The Watkins family became an institution in Taylorsville. John T. Watkins came here
from Raleigh about 1900 and brought with him the old Washington press which he is
said to have bought second hand. He ran the paper until his death in 1930, then his
daughters, Hattie and Marie continued the operation.
During his lifetime, Watkins served as tax assessor of Smith County, superintendent
of education, mayor of Taylorsville, and town treasurer. He was a lawyer, an editor,
and a pillar in the Methodist Church.
His daughters grew up in the newspaper business which was also a country store, so
that when it fell their lot to take over the paper, they were long experienced in
the printing business.
Gradually, the family died off, but before the sisters’ deaths they made arrangements
to give the old press and then tumbling down office to the town with the idea that
it might someday become a little museum.
Here today may be seen not only the old printing equipment which includes old brass
type, large wooden type, copper plates sent to the newspaper to advertise victrolas,
early model refrigerators, patent medicines, etc., buckets of ink, other tools of
the trade, but also a stock of merchandise. The latter includes an assortment of
high-buttoned shoes, the original lace-up boots, ladies hats, baby ointment, copies
of many magazines long since out of print, and numerous other items. On display are
scores of old copies of the Signal, copies of old time sheet music, caned and cowhide-bottomed
chairs, a spinning wheel and much more.