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A man’s reputation is the property of the world. The laws of nature have forbidden isolation. Every human being submits to the controlling influence of others or, as a master, wields a power for good or evil on the masses of mankind. There can be no impropriety in justly scanning the acts of any man as they affect his public, social and business relations. If he be honest and successful in his chosen field of endeavor, investigation will brighten his fame and point the path along which others may follow. One whose record will bear the closest scrutiny and stand the test of public criticism is Dr. Watkins, a most able physician, a loyal citizen and true gentleman, whom Moscow numbers among her valued residents.
The Doctor was born in Warner, Merrimac County, New Hampshire, August 3, 1846, that locality having been the birthplace of three generations of the family before him. On the paternal side he is of Welsh descent, and on the maternal of English lineage. His father, Jason D. Watkins, was there born and in early life followed farming, but afterward became a merchant. He married Miss Phoebe Abbott, a native of Boscawen, New Hampshire, and a representative of the eminent Abbott family of America. Their union was blessed with seven children. In religious faith they were Baptists and were people of the highest respectability and integrity of character. The father reached the psalmist’s life span of three score years and ten, but the mother passed away at the age of fifty-four.
Dr. William Woodbury Watkins, their youngest child, was educated in the public schools of his native state, and in the medical department of the Washington University, at St. Louis, prepared for his professional career. In the latter institution he was graduated in 1872 and immediately afterward opened an office in Mine La Motte, Missouri, where he remained until 1880, when he became a member of the medical fraternity of St. Louis, there continuing until 1887. In 1884 he was appointed professor of theory and practice of medicine in the College of Physicians and Surgeons, in St. Louis, and ably filled that chair until failing health compelled his resignation and necessitated his removal to Moscow, in the hope that a change of climate would prove beneficial. This hope has been realized, and soon Dr. Watkins acquired a large and remunerative practice, which he has since enjoyed. He has been prominently connected with various interests of the city, both along professional and other lines. He has for years been surgeon of the Latah County Hospital, and during the greater part of his residence in Moscow has been United States examining surgeon for pensions. In 1890 he became one of the organizers of the Idaho State Medical Society, and was elected its first president, a fact indicative of his high standing among his professional brethren. He is also a member of the American Medical Association, is examining surgeon for various life-insurance companies and is also vice-president of the Idaho state board of medical examiners. He has always been a close student of his profession, has a most comprehensive and accurate knowledge of the science of medicine, is most careful in the diagnosing of cases, and his judgment is rarely at fault in the slightest degree in administering the remedies which most quickly produce the best results.
His time is largely occupied by the engrossing duties of his large practice, yet he manages to find opportunity to aid in the furthering of those interests which promote the welfare of the community. After the location of the state university at Moscow, he was appointed a member of the board of regents, was its secretary, and in 1894 established in the institution the Watkins gold medal for oratory. He is president of the Chamber of Commerce, at Moscow, and had the honor of being chairman of the first Idaho Republican state convention. These varied interests show the versatility of the man and indicate a well rounded character.
In 1873 the Doctor wedded Miss Carolina A. Woodhouse, a native of Boston, Massachusetts, and a daughter of John V. Woodhouse, a master mechanic whose varied inventions have gained him a world-wide reputation. He is now living a retired life in western Washington, at the age of seventy-three years. The union of Dr. and Mrs. Watkins has been blessed with three daughters: Henrietta, wife of A. Ryrie, of Moscow: and Elsie and Winnie, at home. The parents and children hold membership in the First Presbyterian Church in Moscow. The Doctor has erected a brick office and also a nice residence in Moscow, and is the owner of a good farm, a mile from the city, where he is raising a high grade of Jersey cattle and thoroughbred poultry, and also has an extensive apple orchard. He is a very active businessman, not only taking great interest in his practice, but also in the welfare and progress of Moscow. Socially he is an Odd Fellow in good standing, having been identified with the order for nearly thirty years, and is an exemplary member of the Masonic fraternity. He is now master of Paradise Lodge, No. 17, F. & A. M., of Moscow, received the blue lodge degrees in Pittsburg, Kansas, the Royal Arch degrees in Oswego, Kansas, and was also created a Knight Templar there. He is a man of strong individuality and indubitable probity, has attained a due measure of success in the affairs of life, and his influence has ever been exerted in the direction of the good and the true. He is a man of genial and social nature and has thereby contributed in no small degree to the sum of human happiness.