Members Only Area
Bookmark and Share
sidebar menu icon


WATKINS, JESSE (ca. 1776–1837). Jesse Watkins, early Texas settler, physician, and Indian commissioner, the son of William Ezekiel and Betsy (Jernigan) Watkins, was born at Murfreesboro, Tennessee, about 1776. He married Mary McCorkle there, and they became the parents of seven children. Watkins moved to Texas sometime in the early 1830s and was living in Nacogdoches by 1836. In September 1837 he was commissioned by Sam Houston to travel to the three forks of the Trinity River in what is now Dallas County to negotiate a treaty with the Kichai, Caddo, and Tawakoni Indians. Watkins never reached his destination. According to his interpreter, Luis Sánchez, he was captured and burned at the stake by a band of Cherokees. Two years later, at the battle of the Neches, Watkins's son-in-law, Capt. Robert W. Smithqv, shot and killed the aged Cherokee Chief Bowl as Bowl sat on the ground, wounded, following the battle. Smith apparently believed that Bowl had been responsible for his father-in-law's death.


Dallas Morning News, June 6, 1937. Frank W. Johnson, A History of Texas and Texans (5 vols., ed. E. C. Barker and E. W. Winkler [Chicago and New York: American Historical Society, 1914; rpt. 1916]).

Cecil Harper, Jr.

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to:

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Cecil Harper, Jr., "WATKINS, JESSE," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed December 01, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.