top of page

The Watson Family

Two Wives:

 The Double Life Of

John Emerson Watson

1852 - 1946

Skip Flora's Grandfather

John Emerson Watson

Great-Great-Grandfather of Jennifer Vincent

Great-Great-Grandfather of John Vincent

Great-Grandfather of Nancy Ann Flora – Vincent

Grandfather of Marilyn (Skip) Gartner – Flora (1927 – 2012)

Father of Bessie Watson – Gartner (1888 – 1968)

Husband of Margaret Dolphin – Watson (1858 – 1935)

Husband of Anna E. Cain – Watson (1873 – 1959)

John Emerson Watson was born on February 3, 1852 in Wilmington, Delaware, to Burton Watson and Ann Webb – Watson. John was a traveling salesman selling farm implements throughout the Western United States. At the age of 27 he married 21-year-old Margaret Dolphin on March 26, 1879. Together they had five children. Their second son, Ray Watson died at two years of age in 1885.


In 1893 at the age of 41, while still married to Margaret, he married 20-year-old Anna E. Cain in South Dakota. John and Anna did not have children. Anna was 21 years younger than he was and 15 years younger than his first wife, Margaret.


Legend has it that Margaret went to her grave in 1935 at the age of 77 in Bellflower, California, not  knowing about John’s second wife. Anna Cain. Anna was 73 at the time of John’s death and did not know that he had been married to Margaret until his death in 1946.


After John’s passing, Anna became acquainted with John’s children and it appears that his daughter, Bessie Watson – Gartner, and Anna became friends.


Below is a picture from about 1946. Left to right; Bessie Watson – Gartner, John’s daughter, Marilyn Mae (Skip) Gartner – Flora, John’s granddaughter, and Anna E Cain – Watson John’s second wife.

Bessie Watson - Gartner, Marilyn (Skip) Gartner – Flora, and Anna Cain – Watson

About 1946

Marilyn Mae Gartner – Flora, John’s granddaughter, was 19 years of age and a student at the University of Redlands, in 1946 when her grandfather, John Watson died on August 7, 1946 at the age of 94 in Waterton, South Dakota.


For a period of 42 years, John Emerson Watson lead a double life with a wife and children in Bellflower, California, and a second wife in South Dakota without children

John Emerson Watson looking at the camera right front

John Emerson Watson with his second wife, Anna

Bess Watson with her father, John Emerson Watson

John Emerson Watson

Source: Marilyn Mae (Skip) Flora

As told to Robert Vincent

Fall, 2007

The Watson Family Photo Album

Robert Vincent

September 25, 2020

bottom of page