In 1839, Henry McNeal, one of the first settlers of Hampton (Illinois), moved to a spot further southwest along the Mississippi and began farming. McNeal, along with Alonzo Nourse and Alfred Sanders, platted the village of Watertown in the 1850s and began an advertising campaign to attract industry and residents. Watertown had a stagecoach stop, then the railroad arrived in 1872 and gave the town an economic boost, becoming home for a number of railroad workers and miners. The town didn’t grow much more and thereafter Watertown’s 300 residents lived mostly off farming. East Moline annexed Watertown in 1914. The former town is in the northeast section of East Moline, around the old state hospital.
© Dean Klinkenberg, 2009