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Richard Thomas Watts dies

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Richard Thomas Watts
September 5, 1813-September 21, 1910

 

Richard Thomas Watts, better known as R.T. had the home at 404 Cabell Street built for he and his family in 1878.  Today the home is The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast in historic Lynchburg Virginia and was named as one of the top 10 Bed and Breakfasts in the United States by BedandBreakfast.com.  On the anniversary of his death we are reprinting the obituary that was published in Lynchburg News on September 22, 1911.

Citizen, Business Man and Veteran Passes Away After Long Illness.

Richard Thomas Watts, aged 78 years, one of the pioneer wholesale merchants and for many years a man prominent in the financial affairs of the city, died yesterday morning at his residence on Cabell Street where he had been ill nearly two years.  Mr. Watts’ illness dated back to a stroke of apoplexy which was sustained on November 17, 1908.  He recovered from that sufficiently to be about, but never gave attention to business.  For some days his condition had been critical and the end did not come as a surprise today, for it had been expected for the past day or two.

Mr. Watts was a native of Bedford County, having been born on September 5, 1838.  When but a youth he went to Salsibury, N. C. and at the age of 18 years started in business with the firm of G, M. and A. T. Jones.  Later, he went to Selma, Ala.,where he was a partner in a merchandise business with A. T. Jones.  When the war between the States broke out, Mr. Watts enlisted as a private in company A, Second Virginia cavalry, joining that command at Manassas Junction.  He served as a private and color bearer with that company until he was recommended by General T. T. Munford, now of Lynchburg, for promotion as adjutant of Whites battalion, this promotion coming for bravery.  He held that command until May 6th, 1864 at which time his horse was killed under him and he was wounded and taken a prisoner at Spotsylvania Courthouse.  He was sent to Fort Delaware, where he was held prisoner of war until the surrender took place, after which he returned to his old home in Bedford.

Later he came to Lynchburg and together with his brother, the late J. W. Watts, and brother-in-law, the late George M. Jones, formed the well-known house of Jones, Watts & Co., this being one of the first wholesale houses of the city.  In 1888 he retired from this concern and became largely interested in coal properties as well as holding other large financial and industrial institutions of the city.  Until his health gave way he was vice president of Lynchburg Trust and Savings Company and a director in the Lynchburg Cotton Mill, as well as in other private industries of the city.

Mr. Watts was educated at Emory and Henry College, having spent several years there before the war.

On April 22, 1874, Mr. Watts married Miss Emma M. Hurt, a daughter of the late Stephen H. Hurt, who, together with four sons and a daughter, survive.  The children are:  R. T. Watts Jr.,  Dr. Stephen H. Watts of the University of Virginia; James O. Watts, R. C. Watts, and Miss Mary Watts, all of whom were present when the end came.

Mr. Watts was a member of Court Street Methodist church, having been faithful in his attendance upon its services until sickness prevented him from doing so.

The funeral service will take place this afternoon at 4 o’clock from the residence, and the burial will be at Spring Hill.

General T. W. Munford, who recommended the promotion of Mr. Watts, has prepared the following tribute to the decease:

Adjutant R. T. Watts entered the Confederate Army as a private in Company A, Second Virginia Cavalry, from Bedford County, then commanded by Capt. W. R. Terry, who was promoted to the Twenty-fourth Virginia Infantry as its colonel, succeeding Colonel Jubal A. Early, and subsequently becoming brigadier general of Pickett’s Division, Col J. W. Watts a brother of the deceased, succeeding Colonel Terry at the re-organization of the army in March 1862, was elected lieutenant colonel without opposition.  He detailed his brother as courier at his quarters.  He soon attracted my attention by his dash and strict attention to all duties.  At a sharp encounter between General Ewell’s division, to which we then belonged, and General Hooker’s division near Bristoe station the day before the second battle of Manassas, it became necessary for General Ewell to retire his battery because of the advantage of position and metal of the enemy, but is was a delicate .  Ewell was not there to bring on a battle nor to run, he ordered me to send a sergeant and four men to gather up the debris left by our crippled battery, not wishing to show that it was a retreat.  Courier R. T. Watts was dispatched for this detail and soon returned with the four troopers.  General Ewell said to me: “Where is the sergeant?”  The reply was: “He has not yet gotten up.”  I replied, “Watts will take them himself and the next time the sergeant will listen to his instructions.”  Watts was then told by General Ewell to go to that position and gather up every buckle that belonged to the battery.  We were watching and they were soon dashing up to where the battery had stood.  The enemy opened fire upon them, but they literally swept the deck and brought off everything.

General Ewell remarked to me: “That fellow should be a sergeant, for he has won it by distinguishing himself.”

The next day in the great cavalry fight he was made by my order sergeant major of the Second Cavalry.

Col Elijah White, whose original company had served some months  with the Second Cavalry, wrote me a note requesting me to send him a man to act as his adjutant and believing Sergeant Major R. T. Watts qualified he was dispatched and graciously accepted the offered position, and he more than once exemplified his qualifications and satisfaction for the promotion.

“Adjutant Watts was a quiet, unobtrusive, active soldier.  Like his noble brother, when his name is mentioned in the presence of old comrades it will ever be with pride which only Confederates felt toward each other and understand.”