THOMAS J. WATKINS, judge of the county court, was born in Caldwell, now Lyon County, Ky., October 4, 1838. His father, Thomas G. was a native of Franklin County, Ky., and was a farmer by occupation. When about eight years old he came in 1806, with his father, Samuel, to Tennessee (Maury County), and remained until 1814, when the family moved to Caldwell County. Samuel was a farmer also and came from Virginia. Subject's mother's maiden name was Nancy Dyer, of Trigg County, Ky. She was a daughter of John and Martha Dyer. They had six children—Thomas J. is next to the youngest; all are still living. Thomas J. was reared on a farm. He attended the country school and worked on the farm until he was sixteen years of age; then went to Princeton and attended school there ten months; then attended Bethel College, Tennessee, where he graduated in 1859. After leaving school he went to Alabama and taught mathematics as an assistant in the schools at Summit, Blount County, for fifteen months. At the breaking out of the war he married, and in 1861 returned to Kentucky. Then began the study of law. He had no preceptor, but borrowed law books and studied by himself. In 1862 he was examined by two judges and admitted to practice; then spent a year in the South with his wife, and in January, 1864, returned to Eddyville and opened a law office, and has been in the practice since. In August, 1870, he was elected county judge, and re-elected in 1874-78-82; also practiced in the circuit court. January 1, 1861, he married Sarah C. Arnold, of Summit, Blount Co., Ala., daughter of A. W. Arnold, a planter in Alabama and Arkansas. They are the parents of three children—Willie A., now Mrs. T. W. Adams, of Milan, Tenn.; Helen M., wife of R. S. Lander, and Maud E., at home. Judge and Mrs. Watkins are members of the Methodist Church. He is a temperate man, and a member of the K. of H. Judge Watkin's mother died in October, 1860; his father November 27, 1873.
Source: J. H. Battle, W. H. Perrin, & G. C. Kniffin. Kentucky. A History of the State. Louisville, KY, Chicago, IL: Battey, 1885. Page 868.