Judge Roderick Nathaniel Matson, a well known attorney of Cheyenne, practicing at the bar of Wyoming as senior partner in the firm of Matson & Kennedy, is also widely known throughout the state as a public speaker, being chosen as the orator on many occasions.
Born in the town of Ira, Cayuga county, New York, on the 1st of November, 1871, he is a son of William T. and Sarah J. (Brackett) Matson, both of whom were representatives of old American families, the ancestral lines being traced back in the new world to a period antedating 1635. The father was a farmer and civil engineer who spent his entire life in the Empire state. He was numbered among the prominent citizens of Cayuga county and filled the office of justice of the peace there. Both he and his wife have passed away. In their family there were five sons and four daughters, of whom Roderick N. was the eighth in order of birth.
After acquiring his education in the public school of the town of Ira and the high school of Hannibal, New York, Roderick N. Matson continued his education in Franklin College at New Athens, Ohio, from which he was graduated with the Bachelor of Arts degree in 1894, having the highest percentage in his class, thus winning first honors and becoming valedictorian. Subsequently the degree of Master of Arts was conferred upon him by his alma mater. He continued his preparation for life's practical and responsible duties as a law student in the Syracuse University, being graduated from its College of Law with the class of 1897, at which time the LL. B. degree was conferred upon him. He also won honors in the law school and was president of his class. He at once entered into partnership with his present associate in law practice, T. Blake Kennedy, the firm opening an office in Syracuse, New York, where they remained until 1901. In February of that year they removed to Cheyenne, Wyoming, where their association continued until March 1, 1906. At that date Mr. Matson was appointed judge of the first judicial district to fill a vacancy upon the bench, and at the following election was regularly elected without opposition, for the term extending from 1907 until 1913. In 1912 he declined a reelection in accordance with his announcement made at the time of his accepting the position, and while he has been mentioned for various offices, he has never sought nor accepted them. Upon his retirement from the bench he resumed his old associations with Mr. Kennedy and again took up the private practice of law. He has been admitted to practice before and appeared in the United States supreme court and he is regarded as one of the ablest representatives of the Wyoming bar. He possesses a mind of singular precision and power. It is in a marked degree a judicial mind, capable of an impartial view of both sides of a question and of arriving at a just conclusion. In his practice he is absolutely fair, never indulges in artifice or concealment, never deals in indirect methods but wins his victories, which are many, and suffers his defeats, which are few, in the open field face to face with his foe. He has achieved high distinction and he deserves it, and he is today regarded as a most able, faithful and conscientious minister in the temple of justice.
Judge Matson has always given his political allegiance to the republican party. Fraternally he is a Mason of high rank, having attained the thirty-second degree in Wyoming Consistory, No. 1, S. P. R. S. He is likewise a member of Korein Temple of the Mystic Shrine and of the Order of the Eastern Star. He belongs to Cheyenne Lodge, No. 660, B. P. 0. E., and he has membership with Phi Delta Phi, a legal fraternity, with the American Bar Association, with the Young Men's Literary Club of Cheyenne, with the Industrial Club and the Country Club, all of which indicate the nature and breadth of his interests. In 1903 he was called upon to represent his district in the state legislature, in which he served for a two years' term. He took a most active part in framing important legislation and was the author of five bills, all of which became laws, perhaps the most important of these being the Wyoming inheritance tax law.
On the 18th of December, 1917, Judge Matson was united in marriage in Cheyenne to Miss Alice May Warkley, a native of the state of New York, who came to Cheyenne in 1904. She is a daughter of Myron and Mary D. (Croswell) Warkley. They occupy a most enviable position in the social circles of the city.
The Judge greatly enjoys a game of baseball and is fond of outdoor life, but he never allows recreation to interfere with the performance of his professional duties. He is today regarded as one of the ablest members of the bar of Cheyenne and his practice is not only of an extensive but also of a most important character. He has been connected with much oil litigation and in order to supervise his interests in that connection, maintains an office at Casper. In the summer of 1916 this litigation took him to Russia, and he continued his journey around the world. Judge Matson is himself an officer in several of the leading oil companies of the state. He has throughout the entire period of his professional career, save for the time which he spent upon the bench, been associated in law practice with T. Blake Kennedy, and their long and close relation has not only been that of professional connection but of warm and close friendship as well.
Hon. Roderick N. Matson is an orator of ability and is continually called upon to address public gatherings, where he sways his audience by his eloquence or convinces by his clear and logical reasoning. Since his return from Europe he has frequently lectured before clubs, associations and other large gatherings, on his European travels, and his interesting discourses on present-day subjects are so compelling as to often hold his audiences spell-bound. It is a dull mind that does not respond to the strength of his argument or the play of his fancy.