After many years of toil, in which the elements of danger, hardship and privation have often been present in large measure, and in which he has courageously and vigorously paddled his own canoe from the early age of sixteen, the approaching evening of life finds Benjamin K. Watson, of near Rifle, in Garfield county, comfortably settled on a fine ranch of one hundred and sixty acres in the midst of a productive and progressive region of this state, where he was an early arrival and has been a potent factor in the development and improvement of the country around him. He located here when the whole section was a veritable wilderness, still the abode of its native denizens in human and animal life, and the soil was as yet untouched by the persuasive and molding-hand of systematic husbandry. And to its progress from that state of savage wildness to its present condition of fruitfulness and advancing civilization he has been not only an interested witness but a substantial contributor. Mr. Watson was born on August 20, 1830, in Onondaga county, state of New York. The family moved from there to Wisconsin and he afterward took another flight in the wake of the setting sun, locating in Iowa. He attended the public schools in his boyhood, and at the age of sixteen took up the burden of life for himself, becoming a bookkeeper in the city of Dubuque. He next sought the seductive smiles of fortune in the mining camps of Montana and Utah, and in 1879 moved to Denver. With that place as winter headquarters, he passed his summers mining and prospecting in various portions of the state until 1884. In that year he located on the ranch which has since been and is now his home, six miles north of Rifle, taking up the land as a preemption claim, one hundred and sixty acres, of which forty-five are well irrigated and under good cultivation.
On this portion he raises excellent crops of hay, grain and potatoes with other vegetables, and large quantities of superior fruit, the latter being his main product and chief reliance. He has also devoted considerable attention to the stock industry, being connected with the Grand River Sheep Company from 1887 to 1892. Before coming west he rendered good service to his country in a time of its extreme peril, being a soldier in the Union army during the Civil war, a member of Company I, Second Iowa Cavalry, enlisting as a private and being mustered out in the fall of 1865 as a captain. He is a member of the Masonic order and the Grand Army of the Republic, and in politics earnestly supports the Republican party. Mr. Watson stands well in his community as a worthy citizen and has the lasting regard and good will of all classes of its people. His parents were Joseph and Ann (Metcalf) Watson, natives of England, who came to the United States in 1827. The father was a manufacturer of woolens, successful in business, and always a staunch Democrat in politics. Both parents have long been deceased. They had four children, all of whom are living: Sophie, wife of Ladayette Odell, of New Jersey; Dr. William Watson, of Oak Park, Chicago; Joseph M., of Newcastle, Colorado, and Benjamin K., the interesting subject of this sketch.
Benjamin K. Watson’s Civil War Record
Source: Bowen, A. W. Progressive Men of Western Colorado. Chicago: A. W. Bowen & Co., Publishers. 1905.