MATHEWS, Richard Thomas, retired farmer, Jacksonville, Morgan County, Ill. Was born on a farm in that county, March 2, 1843. He is a son of Samuel Taylor and Sarah Ann (Adams) Mathews. The father was born January 21, 1799, in what was then Green County, Ky., near Bowling Green. Samuel T. Mathews was of Protestant Irish descent, being a son of Richard Mathews, born during the Revolutionary period, and probably a descendant of one of the original immigrants of the early Colonial days.
Samuel Taylor Mathews came to Illinois in 1821, and entered a tract of Government land in Morgan County, on Section 4, Township 15, Range 9, of which his son, Richard T., still owns a part. Samuel T. Mathews was married in Kentucky February 22, 1821, and when he came to Morgan County with his wife brought with him $5, a portion of which was still in his possession at the end of the year, there being little in that new country for which he could spend money. He ground his own corn, having built one of the first grist and sawmills in the county, located on Mauvaisterre Creek, and the only establishment of the kind known there for many years. On February 22, 1821, he was married to Sarah Ann Adams, who was born October 20, 1803, in what is now Mairon County, Ky., a daughter of Elijah Adams, a native of Maryland. In 1822 grandfather Mathews came to Morgan County, and soon afterward grandfather Adams followed. The Adams family in the county is now extinct. Nine children resulted from the union of Mr. And Mrs. S. T. Mathews, namely: Melinda J., deceased; Elijah A. and Richard W., who died in childhood; Margaret A., widow of Hezekiah Craig; Samuel T. and Cyrus W., both deceased; Sarah E., wife of J. W. Bab; John H., deceased; and Richard T., of Jacksonville. The father of this family continued to take up land and buy claims until he had about 1,100 acres of land, in all, and he has always engaged in farming and raising stock on a large scale. In 1875 he was instantly killed by falling from a tree.
In politics, Samuel T. Mathews was at first a Whig, but became a Republican in 1860. He served as one of the early County Assessors of Morgan County and for two terms as Sheriff first during the "big snow" and again in the forties. He was a member of the Legislature for two terms, knew Abraham Lincoln well, and visited that illustrious man's house in Springfield, taking his son Richard T. with him.
Soon after Mr. Mathews' arrival in Morgan County, the Cumberland Presbyterians built a church on his farm, which is said by Hiram Reeve, who came here in 1820, to have been the first church edifice erected in the county. S. T. Mathews and his wife are both buried on the farm. The former was a Captain, raised a company in the Black Hawk War, and was made Colonel, commanding a regiment in that conflict.
Richard T. Mathews was reared on the home farm and attended the country school, the Jacksonville public school, and Illinois College. He entered college in 1861, but left it the next year to join the army, enlisting August 15, 1862, in Company D, One Hundred and First Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, being mustered out June 7, 1865. He participated in all the battles of his regiment until he was wounded at the battle of New Hope, Ga., May 25, 1864, two bullets entering his left breast and shoulder, breaking the latter. One of these balls, which lodged under the ribs, he carried for nine years. In September, 1864, he rejoined his regiment at Atlanta, and participated in Sherman's March to the Sea and the Grand Review at Washington. After the war, Mr. Mathews resumed farming in connection with stock-raising and continued thus engaged on land secured form his father until he removed to Jacksonville in 1896. He now has 300 acres of the original farm, besides other lands within and outside the county, and lots in Jacksonville, where he lives in retirement exercising supervision over his farming interests. He is a member of the Matt Starr Post, G. A. R., and of the Order of Elks.
Mr. Mathews was married December 8, 1886, to Martha E. Welbourn, a native of Morgan County, and a daughter of Wisdom and Rachael Welborn, who migrated from North Carolina. He has led an industrious and successful life. Having served his country well in time of war, and faithfully performed his duty in all the relations of life, he is resting from his labors in the quiet contentment of well earned repose.