Arthur Watkins was born on February 22, 1841, in Jordan, Onondaga County, New York, the son of Dennis (b. 1804) and Eliza (Birney, d. 1846).
Maryland native Dennis married Eliza, possibly in New York where they resided for some years. (In 1840 Dennis was probably living in Elbridge, Onondaga County, New York.) After Eliza died Dennis remarried New York native Adelia (b. 1816), probably in New York. In any case Dennis moved his family to Michigan, eventually settling in Bennington, Shiawassee County by 1850 when he was working a farm and Arthur and his siblings were attending school. By 1860 Arthur was living with his father and attending school with two of his younger sisters in Bennington. In fact Arthur lived in Shiawassee County, probably with his family, until the war broke out.
Arthur stood 5’10” with blue eyes, light hair and a light complexion and was a 20-year-old laborer possibly living in Shiawassee County when he enlisted at the age of 20 in Company G on May 13, 1861. By the first of August, 1861, Arthur was sick with a fever in the Regimental hospital, but he eventually returned to duty and was wounded slightly in the head (“left temple”) on May 31, 1862, at Fair Oaks, Virginia. He was hospitalized briefly in Washington, DC, and by June 20 had returned to duty having recovered from his wound, “which,” wrote Homer Thayer of Company G, “proved not so bad as first supposed.”
According to one source, however, Arthur was back in the hospital by late summer and was not present with the regiment when it was engaged at the Battle of Groveton (Second Bull Run), Virginia, on August 29, 1862.
It is unclear whether Watkins actually returned to the Regiment since he was reported as absent sick through March of 1863. By May he was in the Brigade commissary department, and was wounded in the shoulder on May 3, 1863, at Chancellorsville, Virginia. He reenlisted on December 24, 1863, at Brandy Station, Virginia, but no credit for the enlistment is given in the records. He was presumably absent on veteran’s furlough in January of 1864 and probably returned to the Regiment on or about the first of February. Arthur was apparently absent sick when he was transferred to Company F, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864, and he remained absent sick through July of 1864. He was mustered out July 5, 1865.
After the war Arthur eventually returned to Michigan, settling in Birmingham, Oakland County, where he married Michigan native Juliet Leonard (b. 1847) on December 1, 1866, and they had at least five children: Mabel (b. 1868), Mrs. Arthur Hill?), Harry L. (b. 1869), Myrta A., A. Grayce and Don D.
By 1870 Arthur was working as a farm laborer and living with his wife and two children in Bloomfield, Oakland County; also living with them was his father Dennis. Arthur eventually moved to Detroit, and was working on a Street car and living with his wife and children in on Twentieth Street in the Twelfth Ward. He remained in Detroit until about 1881 when he settled his family in Bellaire, Antrim County, where they ran a boarding house hotel which they had purchased from J. Cook. They engaged in that business for some twenty years.
Arthur was still living in Bellaire when became a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association in December of 1894, was a Protestant and he received pension no. 388,894, drawing $12.00 per month in 1901.
According to one source, on “Christmas morning, 1900, Mr. Watkins was stricken with paralysis, and” as a result he was admitted to the Michigan Soldiers’ Home (no. 3587) on April 3, 1901.
Arthur had another stroke late in 1906 and he died of paralysis at the Home at 6:15 p.m. on June 16, 1907, and his body was sent to Bellaire where his wife had been living. His remains were taken to his home where the funeral was conducted under the auspices of the Masons. He was buried in Lakeview cemetery in Bellaire: lot 506, grave 1.
In July of 1907 his widow was living in Michigan when she applied for and received a pension (no. 633720).