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Humboldt County










      W. D. Mathews, whose fine ranch of eight hundred and fifty acres is located near Ft. Jones, is numbered among the substantial and successful business men and valued citizens of this community.  He was born at Ft. Jones, on the 4th of January, 1874, and is a son of I. S. and Ann Elizabeth (Coffin) Mathews, the latter a native of Indiana.  The father was born in New Hampshire and in 1849 made the long voyage around Cape Horn to California, bringing with him the goods with which to start a tailor shop.  However, on his arrival here he located on the Mokelumne river, where he remained for a time, and then, going back to San Francisco, started a store.  He still retained his mining interest at Mokelumne and he now took in a partner, named John Fairchild, an early pioneer of the locality.  They started a mule pack train, which they operated out of Trinidad, California, for several years.  Mr. Mathews then turned his attention to logging for a couple years.  The first year he made eighty-thousand dollars, but during the second year, when he brought his logs down, the mill was closed down the owners gone, and he never received his money.  He and his partner then established butcher shops in a number of places, including Forks of the Salmon, Sawyer’s Bar, old Etna, Deadwood, Indian Creek and other places, carrying these on until Mr. Mathews bought the old Star ranch, on which he spent his remaining years, his death occurring July 19, 1904.  To him and his wife were born ten children, of whom six sons are living.  Mr. Mathews had many fights with the Indians and bore in evidence a number of scars made by Indian arrows.

      W. D. Mathews received his education in the public schools and has devoted all of his active years to ranching.  He is the owner of eight hundred and fifty acres, of which six hundred acres are under cultivation.  His principal land crops are hay and grain, and up to the last four years he was interested in stock raising.  He now feeds beef cattle during the winter for shipment and has been very successful in his business affairs.  His farm, which is situated near Ft. Jones, is highly improved, a splendid residence of cement blocks having been erected in 1913, while all of the other buildings are substantial in character.          On January 15, 1903, Mr. Mathews was united in marriage to Miss Julia Swan, a daughter of Livy and A. (Scott) Swan.  Her parents were numbered among the pioneers of this locality and her father was a wagon-maker and blacksmith.  Mr. and Mrs. Mathews had four children, namely:  Douglas S., deceased; Edward B., who is at home and assists in the work of the ranch; William D., Jr., at home; and Julia Minerva, who has finished her high school course and is now attending Munson’s Secretarial School of San Francisco.  On the 10th of September, 1921, Mr. Mathews was married to Katherine Grider, daughter of William T. and Rebecca Grider.  Her father came to California in 1865, locating at Happy Camp.  He was a miner and later a rancher.  Mr. and Mrs. Grider had six children, all living.  Mrs. Mathews taught school for twenty-six years, and was superintendent of the county schools for two years, or until she married Mr. Mathews.  By a previous marriage she had a daughter, Alice Gertrude, who teaches at Calexico, California, and who is the wife of R. Wayne, now with the Standard Oil Company at Fullerton, California.

      Mr. Mathews is a democrat in his political views and has to some extent been active in local public affairs, having served as supervisor from the fourth district from 1916 to 1920.  He is a member of the Free and Accepted Masons and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows at Ft. Jones.  He is in every sense loyal to the interests of his community, has set an example of good citizenship, and has proven worthy of the respect which is accorded him by his fellowmen.



Transcribed by Joyce Rugeroni.

Source: Wooldridge, J.W. Major History of the Sacramento Valley California, Vol. 2 Pages 93-94. Pioneer Historical Publishing Co. Chicago 1931.

© 2010  Joyce Rugeroni.



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