Transcribed by Melody Carter
February 26, 1953
* CAL’S COLUMN *
We closed last week with an account of the Matthews family. We also proposed to add the T. W. Matthews lines at a later time. We are sorry to state that as yet we have not located any information of the sort wanted. Our recollection is that many years ago we wrote down the line of descent of Elder Thomas Wainright Matthews, but we have failed to find it. We may locate it later; but for the present, we are going to have to give up the search for the lack of time. We once heard someone say of the old preacher, Elder Thomas Wainright, he should have been named Thomas Wainwrong, this being a pun on his name. We learn from the Census Record the following: “Benjamin S. H. Matthews, 20 years of age and born in Tenn., Parthenia F. Matthews, born in Tenn., and five years of age; and Mary E. Matthews, born in Tenn., and two years of age.” We presume that this Benjamin Matthews was the father of the minister above referred to, and Martha A. Matthews was his mother. He once reported to the writer that Parthenia’s Chapel, southeast of Defeated was named for his grandmother, Parthenia Matthews. The following is found in the Census Records for Smith County for 1850: “Parthenia Matthews, born in 1788 in North Carolina, Children, Edney, 40, born in North Carolina; Elizabeth, 39, born in North Carolina; Parthenia, 27, born in North Carolina; Gilla, 25, born in Tennessee; and James Matthew, 23, born in Tennessee.” So this would appear to be the family of his widowed grandmother in 1850. The minister had one daughter named Gilla; and a son named Thomas; and then the reader will recall that the preacher was named Thomas as his first appellation.
The following sketch of Elder T. W. Matthews appears in Grimes History of Middle Tennessee Baptists:
“Elder T. W. Matthews, Riddleton, Smith County, Tenn. descent not known beyond America. He is tall and slender, and inclined to dark complexion. He is the son of Benjamin and Martha Matthews. He was born in Smith County, Tennessee August 4, 1852. He was brought up on a farm. He made profession at Mont Rose in 1866, and joined the church at Mount Tabor, Smith County, Tenn. on the same date and was baptized by Elder E. L. Smith. He was ordained by Defeated Creek church in 1874, by Elders E. B. Haynie, W. H. Haile, G. C. Harris and M. B. Ramsey. He has been pastor of the following churches, viz: Mount Hope, Bethany, Shady Grove, Enon, Antioch, Defeated Creek, Pleasant Valley, Peyton’s Creek, Rome, Russell Hill, Macedonia, New Harmony, and Mount Olive. He was educated at Bellwood Academy, Macon County, Tennessee. He was once Field Editor of the “Baptist Helper.” He has constituted one church. He has baptized a great many (number not known) and married about 100 couples. He was married to Miss Mattie Kent, in 1876 and again to Ava Cage in 1889. He has nine children living and two dead.” History of Middle Tennessee Baptists.
We knew Elder T. W. Matthews quite well. He was an able Baptist preacher for many years after the publication of the history from which the above sketch was taken. Perhaps he did his greatest work in the years that followed the publication of the history in 1907. Elder T. W. Matthews preached the very first sermon the writer ever heard on the fourth Sunday in May 1901 at Mace’s Hill school house, when the writer was nearly ten years of age. We are sorry to report that we were not brought up to attend any church services, and we were never in a church house until we were a little past 13 years of age. We never saw a dead person until we were almost 13 years of age. We never saw anyone baptized until the day we were immersed in the waters of Peyton’s Creek by Elder R. B. Davis on Sunday morning October 3, 1909.
The writer was so ignorant of the ways and customs that prevailed among the churches of forty odd years ago that he wore his best clothes to the baptizing and then was asked by his uncle, Luther, “Are you going to be baptized in the clothes you are now wearing?” Our reply being in the negative, he then said: “You will have to go somewhere and change your clothes.” This uncle, who, we are sure, felt sorry for his green nephew, took the lad of 18 years and carried him to a barn in a hollow about a quarter of a mile from the baptismal pool and rendered all the aid he could. God bless the memory of our good uncle, who was one of the best men we ever knew. So some of our earliest religious impressions occurred under the ministry of the brother above referred to.
Our information on the Mathias family is very limited, although we are of the opinion the Matthews, Mathews, and Mathias families are one and the same. The first of the Mathias line of whom we have any record was Henry Nathaniel Mathias, supposed to have been born in Virginia and came to Tennessee as a young man and settled on Sycamore Fork of Smith’s Fork of Caney Fork River, not far from the present Gassaway. He is reported to have been married five times, but we do not have the names of these women. Only two sons are on our brief records: Bluford Mathias married first to Rachael Pistole, and later to Mary Dutton; and Dan Mathias, married Frances Pistole, a siste!!r of Rachel. One son, name unknown, ran away from home at the age of 15 and was never heard from again.
Bluford Mathias and his first wife were the parents of one son, J. B. Mathias, born on October 26, 1869 and still living on Dry Fork, about five miles southeast of Lafayette. He married first to Amanda Melton, by whom he had two children, a son, Floyd Mathias, of the same community in which his father resides, and Bernice Mathias who married Gene Gregory, our present Tax Assessor, who resides on Route two, Lafayette. J. B. Mathias’’ wife died many years ago, and later he married Fannie Gillihan. Still later he married Mrs. Hettie Ellis Ballou with whom he is now living.
The writer boarded with J. B. Mathias in the fall of 1911 when he taught school at Beech Bottom. At that time, his second wife, the former Miss Fannie Gillihan, was active and one of the most industrious women we ever knew. Floyd was a boy of perhaps 10 or 12 years. Bernice was a little girl with long hair plaited and hanging down her back. We still remember the whining and fretting and sometimes outright crying that she did while her hair was being fixed up for going to school. In the same family lived Miss Rowena Gillihan, a “hunch-back” sister of Fannie. She was also very industrious. It was a happy family in those days of the long ago. Now Fannie and Rowena are both dead, the son and daughter have homes of their own and Uncle Bee, as he was called 40 years ago, and is still called, is in feeble health and hardly able to leave his home. He is now in his 84th year. Bee Mathias is one of the finest men this writer ever knew and we grieve to think that according to nature and the present state of health that Bee Mathias will soon be numbered with those who have lived and died.
Bluford Mathias, by his second wife, the former Miss Mary Dutton, was the father of: Felly B. Mathias, a Baptist minister, who married Miss May Spurlock; Bob V. Mathias, former Circuit Court Cl!!erk of this county, who married Miss Willie Adamson; Ray Mathias, who married a Wade; Lee, no additional information; Carrie Belle Mathias, married Carlie McDuffee, son of Ansil McDuffee, son of Tarpley McDuffee, son of Neal McDuffee and his wife, the former Miss Delaine Gregory, the writer’s great-great aunt; Paul and three other sons, whose names we do not recall.
Dan Mathias and his first wife, Frances Pistole, were the parents of one daughter, Delia, who married Tom Cook, and removed to Texas. Here our information on the Mathias family ends so far as is now available to the writer. However, our recollection is that we have somewhere among our old records some other names of members of the same family.