Mark Walton Watson was born in Massilon. Ohio, in April 1828. His parents were born in Pennsylvania. Known records do not provide additional information on Watson’s parents or on his childhood.
Watson lived in Massilon until 1852, when he moved to Pittsburgh at age 24. Watson became a partner in William McCully & Company, a Pittsburgh glass manufacturing firm. Although Watson’s 1909 obituary stated that he joined McCully & Company in 1858, it should be noted that the 1856 Pittsburgh directory listed Watson as a partner in the firm. McCully & Company’s offices were then located on Wood Street between the present Boulevard of the Allies and Fort Pitt Boulevard.
In 1856, Mark W. Watson had been married for about three years to Margaret A. McCully, the daughter of the senior partner of his firm. The Watson family then lived at 154 Second Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh, near the offices of McCully & Company. By 1860, the family moved to Penn Avenue, Downtown, on the present site of Gateway Center. The family’s immediate neighborhood was then home to a number of wealthy manufacturers and merchants and was one of the most prestigious residential communities in the Pittsburgh area.
The 1860 census enumerated the Watson family in their home on Penn Avenue. Mark W. Watson, 32, was enumerated as a glass manufacturer and Margaret A. Watson, 29, had no occupation. The couple had three children: Martha, six, John, three, and Joseph H. one. The family’s status was evidenced by the four household staff persons who lived in their home: Mary F. Walker, 21, a cook; Mary Abermele, 18, a housemaid; Susan M. Campbell, 18, a housemaid and William Genwig, 19, a coachman.
Joseph H. Watson appears to have died during the 1860’s.
Mark W. Watson, according to his obituary, was active as a volunteer during the Civil War. Watson aided in the shipment of supplies to the Union army and in the construction of fortifications around sites in Pittsburgh which were considered vulnerable to attack.
Margaret A. Watson died in 1860 or 1861. In 1861 or 1862, Mark W. Watson was remarried to Harriet Marshall of Stockton Avenue, Allegheny City. Marshall, born in Pennsylvania in May 1845, was a daughter of James Marshall, the owner of a foundry at Wood Street and Liberty Avenue, Downtown, and president of the Farmers Deposit National Bank. Harriet Marshall Watson began living with the Watson family in their home on Penn Avenue. She and Mark W. Watson had four children. Mary, born in 1867, Harriet in 1869, Julia in 1872, and Amy in 1880.
Mark W. Watson became a member of the board of the Exchange National Bank of Pittsburgh by the late 1860’s. Watson later served as vice-president and president of the bank.
In 1870, according to census records, Mark W. Watson owned real estate valued ai $50,000 and had a personal estate of $100,000. Four household staff persons lived in the Watson home: Maria Lovitt, 19 and Mary Palmer, 24, both servants; William Brooks, 30, a coachman and Mary Baldwin, 47, a nurse.
The Watson family lived on Penn Avenue until 1875, when Mark W.Watson purchased 835 North Lincoln Avenue from John and Eleanor Frazier. The 1876 Pittsburgh directory shows that the Watson family had moved into 835 North Lincoln Avenue (then 68 Lincoln Avenue).
The 1880 census was the first census taken after the Watson family moved to 835 North Lincoln Avenue. Mark W. Watson, 52, was enumerated as a glass merchant, and Harriet Watson, 35, had no occupation. Six of Mark W. Watson’s children lived at 835 North Lincoln Avenue: Margaret, 25, John, 23, listed as a glass merchant, Mary, 13, Harriet, 11, Julia, eight, and Amy, six.
In 1880. five servants lived at 835 North Lincoln Avenue:
- William Writ, 23, an African-American servant who had been born in Ohio
- Timothy Brown, an Alrican-American driver, born in Pennsylvania
- Mary Mason, 40, a nurse and Welsh immigrant
- Mary Peterson, 28, an African-American chambermaid, born in Virginia
- Ellen Thomas, 27, an African-American cook, born in Maryland
In the early 1880’s, Mark W. Watson was still a partner in McCully & Company. He became president of the Exchange National Bank around that time, while continuing his role with McCully amp; Company. Watson, like many other manufacturers with capital to invest, began to expand his business activities to include investment in various local manufacturing and transportation concerns.
He may have already joined the board of the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad, organized in the 1870’s. By the turn of the century, Watson also served on the boards of the Pittsburgh. McKeesport & Youghiogheny Railroad, the Standard Underground Cable Company and the Monongahcla Water Company. He eventually became president of the latter two companies.
Records of the 1890 manuscript census, which would provide information on the Watson family and any other residents of 835 North Lincoln Avenue in that year, were destroyed in a warehouse fire following the completion of the census.
Julia M. Watson, the seeond-youngest child of Mark W. and Harriet Watson, was married on October 11, 1893. Her bridegroom was Bernard S. Horne, a son of department store owner Joseph Horne. In its Society column, the Pittsburgh Press provided a detailed account of the Watson’s iconic wedding and reception, both held “at the residence of the parents of the popular little maiden.” The Press report included descriptions of the interior of 835 North Lincoln Avenue:
the shower of blossoms that in honor of this happy day has transformed the rich, dark rooms of the Watson house into a veritable bower of floral beauty..
[The dining room] is a mahogany room where in the polished wood arc inserted immense cabinets of the same glistening with silver and china. Above finishing the wall to the ceiling is a stamped Tyme castle tapestry…
he stairway is close at hand, winding down from a great window above…
At the time of the 1900 census, five members of the Watson family lived at 835 North Lincoln Avenue: Mark W. Watson. 72, enumerated as a banker, Harriet, 55, Amy, 20, Julia Watson Horne, 28, who was living apart from her husband and Mark Horne, three, a son of Julia Watson Horne.
Five household staff persons lived at 835 North Lincoln Avenue in 1900:
- Mary Keeley, 26, a maid who had been born in New York and was of Irish descent
- Delia Keeley, 30, a seamstress born in Virginia to Irish immigrant parents
- Henrietta Brunett, 30, an African-American cook who had been born in Virginia
- Anna Alless, 24, a nurse born in Ohio
- Maggie Gibbons, 23, a laundress who had been born in West Virginia to Irish immigrant parents
Harriet Watson died on May 23, 1906 at age 61.
Mark W. Watson remained president of William McCully & Company through 1905 or later. Watson still served as president of the Exchange National Bank, the Standard Underground Cable Company and the Monongahela Water Company when he died on June 1, 1909. He was 81 years old.
Available records do not indicate that any members of the Watson family lived at 835 North Lincoln Avenue after the death of Mark W. Watson. The 1910 census did not enumerate anyone in the house, indicating that it was vacant. Pittsburgh city directories published during the 1910’s did not list any of the Watson children as living in the house. By 1920, the house, still owned by the Watson family, contained at least seven apartments. Heirs of Mark W. Watson sold 835 North Lincoln Avenue in 1925.