"Like most pioneers, the family were poor, and the subject of this sketch turned his attention to do what was in his power to the support of his father's family; one occupation was getting out fence-rails at 25 cents per hundred; one season he worked at Vincennes, Ind, at $6 per month, the earnings being used for the support of the family and to procure stock; breaking prairie with five or six yoke of oxen was another occupation; his milling was done at Terre Haute, Freeport, Eugene and Palestine, this trip consuming from four to eight days, made with three or four yoke of oxen; his furniture was homemade; for chairs he made stools, and bedsteads were made by boring a hole in the side and end logs of his house, in which poles were inserted, entering a post where the ends met; this was known as the raccoon bedstead; there is now in the family a cupboard made by Mr. Collins, which is put together by wooden pins, not a nail being in use--a relic valued highly; he commenced the stock business by first buying a single calf, which business he increased until he became a large stock-dealer, feeding from 150 to 200 head of cattle for several years previous to his death, at which time he owned upward of 500 acres of ladn, and had 500 rented for his stock, etc. Mr. Collins.....mourned and respected by all who knew him."
1840 Coles Co, IL. The census that year found him living between his father and Uncle Adam Collins. His house contained 3 males under age 5, himself at 20-30, his wife also 20-30.
5/20/1841 Watson was patentee on 40 acres of Coles Co land on that date.
3/10/1843 His residence was still Coles Co when he purchased 40 acres in Douglas Co, IL.
1850 Greesy Creek Pct, Coles Co, IL. That year he was living next door to brother Aaron. No occupation was listed but he had property = $1200. He was 40 years old, wife Minerva was 38. They had children: Aaron, 12; George, 10; Mary J, 8; Rebecca A, 6; Margaret, 5, and Daniel, 3. Interestingly the same census taker recorded ages for this family which conflict with family birth records but had brother Aaron's family listed correctly.
7/4/1860 PO Charleston, Morgan Twp, Coles Co, IL. In that census his property then = $5250/150 but no occupation. Living with him were children: Aaron, 22, Mary J, 19, Becky A, 17, Margaret, 15, and George W, 21. When his wife died, the 3 younger children went to live with their uncle Aaron where they were listed in the census. Family also said Watson's son John was raised from age 12 by Uncle Joseph Carter. (Who was John?)
Morgan Twp, Coles Co, IL. He gave estray notice for a heifer, J.S. Rardin, Justice. No date was recorded.
1866 The tax assessor listed: 80 acres in corn, 10 in other grain; 17 horses at $714, 65 cattle at $1324, 10 sheep at $10, 112 hogs at $303; 1 carriage at $50; $150 in money and credits; and $125 enumerated property. The total = $2678 plus over $2000 in real
7/4/1870 Curtisville, Coles Co, IL. According to the census, he had no property at all even though his occupation was farmer. He was 58 and daughter Mary, 29, was the housekeeper. Other children there were Martha, 19, Eliza, 14, and two little children, Boyd, 5, and Rosa, 3, could have been Mary's even though their name was recorded as Collins. Down the road was brother Aaron.
1883 The county Delinquent Tax List included Watt Collins, $1.89 for 10 acres in Section 27.
The 1850 census said he was 40, making his birth year 1810.
Cemetery records state he arrived in Illinois in 1830, not 1831.