Robert "Jimmy" Watkins as he was called was born in Herefordshire, England
on 11 Oct
1808. His parents were Robert Watkins (who died 8 April 1839 at the age of 61) and
Katherine Allen. He married Ann Palmer on 24 January 1836 and had four children while
living in England. The Church records at Byton lists these four:
Anne b. 6 Nov 1836 at Coombs Moor, Byton, Hereford, England. Died 20 Oct. 18 .
Catherine Ann b. 20 April 1838 at Coombs Moor, Byton, England Died 7 Nov 1895
Ann b. 27 Oct 1829 at Coombs Moor, Byton, England Died 15 DEC 1841
Thomas b. 25 DEC 1841 at Coombs Moor, Byton, England Died date unknown
Of these only Catherine Ann grew to maturity. The 1841 census lists Robert as an
agricultural laborer in the township of Coombs Moor in the Parish of Byton, born in
Robert and Ann joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
in Herefordshire in
April 1842. They desired to join with the saints and sailed from Liverpool to New York
and from there traveled to Nauvoo. It was a long and rigorous journey and Ann became
ill and died in Nauvoo in April 1843 at the age of 30. The Nauvoo newspaper "The
Wasp" published the 24th of April 1843 lists those who died that week. Ann and
William's death were noted. From this we can assume that a son William was born to
them while living in Nauvoo. Some family histories say that a son William died a year
after Ann's death.
When Robert met Mary Smallman he talked with the Prophet Joseph Smith
him to take Mary for a wife. They were married 18 Aug. 1843 in Nauvoo, Hancock, Ill.
Mary was the daughter of William Smallman and Rhoda Mason. She was the only
member of her family who joined the church, having been a servant on John Benbows farm
and she immigrated with them.
They were saddened at the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith and had
of stepping upon the wagon to view the bodies.
Along with the other saints they were driven from Nauvoo in February
suffered from exposure and was rendered a cripple for life with rheumatism. On one
occasion, she used her teeth to rescue her baby from the fireplace. They went through
other trials and tribulations but always remained true and faithful Latter Day Saints.
The family settled in Council Bluffs, Iowa and remained there for six
years as Robert was
asked to stay there and manage farming for the migrating saints. In 1852 they joined with
the Thomas Bullock Company and arrived in Salt Lake City in September 1852. As with
the other pioneers they saw many Indians, killed buffalo for food, traveled 15 to 20 miles a
day and rested and held meetings on Sundays. The girls, Catherine age 14 and Rhoda age
7 walked most of the way.
Seven children were born to Robert and Mary, four before reaching Utah
afterwards. They all grew to maturity and were married.
Robert and Mary's first home was on 33rd South, just West of State Street.
moved to the Millcreek area. In 1854 they moved to Alpine, Utah where they remained
the rest of their lives and are buried in the Pioneer section on the hilltop of the Alpine
They first built a two room log house and a few years later built an
adobe home with two
stories. They had two rooms downstairs and two upstairs. They later added a back room.
The house was bought by Jess McDaniel who remodeled it and then sold it to Roger
Graham and then was sold to Ralph Strong.
Robert had enough land and became a very prosperous farmer and with
owned many horses, cattle and sheep. He possessed the ability to accumulate wealth and
was one of the most well to do men of his day. It has often been related by the old
settlers, who were not so fortunate as to own a horse of their own, that Jimmy Watkins
always held himself in readiness to go for a doctor in case of sickness. He would often
harness his team before going to bed in case of being called, so that no time would be
wasted as they had to go many miles for help.
He also used his team for hauling produce for the people and his family
to Salt Lake City
and would bring back supplies. One time when flour was very difficult to get, Jimmy was
requested to go after flour wherever they could get it. They heard there was flour in
Ogden, so he went all the way by horse and wagon. But when he arrived it was all gone.
When he returned from this long weary journey, Mary heard there was some flour for sale
in Provo. Mary told him but he said he was just too tired to go. Also the team was too
tired. At that time they had two teams and Mary offered to hitch up the other team and
drive it if he would just go with her. He agreed, so she hitched up the other team and
made a bed for him in the wagon. He rested in the back of the wagon and when they
reached Provo early the next morning, they were the first one there. They received a
portion of the white flour and when they got back, they divided it with the people of
On holidays many a boy was thrilled with a 15 minute ride on one of
his horses. Also, he
carried the mail from American Fork, Utah to Alpine on horseback. On one trip he was
caught in a severe blizzard and caught a cold. It developed into pneumonia and caused his
death on 22 April 1869 at the age of 61.
(A compilation of histories and research by Oscar Watkins, Clara Castro,
Manning, Verda Price Flint, Margaret Price and John Shaw.) Created Oct. 1998.