John T. Watkins

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John Thomas Watkins
Louisiana Fourth Congressional District, United States House of Representatives
In office
March 4, 1905 – March 3, 1921
Preceded by Phanor Breazeale
Succeeded by John N. Sandlin
Judge of Louisiana's 2nd Judicial District Court
In office
June 2, 1900 – December 8, 1904
Preceded by Richard Cleveland Drew
Succeeded by Richard Cleveland Drew
Personal details
Born (1854-01-15)January 15, 1854
Minden, Webster Parish
Louisiana, USA
Died April 25, 1925(1925-04-25) (aged 71)
Resting place Minden Cemetery
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Elizabeth Murrell Watkins (died 1921)
Children Flora Lizzie Watkins born 25 Sep. 1881 died 12 Sep. 1889

Willie Murrell born 23 Apr. 1861 died 18 Jan. 1890; Elizabeth Murrell born 17 Oct. 1894. Drury Murrell born 07 Sep. 1818 died 23 Jun. 1884; Dana Watkins born 1886, died 11 May 1916

Alma mater Minden Male Academy

Cumberland University

Occupation Lawyer
Religion Methodist
The former Watkins home is located at 318 College Street in Minden, Louisiana, adjacent to Minden High School.

John Thomas Watkins (January 15, 1854 — April 25, 1925) was a Democratic U.S. representative from northwestern Louisiana who served from 1905-1921. A lawyer in his hometown of Minden, the seat of Webster Parish, Watkins was a state district court judge prior to his election to Congress.

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).


  1. ^ List of District Judges from Webster Parish, Webster Parish Centennial Booklet, 1971, Webster Parish Police Jury publication
United States 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