Thomas W. Waterson was born in Pennsylvania in 1811 and moved to Kansas from Cincinnati in 1854. [Cutler, History, Marshall County] He established a claim in Doniphan County. The Squatter Association of Whitehead District was formed immediately after the signing of the treaty with the Kickapoos. The first meeting was held on June 24, 1854 with A. M. Mitchell of St. Joseph as chairman, J. R. Whitehead as secretary and with an executive committee that included Waterson. Vigilance committees to guard the rights of settlers and claim owners against loss of their property by claim jumpers were appointed and the members paid 50 cents for each service. Waterson"s claim was typical in its vague description:
"...bounded as follows on the north by a vacant quarter on the east by a vacant quarter on the south by a vacant quarter and on the west by James Waterson. This claim has a small grove on it with a tree nearby known by the name of the Loan Oak and was made by Thomas W. Waterson on the 13th day of June 1854. James R. Whitehead Recorder." [Caldwell, Squatter Association, 29]
Waterson was appointed as the first Justice of the Peace in Kansas Territory by his fellow Pennsylvanian Governor Andrew Reeder in 1854, even though Waterson was a pro-slavery sympathizer, declaring he believed in "Kansas for the South, now and forever." [Wilder, Annals, 68] He did not participate in either the Kansas Militia or the Law & Order Party, so the depth of his commitment to the cause is not certain.
Pony Express Home Station 1859
Marysville was the first home station west of St. Joseph.
After the 1857 session of the legislature, Waterson moved west to the pro- slavery town of Marysville where he was elected the first mayor in 1860 and was then re-elected four times. He became a merchant and business building owner in Marysville and was said to have been very successful. [Cutler, History, Marshall County]
Waterson took part in many civic and business projects in the county and state. He was a leader in an 1863 movement to build a bridge over the Blue River. In 1864, he was appointed postmaster for Marysville. [Cutler, History, Marshall County] In 1877, he ran for Lieutenant Governor of the State on the Democratic ticket but lost in a three candidate race to a Republican. [Blackmar, History, Anthony's Administration] Finally, in recognition of his "old-timer" status, he was elected a director of the Kansas State Historical Society in 1880. [Cutler, History, Era of Peace] William Cutler summed up Waterson in a short biography: "Mr. Watterson is one of the substantial men of Marshall County, has a large property, and is a liberal, public-spirited citizen." [Cutler, History, Marshall County]