Biographical Sketch of William H. Watkins
William H. Watkins
Josephine County delegate
William Henry Watkins was born in Yorkshire, New York on April 16, 1827. He graduated from Buffalo Medical College in 1849. Watkins set up his first medical practice in Wisconsin but in 1852 he decided to move to Oregon. He settled in Josephine County and took up a donation land claim. In 1858 Watkins returned to New York and married Elizabeth Bloomfield, bringing her to Oregon.
Watkins represented Josephine County at the constitutional convention. He served on the Committee on the Legislative Department. During the convention Watkins objected to the black exclusion clause, particularly a section that denied black people the right to bring a suit in court. He could not support legislation “that would place other human beings so completely outside the protection of the law.” Watkins voted against the final adoption of the constitution and did not sign the document.
In 1861 he moved his family to Portland. With the outbreak of the Civil War, Watkins volunteered as a surgeon with the First Oregon Cavalry. A physician and surgeon with a wide practice, he also served on the Portland City Council; was a founder and trustee of the Portland Hospital; and served as a faculty member for Willamette University from 1865 until his death. Watkins died in Portland on Jan. 26, 1888.