Thomas Mathews (1917)

Not sure when written. Tells of his growing up, church activity and his family life.

I am the second son of Benjamin Lynn Mathews and Esther Black. I was born in Grandfather Black’s home at Coyote (Antimony), Utah, on 6 December 1917. Shortly after I was born I became sick with the influenza that was sweeping the country in 1918; but, with the loving care of Mother and Grandmother Black and the blessings of the Lord, I recovered with no permanent effects.

The first nineteen years of my life were spent in Antimony. Here I worked on my father’s farm or spent my time doing the things most country boys do, such as fishing, riding horses, reading anything I could get my hands on, or just dreaming of the things that I would like to do. In 1932 I graduated from the elementary school at Antimony, and in 1936 from Piute County High School in Circleville, Utah. In 1936 I went to Cedar City, Utah, to attend the Branch Agricultural College. In 1938 I graduated from this school and then went to Logan to attend Utah State Agricultural College where I graduated in 1940 with a bachelor of science degree in engineering and mechanical arts. I also graduated from the Church Institutes at Cedar and Logan.

In the spring of 1937 while I was hooking up a team to a harrow to cultivate the ward welfare project, the team became frightened when a pick-up truck backed out of a lane nearby. The team backed up, knocked me down, and then stood over me for a short time before running away. The driver of the truck stopped and pulled me out from under the horses during the few moments that they paused before running away. This is a time when I feel that the Lord preserved my life for some purpose.

In December, 1940, I moved to Washington, D.C., to work for the government as a hydraulic engineer. I went back to Utah to get married in the spring of 1941 and since that time I have made the nation’s capitol my home. In 1948 I began working in military intelligence as an Intelligence Research Specialist. I am still employed in this field (1965). Through the years it has been interesting to observe how our government operates and how God directs the destiny of this great country.

I married Vanese Barker on 1 April 1941 in the Salt Lake Temple. Vanese is the daughter of Frederick Barker and Della Ann Hickenlooper. She was born 4 July 1915. Vanese and I have been blessed with the following children:

  1. Ilene born 1 June 1942; married Terry Shelton 10 Sep. 1963
  2. Gary Alton born 15 March 1944
  3. Ruth born 17 June 1947
  4. Thomas Frederick born 4 January 1949
  5. Lorin Barker born 4 September 1951
  6. Dennis Black born 27 September 1952
  7. Lydia born 20 March 1954
  8. Ann born 5 March 1956
  9. Susan born 3 September 1957

During World War II, I served in the army forces as a naval officer. I received my training at Fort Schuyler, New York City, New York; Naval Gun Factory, Washington, D.C.; and at the Naval Training School, Hampton, Virginia. I was an instructor of ordnance at Naval Training Center, Sampson, New York, for seventeen months; design and educational officer at Naval Ammunition Depot, Lualualei, Oahu Island, Hawaii, for two months; and operational officer in charge of loading and unloading ships at Eniwetok and Kwajalein Attols in the Marshall Islands for nine months. The last assignment was with two hundred fifty Negro enlisted personnel, and this experience gave me some insight into the philosophy most Negroes believe in.

I have always tried to keep active in the Church. I was baptized by my father on 2 June 1926, in the canal just about the old red flume in Antimony, Utah. My father confirmed me. I was also ordained a deacon, teacher, priest, and elder by my father. 17 February 1935, and an elder on 25 June 1939. I was ordained a seventy on 21 September 1947, by Antoine R. Ivins.

I have served in many capacities in the Church, some of which are: district supervisor of ward teaching, assistant ward clerk for ward teaching, and ward teacher; chairman or member of cub, scout, and explorer committees; counselor and chairman of ward genealogy committee; project coordinator on ward welfare committee; secretary, counselor, and president of elder’s quorum; group and quorum secretary of seventies quorum; and a stake missionary. Helping build chapels has been a real joy in my life. I helped cut the timber for the chapel in Antimony, was in charge of recruiting labor in the converting of a fire house to a chapel for the Capitol Ward, Washington, D.C., and kept track of all donated labor during the construction of the College Park Chapel in Hyattsville, Maryland.

I have traveled quite extensively having been in most of the states in the continental United States, and Hawaii. I have also visited the following places outside the United States: two atolls in the Marshall Islands, two provinces in Canada, Iceland, England, Scotland, Wales, and France.

I seem to have always been interested in Genealogy and during the past twenty-five years have accumulated family group sheets and some stories. These have shown me how much we owe our progenitors for the heritage that we have.