By Son, Benjamin Lynn Mathews, spring 1978
The thoughts in this sketch are as I remember during lifetime and as he related some of the events to me. He was born in Beaver, UT, on the 25 April 1867, son of John Lynn and Mary Jane Cartwright Mathews. He was the eldest son and an ambitious person, always working at something. He had a great love for horses and owned a good team, and was generous with his time, helping his friends and neighbors.
While he was quite young he accumulated enough money to purchase a building lot where he could build a house on. It was near his father’s home as he wanted a home if he should ever get married.
In those early days whenever a group of young people got together they loved to hitch a team of horses onto a light wagon and go riding. The wagon had a box on. The driver would sit near the front on a spring seat near the team, and the others would stand up in the back to make room for the crowd. One day the group decided to go down to Minersville, a small town eighteen miles southwest of Beaver. The bunch of boys and girls loaded in and away they went. As they were driving around town the picked up a few more couples. There was a small hill just north of town, and as they approached it the driver hit the horses for a quick start and all the people fell back a few steps. One of the girls (later she became my mother), Mary Ellen Eyre, slipped and went over the end gate. Dad being near grabbed her feet just before she hit the rough ground and pulled her back in the wagon. He had never met Miss Eyre, but was attracted to her, so when they returned the young people to their homes he asked her if he could come see her again. That was the start of their courtship. Several months later they decided to get married. So on 2 February 1888 they went to Milford, Utah, and were married. Years later, after the birth of several children, they went to the St. George Temple and received their endowments and were sealed together along with their children for eternity. This was 28 July 1903.
At first they lived in a rented home in Beaver, where three of their children were born before moving into their new home. There were nine children in all. They were a happy bunch. Dad always showed great love for his family. We never spoke a cross word to any of them. They were loved and appreciated.
Our home in Beaver was built of pink sandstone. The walls were eighteen inches thick. In the large front room a big window that faced the west was always full of lots of flowers growing, which was a joy for everyone. There were six rooms and plenty of storage space. As soon as Dad was able he built three more rooms on the house using the same material. It was a happy place to grow up in.
Dad worked at all the extra jobs he could find. I remember when I was about three years old of going out to the front gate to meet him as he returned home from Delmar, Nevada, where he had been hauling cord wood for the smelter. Mother had dressed me up in a velvet suit with a fancy ruffled shirt and tie. I had curls on top of my head. I was supposed to cross the street to meet him. As he came around the corner I ventured out and waved to him for a ride into the lot. When he first saw me he didn’t recognize me, but lifted me up onto the wagon. It was a happy experience for me.
One time Dad was working on a state road hauling gravel and operating a grading machine; he had an experience that was a real problem for him. His fellow workers would ask him to sign notes with them, guaranteeing their ability to meet the payments for the contracts they were working on. One time he signed a contract with a fellow worker who had taken a contract to finish a section of road that was being built. The road had to be finished at a certain time or he would forfeit the amount of the bond. Reverse conditions came up and he was unable to complete the job, so he lost all the assets he owned and Dad had to sell thirty-five acres of his farm land to pay the rest of that obligation.
Another time he signed a note with several other men to purchase a stallion. It turned out that several of the guys failed to pay their share. The sheriff came and demanded one of the work horses he was using to clean out a ditch. The sheriff was a rather impatient fellow and forced Dad to unhitch the horses from the scraper and took one horse to Beaver. The next day I went with Dad to Beaver and redeemed the horses for fifty dollars.
Dad was very honest in all his dealings with other people. When he paid his tithing in kind it was his practice to always give the best hay or grain or whatever he had to the Bishop’s Tithing Office.
One day Dad went down to the pasture to change the water (his cousin Dr. Warren Shepherd had purchased a Jersey bull from Missouri), when Dad entered the pasture the bull was attracted to him and knocked him over, then he began bunting and rolling him over. It just happened he came to a wire fence and by being pushed under it, his life was saved. He suffered black and blue marks all over his body, and he was in bed for several days. At the time we were milking thirty-two cows, so it was quite a hardship for me to get them milked before school. Mother would come out and help me.
When my Grandmother Mathews died she left a young daughter, Edna, for Grandfather to care for. She was their youngest child and had crippled feet and her learning ability was slow, being caused by measles which she contracted soon after birth as a very young child. In fact they were given little hope they could ever raise her. Grandfather asked Dad and Mother if they would take care of her so he gave them some of his meadow land. She lived in our home about twenty years, and then she went to Beaver to visit her older sister and died there. (NOTE – the family history sheet says that Edna Mathews died at Provo, UT in 1957) Grandfather also lived with us most of the time.
In 1907 one of Dad’s aunts needed to have someone take care of her cattle herd, so Dad took them to run on shares, with the understanding that he would double the herd in five years. Everything was going along OK until the summer before the cattle were to be returned. Two fellows in Beaver went out t to the Cunningham Ranch north of Beaver where some of the cattle were being pastured for the summer, and in a round about way, they took all the cattle they could find and drove them to Milford and sold them to a packing house in Omaha, Nebraska. Other farmers also lost some of their herds of cattle the same way. They had them on the train, ready to leave, when by chance the county sheriff, who was a brother-in-law to Dad, happened to see them and questioned them about where they hand bought the cattle. The train pulled out, as they were making excuses. He arrested them and had a trial and they were sent to prison, but after two years they were pardoned out. What they had done with the money was never found out. Dad was left with barely enough cattle to pay off his contract. It was a sad experience for him to lose faith in his neighbors.
In his younger days he was noted as quite a foot racer. He could outrun everyone in the county. I remember when I was about seven years old there was a big celebration on the fourth of July. One of the townsmen had sent to Provo to get one of the fastest runners to come and compete with Dad. When the time came for the race the fellow stripped down to his running uniform; he had a large B.Y.U. sign on his shirt and spiked running shoes – he really looked impressive. The fellow who was sponsoring him had bet a large sum of money on the race and there was a lot of excitement. When they went up to the line Dad took off his shoes, rolled up his pant legs to his knees and was ready. They were to run 100 yards at the crack of a gun. Soon after the start of the race Dad left the B.Y.U. fellow behind and won the race by three or four yards. I was so proud and thrilled. I just clapped my hands and yelled.
As the years passed by Mother wanted to move to Minersville where her parents lived, so Dad sold his land and home to his Aunt Cedaressa Shepherd (Cedaressa Catherine Cartwright) and bought a home and forty-five acres of farm land in Minersville in the spring of 1911. They spent the rest of their lives there.
Dad loved to go fishing, whenever he could find time, about once a year, he would take family and go camp out at the Mammoth or Panguitch Lake. We would stay a week, and what fun we had romping over the places.
I remember when Dad went out to the sulphur mines to work. In the summer time sometimes the family would move out there for a few months. At first he hauled wood to the smelter. Then later he ran the cars from the mines to the smelter. The cars were pulled by horses. He had a large white horse that was called Dick and when you would say “Gee”, he would turn right; and turn left when you would say “Ha.” One day as Dad got old Dick fastened to the front end of a string of cars the smelter retorts broke loose, the steam making a loud noise frightened old Dick – why we will never know as he had pulled the cars many times. He started to run with the cars coming after him, running him into the end of a drift, cutting him severely. They had to get another horse that had to be guided by hand.
The smelter at the sulphur beds was interesting to watch as they melted the sulphur. The ore was brought in cars from the mine and dumped on the north side of the smelter. Then the ore was hauled a few yards to the furnace and placed by hand in a large hole that held about one ton. Then a heavy iron door was closed and the steam was turned on to melt the sulphur. The sulfur would run into the bottom of a large melting pot. The steam was made by heating water in the furnace. The steam ran through a pipe into part of the furnace where the ore was waiting to be separated from the soil. When the steam reached a certain point a valve was turned and the steam went through a pipe to where the ore was. It would take six or seven hours for the sulphur to melt and run to the bottom of the pot (when the sulfur was released the steam went into the air making a loud noise.) From the pot the sulphur ran through a pipe into some iron molds and was wheeled out on a large floor to harden. When it became hard it was sent to the mill to be ground into powder. The waste soil was then dug out of the furnace and hauled to a dump. The furnace was then ready for the next work shift.
I always loved to be with my Dad. He depended on me in so many ways and asked my advice on things. My older brother, Melvin was called on a mission. Dad promised me I could go when he returned. After he returned he got married and moved into a home of his own. Because of things happening Dad needed my help and I didn’t get to go. That was one of my regrets in life.
When the Telluride Power Company built their first power plant in Beaver Canyon Dad hauled most of the big pipe with a team and wagon from Milford to the plant, a distance of forty miles.
One winter when I was about ten years old our wood pile was getting real low. There was about four inches of snow on the ground and it was rather cold. Dad decided he had better go and get a load of wood. He went south of Beaver near the Black Ridge and cut some green pine and brought it home. Soon after getting home he complained of a sick headache and a fever, so Mother gave him something to eat and he went to bed. The next morning he had several red pimples on his arms and legs, and by night time more red blotches appeared so the Doctor was called and he said, “Tom, you have smallpox.” He called the health officer who came and put a large yellow flag on our gatepost as a warning to people that a contagious disease was in that home. The pox just kept coming out. They were so thick you couldn’t put a pin point between them. Someone counted three hundred on his nose alone. When the pox began to dry up, his body was very sore. He had to be turned over on a sheet. The scales itched so bad he could hardly stand it. The only thing that gave him relief was sopping them with weak lime water.
The disease went through the whole family. When one would get better another would break out. As a family we were isolated for eighty days. Our only contact with the outside world was when the city marshal would call at the gate once a week and go to the store to get food or medicine supplies. It was an unforgettable experience.
Whenever Dad wasn’t too busy he would go to Milford and haul ore from the mines which were southwest from Milford – Frisco, Lady Bryant, Moscow and other ore mines – with his team and wagon, and load it on the railroad cars at Milford where it was shipped to the smelter at Tooele, Utah. He also hauled ore from the Lincoln mine that was just north of Minersville. During the week he would stay at the camp house in Milford.
One day when he was working between Minersville and Parowan one of his favorite horses got sick so he unharnessed her and turned her loose thinking she would go home. They called her Old Nell. But she didn’t go home, so the next day when he went looking for her by following her tracks, he found her dead in a ravine or deep wash. He covered her with brush and dirt and returned home very sad.
Dad was known as a peacemaker among the fellows he worked with. He tried to always look on the bright side of life, and was respected by all who knew him.
After he moved to Minersville he filed on a homestead of eighty acres a few miles west of town. He gave both Melvin and mea few acres to build a home on. I bought a small home from the New House Mining District and moved it to Minersville. We lived in it for two summers. Then my work took me elsewhere and I gave it to my younger brother and moved to Antimony to teach school. We tried to return and visit our parents at least once a year. Usually Dad would be at the front gate to meet us with a greeting, “I knew you were coming.” He always acted so glad to see us.
Whenever he could he would visit us. One fall when he was visiting us I had just bought a new John Deere grain binder and he was helping us harvest the wheat crop. He was cutting grain in one of the neighbor’s fields across the deep wash from where we lived. As he came up through the tall grain the horses stopped, and they refused to go, so he got off the binder and walked in front of the horses to see what was wrong. There was his three year old grandson, Gerald, coming through the grain patch. He had crossed a road and the wash and was hunting his grandfather. Dad was really excited as he loved his grandchildren very much.
He loved to help other people. One day when he was working on a canal helping to enlarge it a young man nearby who was working for a rancher got into a dispute with some of the neighbors whose farm was near by. They were very angry because some of the cattle had entered their field through a broken fence and they blamed the young fellow and were going to beat him up. So Dad walked over where they were, and when they saw him they calmed down and talked their differences over.
Dad was cutting ties for the railroad one time near Milford. When he was trimming the poles he slipped and the ax split his left foot right through the middle, leaving a bad gash. It took many stitches to close it. The doctor warned him to never let anyone cut his foot off as his life would be in danger. Years later he developed diabetes and had a sore toe. He went to a different doctor for help. After several visits the doctor said they would have to amputate his toe, it just turned black, there wasn’t anything they could do. So they cut his leg off just below the knee and he never came out of the ether.
He died at the hospital in Milford, 5 September 1938 and was buried in the Minersville Cemetery, 8 September 1938.