Maryville Times, Thursday, June 6, 1935
The address delivered by Ralph Waldo Lloyd at the dedication of the marker placed on the grave of James Matthews, Revolutionary Soldier, at Friendsville, May 28, follows: The speaker has abundant reason to be interested in this marking of the grave of James Matthews, For one thing, the event was conceived and is being carried out by the Mary Blount Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, of which the speakers wife has the honor to be present Regent; and this brief historical address is being given in obedience to the Regent's gentile request, and another thing this is the oldest adult grave in the cemetery of the Friends Church at Friendsville, the Church of the speakers mother and of his own childhood, and is the town of his birth; on the stones of this cemetery are more than one familiar and beloved name, But a more direct reason is the fact that James Matthews is his Great, Great, Great, Grandfather. The writer's mother is the daughter of the late Dr. Samuel Lafayette Jones, who was the son of Lucinda Matthews Jones, who was the daughter of David Matthews, sixth child of James Matthews who we have come to honor. Others among you are descendants of this same James Matthews, therefore, we are marking the grave not only of a soldier of the Revolution, and o of this region, but also of one of our forefathers. James Matthews was born in Guildford, North Carolina, December 10, 1750, and died January 25, 1802, 133 years ago, at the untimely age of fifty-one. His death occurred just two years after George Washington's death. He was buried while Thomas Jefferson was the third president of the United States, and Archibald roan was the second Governor of Tennessee. This was frontier territory then known as the Great Southwest; Sam Houston was but a lad of nine and was not to take up his temporary abode with the Cherokee Indians near the junction of the Tennessee and Hiawassee Rivers until six or eight years later. Those who came by foot, or by horse to bury him made a scene vastly different from the one we, traveling by motor car make today. Even when his wife Susanna Lathland Matthews was buried beside him thirty eight years later, after her death at the age of eighty one, the scene would be very unlike the one today. The ancestors of James Matthews and his wife were of that sturdy group of Scotch-Irish folk that have built so much of industry, character, love of civil liberty and religious conviction into the life of this southeastern territory and the nation. They were originally Protestants from Scotland, being forced by the civil and religious conflicts and policies of the days of James I of England, to take up abode in the north of Ireland, and in time seeking the freedom and opportunity in the new world of America. James Matthews and his wife likewise were of this vigorous stock. In 1769, we find James Matthews at the age of nineteen and his brother John, serving as Regulators in Anson and Orange Counties, North Carolina. According to the North Carolina State Army Records, Volume 16, Page 1118, compiled by Walter Clarke, a year later, or six years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, he enlisted in a North Carolina company, said to be that of Captain Donoho; evidently he enlisted and was discharged several times between his first enlistment and January 1788, when George Washington proclaimed the end of hostilities. The method of recruiting and maintaining the army was then much less systematic or permanent. There are records that show he served in the Second South Carolina Regiment under Lt. Col. Marian from November 4, 1775 to February 12, 1776; then seven weeks after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, we find him enlisting again, this time in the third South Carolina Regiment, under Colonel William Thompson. How Long his service lasted this time is not clear, one record shows him serving a fourth enlistment from August 1779 to February 1881, and certified records in the Roster of the Continental Line from North Carolina, show that he enlisted a fifth time on June 14, 1881 in Donoho's Company of the Tenth Regiment of which Colonel Abraham Shephard was commander and left the service exactly one year later, June 14, 1882. During this yearn the Battle of Yorktown was fought and the success of the Revolution assured, although it was almost two years before the official treaties were completed. Some of the family records show that James Matthews served for a time also under Captain Blount, which, if true, may account in part for his late residence in Tennessee and Blount County. Different service records in possession of different descendants report him as being with Washington at the crossing of the Delaware and in a winter march to Valley Forge across the snow in which they left footprints in blood; and that he took part in the Battle of King's Mountain. At the time we cannot be sure of the various enlistments and activities or engagements, since official records have not yet been found to support all of those reported, but we can be certain that he was an active soldier of the Revolution; and evidently his military service was considerable and the family reports of his extensive service in Washington's main army might well be true. James Matthews married Susanna Lathland or as some call it Laughlin, or as others call it McLaughlin (all of which might have been the evolution of the name) in 1777, a year after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. We are told that during the war she used her home as a hospital, nursed and cared for wounded soldiers, scrapping her linens and packing their wounds with lint. She and her sisters with the help of an aged man buried thirty soldiers in one grave after the battle of Linley Mills, north Carolina. Susanna Lathland was but nine years younger that her husband, being born October 8, 1759, but she lived thirty eight and a half years after his death; he died at the age of fifty-one. That she was a woman alike of strong body and strong will is seen in the fact that evidently much of her heroic service to the victims of war was rendered in the years during which her first two children were born. Ten children were born to James Matthews and Susanna Lathland Matthews. Large families were not uncommon in those days, although the death rate, both of children and adults, was much higher than in our day of medical and sanitation knowledge and facilities. Just yesterday I was reading an autobiography of a Leonard Matthews of St. Louis (who is not connected with our James Matthews so far as we know) who told of his father and mother moving to Missouri with their twelve children; being unable to find suitable residence for so large a family, they rented a small hotel. There are hundreds of descendants of James Matthews; one member of the family has listed over three hundred of them. It is really true that if all of us could trace our ancestry back far enough many of us who never dreamed of such a thing would discover ourselves to be related to one another. It might be a good thing for us to become better acquainted with our own family. It appears that James Matthews brought his growing family to this region sometime after the war. Mr. Jeff D. Kinser has in his possession a grant by which 588 1/4 acres of which his present farm is a part, in the vicinity of Unita and Kiser Station on what is now Cloyd's Creek but was formerly known as Hesse's Creek, were conveyed to the heirs of James Matthews by Governor Willie Blount, of Tennessee, in 1807, five years after the death of James Matthews. It is supposed that this is the tract that the family settled upon coming to this area; I believe that at that time all of this surrounding section was in Blount County. Some of the family records say that James Matthews and his wife were members of the Friends Church at Deep river, North Carolina, and that they were among those who formed the nucleus of the settlement here where the Newberry Monthly Meeting was set up six years after the his death and where the town of Friendsville was officially laid off some forty years ago. Of course, after more than a century and a quarter, our knowledge of some of these things is uncertain; there does not seem to be any very definite information concerning the church life of James Matthews, some wonder a little at the record of his affiliation with the friends for at least two reasons; (1) One is that in general the Matthews of recent years have been more often in the Presbyterian or other churches than the Friends, and that Scotch-Irish were likely to have been Presbyterians originally; (2) The other reason for doubt is that the Quakers peace-loving habits and convictions against war seem somewhat out of harmony with such an extensive war career as that of James Matthews. Over against these things are the facts that the records of his membership in the Friends society seem definite and that his associations in North Carolina and Tennessee were in the Quaker settlements; it might well be that the original Matthews family were Presbyterians before coming to America, became Quakers because of the dominance of that group here, and in later generations tended to drift back into other groups. Furthermore the emergencies of war might lead even the conscientious Quaker to take up arms, as they did in fact in my own case, or James Matthews might not as a young man been especially conscientious in matters of the Church; those were rough and undisciplined days on the frontier when life was hard and the vices of gambling, drinking, and the like were violent. We live far enough away and the service of such pioneers is well enough attested to prevent either harm or disrespect if we recall in this connection one family tradition to the effect the when seventeen years old James Matthews, who is said to have loved good horses, was once suspended from the Friends Church for his part in horse-racing, this indicates his repentance as we find him restored later. The conditions of life in those days demanded strength of those who built as substantial a home as did James Matthews. And the Noble character of the Friendsville community during the century following indicates that those original settlers possessed qualities of goodness as well as strength. Men and women then must be strong to do the work and endure the hardship; they must be courageous to fact the wilderness with its uncertainty; they must have a spirit of adventure to develop new places; they must have loyalty to take their place with the straggling Revolutionary army against the world conquering British nation in behalf of liberty and an ideal; they must have faith in God sufficient to sustain them as they fought their battles, established their home, reared their children, organized their schools, built their churches, and set out to form a government to transform the uncontrolled life of the frontier into a homeland for their people, of whom we are part. It is fitting, therefore, that we today take this means of commemorating one who represents a great host who were willing to die and to live for the cause of justice and free citizenship, who cut away the wilderness for their children, and who gave to this section and the nation a family heritage of health, intelligence, and character, which has enriched and shall enrich the lives of all. Those all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them and greeted them from afar having had witness borne to them through their faith, received not the promise, God having provided some better thing concerning us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.
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