AMHERSTBURG FREEEDOM MUSEUM
The Matthews Family History Part 1 – The Matthews Settlement
In last month’s Turner family history, I mentioned that Georgina/Jordina Turner married Solomon Matthews. I’m going to continue the Matthews’ family history this month beginning with Edmund Matthews. The Amherstburg Freedom Museum family history binders include a copy of Edmund’s will which states that he died on January 10, 1857. Milo Johnson’s book New Canaan: Freedom Land adds further detail and says that Edmund married a woman named Sarah. They, along with their son Matthew, arrived in Colchester in roughly 1833, coming from West Virginia. In 1838, Edmund acquired 50 acres of land on Lot 5 of the 3rd Concession, purchasing the land for £72. By the time of his death in 1857, Edmund had a total of 100 acres of land. Milo Johnson adds that the Matthews family became successful farmers and businessmen, purchasing land and raising livestock which included horses, sheep, cattle, hogs, and poultry.
Based on available records, Edmund and Sarah had at least four children including Edward, Matthew, Ellen, and Luke. No information was found for Edward and the only reference to Luke is found in the Museum’s family history binders which includes a note that says “whereabouts unknown at time of father’s death.” There was a wealth of information for Edmund and Sarah’s other children Matthew and Ellen. I’ll begin with Matthew.
According to the Historical Atlas of Essex and Kent Counties, Matthew Matthews was a farmer who resided on Lot 5 of Concession 3 in Colchester South and owned 345 acres which was valued at $12,000. Matthew inherited 100 acres from his father Edmund, but Milo Johnson adds that it was through sound business transactions that Matthew acquired the remaining acreage on the 3rd, 4th, and 6th Concession of Colchester South. The Historical Atlas adds that Matthew Matthews was also a School Trustee and was born in 1822 in Virginia. Matthew was a respected citizen who in 1889, was included in a ‘Silver Cane’ contest to award the most outstanding Black citizen of Colchester South. He is also responsible for establishing the Matthews Settlement, which was located approximately five miles northwest of Harrow, Colchester South Township. It stretched from the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Concessions at the Drummond Road intersections and the area north and south of Concession #2 from Drummond Side Road to Smith Side Road. It was approximately five square miles of space. Matthews also played an instrumental role in building the settlement’s first church and school.
Matthew Matthews married Alma Day, the daughter of Edmund and Diannah Day in 1844. The only information that I could find for Alma was her death record which states that she died on February 4, 1903, in Colchester South at the age of 76. This document also mentions that she was born circa 1827 in Ohio.
Matthew Matthews’ death record and obituary were also available. His death record states that he passed away on November 11, 1906 in Colchester at the age of 84. His occupation is listed as ‘Gentleman’ and there is also a note on his death record that says, ‘born in slavery.’ Matthew’s obituary from the Amherstburg Echo shares further details and says “One of the oldest and best known colored residents in this township passed over the river peacefully, Sunday morning, full of years and good works, in the person of Matthew Matthews, sr. The deceased had sot his compatriots a shining example in thrift and frugality all his life, and he became very highly respected. Coming to this township when a lad with his father, the late Edmund Matthews, from Virginia, they settled between the 2nd and 3rd concessions, on what is now known as the Matthews Settlement. Elisha Matthews occupied the original homestead. At the age of 22 the deceased was married to Alma Day, and fifteen children were born to them, seven yet living. They are Solomon, Matthew J., Elisha, Martha, (Mrs. S.P. Leek), Ellen (Mrs. Grayer), all of Colchester South; Alzora, of Detroit; and Alma, Mrs. (Rev.) W.H. Bazie, United States. Mr. Matthews early joined the Baptist church and was licensed as a Baptist preacher. The funeral took place Tuesday, services being conducted by Rev. Bradby, of the First Baptist church, Windsor, and interment was in Central Grove cemetery. The pallbearers were W.H. Morgan, Anthony Banks, A. Bird, W. Hurst, A. Morgan and J. Hall.”
Matthew and Alma had at least 14 children including Edmond, Solomon, John, Luke, Matthew J., Mary, Ann, Elisha, Angeline, Martha, Ellen, Alzora, Alma, and Celista. Edmond married Mary Mason. Tragically, Edmond was shot by a man named Oliver Richardson who had been feuding with Matthews for several years. Edmond’s death record states that he passed away on July 11, 1903 in Colchester South at the age of 55. This record also states that he was born circa 1848 and was a farmer. In a writeup, Edmond was described as a peaceable and law-abiding citizen. According to an Amherstburg Echo article, Edmond was also a hero. The article, which was printed on January 4, 1901, recalls the events of a fire that occurred at James Grier’s house on the 3rd concession which “was burned to the ground. Mr. and Mrs. Grier had gone to a New Year’s tree at Central Grove leaving their two children at home in bed. It is supposed the stove pipe caught fire and when discovered the flames had got beyond control. Ed. Matthews saw the fire and got there in time to get the children out, but everything else was consumed including $150 in cash the proceeds of the sale of his hogs. There was some insurance but Mr. Grier’s loss will be heavy.”
Edmond and Mary’s children included Mary E., Sarah L., Joseph, Martin, Jenny and James. Mary E. married George Tailor, the son of Jos. Tailor and Dolly E. Green, on April 16, 1894 in Detroit. Mary’s brother Joseph was born on October 20, 1884, while his brother Martin married a woman named Edna. The 1930 Michigan Census lists Martin along with his wife Edna and children Luther and Beulah Taylor (step-daughter). Martin’s death record states that he passed on May 29, 1937 in Detroit at the age of 47. This record also mentions that he was born on June 20, 1889 in Harrow.
Martin’s sister Jenny was born on February 20, 1889 in Colchester. She later married Eldred Powell, the son of Lewis Powell and Grizeal (also spelt Grazelia, Grozillia, and Grozia) Hann, on February 1, 1905 in Colchester South. Lewis Eldred Powell was born on July 10, 1884 in Colchester. Jenny Matthews Powell passed away in 1911 and her obituary from March 24, 1911 in the Amherstburg Echo shares that “Mrs. Eldred Powell did not long survive her return home from Detroit, where she was receiving treatment for tuberculosis, passing away Saturday. The funeral took place Monday forenoon, services being conducted in the B.M.E. church by Rev. Peter Brooks, and interment was at Gilgal, the pallbearers being Jesse Currans, Albert Lewis, A. Coates, A. Brookes, Charles Marshall and Ezra Banks. Mrs. Powell’s maiden name was Jennie Matthews, daughter of the late Edwin Matthews. She was married six years ago, and besides her husband and four little children, leaves her mother, 3rd concession and two brothers, Joseph and Martin. Her’s is the third death from consumption in the Matthews family.”
Following Jenny’s death, Eldred must have required assistance with taking care of their children because an Amherstburg Echo article from May 5, 1911 says “Mrs. Lewis Powell and Miss Cecile Powell, who have been on a six month visit with her daughter, Mrs. Alex Nicholson, of St. Catharines, returned this week to care for her son Eldred’s children.” An additional Amherstburg Echo article from November 24, 1911 offers a possible explanation. The article mentions that he worked as a chef of the M.C.R. and was spending a Sunday with his family. His career as a chef may have taken Eldred away from home, requiring help with taking care of his children following Jenny’s passing. A separate article from June 7, 1912 adds that he was employed as a chief cook on the M.C.R. dinning cars and “was taken very sick with abscess of the brain at Bay City, last week, and had to be removed to the Mercy hospital, where he was treated for ten days, and is now about all right again. He was in a very critical condition for some time.”
Eldred and Jenny’s children include Effie Georgetta, Lawrence, Edmund, and Jennie Vernie Louise. Effie was born on January 31, 1907 in Colchester. She married Atkins Porter, the son of Henry Porter and Mattie Atkins, on March 7, 1928 in Lucas, Ohio. I was able to find records for their children Wilbur Eugene, Lawrence, Edmund Louis (Eldred), and Jennie. Wilbur Eugene Porter married Katheryine Russell, the daughter of Thomas A. Russell and Mildred L. Hudson, on August 12, 1956 in Los Angeles, California. Wilbur’s brother Lawrence was born on August 8, 1905 in Harrow, while Lawrence’s brother Edmund, also known as Ted, was born on November 5, 1908 in Colchester.
The name Ted Powell may sound familiar to anyone who knows the history of Emancipation Day Celebrations in Windsor. Following the passing of Mr. Emancipation, Walter Perry, on August 17, 1967, Edmund ‘Ted’ Powell became the Director of Emancipation Celebrations from 1968 to 1984.
I was also able to locate his obituary in the Windsor Star which appeared on January 9, 1996 and says “POWELL, Edmund Louis (Ted) Born Colchester South Township (Harrow, Ont.), died at Hotel Dieu Grace Hospital Hotel Dieu Site on January 7, 1996, at the age of 87 after a courageous battle with cancer. Late of Windsor. Loving companion and best friend of Doris (Fryer). Dear dad and best friend to Lynn. Dear grandpa and best friend to Michelle. Predeceased by son Mike (1966) and step-daughter Sandy Merritt (1963). Predeceased by parents: mother Jenny (Matthews) Powell, father Louis Eldred Powell, sister Jenny Venor Powell, and Brother Lawrence Eldwood Powell. Dear brother of Effie Davis, Detroit and Barbara (Wilson) Fraser. Survived by niece Barbara, nephews Buster, John, Lawrence and Louie, Detroit, Mich. Step-father to Barbara (Merritt) Gyles of Tilbury …Ted was retired from the City of Windsor after 25 ½ years. He was Past President of C.U.P.E. Local 82 Outside Workers, 1964-1972. He was Director of Emancipation Day Celebrations from 1968-1984. He was ‘Uncle Ted’ to many nieces and nephews. Ted will be greatly missed by many relatives, friends, neighbours and the in-laws. He was an active member of the British Methodist Episcopal Church.”
Edmund’s sister Jennie Vernie Louis Powell was born on June 30, 1910 in Colchester South. According to her death record, she passed away on July 27, 1918. According to the Amherstburg Echo “Jennie, 8-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Eldred Powell, passed away at their home, 3rd concession, Thursday of last week. She had been a sufferer for a long time with tuberculosis. The funeral took place on Saturday to the B.M.E. church, Harrow, where services were conducted by Rev. Peter Brooks, and interment was in Gilgal cemetery.”
What we publish is not a complete history of any family and is based on the documents that are available. We welcome photos and information to fill in the gaps. See you next week for part 2.
The Matthews Family History Part 2 – The Writer
Now that I have discussed Edmond, I will move on to discuss his brother Solomon. Solomon married Elizabeth Georgina (also spelt Jordina) Turner, the daughter of Henry Turner and Rosena (also referred to as Judith) Cox, on August 22, 1869.
Solomon appears in the Amherstburg Echo on April 7, 1911, in an article titled “Prosperous Essex Farmer” which discusses Solomon and his sons’ success in farming. The article reports “In view of the discussions that have taken place recently in the Canadian Parliament regarding the immigration of colored people to Canada, the work of Solomon Matthews and his three sons, all well known residents of Colchester South township, county of Essex, during the year 1910, is interesting. They farm 212? acres, 175 of which is under cultivation. On this they grew 1500 bushels of small grain, such as fall wheat, barley, oats and buckwheat, 3200 bushels of corn and a fair crop of hay. They let neither time nor land go to waste. George broke up 22 acres of his new farm, better known as the Stewart place. Forest planted 112 acres of tobacco, of which he received $421. He also grew 2000 bushels of corn and 275 bushels of mangels [sic]. The two brothers are preparing to put in 14 acres of tobacco this season. The father sold one of the highest priced horses that ever left the township, a 2 year, 10 months colt for $250 and has some more he expects to realize as much for. They keep strict account of everything sold so when they say they received 52644.16 from April 1st, 1910, to March 28th, 1911, they can prove it by figures as follows: 55 hogs, $1026.72; fall wheat, $134.36; oats, $26.46; apples, $12.50; buckwheat, $103.50; tobacco, $514.37; 10 head of cattle, $544; one horse, $2.50; wood, &; turkeys, $25.25 – total, $2644.16. George and Forest think if they had given their places a little more attention they could easily have made it $3000. George doesn’t take to farming as well as to railroading, and may jump his job before another season rolls round. This story shows what well directed industry and thrift can do in a township as highly favored as this one.” An additional reference from the Museum’s family history binders records that Solomon owned $20,000 worth of real estate with $14,000-$16,000 worth of this property being in Essex County.
I was also able to find an obituary for both Solomon and Georgina/Jordina. Solomon passed away on April 22, 1924. On May 2, 1924, the Essex Free Press printed Solomon’s obituary which says “Solomon Matthews, a pioneer of Colchester South, and one of the fathers of the Matthews settlement, 3rd concession, passed away on Tuesday night of last week, in his 79th year. Mr. Matthews was a son of the late Matthew Matthews, sr., and was born in the settlement where he died, being one of a family of twelve. Two brothers and three sisters survive him – Matthew J. and Elisha, well known farmers of Colchester South; Mrs. Grayer, of Windsor; Mrs. Alzora Thomas, of Detroit, and Mrs. (Rev.) Brazie, of Illinois. He was married to Miss Georgina Turner, of Amherstburg, who bore him eleven children, all of whom are deceased except three sons and one daughter, who with the mother survive – James Walter, of the United States; Matthew George, of Toronto; Forest Francis, on the old homestead, and Mrs. Marth Edwards, of Chicago.” A separate obituary in the Amherstburg Echo from April 25, 1924 shares the same details but adds “Mr. Matthews was a sturdy, hard-working farmer, highly respected and progressive in his ideals.”
Elizabeth Georgina Turner Matthews passed away on March 5, 1928. Her obituary appeared in the Amherstburg Echo on March 9, 1928 and says “The death occurred in Colchester South on Monday night of a lifelong resident of Essex County in the person of Mrs. Jordina Matthews, aged 85 years, relict of the late Elisha (Solomon) Matthews. Her maiden name was Jordina Tenor (Turner), and she was born in Amherstburg. After her marriage she with her husband took up their home in Colchester South. She is survived by one daughter, Martha, Mrs. E.W. Edwards, of LeGrange, Illinois; and three sons, George, of Toronto; Walter, of Washington, D.C.; and Forest, of Colchester South. The funeral will take place from the home at one o’clock on Friday to Central Grove Church, where services will be conducted. Burial will take place in Central Grove cemetery.”
Solomon and Georgina/Jordina’s children include James, Mary, Matthew George, Forest Francis, Florence, Sophia, Martha, Lorinda, Jordina, Lucinda, Walter, and Rena. I was able to find documents for Matthew George, Forest, Martha, Lorinda, Jordina, Lucinda, Walter and Rena. Matthew George Matthews was born on March 5, 1878 in Colchester. He moved to Toronto and worked as a railway dining car chef and according to the Museum’s family history binders, Matthews was head cook on the CNR dining car N. 1283, known as the Black Diamond Express. He was paid $150 a month.
Matthew George Matthews also wrote the book Wit, Wisdom and Philosophy: The World As I See It which was published in 1927. After the publication of Wit, Wisdom, and Philosophy, he wrote Matthew’s Famous Stories and Works. According to the Museum’s family history binders, Matthews also served as a soldier during WWI and on August 30, 1918 received an honorable discharge because of failing health. On page 2 of Wit, Wisdom, and Philosophy, Matthews shares that he “served as a soldier in the past great war, to help maintain and protect our honour of democracy, served until my health failed to allow me to continue any longer, and upon August 30th, 1918, I received my honourable discharge with the red letter monogram, conduct very, very good. I have always loved my King and Country, and still go strongly on his great Christ like love for law and order.”
His obituary shares a few more details of his life. On January 3, 1946, the Amherstburg Echo wrote “George Matthews Dies – Funeral services were held Monday afternoon from the J.H. Madill & Son Funeral Home, Harrow, for George Matthews, aged 67. Mr. Matthews died in East Windsor Hospital on Christmas Day. He had been ill for some months. He was born in Colchester South the son of the late Solomon Matthews. Surviving are a sister, Mrs. Edwards of Chicago and Forrest of Harrow. The late Mr. Matthews worked on the Canadian National Railways as a cook for many years and was well known by the travelling public.” Not mentioned in his obituary is his adopted daughter Sylvia. On his headstone is printed “Dear father of Sylvia.”
I could not find an explanation for how Matthew George Matthews became Sylvia’s adopted parent but following his death the Windsor Daily Star shared on at least two occasions a
‘Notice of Application for Guardianship,’ first from a man named Wellington Harris of Toronto on March 6, 1948 and second from Henry D. Taylor of Windsor on May 22, 1948. Mentioned in the Application is Sylvia’s full name which was Sylvia Mae King.
Matthew George’s brother Forest T. Matthews married Coressa Myessa Armstrong, the daughter of Thomas Armstrong and Emma Artis, on April 29, 1914 in Harrow. Find a grave mentions that Forest was born in 1886 and passed away in 1857 but I could not find any documents to confirm this. Coressa and Forest had at least three children: Charlotte Lorinda (1915), Margaret Lucinda (1917) and Mackenzie F. Matthews (1918). Margaret Lucinda passed away on July 25, 1921 at the age of 4 in Colchester. Her date of birth is September 14, 1917. Mackenzie Matthews’ obituary appeared in the Windsor Star on July 26, 1982 and says “MATTHEWS – MacKenzie, 64 years, July 25, 1982. Late of Harrow. Beloved husband of Flossie. Dear father of Richard, Sheldon, Rosita, Rhonda, Harrow; William, Dale, Joyce Wood, Shirley (Mrs. James Vedder) and Martha, Toronto; Edward, Kevin, Gail, Windsor; and Max, Edmonton. Predeceased by Ezel (1970). Dear son of Mrs. Madessa Matthews, Harrow. 15 grandchildren, 3 great-grandchildren. Dear brother of Martha (Mrs. Kenneth Grayer), Harrow; Charlotte (Mrs. Maurice Carter), Roseville, Mich; Priscilla (Mrs. Warden Taylor), Combermere, Ont.”
The next child of Georgina/Jordina and Solomon Matthews is Martha, but the only information I could find for her is that she married E.W. Edwards. Martha’s sister Lorinda was born on April 6, 1873 in Colchester. The Evening Record printed a brief obituary for Lorinda on May 22, 1909 which says “On Monday, May 17th Miss Lorinda, daughter of Solomon Matthews, of the 3rd Con., died aged 36 years, consumption causing her death. The funeral was held on Wednesday, service being conducted at the B.M.E. church, Harrow, by Rev. Peter Brooks and interment at Central Grove cemetery.”
Lorinda sister Jordina married James Talbert/Talbot, the son of William H. Talbert and Mary Elizabeth Hyder, on January 1, 1906 in Windsor. According to Jordina’s death record, she passed on March 1, 1920 at the age of 34 in Colchester. According to her obituary from March 5, 1920, printed in the Amherstburg Echo, “The sudden death of Mrs. James Talbot Monday cast a gloom over the community, and her death was doubly sad from the fact that her infant daughter died at birth. Mrs. Talbot was Georgina Matthews, daughter of Solomon Matthews and is survived by her husband and seven children. The funeral services were held at Central Grove Wednesday afternoon with burial there.”
Jordina’s husband James Lionel Talbert passed away many years later on July 27, 1951 in Detroit. According to Jordina’s obituary, she and James had seven children. I could find information for four of their children: George, Douglas Warner, Mary, and Solomon Lionel. George Talbot married Ethelda Medora Mulder, while George’s brother Douglas was born on November 8, 1907 in Colchester. The Amherstburg Echo printed his obituary on April 26, 1951 which says “Douglas Talbot, 48, a former resident of Colchester South died at ? on Monday. He was born in Colchester South the son of the late James Talbot and lived in the township until six months ago. He is survived by his wife. Funeral services were held in the J.H. Madill Funeral Chapel Tuesday afternoon followed by interment in Central Grove Cemetery.”
Douglas’ sister Mary sadly passed away on the same day she was born, March 1, 1920. Next is Solomon Lionel. According to his ‘Delayed Registration’ Solomon Lionel Talbert, was born on January 20, 1906 in Colchester South. When he signed the form on October 13, 1967, he was living in Brooklyn, New York.
The next child of Georgina/Jordina and Solomon Matthews is Lucinda. I found her obituary printed in the Amherstburg Echo on May 21, 1909 which says “Solomon Matthews’ daughter, Lucinda, died on Sunday at her home, 4th concession, of hemorrhage of the lungs. The funeral took place Tuesday to the B.M.E. church, Harrow, where Rev. Peter Brookes preached a touching sermon and followed by a large number of mourning relatives and friends the remains were taken to Central Grove for interment, the pallbearers being Forest, George and Walter, brothers, and James Talbot, William Talbot and Elisha Matthews. Besides her father, she leaves sisters, Mrs. James Talbot, Colchester South; Martha, in Michigan; brothers Forest, at home; George and Walter, cooks on the G.T.R. Much sympathy is extended the bereaved family.”
References for the last two children (Walter and Rena) of Georgina/Jordina and Solomon Matthews are brief. The Evening Record mentions James Walter Matthews winning two legal cases in the January 27, 1917 edition. Walter’s sister Rena is mentioned in the Amherstburg Echo on May 29, 1896 which says “Miss Rena Matthews, who has been visiting in this township at her father’s, Solomon Matthews’, has returned to the City of the Straits.”
The next child of Mathew Matthews and Alma Day is John. I was able to find a death record for a John Henry Matthews who passed away on April 27, 1877 in Colchester at the age of 28. His death record states that he passed away due to consumption and was born circa 1849. I could not find an obituary to confirm if this is the correct John Matthews, but his age does match Matthew Matthew’s son John who is listed on the 1871 Census. Additionally, I could not find John listed on the 1881 Census. This would explain his absence.
John’s brother Luke passed away on October 1, 1874 (some documents say 1873) in Tilbury at the age of 22. At the time he was working as a farmer. The informant on his death record was his father Matthew Matthews.
What we publish is not a complete history of any family and is based on the documents that are available. We welcome photos and information to fill in the gaps. See you next week for part 3.
The Matthews Family History Part 3 – The Lawyer
Luke’s brother Matthew J. Matthews married Sarah Amanda Reynolds, the daughter of John and Jane Reynolds, on October 26, 1887. The Amherstburg Echo wrote about the event on November 11, 1887, writing “Matthew Matthews, jr., has bettered his condition by taking to himself a partner of the fair sex in the person of Miss Sarah A. Reynolds.” Their children include Alma Gertrude, Luella, Emma, Angeline Annie, Harry, and Estella, who will be discussed shortly. According to Sarah Reynolds Matthews’ gravestone and the website Find A Grave, she passed away on May 19, 1906 in Harrow at the age of 47. It also adds that she was born on February 21, 1859. A few years after Sarah’s passing, Matthew married a second time to Naomi Jones, the daughter of John Wesley and Angelina Washington, on December 28, 1912 in Harrow. He also moved from Colchester to Sandwich as was reported in the December 12, 1924 issue of the Amherstburg Echo.
Matthew J. Matthews passed away on April 13, 1936 in Windsor (Sandwich) and his passing was reported in the Amherstburg Echo on April 24, 1936. The article titled ‘Pioneer Dies’ says “Following a lengthy illness extending over several years, Mr. Matthew J. Matthews, a highly respected resident of Essex County, passed away at his home in Windsor Monday, April 13, at the age of 81 years and 10 months. Deceased was born in Colchester South, June 8, 1843, a few miles from Harrow. His father was Matthew Matthews, and his mother before her marriage was Miss Alma Day. His grandmother was one of the pioneer settlers of Colchester South. On October 26, 1867, he was married to Miss Sarah A. Reynolds, and they went to live on his farm on the fifth concession. His wife died about 30 years ago. In 1912 he was married to Mrs. Naomi Jones, of Amherstburg, who survives him. He resided in Colchester South until 12 years ago, when his health failed and he retired and moved to Windsor. He was a member of the old Baptist Church on the third concession. Besides his widow he is survived by five children: Mrs. Gertrude Pettiford, Miss Luella Matthews, Miss Emma Matthews, Mrs. Annie Ellis and Mr. Harry Matthews. His daughter, Mrs. Estella Lewis, died 11 years ago. He has living two sisters, Mrs. William Thomas and Mrs. William Bazie; one brother, Mr. Elisha Matthews; five grandchildren and a number of cousins, nieces and nephews. The funeral service was conducted by Rev. Thomas Woodcock at Central Grove A.M.E. Church last Thursday. The pallbearers were Measrs. Charles Talbert, James Taylor, jr., Ira Dennis, George Matthews, Wellington Harris and Prince Grace. Interment was in Central Grove cemetery.”
As mentioned, Matthew J. Matthews and Sarah Reynolds had several children including Alma Gertrude, Luella, Emma, Angeline Annie, Harry, and Estella. Alma married Alonzo D. Pettiford, the son of David Pettiford and Amanda Coen, on June 23, 1915 in Harrow. On July 9, 1915, the Essex Free Press wrote “On Wednesday evening, June 23rd, Alonzo D. Pettiford, of Detroit, Mich., and Miss Gertrude Matthews, daughter of M.J. Matthew, were quietly married at the home of the bride’s parents, Colchester South, by Rev. P. Brooks. They left on the evening train for their honeymoon trip to Toledo, Springfield, Dayton, Columbus, and different interesting points in Ohio. Upon their return they will settle in Detroit.” Alma’s husband became a lawyer and on June 29, 1917 the Amherstburg Echo wrote about his graduation, writing “Mr. and Mrs. Matthew Matthews attended the commencement exercises of the Detroit College of Law, at the Arcadia last Thursday evening, his son-in-law, A.D. Pettiford, being one of the students receiving a degree of Bachelor of Laws.” A few years later, on July 28, 1922, the Echo shared that “Mrs. A.D. Pettiford and children, of Detroit, Mich., spent the week at the home of her father, M.H. Matthews, and was joined later by her husband, attorney Pettiford, who leaves shortly for New York on an extended business trip during the month of August.”
There are several other instances where the Echo writes about Matthew J. Matthews’ children visiting him. On June 1, 1923 it was reported that “Matthew J. Matthews’ daughters, Mrs. Alonzo Pettiford, Mrs. Sullivan Ellis, of Detroit, and Mrs. Roy Lewis, of Salem, motored down on Saturday and spent the weekend with their father.” On September 18, 1925, it was shared that “Matthew J. Matthews, 406 Albert street, Windsor, enjoyed a beautiful lake ride on the magnificent steamer Put-In Bay, Thursday, September 3rd. He was accompanied by his daughters, Miss Emma Matthews and Mrs. Alonzo Pettiford, of Detroit.” And finally, on September 16, 1927, “Attorney Alonzo D. Pettiford and his wife, of Detroit, accompanied by their father M.J. Matthews, 400 Albert street, Windsor, spent the weekend and Labor Day at Niagara Falls and Buffalo.” As mentioned, Alma and Alonzo Pettiford were living in Detroit. The 1930 Detroit Census lists Alonzo D. Pettiford, along with Alma and their children Vivienne A., Alonzo D. Jr., E. June, and Dorthy E. (Elaine).
Alma’s sister Luella was born on May 1, 1892 in Colchester South. It appears that she never married because she is listed as Luella Matthews in her Windsor Star obituary from November 23, 1984 which says that she passed at the age of 92 at the Country Village Nursing Home and is survived by several nieces and nephews.
Luella’s sister Sarah Emma was born on February 10, 1898 in Colchester South. According to her Immigration papers from September 22, 1924, she was living in Detroit, was not married and was age 26. No further records were found for Sarah.
Sarah’s sister Angeline Annie married Sullivan Ellis, the son of Hampton Ellis and Anna Smith, on May 31, 1922 in Detroit. Her Obituary from the Windsor Star, which appeared on May 22, 1962, shares further details and says “Mrs. Angeline Annie Ellis, 67, of 287 Tuscarora St., died Sunday in the Essex County Sanitorium. Mrs. Ellis was born in Harrow and lived in Windsor for 39 years coming from Harrow. She was a member of First Baptist Church. Her husband Sullivan died in 1949. Surviving are a daughter, Mrs. Alexander (Evangeline) Goba of Windsor, a brother Harry Matthews of St. Thomas, and a sister, Miss Luella Matthews of Windsor … Burial will be in Windsor Grove Cemetery.”
Annie’s brother Harry was born on May 23, 1896. Sadly, he passed away a month after Annie. I was also able to find his obituary from the Windsor Star which appeared in the June 29, 1962 issue which says “Harry Matthews, 66, formerly of Windsor, died Monday in St. Thomas after a lengthy illness. Mr. Matthews was born at Harrow and lived at St. Thomas for ten years. Surviving is a sister, Miss Luella Matthews of Windsor. Funeral will be held 1 p.m. Saturday at the James H. Sutton Funeral Home … Burial will be in Green Lawn Cemetery.”
Harry’s sister Estella was born on May 1, 1892 in Colchester South. She married Lewis Leander Jones, son of Leander Jones and Nancy H. Lewis, on December 3, 1914 in Windsor. Stella married a second time to Ray E. Lewis, the son of John Lewis and Evangeline Smith, on September 22, 1919 in Wayne, Michigan. On October 3, 1919, the Amherstburg Echo shared details of the day, reporting “M.J. Matthews attended the marriage of his daughter, Mrs. Estella Jones, to Ray E. Lewis, of Salem, Mich., at the parsonage of the Rev. R.C. Ross, 117 e. Grand Boulevard, Detroit, on Monday of last week, and also attended the Northville Fair. He was so much interested in the arms and customs that probably he will purchase one there in the near future.” According to Estella’s death record, she passed away on January 14, 1925 in Detroit.
Now that I have discussed Matthew J. and all of his children, I will move on to Mary L. Matthews, the next child of Matthew Matthews and Alma Day. She married John Banks, the son of Erving S. and Esther Banks, on February 5, 1874 in Colchester. John Banks was born in roughly 1850 and he and Mary had no children. According to John’s death record, he passed away on April 21, 1880 at age 35 of cancer and consumption of the lung.
All that I could find for Mary’s sister Ann is her obituary from the Amherstburg Echo which was printed on September 7, 1894. It says “Ann, wife of Samuel Boyles, died on Saturday, of inflammation of the bowels after a very short illness. She was the daughter of Matthew Matthews, sr., and was married to Mr. Boyles on August 1st last. The funeral took place on Monday afternoon from the residence of the deceased’s parents to the Baptist church in the Matthews settlement, the interment taking place in the family burying ground, Rev. Mr. Binga, of Windsor, officiating.”
Ann’s sister Elisha is the next child of Matthew Matthews and Alma Day. According to the Museum’s family history binders, Elisha was born circa 1858 in Colchester. He married Minervia ‘Minnie’ Armstrong, the daughter of Thomas Armstrong and Mary Mahoney, on October 25, 1904 in Colchester. This record lists Minnie as Minervia Ughbanks (Hughbanks) from a previous marriage. Their marriage record lists Elisha as a farmer and Minerva worked as a hairdresser. This is confirmed in the May 16, 1902 edition of the Amherstburg Echo which printed an ad for Minerva’s business. The ad reads “If your hair is thin or falling out don’t fail to call and see Minerva Hughbanks, hair dresser and manicurer. Hair switches, curls and puffs made to order. Any lady wanting soft, white hands call or send post card. All orders promptly attended or will call at your homes if desired. Mrs. Hughbanks.”
Minerva Armstrong Hughbanks Matthews passed away on October 10, 1937 in Colchester. Her obituary, which appeared in the October 15th issue of the Amherstburg Echo says “A Well Known Woman – A large crowd of mourners attended the funeral Wednesday afternoon at St. Mark’s A.M.E. Zion Church of Mrs. Elisha Matthews, who passed away Sunday, aged 73 years. Burial was in the local cemetery. Mrs. Matthews was born at Colchester, daughter of Thomas Armstrong and Mary Mahoney, on February 7, 1865. She is survived by her husband, a brother, Thomas Armstrong at the lake, and a sister, Mrs. Lancaster of Colchester. Two children are deceased.”
A few years later, Minerva’s husband Elisha passed away on November 22, 1940. His obituary reads “Well Known Resident Dies – Elisha Matthews, one of the finest and most respected residents of this district died in his home on the third concession of Colchester South Friday. Deceased was born in this township 82 years ago, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Mathew Matthews, who were pioneer colored settlers. ? up on the homestead and turned it into one of the most successful farms in the section. He was married to Miss Minnie Armstrong who predeceased him three years ago. They had no family but two adopted children, Russell ?, and Mrs. Vida Mulder of Colchester South, survive him. Also a sister, Mrs. Alzora Thomas of Detroit. The funeral was held Sunday at Central Grove with Rev. Henderson of Amherstburg officiating.” Elisha’s obituary mentions that he and Minnie had two adopted children, but the 1911 Census mentions another adopted son named John.
What we publish is not a complete history of any family and is based on the documents that are available. We welcome photos and information to fill in the gaps. See you next week for part 4.
The Matthews Family History Part 4 – The Pastor
Elisha’s sister Martha married Simon Peter Leek. I was only able to find their obituaries. On March 23, 1923, the Amherstburg Echo printed “We regret to announce the death of Mrs. Simon Peter Leek, which occurred on Friday last after a lingering illness. Funeral services were held at Central Grove, Sunday afternoon by Rev. Mr. Johnson, pastor A.M.E. church with burial in the cemetery there. The pallbearers were Wm. Kersey, Albert Lewis, Arthur Coates, James Scott, Alex Carter and Thomas Graham.” Simon Peter Leek’s obituary also appeared in the Amherstburg Echo over two decades later, on March 7, 1946 which says “Simon Peter Leek, who has been a resident of Colchester south all of his life, passed away Monday morning at the East Windsor Hospital. He had been suffering from a foot ailment … which developed into dry gangrene. He was born in Colchester South in 1869, the son of Isaac Leek and his wife Caroline Pearl. He was twice married, his first wife was Martha Jane Matthews who died 23 Years ago. His second wife … Medora Myles, survives [as] does one sister Amanda J. [Jones] of Detroit … Mr. Leek was quite the ? figure in this community and always drove fine horses in [which] he took great pride. Failing health compelled him to lead a very ? life during the past few years.”
Martha’s sister Ellen Saphronia was born on August 12, 1864 in Colchester South and at the age of 21, Ellen married William Grier (Grayer), the son of William and Eliza (Green) Grayer, on June 5, 1889 in Colchester. William and Ellen had eight children: Durward, Iva Geoa, Clarence, William Darwin, Mary Elizabeth, Alma Alzora, Loren, and Charles Roosevelt. Around 1903 William separated from Ellen and moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan. After finding work and a home in Ann Arbor, William moved his children into his house. In the next census for 1910, we see William and his children listed under the same household except for Durward who had possibly started his own family at that point. The 1910 Census also reveals that William Sr. worked as a “wagon driver.” The 1920 Census lists William with a few of his children: Clarence, Darwin, Lorin, and Roosevelt (Charles) in addition to a lodger, a 52-year old woman named Alice Taylor who was a housekeeper.
Sadly, Ellen Matthews Grayer passed away on May 15, 1929 in Windsor. Several years before, William married again, the second time to Martha M. Robbins on June 1, 1922 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Martha was born circa 1871 in Kent County (Ontario). As mentioned, William and Ellen had several children (Durward, Iva Geoae, Clarence, William Darwin, Mary Elizabeth, Alma Alzora, Loren, and Charles Roosevelt). There is information available for all their children, but some information is more limited than others. According to his birth record, Durward was born on January 25, 1891, while Iva was born on January 30, 1892. That is all the information that could be found on them, but there are more documents for their brother Clarence. He was born on May 23, 1893, unless you are looking at his draft registration card for WWI which says that he was born on May 23, 1894 in Harrow. This document also states that he was a machinist who worked for C.A. Sauer Co. Inc. in Ann Arbor. In his description, he is listed as medium height and build, with brown eyes and black hair. At the time he was single, but according to his May 1925 death record, he was married. Unfortunately, his death record does not list his wife’s name. There is also a bit more information available for Clarence’s brother, William Darwin.
William Darwin was born on September 20, 1895 in Colchester South, where his father William worked as a farmer. On February 20, 1922, William Darwin married Jennie Kathleen Gaines, the daughter of Frank Gaines and Sarah Dailey, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. William Darwin was 26, while Jennie was 18. Under occupation it lists “Garage” for William, while Jennie was “At Home.” William Darwin and Jennie had at least one child, Donald William Grayer Sr. In his obituary, it says that Donald was born on December 10, 1924 in Ann Arbor and he later married Wanda M. Cooper in Adrian, Michigan. Donald worked as a bricklayer and was a member of the Bricklayer’s Union. He also served in the United States Navy from 1942-1946 and was a member of the Elks and Lincoln Key Club.
The next child of William and Ellen Grayer to be discussed is Mary Elizabeth who was born on March 30, 1897. She later married Clarence Muirhead on October 8, 1919 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Clarence was 27, while Mary Elizabeth was 22 at the time of their marriage and neither were previously married. Clarence was born circa 1892 in Lebanon, Tennessee, and was the son of Richard Muirhead and Julia Walker. Under occupation, Clarence is listed as an “Attendant” while Mary was “At Home.” The following year, the 1920 Census for Ann Arbor lists Clarence as a labourer, while the 1930 Census for Ann Arbor lists his occupation as a “Porter,” but for industry it says, “Barber Shop.” The 1930 Census also lists Clarence and Mary’s daughters: Safronia A. (age 9) and Doretta (age 7). Interesting, the 1940 Census lists Mary Muirhead as the head of the household and a cook at a fraternity house. It also lists her living with her two daughters Safronia and Doretta, but there is no mention of Clarence. Clarence and Mary separated considering Clarence went on to marry Sarah Alberta Wilson, who was previously married to William Donald Grayer in 1935. Sarah and William separated in 1939 and Sarah went on to marry Clarence Muirhead in 1953. Clarence and Sarah were together until Clarence’s death in 1962.
Mary’s sister Alma Alzora Madeline Grayer was born circa 1898-1900. On June 3, 1922 she married Roosevelt Crutcher who was the son of William Crutcher and Gertrude Meek. Neither were previously married, and the ceremony took place in Flint, Michigan. Interestingly, Alma Alzora Grayer is listed on her marriage record as “Anastasia Madeline Grayer,” the daughter of William Grayer and Ellen Matthews. “Anastasia” was 23, while Roosevelt was 20. There is less information on Alma’s brothers Loren Joseph who was born on July 6, 1900 and Charles Roosevelt who was born circa 1902.
Ellen’s sister Alzora is the next child of Matthew Matthews and Alma Day. She married William H. Thomas, the son of Robert A. Thomas and America Grauderson, on August 21, 1918 in Windsor. At the time Alzora was a cook and William was a porter and also a widower.
There is more information for Alzora’s sister Alma who was born on May 12, 1870 in Colchester. She married the Reverend William Harold Bazie, the son of Isaac Bazie and Christina Brown, on August 12, 1903 in Colchester South. William was a pastor of Central Grove A.M.E. Church as was reported by The Evening Record when he left Central Grove and moved to Normal, Illinois in November 1903. The 1910 Census lists William and Alma living in Danville, Illinois, while the 1920 Census for Adams, Illinois lists William and Alma, along with William’s daughter Hortense. The 1930 Census for Springfield, Illinois lists William and Alma along with William’s daughters Maud C. Johnson and Hortense Bazie. An obituary from the Daily Illinois State Journal includes an obituary for Maude Bazie Johnson who passed on November 18, 1948 in Springfield, Illinois. It also says that she was born in Chatham and was married to the Reverend E.R. Johnson. Also mentioned are Hortense Bazie Holman and her daughter Alfreda.
I was also able to find a death record for Rev. William H. Bazie and Alma Diana Bazie. William passed away on February 25, 1935 in Springfield, Illinois. At the time of his passing, he was still working as a Minister of the A.M.E. Church. This record also says that he was born on January 24, 1861 in Ohio. Alma passed away just over two years later, on June 7, 1937 in Springfield, Illinois.
The last child of Matthew Matthews and Alma Day is Celista. She married Henry Harris. Their children include John M., Maud E., George A., Jessie, Elma (Elmore), Ramond, Wellington, and Florin. Sadly, Celista passed away on May 19, 1906 in Colchester at the age of 50. Following Celista’s death, Henry married a second time to Mary Powell, the daughter of Nathan Powell and Martha Seymoure, on June 12, 1907 in Harrow.
As mentioned, Henry and Celista had several children. John Harris married Jennie C. Moore, the daughter of D.A. Moore and Susie C. Fleming, on October 9, 1905 in Grand Rapids, Michigan; John is listed as a cook while Jennie was a dressmaker. I also found the birth record for one of their children, Wilfred Delos Harris, who was born on January 19, 1909 in Windsor.
John’s brother George Albert Harris was born on November 29, 1886 in Harrow. His Registration of Birth states that he was a Sailor. George Albert married Georgia Hockley, the daughter of George Hockley and Dora Dorsey, on July 10, 1911 in Council Bluffs, Pottawattamie County, Iowa. George’s sister Jessie married twice. Her first marriage was to a man with the last name White. Her second marriage was to Frederick Sherman, the son of Charles Sherman and Ruth Shafer, on December 24, 1915 in Sandwich Town. Jessie is listed as a widow on the marriage record. Jessie’s brother Elmore/Elmer Lincoln Harris was born on February 17, 1891. A WWI Draft Registration for Elmore lists him as living in St. Paul, Minnesota with a pregnant wife, although her name is not listed. He is also listed as a waiter for Nor. Pac. Ry (North Pacific Railway). Elmer’s gravestone states that he was born in 1891 and passed in 1959.
Elmer’s brother Raymond was born on February 20, 1894 in Colchester. The only other document I could find for Raymond was a Border Crossing from April 22, 1911. It says that Raymond was 18 years old and a Porter. Raymond’s brother Wellington was born on December 22, 1895. A WWI Draft Registration for Wellington states that he was a cook for C.R. Railroad. Wellington’s sister Florin/Flossie Gertrude Harris was born on December 27, 1898 and passed away the following year on April 15, 1889 in Colchester.
What we publish is not a complete history of any family and is based on the documents that are available. We welcome photos and information to fill in the gaps. See you next week for part 5.
The Matthews Family History Part 5 – The Mayor of Hillsville
Now that Matthew Matthews and his descendants have been discussed, I’ll move on to his sister Ellen who married Ransom Hurst circa 1844. Ransom came to Colchester through Amherstburg from Ohio, most likely before 1845 and the earliest record for Ransom and Ellen in Essex County goes back to 1851 with the Personal Census for the Township of Colchester. It lists Ransom and Ellen, along with their children: William, who was 5 at the time, Solomon (4), Hilliard (2) and Lydia/Lydy Ann (1). This Census also tells us that Ransom was a farmer who was born in the United States. At the time, he is listed as 28, meaning that he was born in roughly 1823, while Ellen was born in roughly 1831, considering she was 20 years old at the time of this Census. It is in the next Personal Census for 1861 that we see the addition of four more children: Sarah, Almeda, Ellen and Henry. This is not including four more children in the 1871 Census under the household of “Ranson Herst” which includes Emery, Caledonia, Luenda/Lucinda and Philip.
Ten years later, with the 1881 Census, there are two more children added including George (10 years old) and Almede (7), which is a similar name to Almeda, but their ages do not match up: Almeda has a birth year of 1856, while Almede was born circa 1874. This is too big of a gap in years to conclude that they are the same person, meaning that they either had similar names or Almede’s name was spelt incorrectly. Additionally, some sources also state that there was a Ransom Jr., but he does not appear on the census with the rest of his family. In total Ransom and Ellen had at least 14 children: William, Solomon, Hilliard, Lydia Ann, Sarah, Almeda, Ellen, Henry, Emery, Caledonia, Lucinda, Philip, George and Almede. Sadly, the 1881 Census lists Ransom as a widower, revealing that his wife Ellen had passed away within the last ten years, between the 1871 and 1881 Census.
There is information available for nine of Ransom and Ellen’s children (William, Hilliard, Sarah, Henry, Emery, Caledonia, Lucinda, George and Almede), which is what I will discuss first. The oldest child of Ransom and Ellen was William. On June 23, 1877, he married Henrietta Artis who was the daughter of Amanda and Mathew Artis. At the time, William was a farm labourer in Colchester where he was born. William was also 28 when he married, while Henrietta was 19. William’s brother Hilliard is the next oldest child, but his direct line is traced the most extensively and makes up the majority of this family history, so to avoid confusion Hilliard will be discussed after his other siblings. Hilliard’s sister Sarah married James George Morgan and the couple lived in Windsor, while Sarah’s brother Henry was born circa 1859 in Harrow. He married Alzora Lewis on June 2, 1884 and Alzora was the daughter of Matthew and Eliza Lewis. On their marriage record, Henry is listed as a farmer and 23 years of age, while Alzora, who was also born in Harrow, was 16. Henry’s brother Emery was born circa 1861, but sadly passed away at the age of 38 on September 28, 1899 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Emery was married to Harriet “Hattie” Henry and lived in Ann Arbor, Washtenaw, Michigan.
Emery’s sister Caledonia was, according to her death record, born on December 25, 1862 and later married Frank Schuran on March 23, 1914 in Detroit, Michigan. Her husband Frank was a labourer who was born on February 9, 1873 in Kansas and was the son of Henry and Eliza Schuran. Frank was 41 at the time of their marriage, while Caledonia was 42. Both Frank and Caledonia were previously married: on their marriage record Caledonia is also listed with the last name “Marshall.” The same thing occurs on Caledonia’s brother George’s obituary which also lists her as Mrs. Marshall. Additionally, on her death record she is listed as Caledonia Bennett, meaning she married a third time. Next is Caledonia’s sister Lucinda who married William Marshall and lived in Colchester South. Similar to Emery, George also passed away at a young age. According to his March 1899 obituary, George passed away at 28 years of age and was also married. Three years before his passing he married Cora Coats and the couple had two children, one being 2 years old and the other only six weeks. George’s sister Almede married Albert Lewis and lived in the Colchester Township area.
As mentioned, the majority of this family history traces the direct line of Ransom and Ellen’s son Hilliard Sr., so he is discussed last to avoid confusion. Hilliard Sr. was born on March 29, 1850 in Colchester South and was quite the businessman. He purchased the Wilkes Baptist Church located in the Matthews Settlement and moved it to land he purchased on Lot 10 in Hillsville, next to the railway tracks on the 3rd Concession. This building was referred to by locals as Hilliard’s Hall and was used as a space for meetings and social events, but it may also have been used as a restaurant and ice cream shop. The Amherstburg Echo mentions that Hilliard was to “open an ice cream parlor at Hillsville on June 12th,  and will continue every Thursday and Saturday during the warm weather, selling ice cream and all kinds of soft drinks.” The Amherstburg Echo also reported that Hilliard was opening a restaurant and it is most likely that Hilliard’s Hall was the location of the restaurant and ice cream shop. After reading this you might be asking yourself, where was Hillsville? It was a name used to described a concentration of Black residents living on the 3rd Concession. The community, according to Milo Johnson, “stretched westward, from 3rd Concession at the Richmond drain, towards the McLean Side Road, east of Walker Road; and from Roseborough, near 3rd Concession, it stretched north towards the 4th Concession.” Hillsville had two main churches: Mount Calvary Church of God in Christ (Baptist Church) and Central Grove on the corner of the 4th Concession and Walker Road. Hilliard was very active in the community and was referred to as the “Mayor of Hillsville.”
In addition to opening a few businesses, Hilliard was also a farmer who married Manda/Amanda Minerva Chavis who was born circa 1852 and the daughter of Wiley and Clarissa Ann (Evans) Chavis, who were married on July 5, 1841 in Clark County, Illinois. According to Milo Johnson’s book, New Canaan: Freedom Land, “the fact that their [Clarissa and Wylie’s] marriage is registered indicates they were ‘Free People’ living in Illinois or neighboring Indiana.” Wiley and Clarissa arrived in Essex County some time between 1849 and 1852, most likely landing at Amherstburg and settling in New Canaan, Colchester North in Essex County. The 1861 Personal Census for Colchester lists Manda and her siblings which included: William, James, John, Nancy, Thomas, Eveline, Sarah, Louisa, Mary, and Theresa. Clarissa Chavis later married Henry Artis in June of 1874, so it is most likely that Wiley passed away shortly before that. It was over a decade later, in 1887, that Clarissa passed away.
On the marriage record for Manda and Hilliard, the former is listed as Manda Runells, not Chavis. The record states that she was a widow explaining the different last name, but “Runells” is a misspelling of “Reynolds” from a previous marriage to William Henry Reynolds. Manda and her first husband William had two children: Emaline who was born on May 3, 1872 and Alfred who was born on June 27, 1873. Both children were born before Manda’s second marriage to Hilliard on March 24, 1875, meaning that William passed away between the birth of his second child Alfred, in 1873, and Manda’s next marriage to Hilliard in 1875. During their marriage, Manda and Hilliard Sr. had at least seven children: Rhoda, Almeda, Ellen, Hilliard Jr., Blanche, Wylie and Everett Walter Farrington Hurst.
What we publish is not a complete history of any family and is based on the documents that are available. We welcome photos and information to fill in the gaps. See you next week where we will celebrate another amazing family.