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William Johnson Sikes, M.D.  1799-1872

   William Johnson Sikes was born on 18 December 1799 in Clinton, New York to John Sikes (1770-1813) and Sarah (Sally) Eaton* (1770-1841). He was the second son and one of six children.  After their father died (in Watertown, Jefferson County, New York) when they were 13 and 16, William and his older brother Eaton managed the farm and attended school in winters. 

    According to his grandson (George Preston Sikes) William “chose medicine, studied diligently, taught school when 19, and earned money to take him through college.”  He attended Fairfield Academy and studied with Dr. Reuben Goodale according to a Jefferson County, New York, history.  His grandson says, “he left Fairfield with his license to practice and commenced about 1824 in Watertown, Jefferson County, New York.  He joined the Medical Society of Watertown in 1828 and was secretary in 1834, censor in 1836 and secretary in 1837, 1839 and 1840.

    On 30 May 1826 he married Meroe Redfield (1803-1888) daughter of Theophilus Redfield (1769-1853) and Ruth Merriam Tuttle (1778-1864) in Watertown.  They had eleven children.  Six of them lived to adulthood, but only two are known to have descendents.  His grandson says that about 1831 William bought the lot on Franklin St. (then called Woodruff St.) and built the house (#19) where William and Meroe raised their family and both of them died.  They are buried in Brookside Cemetery in Watertown.

    William had a musical side and was a member of the first Watertown band and the first musical association.  His grandson says that he played a curious bass instrument called “Serpent” that looked like one and also played the violoncello.  He was also called as late as the 1860s “the best musical critic in Watertown.”

    He died on 27 September 1872 in the family home on Franklin Street in Watertown.  A Jefferson County history says, “He was much respected as an honest, upright man, a good physician, and kind and attentive to his patients.”

*Sarah (Sally) Eaton is a “Mayflower” descendent.

Linda Garrett Whitson 

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