SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — At a time when there were no hospitals in Neosho, Missouri, a midwife created a lasting legacy. Mariah Watkins is believed to have delivered more than 100 babies in the 1800s. Her unique skill set was rare for the time, not only because she was Black, but also a woman.
Kaitlyn McConnell, author of Ozarks Alive, discovered how Watkins’ compassion helped shape the community. She also described how Watkins’ influenced young minds.
“She was one of the most influential people in the life of George Washington Carver,” McConnell said.
After that, in 1889, artist Thomas Hart Benton was born. Watkins was said to have been his first nurse.
Mariah Watkins is buried next to her husband, Andy, in Hazelwood Cemetery, in Newton County.