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George Matthew, Pioneer With Ambition


Dan Finney

Throughout the years many changes have taken place in ourcommunity. The Virgil Bockwitz home in Humboldt reminds early pioneersof the stately farm home of George Matthew. This magnificent house wasone of the many fine buildings which was constructed on his homestead onemile north of Humboldt.

Mr. Matthew came to this country in the early 1880's. He was a native of North Wiltshire, Prince Edward Island, Canada. Arrivingwith Mr. Matthew was his wife, Anne. Also making the trip were Mr. Matthew'sthree brothers, Hamilton, the elevator manager in Humboldt, Alph, a localgrain farmer, and another brother who died during the trip from Canada. George and his wife had three children who were all born in this country; Louis, an ambitious man who later took over George's farm and Reuben whooperated his father's store in Humboldt. They also had a girl which diedat birth.

Arriving at the early age of 18, Mr. Matthew worked inEmerson making buggies. He had learned this trade from a man in Boston.Later he turned to farming which became his life's work. Mr. Matthew homesteadednorth of Humboldt.

Arriving with only a few possessions Mr. Matthew set towork. He started out with nothing and ended up with an eleven thousanddollar house.

Mr. Matthew owned a bonanza farm. At one time hefarmed seven-teen quarters of land all in Kittson County. (It would takequite some time to move from one portion of land to another, because itwas spread all over the country) Horses were Mr. Matthew's farm power.He owned 44 work horses and small colts. In early operation of his farmhe used oxen for field work.

In the spring time the shoe drill was put to work. Thisdrill, which was about ten feet long and had twenty rows of discs. Thesedrills wore usually pulled by two teams of horses. Mr. Matthew owned sixof these drills.

During the harvest Mr. Matthew would use his own thresher,which was a Nickalson-Shepard steam engine with a Bufflo Pitts separator.This rig was equivalent to a modern day combine. Several years later Mr.Matthew traded this rig for a Mogal steam engine and an Altman--Taylor separator. Mr. Matthew never custom threshed for people of the Community.

After the threshing was done the plow crews were set towork. Mr. Matthew owned eight to ten plows which were all John Deere models.Five horses wore required to pull these machines. The plow was usuallyoperated by a man on the platform of the plow.

Mr. Matthew usually hired ten men in the spring for seeding.Most of these men were Galations. Hiring was also on the agenda in thefall when Mr. Matthew usually hired as many as twenty men to help with theharvest work.

The hired help who worked all year around were WilliamClow; shocker boss; Kerr Matthew, head teamster; Joe Stranger operatedthe threshing machine; Mrs. Varey and Mrs. Mitchell, who were the cooks.The shocker boss was in charge of the shocks during the harvest. The headteamster was the boss of the threshing machine when they were threshing. The cooks main job was to feed the wolves.(l)

The average wage that Mr. Matthew paid for a man duringharvest was $2.50 per day. This was for a 12 hour day of hard work.

Mr. Matthew was not only a big farmer he was also an efficientfarmer. It was once said that he raised 20,000 bushels of wheat on a sectionof land. This is better than 30 bushels per acre without the use of fertilizeror chemicals.

Mr. Matthew was not only interested in farming. He wasone of the first men to invest in the Humboldt Bank. George and severalother farmers formed the Elevator Association in Humboldt. This was notall, George invested in two stores. One in Humboldt and the other in Orleans.He was also the builder of many of the buildings in Emerson, Manitoba.

George Matthew died in the depression as an unsung hero, Mr. Matthew was a man with great ambition, who devoted much of his timeto his farm, his civic life, and personal life. Mr.Matthew's death wassaid to be caused by determination, he worked his hardest at everythinghe did. This is the type of man that needs to be respected.


(1) Wolves- This was what George called his workers whenthey got to the table.

This was what George called his workers whenthey got to the table.