This was the home of Dr. John Watkins who was one of the early and few physicians in this part of what was then still the Mississippi Territory. According to markings on Dr. Watkins’ gravestone, he was for a time the only physician between the Alabama and Chattahoochee Rivers. Dr. John Watkins was born in Virginia circa 1785. He received his medical education at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1813, he emigrated from South Carolina, along the Old Federal Road, to the Fort Mims area, and was living there when the massacre occurred in August 1813. Family history maintains that he provided medical care to the survivors. Dr. Watkins moved to Claiborne prior to 1818 and he relocated to Burnt Corn in 1819. In addition to being a doctor, Watkins was also active in politics. He was a representative in the Convention of 1819 that framed the constitution for the state of Alabama. He also served in the Alabama House of Representatives and Senate. Dr. Watkins died August 9, 1853 and is buried in the Burnt Corn Baptist Cemetery.
The Dr. Watkins house is a two and a half story structure that has an unusual lower wing extension. Local legend says it was originally built in 1812 by the Richardson brothers and Dr. Watkins bought the home and plantation when he moved to the area. The Watkins house was documented during the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) in 1934. It was listed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage on October 4, 1993.
This house is located approximately one and one half miles north of Burnt Corn on the west side of Conecuh CR 5 (31°34’15.5″N 87°09’27.4″W – Google Maps).
This is a private residence – drive by only.
Sources: 1) “Dr. Watkins House” Historical Marker; 2) “Archaeological Survey of the Old Federal Road in Alabama” by the Center for Archaeological Studies, University of South Alabama.
B&W photograph courtesy of the U. S. Library of Congress (HABS), photographer: W. N. Manning, date: March 6, 1934.