Biography of Fred M. Watkins, M. D.
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Fred M. Watkins, M. D. It is not every individual who possesses in his make-up the characteristics that make for success in widely diversified callings, but in the person of Dr. Fred M. Watkins there is found a combination of qualities that have brought him equal success in the profession, in business undertakings and in the vocation of farming, and he has likewise made an important place for himself in the field of politics.
Dr. Fred M. Watkins, president of the Cherryvale Ice and Cold Storage Company, of Cherryvale, Kansas, was born November 22, 1868, at Lawton, Van Buren County, Michigan, a son of H. J. and Mary R. (Hall) Watkins. His forefather was Capt. Nathan Watkins who came to America as an officer in the British army, but after his arrival in this country became a convert to the cause of the Colonists and finally deserted the English army and became a captain in the continental army under General Gates. He served until the close of the Revolution and then settled in New Jersey, where he made his home until his death. He had three sons, one of whom went to Ohio, one to Michigan and one to the State of New York. James Watkins, a grandson of Capt. Nathan Watkins, and grandfather of Doctor Watkins, was born in 1794 in Michigan and passed his entire life in that state as a farmer, dying at South Haven, in 1878.
H. J. Watkins was born at Lawton, Michigan, in 1848, and was reared, educated and married in that community, where he was engaged in agricultural pursuits until 1871, then coming to Kansas as a pioneer of Nemaha County. There he homesteaded a property of eighty acres and developed it into an excellent farm, installing many improvements and raising fine crops. He was a man of industry and energy and was held in high esteem as a citizen. In 1906 he disposed of his farm land holdings, which had increased to considerable size, and retired from active labors, taking up his home at Cherryvale. There his death occurred in 1909. He was a stanch republican in his political views, but was never an aspirant for public office, preferring to devote himself to his agricultural labors. While not a member of any particular religious organization, he was a Christian, God-fearing man, and attended church regularly. His fraternal affiliation was with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the meetings of which he attended at Goff, Kansas. Mr. Watkins married Miss Mary R. Hall, who was born in 1848, in Michigan, and she still survives and resides at Cherryvale. They became the parents of the following children: Dr. Fred M., of this review; Frank, who is a real estate agent and farmer and resides at Goff; Floyd, who died at the age of seventeen years; Ena, who is the wife of R. J. Flemming, a farmer of Alta Vista, Kansas; G. A., who resides in Florida, where he has land holdings; G. E., who is associated with his brother in the Cherryvale Ice and Cold Storage Company; and J. J., of Cherryvale, who is also identified with the same concern.
Fred M. Watkins attended the district schools of Nemaha County, Kansas, to which community he was brought as a child of three years, but returned to Lawton, Michigan, and was graduated from the high school of that place in 1889. At that time he began a career as a schoolteacher and for a number of years taught at Lacota, Michigan, and Goff, Kansas, and then for a short period entered business life, building the first elevator at Goff and founding the Goff Grain Company, of which he was president for one year. During this time he had not given up the idea of engaging in the medical profession, and when he left the grain and elevator business it was to enter the Central Medical College, St. Joseph, Missouri, from which he was graduated in 1897, with the degree of Doctor of Medicine, subsequently taking post-graduate work at the Chicago Policlinie. In 1898 Doctor Watkins embarked in medical work at Wetmore, Kansas, where he built up a fine practice and established his reputation as a thorough, reliable and skilled physician and surgeon. During the five years he was thus engaged, however, he had become interested in business affairs, and in 1904, seizing an opportunity, came to Cherryvale, where he became connected with the manufacturing business. The Cherryvale Ice and Cold Storage Company had been established by his brothers, G. A., G. E. and J. J. Watkins, in the previous year, and Doctor Watkins accepted an invitation to become connected with, the concern. Since that time there have been a number of changes in the personnel of the officials, and the present officers consist of Dr. F. M. Watkins, president; and G. E. Watkins, secretary and treasurer. The plant, which is both wholesale and retail, is situated just south of the town, being a large, modern structure, with the largest ice-making machinery and abattoir with a capacity of ten head of cattle and twenty-five head of hogs per day. They also have a large feed yards for both cattle and hogs. The plant is now manufacturing twenty-three tons of ice daily and supplies Cherryvale and the country in the vicinity with both meat and ice. Under Doctor Watkins’ management it is prospering and growing steadily and has become recognized as a necessary commercial adjunct. In politics a republican, Doctor Watkins wields considerable influence in Montgomery County, and at present is a member of the legislature, representative of the Twenty-sixth District. He has been a member of the school board for several years, and has given his support to all movements for the advance of education, as well as to other worthy and beneficial enterprises. His religious connection is with the Presbyterian Church, of which he is one of the trustees. Fraternally be is affiliated with Cherryvale Lodge No. 137, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons; Topeka Consistory No. 1, thirty-second degree Masonry; Abdullah Temple, Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine; Modern Woodmen of America, Jayhawker Camp No. 913; Camp No. 154 Woodmen of the World; and the Mayflower Camp No. 312, Royal Neighbors of America. He is also a member of the Commercial Club. Doctor Watkins has offices at No. 101 East Main Street, and owns his residence at No. 503 on the same thoroughfare, in addition to a farm of 200 acres in Labette County and another farm of 300 acres in Montgomery County.
In 1893 at Wetmore, Kansas, Doctor Watkins was married to Miss Ola Frazey, daughter of W. D. and Susan (Zook) Frazey, the latter a resident of Hiawatha, Kansas. Mr. Frazey who was a carpenter and farmer by vocation, is now deceased. To Doctor and Mrs. Watkins there have been born three children: Ray, a senior at the Cherryvale High School; Dale, who is in seventh grade in the public schools; and Chester, in the primary grade.