Matkin Family History

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The author with his grandparents, Virgil B. and Dollie Matkin in Fort Worth, Texas (circa 1950).

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Tracing Through My
Matkin Family
History

 

By Robert A. Hasty, Jr.


Isabella Matkin Barry, Great-Aunt of Virgil B. Matkin, daughter of Hiram and Charity Matkin (circa early 1880's)


James Matkin was born about the year 1745--more than 30 years before the independence of these United States would be declared.  His birthplace may have been somewhere in the vicinity of what is now the Uwharrie National Forest in Montgomery County in the south-central part of the State of North Carolina.   The suggestion of that being his place of birth is in a deed he executed in 1788 to sell lands he owned in Wake County, NC.  But another theory holds that he came from Maryland and was the brother of a John Matkin of Maryland who served in the Continental Army.

As of this writing, we have no information about James's parents.  Nor do we know what part he played or what position he held in regard to the War of Independence.  He would have sons one, six and ten years old by the year 1776.  In the four decades following Independence, scriveners would spell his surname variously as Madkins, Matkins, or Matkin on instruments whereby he bought and sold land in North and South Carolina.  James would sire ten children, seven sons and three daughters, but of their Mother[s], as of his parents, likewise we know naught.  In 1788, James would sell lands he owned in Wake County, NC, and move his family to new ground on the Big Creek tributary of the Saluda River in the Pendleton District of South Carolina.  There, his sons would establish families of their own, and James would become a Charter Member of the Big Creek Baptist Church, a congregation founded by a hero of the Revolution who became a preacher--Moses Holland--and which remains an active congregation to this day, in what is now the town of Williamston, SC.  

James and his family would eventually depart South Carolina.  He and his sons sold their South Carolina lands in about 1816.  We do not know exactly the route they followed, but to go west overland from the western part of South Carolina--even on today's roads--it is easiest to go south first, to skirt around the Blue Ridge and the southern Appalachian ranges.

So the Matkins (probably "networking" with others long before that term acquired a meaning) left their homes on Big Creek near the Saluda River (near where the town of Williamston now stands) and headed southwest across northern Georgia and into northern Alabama.  The entourage would have included eight of James's ten children--the four grown sons David, Daniel, James Jr. and William, who ultimately would travel on to Missouri with their father, plus two daughters, Elizabeth and Ophelia Rosanna, and two other sons, Ezekiel (James Sr.’s second oldest) and Zedekiah (James Sr.’s youngest), together with all their families.  James's two additional children, Thomas and Eliza, are thought to have died relatively young in South Carolina.

It appears likely that all may have stayed for a time, at least, in northern Alabama.  But the latter four children, led by Ezekiel, stayed on there in Madison County, AL, when the others left to continue moving west.  And so the Madison County, Alabama, line of Matkins was established.  

The road to Missouri from northern Alabama would have been northwestward, probably following a diagonal path across Tennessee and the western tip of Kentucky and the southern tip of Illinois prior to crossing the Mississippi River somewhere between Cape Girardeau and St. Louis.  Winters and other extended periods of time may have been spent at one or more places along the way.

We aren't certain when the Matkins first arrived in the Southeast Missouri area.  We know that James's eldest son David Matkin (1766-about 1830) owned two of the 73 lots originally surveyed and dedicated to the town of Farmington by the Murphy family in 1821.  David sold those lots (nos. 55 and 26) in January of 1824.  Later that same year, David's youngest son Hiram, then age 26, would acquire Lot 57 in Farmington and eighty acres near Doe Run, comprising the west half of the SE quarter of Section 6, T 35 N, R 5 E.  This is between present-day Watson Rd. and the south bank of the St. Francois River, near West Rd.  Hiram would continue to acquire land in that area until just prior to his death in 1857.

James Sr. would live to see his fourth son and namesake, James Matkin, Jr. (1776-1840), become the Sheriff of St. Francois County.  And Hiram’s first cousin Elisha (1804-1867), son of James Jr., would acquire lands in Section 7 and elsewhere near Hiram’s property.  A Matkin family cemetery, where Elisha, his wife Mary, their son Luther S. Matkin, a grandson named John Elisha, who died  at age 6, and others not identified are buried, is situated on private property in Section 7, on the northwest corner of the intersection of Watson Rd. and West Rd., about a mile west of County Rd. B.  Elisha’s father James Matkin, Jr. was the second Sheriff of St. Francois County, serving during 1824-25.  James Jr. was later elected County Assessor in 1839 and died while serving in that office in 1840.  Elisha succeeded his father as County Assessor and served out the remainder of his term.  Then, he won election to the office twice in his own right, serving during 1847-50 and 1855-58.  Elisha’s son, Franklin B. Matkin, followed his father in the County Assessor’s office, serving during 1859-60.

Another of Hiram’s first cousins, Leroy Matkin (1821-1882), son of William and grandson of James Matkin, Sr., became a judge in Iron County, Missouri.  Leroy had 12 children, including sons William M., Uels, Joel, Charles A., James Leroy, Ben F. and Ira.  These may be referred to as the "Iron County Matkins"--but they are direct descendants of James Matkin, Sr.

The minutes of Pendleton Church in Doe Run reveal that David Matkin III, born in 1834, son of Hiram and Charity (Welborn) Matkin and great-grandson of James Matkin Sr., was quite active in the Church in the years prior to the Civil War, serving on committees and as a delegate to the association. David married Mary A. Beard of DuBois County, Indiana, in September of 1865. After the Pendleton Church resumed keeping records of its meetings following the Civil War, David was appointed to a committee to take a church census in June, 1867, to determine "the true number of members that is still living round in reach of Pendleton Church . . ." (quoting from Church Minute Book entry). Subsequently, in September, 1868, the Church minutes show, "By motion and second the Church sets apart Brother David Matkin for the ministry . . .". David was to be ordained in November, 1868. David remained active in Pendleton Church, and may have served as Pastor or Interim Pastor during at least some of the time between 1868 and 1875 (for which minute records are missing). There is an entry in the minutes from February, 1882, which indicates that David Matkin was elected church Pastor on an interim basis "until the association". He appears to have been succeeded by the Rev. R. C. Martin in October of 1882. Whether David served as Pastor of other churches in the area we do not know, but he was active in the community--the marriage records of St. Francois County show many weddings presided over by "David Matkin, MG" (Minister of the Gospel).

From their participation in Pendleton Church, it can be strongly inferred that David Matkin III and others in his immediate family were much influenced by its respected, long-time pastor, Elder William Polk, and that they likely shared his pro-Union views on Civil War issues.  In that regard, it is interesting to look at what is said about Elder Polk and his tragic demise during the Civil War in the "Confessions of Sam HILDEBRAND" at Chapter 31:

   "After recruiting our horses and making all necessary arrangements  for the comfort and convenience of my family in my absence, I selected  three men and started to Madison County, Missouri, for the express  purpose of killing the German who reported on preacher  POLK, and by  whose instigation his murder, by the Union soldiers, had been brought about."

      "That venerable Baptist minister, William POLK, was about seventy  years of age, and had been preaching for about forty years. As a Christian of unquestionable piety no man ever stood higher; as a citizen his conduct was irreproachable, and as to his loyalty and patriotism it never before was brought into question. From his lips no  word had ever dropped that could be construed into an expression of  sympathy for the Southern rebellion. " 

.  .  .  . "As the night was half spent we made our way over to the German’s  who was accused of laying the plot for the murder of Elder POLK.  Dressed in Federal uniform, we rode up to his house as the sun was going down, were taken for Federal soldiers and received with a  great deal of cordiality. We had talked to him but a short time when  the subject of "Preacher POLK" was introduced. The German in a boastful manner gave us the history of his transactions in the matter, fully confirming his complicity in the murder. We marched him off into the woods near the farm of Mr. NORTH, where I talked all the Dutch language to him that I knew, and after giving him distinctly to understand that "hog killing time" had come, I shot him."  

Although we have only limited records, we assume that others in David Matkin's immediate family were active in the Pendleton Church. The family property was not far away--on the South bank of the St. Francois River near the point of the present day dry weather crossing at West Rd.  The Rev. Polk presided at the marriage of the author's great-great grandparents, Elias Earl Matkin and Sarah Lavenia Burns, on February 3, 1859.  He also presided at the marriage of Artemesia Matkin to Calvin Gideon on April 24, 1854.  Earl was David's older brother, and Artemesia ("Autimeecy") was their older sister.    Their uncle, Isaac Welborn Jr., was Church Clerk for many years (1840s to 1868). And there is a church minute entry from February 6, 1858, noting that ". . . a protracted meeting continued from the 6th to the 20th of the [preceding] month during which time the following professed religion:"--a list follows which includes the name of Susannah Matkin, who was David's sister, born in 1838. Susannah would later marry Albert Reeves.  It is interesting to note the term "protracted meeting"--which was commonly used in those days to refer to what churches now call a "Revival".  Also, the timing of that particular event happened to coincide with the historic religious awakening  that swept across the country during 1857-58.

There are many Matkin markers in the Pendleton Church Cemetery.  It is probable that all were descended from James Matkin, Sr. and one of his sons (David, Daniel, William, James Jr. or Ezekiel) or were a spouse of such a descendant.    And it is probable that there are Matkins buried there whose markers have been lost. Only one marker was located there by this researcher that identified a member of his direct line of families descending from James Matkin, Sr., that marker belonging to Artemesia Matkin (Mrs. Calvin) Gideon (1828-1911).  Artemesia was the first child of James Sr.'s grandson Hiram and his wife Charity (Welborn) Matkin and the older sister of Rev. David Matkin III and this researcher‘s great-great grandfather, Elias Earl Matkin.

Hiram Matkin died in January, 1857, at age 59.  He was survived by his wife Charity (Welborn) Matkin and sons Elias Earl and David III and daughters Artemesia (Mrs. Calvin) Gideon, Susannah, Isabella and Mahala Adeline, the latter three girls being minors at the time he died.  His estate was administered in St. Francois County, and the Farmington Public Library recovered and microfilmed the manuscript record of administration.  A transcription has been made and a copy furnished back to the Farmington Public Library.  Hiram owned 260 acres at his death and had only nominal debt on open accounts with the local merchants, V. C. Peers & Co. and M. P. Cayce.  Hiram was, in fact, a net creditor, as he held notes receivable from friends and neighbors, the total of which substantially exceeded his debt.  According to the Inventory of his Estate, he owned about 22 head of cattle, a dozen sheep and lambs, two mules, two mares, and 18 head of hogs, together with the tools and equipment necessary to tend to them and conduct agriculture on his land. And he owned no slaves.   But for reasons we have yet to identify, his widow Charity and eldest son Elias Earl, who served as co-administrators of his estate, chose to sell all his livestock, tools and equipment at public sale and distributed the proceeds in equal shares to his six children.  Charity appears to have kept the land, or at least some of it.  At my next opportunity to do the research, I will try to trace her disposition of the land.  But she bid at the public sale and bought for herself the 18 head of hogs, giving a $20 dollar promissory note for them.  (This was by no means extraordinary--over 99% of the proceeds of the public sale were taken in the form of promissory notes.)  And we know that Charity was still living on a portion of the land as late as the 1880 federal census, together with daughters Artemesia (by then the widow of Calvin Gideon) and Isabella.

The Final Settlement of the Estate of Hiram Matkin was filed June 5th, 1860, and was approved that date by Justices H. W. Crow, D. L. Meloy and Abner Bean of St. Francois County.  It was recorded in the Records of Administrative Settlements of the County, at page 186, on June 27th, 1860.  From that date, a full year would not pass before the Civil War would commence with the first shot fired at Fort Sumter, SC, on April 12th, 1861.   

It is well known that the Civil War was a terrible time for most of the people of Missouri, whether they took up arms for one side or the other or simply tried to continue with their lives as before.  We have identified four--and probably a fifth--descendants of James Matkin, Sr. as having served in what appear to be units of the "Enrolled Missouri Militia"  of St. Francois County during the War.  Available information is incomplete, but all information reviewed suggests that those units served the Federal side in the conflict.  Those identified include four of the sons of Elisha Matkin (Franklin B., Luther S., Calvin R., and Houston D. Matkin).  Elisha (as mentioned previously) was the three-time County Assessor of St. Francois County, a grandson of James Matkin Sr. and son of James Matkin, Jr., the former Sheriff of St. Francois County during the early 1820s.  

The fifth so to serve was Marcus L. Matkin, son of James D. Matkin and grandson of Ezekiel Matkin of Madison County, Alabama.  Ezekiel is identified above as the son of James Sr. who, with other family members, stayed in Alabama when the group moved west toward Missouri.  It is not clear whether he travelled with the original group or came out some years later, but James D. Matkin is buried in Pendleton Church Cemetery in Doe Run, his marker standing next to two tall monuments bearing the names of A. H. and M. L. Matkin.  Assuming the "M. L." to be the said Marcus L. Matkin, it is probable that A. H. Matkin (born 1850) was either his wife or another child of James D. Matkin.    

A sixth Matkin to serve the Federal side is believed to have been a son of Daniel Matkin named William D. Matkin.  Daniel was the youngest of James Matkin, Sr.'s four sons who came out to Missouri from South Carolina.  In her book entitled "Civil War Soldiers of Madison County, Missouri (and Surrounding Counties)" researcher Geraldine Sanders Smith cites a 1903 letter which indicates that a "W. D. Matkins" was shot and killed in a skirmish "north of the culvert on the railroad near Middlebrook, MO."  We are assuming this was a reference to James Sr.'s grandson, William D. Matkin.    

One other great-grandson of James Matkin, Sr., a son of Judge Leroy Matkin of Iron County named William M. Matkin, served the Confederate cause from 1861-1865, first under General Sterling Price in the Southern-supporting Missouri State Guard, then in Co. B, 3rd Mo. Cavalry, from September of 1864 until May of 1865, when he was discharged at Meridian, Mississippi.   So far as is known, all except "W. D. Matkins" survived the War, though William M. Matkin lost an eye.  

Research to date has not indicated that either of Hiram and Charity (Welborn) Matkin's two sons, Elias Earl and David Matkin III, were involved in military service.  But Elias Earl Matkin's family would become refugees from the effects of the conflict. In 1865--the final year of official hostilities that so wrenched the Missouri countryside--Elias Earl's wife Sarah Lavenia (Burns) Matkin would bear a son in a safe place across the Mississippi River in Illinois--a son named William Andrew Matkin.

William Andrew would never know his father or his grandfather.  Elias Earl would die of unknown causes in 1868, when the boy was barely three years old.  William's mother would re-marry to John H. White and William would grow up in his stepfather's household--on forty acres across the St. Francois River from the land his grandfather Hiram Matkin had owned and farmed.  Of William's two older brothers, the eldest would be only nine when their father died.  And their grandfather Hiram would have died in 1857 before any of them were born.  So William and his brothers Joel and Alonzo Matkin would become a generation with scant ties to its Matkin family history and little but the aftermath of the War on which to base its sense of origins.  Their mother Sarah would bear five more children by her second husband.

William would go to school in Missouri, but his eldest brother Joel would not.  For Joel, born in 1859, there likely would have been no school to attend during his early years.  William and Joel would leave Missouri when they became young men and would make their way to Texas.  Their other brother Alonzo would remain with their mother and stepfather, who would ultimately leave St. Francois County themselves to relocate in Texas County, Missouri, where they lived at least until the federal census of 1900.   It is not known whether Alonzo or Joel ever married.  William would marry Margaret Sarah Elizabeth Johnson in Farmington, Grayson County, Texas, in 1891.  Margaret was descended from the Johnson and McKinney families of Texas County, Missouri, many of whom had themselves re-settled in Texas.  William and Margaret would have six children, the eldest being Virgil B. Matkin, born in 1892.  All six would be born in a community in western Grayson County called Elm View, which lay in the path of the fabled cattle-drive route to the Red River crossing at Rock Bluff, by then no longer used, known as the Preston Trail.  Sometime shortly after 1900, William would move his family two counties eastward, from Grayson to Delta County, to enter the cotton business in a community called Enloe.  William, his wife Margaret and brother Joel are all buried there, at the Camp Shed Cemetery in Delta County, Texas.  

The direct line of families between James Matkin Sr. and this researcher is as follows:

--James Matkin Sr. (1745-about 1824) and (wife's name unknown)

--David Matkin Sr. (1766-about 1830) and wife Isabelle (unknown maiden name)

--Hiram Matkin (1798-1857) and wife Charity (Welborn)

--Elias Earl Matkin (1831-1868) and wife Sarah Lavenia (Burns)--Elias Earl was brother of Rev. David Matkin III, Susannah Matkin (Mrs. Albert) Reeves, and Artemesia Matkin (Mrs. Calvin) Gideon, all mentioned above. After Elias Earl's death, his widow Sarah would re-marry to John H. White of St. Francois County.

--William A. Matkin (1865-1925) (moved to Texas in late 1880s) and wife Margaret Sarah Elizabeth (Johnson)

--Virgil B. Matkin of Texas (1892-1967) and wife Dollie (Deason) Matkin (1891-1981)

--my mother Frances (Matkin) Hasty of Texas (1919-1996) and father Robert A. Hasty (1922-1998)

Robert A. Hasty, Jr.
Spring, TX

Sources:

--"Family History of Virgil Burton Matkin and Dollie Deason" prepared by Janis Franklin, April, 2002

--Research Papers of Katherine Paty, Tempe, AZ

--the Matkin Information Center Website

--Research Papers of Robert A. Hasty, Jr., Spring, TX

 

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