Lillie Pinkerton Watson, Dies in West
Moved with Family to Poweshiek County In Year 1867.
On the morning of Sept 26, 1941, at her home in Burbank, Calif., the earthly life of a rarely useful woman came to a close. Lillie Martha Pinkerton was born near Waupun, Wis., on the 12th of January, 1864, the fourth daughter of Rev. David Pinkerton and his wife, Mary Hitchcock Pinkerton.
Forced by ill health to forego ministerial work, Mr. Pinkerton moved his family to Iowa in 1867 and bought land nine miles from Grinnell – a congenial soil for these transplanted new Englanders. A very few may remember the eight children who, with their parents, helped convert the raw prairie into a fertile farm.
Grew Up in Chester.
Here Lillie grew from a romping three-year-old child into a bright, rosy-cheeked school girl. The district was fortunate in the character of some of the young women who taught the early school and were instrumental in molding into fine men and women, the children in their care. The first teacher was Mary Pinkerton, the oldest of the Pinkerton clan. Others were Fannie and Addie Ricker, who became respectively Mrs. David Morrison and Mrs. Andrew McIntosh.
Mary Pinkerton went to Africa as a missionary of the American Board in 1874. She served there seven years and founded the Umzumbe Home for Native Girls. When her health failed, she returned to the homeland, but her vital interest in the work of the Kingdom never failed and she was much in demand as a speaker, and her counsel often sought. Eventually, she married Rev. C. H. McCreery and mothered his six sons. She died in 1929.
Among neighbors near the Pinkerton farm were the Fishers, Healds, Shermans, Rutherfords and others. The bonds of friendship then forged were never broken. To Chester Center about this time, came Rev. G.H. White was the beloved pastor of the little country church.
Deep tragedy came to the Pinkerton family in 1876 when two sons just entering manhood were drowned in the Iowa River. They were buried in the Chester Cemetery and years later their mother’s body was laid beside them. Two years after this sad event, Mr. Pinkerton bought a house on Elm Street. Many years later this became the home of Professor Conard.
Emma Pinkerton Studied in the Academy, but did not graduate. She acquired a fine reputation as a teacher in Minnesota and other places. While thus engaged, she met and married Daniel Booker. Her home for may years was at Sylvan on Fox Island in Puget Sound.
G. H. S. Graduate.
This beautiful spot was settled by a number of congenial families from Grinnell – the Herricks, Bixbys, Millers and others. In later years, the Booker family moved to southern California; here Mrs. Booker died in 1932, shortly followed by her husband.
Lillie Pinkerton graduated from Grinnell High School and entered Grinnell college in ’82, her brother Will’s senior year. Incidentally Will was in the third story of East College when it was razed by the cyclone. He went down with the building and dug himself out from several feet of bricks, unharmed.
Lillie’s college course was interrupted by some terms of teaching, but she graduated in the class of 1887. Vivacious and friendly, sensible and a good student, she was popular and active in school.
Married in 1888
After a year of teaching in a colored school in her home town of Chetopa, Kansas, she was married in her mother’s house to her classmate, Irving S. Watson, on October 4, 1888. Mrs. Watson’s first home was in Ottumwa, where her husband was Y. M. C. A. secretary.
Soon after, they moved to Oakland, Calif., and after a few years to southern California. For many years Mr. Watson was police judge of the city of Burbank, and won fame as the originator of a system by which a prisoner is allowed to work by day to support his family and confined to jail at night. He died in 1938.
Belonged to P. E. O.
Since then Mrs. Watson has lived quietly, forced by failing health to drop outside activities. Her deep and vital interest in spiritual values never lessened nor her interest in people. One of her lasting contacts was with former Negro and Indian pupils.
She spent two years as matron of the older girls in the Santee Training School, – now discontinued – with marked success and followed “her girls” with motherly love as they went out into the world, rejoicing when they made good and mourning when they failed or died. She had been a member of the P. E. O. for 52 years and next to her family and church, this lay nearest to her heart.
Her pastor, Rev. Alden Read, conducted the last comforting service, and she was laid to rest in the cemetery at Long Beach beside her husband and her sister, Mary. One adopted daughter, Mrs. Margaret Watson Byram of San Fernando, Calif., survives her.
Of nine children born to David and Mary Pinkerton, only the two youngest sons remain: Rev. W. B. Pinkerton, who at the age of 80 is Chaplain of the Santa Barbara General hospital, and Winthrop H. Pinkerton of Pasadena. This was a typical sturdy American family, used to hard work; not amassing great wealth, but rich in character and enduring qualities.
Of Lillie Pinkerton Watson, it can truly be said “Blessed are they who die in the lord, and their works do follow them.” She had left a host of friends who sill feel the world a lonelier place because she has left it. – A. G. P.
This lovely obituary was written by Agnes Ellen Gurney Pinkerton my second great grandmother and wife to Rev. William Brown Pinkerton brother to Lillie Martha Pinkerton Watson. This is what an obituary should be for everyone.
Thank you for reading.
J. R. Lowe