MARIAH SCALES WAS BORN about 1824. During the Civil War, she served as a nurse and was known to have kept very high standards in her profession. At that time, babies were born at home. There were no telephones. When a baby’s birth was imminent, someone was sent for ”Aunt Mariah.“ She arrived promptly always carrying her black ”doctor bag.“ She was always dressed in a black dress and hat with an immaculate white apron of crocheted lace tied around her waist.
Watkins was a black woman who was highly respected as a very efficient midwife for two generations in Newton County. She is believed to have delivered more than 500 babies in Neosho. Her two most famous babies were artist Thomas Hart Benton and scientist George Washington Carver.
Her influence in the life of George Washington Carver is well known. Carver came to Neosho to live with Aunt Mariah. She taught him homemaking skills of washing, ironing and cooking. He used these skills to earn food and lodging while he struggled for an education.