Artifact of the Month

Office Chair of William Wirt Watkins, 1885
Donated by Helen Watkins Christy

Tennessee native William Wirt Watkins was born in 1826. He married Mary W. Crump in Kentucky in 1852. By 1860, they were living in Carrollton (Carroll County), Arkansas, where Watkins practiced law. He served in the Arkansas Senate from 1856 to 1860, 1866 to 1868, and 1878 to 1882.

William Watkins attended the Arkansas Secession Convention in 1861 as a unionist delegate, but after the bombing of Fort Sumter in April 1861, he voted with the majority of delegates for Arkansas to secede. Later that year he was elected a delegate to the Provisional Confederate States Congress. This Provisional Congress drafted the Confederate States Constitution, elected Jefferson Davis as Provisional Confederate States President, and designed the first Confederate flag. Watkins served on the Commercial Affairs and Inauguration committees. Afterwards he returned to his law practice in Carrollton.

William and Mary Watkins had three children. Mary Watkins died in 1866 and William later married Martha E. Wilson. Four children were born to this marriage. The family lived at Bellefonte, near Harrison (Boone County). William Watkins died in Harrison on January 15, 1898.

The chair was passed down in the family, first to William Wirt Watkins' daughter, Lura Watkins, then to her nephew, Roy Watkins, and finally to Roy's daughter, Helen Watkins Christy. Ms. Christy donated the chair and a circa 1890 crayon print of William Wirt Watkins (seen above) to the Shiloh Museum in 2013.

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