Back in the corner of the microfilm room at the McGrady-Brockman House sits a file cabinet titled the “Watts Collection.” This file contains small publications, pamphlets, news clippings, pictures and written information all arranged by subject matter.
On top of this file cabinet sits a painting of a very astute looking lady. The painting has a plaque with the name Florence Goold Watts with the dates of 1887-1970 attached to it.
I was curious to learn more about Florence Watts, so I looked for her death date in the Knox County Indiana Death Records Book. I found her death date as June 20, 1970. My next step was to find her obituary. I found it on the shelf of the DAR Room. It was listed in the 1970 obituary book on page 129 and on page 130. Her obituary stated she was born in Chicago on Oct. 31, 1887 and that she was the daughter of John and Jane Everett Goold. The obituary stated she attended Wendall Phillips High School, Wilson College, and that she did her graduate study at Chicago University. She taught French and dancing until 1917.
Her obituary stated she married Harry T. Watts, who was the head of the Vincennes Water Department and an engineer. She had a son named Harry T. Watts Jr., three grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Her obituary went on to say as a person she had great energy, large vision and concern for the total development of her community. She was president of the Vincennes Fortnightly Club and led the movement for the construction of the building itself.
She was a historian very interested in the records of the past and concerned with the preservation of historical significance. She was a member of the Colonial Dames and a Past Regent of the Francis Vigo Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution.
Florence Watts gave time and money to the local children’s orphanage to help with birthdays and Christmas. She was interviewed in 1947 by The Sun Commercial. The article was entitled, “Women You Know.” In 1952 and 1953 she was the first woman to hold the office of president of the Indiana State Historical Society. She also served as a member of the Board of Trustees for Vincennes University and as board secretary. She labored devotedly on behalf of the university’s development and became one of the major contributors to build a new campus and she established the Harry T. Watts Scholarship.
In recognition of Mrs. Watts contributions, Vincennes University named the building housing the Home Economics Department and Nursing Department Florence Hall in 1958. The building is currently the meeting house for the Francis Vigo DAR Chapter.
In her obituary, VU president Isaac K. Beckes stated, “Her leadership was decisive to numerous important community events. She gave to all her efforts faithful labor and a spirit of dedication that won the love of all her colleagues.”