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John T. Watkins

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John Thomas Watkins (January 15, 1854 – April 25, 1925) was a Democratic U.S. representative for Louisiana's 4th congressional district with service from 1905 to 1921. A lawyer in his hometown of Minden in Webster Parish, Watkins was a state district court judge prior to his election to Congress.

John Thomas Watkins
John T. Watkins.jpg
U.S. Representative for Louisiana's 4th congressional district
In office
March 4, 1905 – March 3, 1921
Preceded byPhanor Breazeale
Succeeded byJohn N. Sandlin
Judge of Louisiana's 2nd Judicial District Court (since 26th District)
In office
June 2, 1900 – December 8, 1904
Preceded byRichard Cleveland Drew
Succeeded byRichard Cleveland Drew
Personal details
Born(1854-01-15)January 15, 1854
Minden, Webster Parish
Louisiana, USA
DiedApril 25, 1925(1925-04-25) (aged 71)
Resting placeMinden Cemetery
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Elizabeth Murrell Watkins (died 1921)
RelationsLynn Kyle Watkins (brother)
ChildrenFlora Lizzie Watkins (1881-1889)

Willie Murrell Watkins (1861-1890)
Elizabeth Murrell Watkins (born 1894)
Drury Murrell Watkins (1818-1884)

Dana Watkins (1886-1916)
ParentsJohn D. Watkins
Mahala Flora Morrow Watkins
Alma materMinden Male Academy
Cumberland University
The former Watkins home is located at 318 College Street in Minden, Louisiana, adjacent to Minden High School.

Watkins attended the public schools of Minden and graduated from the Minden Male Academy, a forerunner of Minden High School. He then studied for three years at Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee. As was then customary, Watkins studied law privately, was admitted to the bar in 1878, and opened his practice in Minden. He was elected judge in 1900 and served in that capacity until 1904.[1]

He briefly resumed his law practice prior to his election to Congress. He defeated incumbent Democrat Phanor Breazeale of Natchitoches for renomination in 1904 and was seated with the incoming 59th Congress on March 4, 1905, during the administration of Theodore Roosevelt. In his fourth term, he became the chairman of the House Committee on Revision of the Laws.

Faded gravestone in the old section of Minden Cemetery of former Judge and U.S. Representative John T. Watkins, Louisiana Democrat

Watkins rarely faced serious opposition in his reelection bids until he was defeated for a ninth term in 1920 by John N. Sandlin, another state district court judge from Minden. In 1908, for instance, Watkins defeated two opponents in the general election by a lopsided margin. He polled 88.2 percent of the ballots compared to 5.5 percent for Republican John F. Slattery. The Socialist Party of America candidate, W. S. Emmons, outpolled Slattery, having finished with 6.3 percent of the vote.

After Watkins surrendered his congressional seat to Sandlin, he practiced law in Washington, D.C., until his death. Like Watkins, Sandlin would also hold the Fourth District House seat for eight terms.

Like Sandlin, Watkins is interred in the original section of Minden Cemetery alongside his wife, the former Elizabeth Murrell (January 23, 1858 – February 26, 1921). Also interred at Minden Cemetery are his parents, John D. Watkins, a Kentucky native, a lawyer, judge, and Democratic politician, and the former Mahala Flora Mora (1834-1899), a native of Walton County, Georgia.[2]


  1. ^ List of District Judges for Webster Parish, Webster Parish Centennial Booklet, 1971, Webster Parish Police Jury publication
  2. ^ "Mahala Flora Morrow Watkins". Retrieved March 24, 2015.

United States Congress. "WATKINS, John Thomas (id: W000193)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Phanor Breazeale
United States Representative for the 4th Congressional District of Louisiana

John Thomas Watkins

Succeeded by
John N. Sandlin
Preceded by
Richard Cleveland Drew
Judge of the 2nd Judicial District of Louisiana

John Thomas Watkins

Succeeded by
Richard Cleveland Drew