Monday, June 25, 2012

Amanuensis Monday - Part III of Howard Matthews's Story

Time for Part III of my paternal grandfather's autobiography and family history.  

In this part of his story, my grandfather laid out dates and ages as best he could with the information that he had (which I have yet to verify).  He then spoke of some of the family's neighbors on Nafus Street in Pittston and gives us a few details of his childhood over 100 years ago.

Then he writes about the wedding of his eldest sister, Lillian.  He wasn't there as he had not yet been born, but he did attend his other sister's wedding twelve years later, tune in next week for that one.

It is unfortunate that I have not been able to find exact dates of my parent’s arrival in the USA or of their marriage*.  Death certificates at the Pittston, PA Cemetery record that Arthur William Matthews died December 6, 1915 at age 71, and Ada Hobbs Matthews September 1, 1919, at age 64.  In addition they record the following, making a total of five burials in or double lot.
William Matthews (first son of my father’s first marriage)      1869-1920 age 51
Will’s wife Laura S. Matthews                                                      1869-1950 age 80
LeRoy Matthews (my brother)                                                      1880-1929 age 48
Since hist first wife (a Griffith) is said to have died at the birth of John Matthews (1870), when my father was 26, it would seem that he must have married very soon after his arrival in the USA (1865) when, I have assumed, he was about 23.  We don’t know the date of his second marriage, to my mother Ada, but since the birthdate of the first child of that union (my sister Lillian) was April 1, 1878, the marriage must have occurred at some point in the 7-year span 1870-1877.  So perhaps they were married in, say, 1876 when my mother would have been 21 and my father 32.  The children of that marriage came along as follows:
                                                                                                                  Age of
                                                                                       Born            Mother     Father
Lillian (Mrs. G. Floyd Hunter)                                4-1-1878             23          34
LeRoy                                                                               1880             25          36
Fred                                                                                   1882            27          38
Bess (Mrs. William H. Ahlers)                            2-20-1884            29          40
Charles                                                                             1895           40           51
Howard                                                                    7-21-1901           46           57
My father had the family home at 13 Nafus Street built for his bride, my mother.  All six of us were born in that house and all six plus the two half-brothers were raised there.  Dorothy says, “Mother (my sister Lillian) was proud of the fact that they were the first on their street (Nafus Street) to have a built-in bath tub.  It was lined with copper or tin as this was long before porcelain or enamel tubs were made.”  I had many baths in that tub.  Nafus is a short street, two blocks long, running from Main Street to Vine Street and the cemetery.  In my youth it was lined with substantial homes on good-sized lots.  Across from us was the Myers home.  Mr. Myers was a Civil Engineer and he owned the first Hupmobile I had ever seen.  His father, our milkman, had a Stanley Steamer.  His son, Clinton, who became head of the Martz Bus Lines, was one of my playmates.  On the opposite corner lived the editor of our local newspaper, the Pittston Gazette, next to home the Smiles family, and across the street the Cadmans whose apple trees we raided each Spring and in whose backyard we erected tents made of old carpets each summer and occasionally slept in them overnight.
On a wall of the sitting room at 301 Philadelphia Avenue in West Pittston (the G. Floyd Hunter family home, now occupied by Dorothy Kenworthy) there hangs a framed copy of the printed invitation to the wedding of my sister Lillian to G. Floyd Hunter at the old homestead (13 Nafus St) on October 27, 1897.  Lillian was then 19½ years old; Floyd five years her senior.  Dorothy tells us that every time she visited Cousin John Merritt he told her that he had attended the wedding of her very beautiful mother.  Lillian was the “arty” member of the Matthews family.  She painted in oils and some of her works are hanging at 301.  Floyd along with his brother and father, operated a farm and rendering works on the side of the mountain west of West Pittston.  Their tables were always abundantly supplied with fresh fruits and vegetables.  Tallow, the product of the rendering works, was sold to Proctor & Gamble.
Obviously, since I was not born until 1901, I was not present at Lillian’s wedding.  But I was at the wedding of my sister Bess to William H. Ahlers.  It too was held at 13 Nafus Street.

*  You may remember that I found an Arthur Matthews arriving in NYC on April 25, 1865 from Liverpool.

In addition to my grandfather's correspondence, I also found a copy of my grandparents' wedding announcement.  I'll be sharing that later this week for Wedding Wednesday.

Happy Hunting!

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