VP candidate in 1908 and 1912 and our candidate for President in 1920 (his official campaign photograph, taken in 1907). Reprinted from the 1941 issue of the magazine of the Ohio Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
Aaron Sherman Watkins was born in the Quality community, near Rushsylvania, November 29, 1863, the youngest of ten children born to William White and Rebecca J. (Elliott) Watkins. All of the family have preceded him in death and are William Jasper, Charles Wesley, Nancy Elizabeth, James Hamilton, Joseph Milton, Mary Melissa, Eliza Jane, Isaac Newton, and Harriet Adaline.
November 8, Rev. and Mrs. Watkins commemorated their fiftieth wedding anniversary. The wife, Emma Laura (Davis) Watkins, of Middleburg community; son, Willard Merrill Watkins, and grandchildren Willard Dean Watkins and Norma Jean Watkins, in the Rushsylvania home.
In early manhood he became a member of the Walnut Grove Methodist Protestant Church, and later held Ohio pastorates in the Methodist Episcopal Church at Continental, Ottawa, Edgerton, Delta, North Baltimore, Van Wert, Columbus Grove, Germantown, Linwood and Winton Place in Cincinnati; Waynesville, Wesley, in Lima and Cairo.
His long service as an educator included the one-room school, principal, and superintendent at Quincey, instructor at Miami Military Institute at Germantown Ohio, during the World War, where he held the rank of Captain, head of the English Department and Vice-President of Ohio Northern at Ada, and President of Asbury College at Wilmore, Kentucky.
Prior to his ordination as a minister, he was associated with his brother, Judge Charles Wesley Watkins, as an attorney-at-law. During his long service in the cause of temperance, he became a candidate on the Prohibition Party ticket for many public offices, including: Attorney-General, Secretary of State; and Governor of Ohio in 1905 and 1908. In 1908 and 1912 he became candidate on the National Prohibition ticket for Vice-President of the United States, and in 1920 he was selected as candidate for President of the United States.
He was honored with collegiate degrees of Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, Doctor of Laws, Doctor of divinity, Doctor of Humane Letters, and Doctor of Philosophy.
It was his privilege to have been associated with national figures, including William Jennings bryan, Carrie Nation, Col. John Sobieski, Eugene W. Chafin, D. Leigh Colvin, Clarence Darrow, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Typical and almost prophetic of his full and useful life was his graduation oration at Ohio Northern University in 1886. It was titled, "The Increasing Purpose."
It is in one a pleasure and a challenge to pay adequate tribute to one we have known, and loved, so well.
For half a century Dr. Aaron S. Watkins had been accustomed to answering the call of the church bell on Sunday mornings, so it seemed quite fitting that it should be on a Sunday morning that he should answer that last great call to enter the "temple not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." On Sunday morning about 5:30, February 9, 1941, Dr. Watkins died with the final statement that "I have had a very happy life, "and could well have added a very useful one, for his many ministrations he was teacher of our brotherhood class and often gave the message in absence of the pastor.
The pastor used as his text Genesis 25:8, "The Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years: and was gathered to his people,"which illustrates the "increasing purpose" of his life.
Special music included: "Safe in the Arms of Jesus" and "One Sweetly Solemn Thought." The visiting ministers sang, "Rock of Ages."
After retiring from the active ministry he settled in Rushsylvania, near his birthplace. He was especially appreciated by his last pastor as a wise councilor and friend, Rev. J.G . Deeds, Rushsylvania Charge.