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Champaign County, Illinois

Biography of M. W. Mathews

SOURCE: "History of Champaign County, Illinois with Illustrations," 1878


M. W. MATHEWS. The journalistic profession is of such a peculiar nature, so complicated in its literary and business channels, and withal one of the most difficult in which to acquire success, that but few attain any eminence in it. Our State has developed some, however, who have acquired distinction in this line, and prominent among the number is M. W. Mathews, editor and proprietor of the Champaign County Herald. He came to Urbana in 1867 and for years took a prominent position in the legal, political and business circles of the county. In 1879 he purchased the Herald, which had only been called into existence two years previously. He had won distinction at the bar and on the stump and consequently much was expected of him in his new role as a journalist. His career has justified the expectations of his friends, for it has been a distinguished one, proving him to be a forcible and able writer and a business manager of rare ability.

Mr. Mathews was born in Clark County, Ill., March 1, 1846, and is the son of John R. and Mary (MCNEIL) MATHEWS, natives of Coshocton County, Ohio. John R. Mathews was born in 1820, and was the son of Alexander and Prudence (LAUGHLIN) MATHEWS, who were descended from excellent Irish ancestry. He was reared to farming pursuits and served an apprenticeship at the blacksmith's trade, which he followed in this State until 1852. He then took a trip across the plains to California, and remained two years employed in mining and blacksmithing. In the meantime, on the 12th of August, 1854, the wife and mother died. Five years later the father of our subject removed to Wayne County, Ind., where he followed blacksmithing until 1861. In August of that year, the Rebellion having assumed alarming proportions, he responded to the call for volunteers and enlisted as a private in Co. F, 36th Ind. Vol. Inf. He was only permitted to serve one year, however, being discharged on account of disability. Upon returning home he received a commission from Gov. Morton as recruiting officer, but we soon find him again going to the front. This time he enlisted in an Indiana battery with which he went to Harper's Ferry. Here he was discharged a second time on account of ill health. He returned to Indiana, remaining a resident there until 1864, when he came to this county and located upon a farm, engaging in agricultural pursuits, which he prosecuted until his death, which occurred Oct. 14, 1884. The parental family included four children, one of whom is now deceased. Samuel A., the eldest, remained upon the farm until 1861, and at the age of seventeen years enlisted as a soldier in the 36th Indiana Infantry. He was promoted for bravery at the battle of Stone River. He died July 9, 1863, in the Field Hospital, in Tennessee, of disease contracted during his service. M. W. of our sketch was the second son; William E., a stationary engineer, is a resident of Kuttawa, Ky.; Louise H., Mrs. J. S. LITTLE, is in Hillsboro County, Fla.

The subject of this biography remained on the farm until 1860, and during the years following, when the country was in the throes of Civil War, he worked on a farm and attended school alternately. He completed his studies under the tutorship of Prof. John Cooper at the Dublin Academy. In this institution he afterward became assistant teacher. The day following the assassination of President Lincoln young Mathews started for Illinois, and taking up his abode in Philo, this county, commenced teaching near what was known as Yankee Ridge. While teaching he had improved his leisure moments in the study of law, and two years later, when he came to Urbana, he gave to it his more serious attention under the instruction of G. W. Gere, and was admitted to practice in August, 1867. Shortly afterward he became the partner of Mr. Gere, and they operated together for two years, after which Mr. Mathews continued alone. In 1873 he was appointed Master in Chancery, which position he held for nine years, when he resigned. He was elected States Attorney in 1876, and served with ability for eight years. Since becoming a resident of this county he has been closely identified with its business interests. He is a stockholder and Director in the First National Bank of Urbana, and owns the Herald Block, in which the bank and post-office are located. The establishment of the Loan and Building Association was largely due to his enterprise and encouragement, and he is now its President. Politically Mr. Mathews affiliates with the Republican party, the principles of which he most sincerely and honestly upholds. Socially he is a member of the I.O.O.F. and of the Independent Order of Mutual Aid, of Illinois.

The marriage of M. W. Mathews and Miss Julia FOOTE took place in 1869 at the residence of the bride's parents in Urbana. Mrs. M. is a native of Ohio, and the daughter of William J. and Lucy M. (ALCOTT) FOOTE. Of this union there have been born two children—Mae and Clyde. The residence of our subject is pleasantly located on Elm Street, and Mr. Mathews and his family enjoy the friendship and confidence of the best people of this locality.

We take pleasure in presenting the portrait of Milton W. Mathews in this volume, as not only one of the representative citizens of the county, but as that of a leading and prominent journalist of the State.

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