Elementary, my dear: Watson!

232 Whittle Street, Chatham, Virginia
By Henry H. Mitchell

Watson House

The Watson home, photographed in 1999.

What family name has the longest continuous association with Chatham land? Watson, of course!

Thomas “The Scotchman” Watson settled on Cherrystone Creek around 1740. Col. William Byrd had surveyed the Virginia-North Carolina line through this empty frontier region in 1728, so Thomas Watson was one of the very first European settlers here.

Today's Whittle Street Watson home, on a ridge above Cherrystone Creek, was built in 1894 by Fletcher Bangs Watson on land already long associated with the Watson family (see, for example, the 1878 Gray's Map of Chatham). Today the venerable property still includes a pasture and several dependencies, and is the residence of Judge Fletcher B. Watson, IV, who represents the eighth generation of local Watsons, and the fourth successive F. B. Watson at this house.

The Watson family was instrumental in establishing Methodism in the area. Today's Watson Memorial United Methodist Church stands on North Main Street.

Watson Home ca. 1906

The Watson home, photographed in 1906.

Among the Chatham Watsons' many notables of the past were local school superintendents Fletcher B. Watson and Fletcher B. Watson, Jr., geologist Dr. Thomas Watson, chemist Dr. J. Wilbur Watson, and equestrian “Miss Bettie” Watson (Mrs. F. B. Watson, III, long-time mistress of this Watson home). Among the current generation is Nashville guitarist Biff Watson (F. B. Watson, V).

For further information, see:

The photograph of the Watson House, ca. 1906, is from the archives of Chatham Hall, Chatham, VA.

This website is sponsored by Mitchells Publications and the Sims-Mitchell House, Chatham, Virginia.