Some Prominent Men around Town

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O.K. Watson.
Mr. O.K. Watson, K.C., was born in Ridgetown in 1868, son of Zenas Watson, one of the pioneers. After attending the Public and High Schools at Ridgetown and Osgood Hall, Toronto, he became a Barrister in 1892, carrying the political science course at Toronto University at the same time; completed the University course in 1894, receiving the degree of Bachelor of Arts; starting practice in Ridgetown the same year. Served on the Public Library Board for 3 years; in the Town Council for 2 years; on the Collegiate Institute Board for 3 years; and was Chairman of the Board; was named the Town arbitrator on the purchase of the electric light plant; was secretary-treasurer of the High School Board for many years; and on the Public Utilities Commission for thirteen years. Along with this busy schedule, he compiled a 180 page book of "Memories of Ridgetown" which was published in 1950. Mr. Watson passed away Feb. 3, 1954.


Hon. David Mills.
Honorable David Mills, nearly half a century of public service will be commemorated on October 14, 1908*, when a bronze tablet is unveiled in this honour in the Municipal Building in Chatham, Ontario.

Resources Minister Jean Lesage said that the unveiling of the tablet will take place under the auspices of Kent County Historical Society and that his department will be represented by Professor Fred Landon, Chairman of the Historical Board.

The tablet was erected by the Department of Northern Affairs and National Resources, on the recommendations of the Board.

Mr. Mills began his long career in public service as superintendent of Schools in Kent County in 1865. Eleven years later entered Parliament as a member for Bothwell and was Minister of the Mackenzie Administration from 1876-78. He was appointed to the Senate in 1896. He entered the Cabinet of Sir Wilfred Laurier as Minister of Justice and in 1902 was appointed Judge of the Supreme Court, holding that post till his death in 1902 in May.

In 1860, Mr. Mills married Mary J. Brown of Chatham, and they had three sons and four daughters.

[*Jean Lesage was appointed Minister of Resources in 1953. The date of 1908 is unrealistic.]


J.C. Locke.
Of all the business places that were here when Ridgetown was a village still operating under the son-in-law Ben Smith, that of J.C. Locke alone remains. He came with J.J. Bradshaw from Jarvis and bought out the furniture stock and equipment of Charles Baker in 1897. Bradshaw and Locke continued partners for about 4 years, when Bradshaw left and entered into partnership with a Mr. White in Stratford. Mr. Locke later converted his business into a partnership, taking in his son-in-law, Mr. Ben Smith who still operates the furniture business with his son James Smith.


Jacob Smith, M.D.
Smith, a descendent of the U.E. Loyalists of New Jersey, U.S. came to Kent County in 1844, taught school, graduated for a Dr. in Toronto in 1856, practiced in Bothwell; then in Ridgetown until his death. He was the first person interned in the Greenwood Cemetery.

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Transcribed from the records of Mrs. Geo. S. Brien, Rural Ridgetown Women's Institute.
2004-10-29