons joined the ranks of the Republican Party after reaching adulthood.

Joseph died at the age of 73 in Mount Vernon. Rebecca survived Joseph a few years, dying at the age of 76.


J. Howard Watson, Joseph and Rebecca's fourth child in age, was born in Mount Vernon, Ohio on August 15, 1858. It was while J. Howard was attending public school in Ohio that he began what would be a life long career in the newspaper business, working as a printer when he was sixteen. At the age of eighteen, J. Howard became the manager of the "Knox County Advocate". He published this Paper in the interest of the Republican Party even though Knox County was primarily Democratic at the time. In 1879, James A. Garfield, the first Republican ever chosen to represent the District, was elected.

During the early stages of the greenback excitement in 1877-8, several new papers spring up throughout Ohio in advocacy of the doctrine. Two made their appearance in one week in Mt. Vernon, viz: "The Know County National Advocate, edited and published by Joseph H. Watson and William A. Agnew, two of Mt. Vernon's young typos, ........ The National Advocate, after one year's existence, finding its support in sufficient, was turned into a Republican paper by dropping the word "National". The plan did not seem to work for after a short struggle, The Advocate suspended. During the exciting local campaigns of 1878, Watson and Agnew, for about two months issued a daily two cent edition as a Republican Campaign Paper.
History of Knox County

After managing the "Advocate", J. Howard was offered a position in the United States Treasury Department, thus a trip was made to Washington D.C. to accept the position. At the advice of Secretary Sherman however, J. Howard ended up declining this position in Department life. Although he did not enter the Treasury Department field, Mr. Watson did remain in Washington D.C. where he accepted a position working for the Washington Post. J. Howard Watson worked for the "Post" for over a year before returning to Ohio.

Upon his return to Ohio from Washington D.C., he established a paper in Newark, Ohio called "The Pen". This weekly journal was published until 1882 when it was sold. After selling the Pen, Mr. Watson traveled to Chicago where he was a writer and editor for the Chicago Daily News and later for the Chicago Tribune.

Daguerrotype, 1853
Daguerrotype, taken in 1853.
One of these two ladies is Catherin Irish
(nee Staley), who was the mother of J. Howard
Watson's wife Katherine Verene (nee) Irish.

On July 4th, 1885, J. Howard Watson married Katherine (Kittie) Verene Irish in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Katherine was born the daughter of George D. and Catherine Irish, both natives of Ann Arbor. Katherine was born on January 20, 1862 in Saginaw, Michigan.

Albumen print, ca. 1860
Three daughters of George D. and Catherin Irish.
One of the daughters is Katherine V (Irish) Watson.

Like her husband J. Howard, Catherine was active in politics and J. Howard's professional life blended well with Katherine's love of social entertainment and companionship. She loved to entertain guests and to attend all types of social events and activities.

On January 22, 1888, J. Howard and Katherine Watson were blessed with their only surviving child, Harold Mathew Watson, born in Chicago, Illinois.

"He was one of twin boys, but the other had died shortly after birth."
From the book "We left Because the Creek went Dry"
By Elizabeth Watson Perry
Albumen print, 1888
Harold Watson, 1888

NEXT: "Heading West"

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Be a Family Again