The paternal grandfather of our subject was Edward L. Watts, a native of
England, who, coming to the United States in 1850, purchased a farm of about
twenty-five acres in LaSalle county. There his wife died, many years ago,
and in 1877 he removed to Peru, where he built a house and continued to
reside until his death, in 1879, when he was in his eightieth year.
One of the three children of this worthy couple was Edward W., born in London, England, in 1833. He learned the carpenter's trade and obtained a fair education in his youth, and was but seventeen when he sailed for America. Coming to this state, he worked in the town of Lamoille, Bureau county, for some time, after which he was employed upon a farm. Next he rented land for six or seven years, and by economy and well applied energy was enabled to buy a homestead of one hundred and ninety acres in Dimmick township, LaSalle county. To this he later added twenty-five acres, but ultimately sold ten acres to the LaSalle & Bureau County Belt Line Railroad. He is still living upon his place, keeps everything in fine condition, and is considered one of the most enterprising farmers of his community. He is interested in the cause of education, being a member of the district school board, and in political matters is an unflinching Republican.
Edward W. Watts married Ann Raycraft, whose birth had occurred in Ireland, January 22, 1838. Her father, John Raycraft, came to this country from the Emerald Isle about 1856, and, after residing for a period in Wisconsin, lived with his children in Bureau, Lee and LaSalle counties, Illinois. Both he and his wife lived to advanced years, and their numerous children are to be found in widely separated states of this Union. Of the six sons and six daughters born to Edward W. and Ann Watts three are deceased; Edward, who died from the effect of severe burns, when a child; and two other boys, who died in infancy. Martha is the widow of John Thompson, of LaSalle; Thomas W. is the subject of this sketch: Anna is the wife of John Bangert, of Chicago; Lida is the wife of Gus. Jackley, of Penoea, Iowa; Frances married Walter Spanswick, of Ottawa, Illinois; George. Alfred, Nellie and Mabel are still living at home.
The birth of Thomas W. Watts took place near the present town of Ladd, Bureau county, Illinois, March 1, 1861. When he was six years old he was taken by his parents to their new home in Dimmick township, LaSalle county. He received a district-school education, and after he had reached man's estate he had charge of the old homestead for about two years. Later he rented a farm in the vicinity, though he continued to live at home, and was prospering when all of his ambitious plans were overturned. He was run over by a team and so seriously injured that he was practically an invalid for the next two years. When able to engage in active life again he became the agent for wire fencing, and in December, 1894, came to Peru, where he purchased the livery business of George Snyder, on Water street. He built up a paying business, and in May, 1898, erected a new livery stable on Fifth street. This he equipped with various kinds of vehicles, carriages, broughams and light road-carts, and is doing a good business.
On the 22d of January, 1896, Mr. Watts married Rebecca M., daughter of Fred and Mona (Cox) Daft. The young couple have an attractive home on Fifth street near his livery, and two little ones — Cecil E. and Rebecca — brighten their home with their presence. In political matters Mr. Watts is a Republican, and before he left the township in which he was reared he served for three terms as a school director. Fraternally he belongs to the Knights of Pythias, the Odd Fellows, and the Mystic Workers of the World. Upright and just in all his dealings, he commands the respect and sincere regard of all with whom he is associated.
Extracted 22 Dec 2017 by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois, published in 1900, volume 2, pages 531-533.