Tuesday, November 15, 2011

About Jacob Watts

My mother, Audrey Helen Watts, called Jacob Watts a cousin but their relationship was more distant than that, second cousins my father once said. Jacob had lived in Germany for four years before the Second World War and returned to study theology, probably in Tubingen, in 1948. He was living in Canada by 1951 and had a post at a church in Winnipeg before leaving for missionary work in India.

On a visit to my mother when I was eight or nine years old, the only time I met him, Jacob gave her two manuscripts and asked her to hold them because he said that he did not want to keep dragging them across India and Southeast Asia. He died in India in 1959, probably from a cancer, though my mother did not find this out for almost a year. She came to believe that he knew of this cancer when he left the manuscripts with her.

On her death in 2004, I found the manuscripts among my mother’s files. I know that she had read them, at least this one, which was in English. There was no title on it but she believed it was to be called The Sailing of Isis, which I have used here. There was, however, a dedication on the first page, “To the Old Marburgers,” which my mother believed referred to a group of friends Jacob had in Germany. The book concerns certain mostly fictional characters in the court of Nero.

The second manuscript was partially in German and did have a title, Memoirs of The Destruction. This concerned the Jewish Revolt of AD 66 - 70. My mother believed that a later version of this manuscript had been left in the care of the church where Jacob worked in Winnipeg. Although I have pursued this possibility, no one currently associated with St. John's Cathedral appears to have any knowledge of such a manuscript.

John Ensminger, July 10, 2009

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