Biography of Thomas D. Watkins
Oneida County, NY Biographies





Thomas David Watkins, who has been engaged in the practice of law in Utica since September, 1893, was born at Plainfield, Otsego county, New York, September 4, 1870. He is a son of John Watkins, a native of Wales, who was brought to America by his parents, John and Ellen Watkins, when he was but two years of age. The family came to Oneida county, New York, and settled in the timber, in Deerfield township, where grandfather Watkins made a clearing for a home. The son John was reared upon his father's farm and became a successful agriculturist. He moved to Plainfield, Otsego county, in 1860, and he died June 17, 1901, at the age of seventy four years, at that city. He was a man of sturdy convictions and high principles, being also a consistent member of the Congregational church. Politically he gave his support to the republican party, and held town office for many years. The mother, Ellen James before her marriage, was also a native of Wales and came to the United States at two years of age with her parents, John and Ellen James. The family located at Marcy, Oneida county, New York, and later moved to Frankfort, on Frankfort Hill, in Herkimer county. Mr. James engaged in farming with a marked degree of success.

Thomas David Watkins was the youngest in a family of eight children. He was reared on his father's farm and attended the country schools, later becoming a student at the West Warfield Union Academy. He was graduated at the academy in 1889 and then took a post graduate course at the same institution, winning a free scholarship to Cornell University. He entered the law department of the university in the fall of 1890 and was graduated with the degree of LL. B. in 1892. Desiring to prosecute his studies still further, he took a post graduate course at the university and received the degree of LL. M. in 1893. He was admitted to the bar in April, 1893, and soon afterward began practice at Utica, entering into partnership with Josiah Perry. This association continued less than a year, his next partnership being with A. T. Wilkinson. After a year with Mr. Wilkinson he practiced alone, but on January 1, 1898, associated with William E. Lewis. Later Charles T. Titus was admitted to the firm and the title became Lewis, Watkins & Titus. In the spring of 1909 another member was added-Abram G. Senior-who is the junior member of the firm. Mr. Watkins has devoted his attention closely to general practice but served as corporation counsel for Utica from January, 1896, to January, 1898. His name was on the democratic ticket in 1894 for assemblyman, but he was defeated by a small majority. He ran for senator in the Oneida district in 1898 and although the district is largely republican he lacked only sixty seven votes of being elected.

On the 14th of September, 1898, Mr. Watkins was married to Miss Corinne L. Wheeler, a daughter of Eber O. Wheeler, for a number of years a prominent attorney of Auburn, New York, but now deceased. Four children have blessed the union: John W.; Winifred, who died in infancy; Thomas D., Jr.; and Wheeler.

Mr. and Mrs. Watkins are both members of the First Presbyterian church of Utica and he has for many years been an active worker in behalf of higher citizenship and applied Christian living. He is a member of the Oneida County Bar Association and the New York State Bar Association. He was one of the founders of the Delta Chi fraternity and has ever since maintained membership in that organization, being also a member of the Knights of Pythias, the Fort Schuyler Club, the Royal Arcanum Club, the Yahnundaiisis Golf Club, the Rome Club of Rome, New York, and the Cornell Club of New York city. Politically he supports the republican party. He was formerly a democrat but in 1904 he transferred his allegiance to the republican party and voted for Theodore Roosevelt for president. He has seen no reason to regret his change of political faith. He is a man of unusual strength and decision of character and, as he possesses thorough knowledge of the principles of law and has demonstrated his ability in the courts, his position at the bar is well assured.

From:
History of Oneida County, New York
From 1700 to the present time
of some of its prominent men and pioneers.
By: Henry J. Cookinham
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
Chicago 1912


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