Tabytha Watson

There are many notable people buried in Historic Fairview Cemetery who have impacted the growth and development of Albuquerque and New Mexico. Today, we salute Tabytha Watson.

Tabytha Watson moved to Albuquerque in early 1898 from Gainesville, Texas. A widow, she moved to New Mexico with her son Green and daughter Anna.

Finding no Baptist church, Mrs. Watson began conducting Sunday school and prayer meetings in her home, located on Fourth and Copper Avenue. For five months, they worshipped at the African Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1899, she was instrumental in organizing Mount Olive Baptist Church.

Church Evolution

With help from Reverend Gladden from Colorado, the members raised $135 to purchase a lot at 510 W. Lead Avenue. They built a white frame hall at the back of the lot where services were then held. Baptismal services were conducted in the Rio Grande River until a pool was built in the hall. Additional funds were raised and by 1909 they were able to erect a brick building on the front of the lot.

Every Fourth of July, the church held a picnic for the children and adults at the Rio Grande Park, Witcomb Springs area or Bear Canyon area (located in the Sandia Mountains). In those early days, the transportation was by stagecoach. Everyone especially enjoyed riding the Jumbo Stagecoach line. The African Methodist Episcopal Church and Mount Olive Baptist Church enjoyed many social events together.

Mt. Olive Baptist Church University

Mt. Olive Baptist Church at 2401 University Blvd. SE

By 1934, the church purchased a lot at 508 W. Lead Avenue, where the parsonage was built and a house at 512, which provided Sunday school rooms, rest rooms, kitchen and a dining area. These properties were sold in 1970 and Mt. Olive purchased a lot at 2401 University Boulevard S.E.

The first building, the Ralph Bunche Cultural Center was completed the same year. The present sanctuary was dedicated on February 17, 1977. Mount Olive Baptist Church had a humble beginning in Mrs. Watson’s home and has been a vital part of the Albuquerque community for over 120 years.

Watson’s Death

Tabytha Watson Obit

At the age of 61, Tabytha Watson died at home of kidney disease in the early morning on January 17, 1918. The obituary in the Albuquerque Journal stated:

“She is survived by one son, Green Watson, who is the city jailer, and one daughter, Mrs. Anna Anderson of San Francisco. The daughter arrived here Wednesday Morning. Her body was taken to Fred Crollot’s undertaking rooms.”

Tabytha Watson is buried in Historic Fairview Cemetery in Section 17B, ST-West, Grave 13. This is located near the wall that separates the Congregation Albert cemetery from Historic Fairview Cemetery, north of Springer Walton Road. Look for her headstone on the west side of the walking path. Thank you to Serenity Stone monument makers in Los Lunas for the donation of this headstone.

Tabytha Watson Headstone

Written by Fairview Cemetery Historian Susan Schwartz with additions by Gail Rubin.

Learn more about the history of Historic Fairview Cemetery in Albuquerque, NM.