WR Hall of Fame inductee Watson helped raise a town

September 18, 2013 

Editor’s note: This is third in a series of columns about each of the 2013 Warner Robins Hall of Fame inductees.

Living in Warner Robins since I was a teenager, I have been aware that C.B. Watson was an important man -- after all, there is a major road named after him as well as a school. But it has been through serving on the Warner Robins Hall of Fame committee that I have learned just how important the contributions were of Charles “Boss” Watson.

His family came here in the early 1800s, and he was born in Houston County in 1875. He married Annie Jones in 1904 and raised four children.

But he also helped to raise a town.

Watson farmed and owned a store located near where Watson Boulevard and Ga. 247 intersect.

When the War Department decided to build an Air Corps Depot in the south, the community -- known as Wellston at the time -- was second choice on the list of possibilities. Watson put together the option for 2,500 acres of flat land that the War Department required. Because of his efforts, the decision was made to locate the depot at Wellston.

He was the logical choice for mayor when the city of Warner Robins was incorporated in 1943 and was appointed to the position by the state. He served as mayor of Warner Robins for 8 1/2 years -- running unopposed in 1944 and beating out five opponents in 1948.

Along with his influence in the Army’s decision to build the base and his leadership of beginning a town that helped define the direction of Warner Robins, what is also impressivew about Watson is his charity to others.

Newspaper accounts of the time account specific instances declaring that he “gave away a small fortune” to farmers in trouble during the Depression or to customers who came into the store and couldn’t pay.

Many times during his terms as mayor, city workers were paid by Watson’s personal funds. He donated the land where C.B. Watson Elementary School, McConnell-Talbert Stadium and Sacred Heart Catholic Church now stand.

“He was born here and was dedicated to the area,” said his grandson Sonny Watson, who along with his parents lived with his grandfather. “He understood duty to others and practiced it.”

It is a rare thing when the founder of a city gets to see the results such as those in Warner Robins. By the time that he resigned as mayor in 1950 due to health reasons, 8,000 people resided in Warner Robins -- only 11,000 people had resided in the entire county in 1940.

He started not only a city but a family tradition of community service. Boss Watson’s son, Herman, served on the city council for four years and was elected to the General Assembly. Sonny Watson, served 22 years in the state legislature.

Watson died in 1958. Because of the number of people who attended his funeral -- about 1,500 -- it was held not at the Primitive Baptist Church that his family attended but at Central Baptist Church, the largest church in the city at the time.

Contact Alline Kent at 396-2467 or allinekent@cox.net.

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