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Dr. John Watkins was a distinguished physician, who removed at quite an early period, to Conecuh, where he found himself almost alone, for some time, in his practice.

Dr. Watkins was born within a short distance of the scene of General Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, in 1775. Having received a liberal education, he pursued his medical studies in Philadelphia, whence he was graduated in 1804. He first located at Abbeville Court House, South Carolina, where he practiced in the family of Senator John C. Calhoun.

He removed to Alabama in 1813, and located first on the Tombigbee River. Later we find him at Claiborne, the only physician between the Alabama and Chattahoochee Rivers. Notwithstanding his decided usefulness in his chosen profession, he was urged to represent Monroe in the Constitutional Convention in 1819, and during the same year was elected to the Senate from the same county.

At quite an early period after the settlement of Conecuh, he removed to that county, where his ability was speedily recognized as a physician. But here again he was destined to share in political honors, for in 1828 he was sent to the Senate from Conecuh and Butler. Several years afterward he was chosen to represent Conecuh in the lower branch of the Legislature. In 1842 his services were again demanded in the realm of politics, and he was chosen Senator from Conecuh and Monroe counties. His devotion to his chosen profession, however, continued unabated, and he was assiduous in the accumulation of scientific works, that he might be the more fully prepared to meet the advancing demands of medicine.

Dr. Watkins died at his home, near Burnt Corn, in 1854. He was a man of extraordinary physical powers. In manners he was exceedingly plain, and oftentimes very blunt. The following characteristic anecdote is related of him: He had a patient who had for a long time suffered from extreme nervousness. Dr. Watkins having learned that she had a peculiar fondness for coffee, admonished her to discontinue its use. Having been called to visit her again, he found her with her head resting upon her palms, and leaning over the fireplace, where he spied the coffee pot, poised upon a pedestal of glowing coals. Without ceremony, he knocked it from its position, causing the contents to flow out, and then proceeded to kick it across the room, through the door, and into the yard. But he was universally esteemed for his benevolence and hospitality. His memory will ever be cherished in Conecuh, because of his superior public worth.

Source: History of Conecuh County Alabama, by Rev. B. F. Riley, Thos. Gilbert, Steam Printer and Book-Binder, Columbus, GA, 1881

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