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PERSONAL FAMILY HISTORY
October 13, 1990
This is talking about Sarah Matheson's personal family
hi story. '
Dr. Barrow: "Gdod morning, Sarah, you know we met two weeks
ago and talked about your husband, Chris Matheson's family
and the Matheson family in general and today we are going to
be talking about your family. I want you to go ahead and
start and tell us about your family history. I believe your
great, great, great, great grandfather was Hugh Hamilton.
Is that right? And you have a book on the genealogy and the
descendants of Hugh Hamilton that one of your cousins did, I
believe. Well, tell us what you can about Hugh and his wife
Sarah: "Well, I don't very much about that. They came over
from Scotland. I didn't know him at all. I just know that
the four brothers came to Pennsylvania and settled there and
one of them came on down from Beachbottom. They settled
near Lancaster, New York and James then came on down to
Dr. B. : "James, then, was one of the sons of Hugh."
Sarah: "He came to Caberas County. It was first
Mecklinburg County. It was just like Alachua was divided up
and later it was Caberas County and he lived there and I
think he was the one who was helping his friend build a barn
or a house and they worked kind of late and the neighbor
went with him as far as the spring and said good night to
him and he was found dead there the next morning. He was
just worn out and tired and got sick and died there, but he
had married and his child was Thomas Henderson."
Dr. B. : "I've got notes here, James Hamilton, who was the
son of Hugh Hamil ton and Margaret Di xon, was born on
September 29, 1761 and then died on October 21st, 1842. He
was married to Martha Wallace on August 23, 1779 and she was
born on December 9, 1775, and died April 24, 1866. That's
way back there. Now, how many children did James Hamilton
and Martha Wallace have?"
Sarah: "That I will have to look up. They had big families
in those days."
Dr. B.: "There were a lot of them."
Sarah: "Yes, there were a good many of them, were' t
Dr. B.: "But one of them was you great grandfather?"
Sarah: "Thomas Henderson Hamilton, and he was the only one
that I know about and I don't know too much because I never
knew him. He was dead .before I was born., but he married
Dr. B.: "Yes, his second marriage was Sarah Melinda Wallace
and they O'had '3 children, Charles Harvey Hamilton and
Elizabeth Hamilton Chester, and little Johnny. Johnny died
early in life, so it was just left my father and Aunt Betty.
We always spoke of Aunt Betty and they had homes side by
side. When Betty married, she married a Mr. Chester and
lived just 6 miles from Davidson, where my father lived next
door and built his home and brought his bride later. I
remember him saying that his little country school was in
Irdle County. His church was in Caberas County. His post
office was in Mecklinburg County. His farm was in all three
and he would laughingly say the sheriff would have a hard
time catching me. But this was six miles east of Davidson,
North Carolina, which was Mecklinburg County then."
Dr. B.: "Alright now, going back just a little bit, Thomas
Henderson Hamilton, who was Charles Harvey's father, my
notes say was born March 27, 1874 and he married (this was
his 2nd marriage) Sarah Melinda Wallace on June 5, 1862, and
I believe that you were named after Sarah."
Sarah: "I was, yes."
Dr. B.: "Who did Charles Harvey Hamilton marry? iHe was
born March 8. 1868, your father, right?, in Caberas County.
And y'all had a farm there or something?"
Sarah: "Oh, yes, as I've just said, Papa had a big farm
and he was known as a farmer, of course, in those days. He
was Justice of the Peace and he took pride in his farm. He
always kept the newest implements as they would come out, I
remember, a new manure spreader even that had works, you
know, that you didn't have to take just a fork but you had
this. He had one of the largest barns and many, many
cattle, lots of cows and horses."
Dr. B.: "How big was the farm, do you know, about?"
Sarah: "Well, he added to it. He had the home place where
James had settled when he came. He went back to
Pennsylvania, I think, but he came to Caberas and he had
settled near there, so Papa owned that also. I would say
about 500 acres, something like that. So it was a pretty
good-sized far m."
Dr. B.: "When was the house built, do you have any idea?"
Sarah: "His father died when he was six years old, and so
he had was a schoolteacher. That is some of the many things
he did. In those days, the schools lasted just a few
months, you know, so he could look after his farm. He had
many tenants, lots of Iegro help that lived on the place,
had there houses there. He was free to teach part of the
time. Now his wife that he met came down from Mooresville,
Cornelia Deaton. She had graduated with the first class
that had 'four full years at the Normal, North Carolina
Normal School in Greensborough that later became the N.C.
College for Women and now the University of North Carolina
at Greensborough. She finished school and taught at Barium
Springs, an orphanage near Statesville and then she came to
the country, this county, where Charles Hamilton lived and
she met him. He was a promising young man. Then he was a
bachelor, but he was running for Representative and was the
Representative from Caberas County."
Dr. B.: "For the state?"
Sarah: "The state, North Carolina, under Governor Joiner.
Governor Joiner was governor. He was known as the educator,
the governor who was pushing education. So they met and
were married in 1900 and Cornelia was a brilliant woman.
She was a wonderful teacher and a leader of the community,
just as she found her husband was, so they made a happy,
happy home there. You asked about the house. I think Papa
had just finished it. He built this for his bride. He and
his mother lived in the old home place that was there. He
wanted a new home for his bride and he was so proud of this
big two-story. It was a wooden house, but very attractive,
in a beautiful setting with woods and shrubs and peach
orchards and fig trees, just a beautiful home in the middle
of his farm, you see, surrounded by his farm."
Dr. B.: "Is it still there?"
Sarah: "We sold it when we came into Davidson later.
That's a long story."
Dr. B. : "Well, according to my notes, Charles, your father,
Charles Harvey Hamilton was born March 8, 1868. Do you
recall when he died or is that in that Bible anywhere?"
Sarah: "Yes, he died August 23, 1929. Suppose we go on
with him just a little bit since we are talking about his
life. They had several children."
Dr. B.: "OK, we''l get. to that in just a moment, here."
Sarah: "I-le moved into Davidson for the education of the
children where Davidson College is and he said then I am an
agriculturist who lives in the city, spends his money on the
iarm. The farmer lives on the farm and spends his money in
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Association then. He organized that and was quite active in
the community affairs of Davidson. He and his mother had
been charter members of: Gilwood Presbyterian Church. His
mother, Sarah Melinda, had been a member of the Rama Church
in the country, but it was further away, so he and his
mother started the church at Gilwood, named for the first
two ministers, Mr. Gillan and Mr. Arewood, Gilwood. He
continued to keep his membership there. He was an elder,
clerk of the session for 35 years and leader of the music.
I remember that sometimes I would play the organ and Papa
would lead the singing and may brother played the violin or
the cornet, so even when we lived in Davidson, we would qo
the city. But he had 6 acres of land right around the home
place down sloping with a little stream behind, so he could
have a little pasture. He even brought two or three cows,
but he still would go to his farm and see after it. He
became the Mayor Davidson, several terms he was mayor of the
town of Davidson."
Dr. B.: "Was he continuing to teach then?"
Sarah: "No, no, he didn't teach much after they moved, but
he became Mayor and he helped to organize the Piedmont Bank
Dr. B.: "That is where Gilwood was?"
out to the country church on Sunday morning and brother
would take his violin or his cornet, whichever he could get
first and wP wniild i,. mi 1 ,= ni,+- +," yI-k--. ..--
Dr. B.: "Ok, and tell us more about your mother, Cornelia.
You said she was a teacher."
Sarah: "Cornelia was born in Mooresvi l. le which was seven
miles north of Davidson."
Dr. B.: "Do you remember her birthdate?"
Sarah: "Her birthdate was September 7, 1874."
Dr. B.: "OK.:: Where did she study and go to school?"
Sarah: "That's where Gilwood was."
Dr. B.: "Now they got married. I think her name was Martha
Sarah: "She was known as Cornelia."
Dr. B.: "They were married November 22, 1900. So he built
the farm place about that time?"
Sarah: "Just a few years before."
Sarah: "She finished high school in Mooresville and went to
the Normal Industrial School, as it was called, in
Greensborough. She graduated in 1896. She was a member of
a big family and she had a brother Romulus and she was
Cornelia and when she had children, they'd speak of Cornelia
dn her jewels. All her nephews called her Aunt Cornie, from
Cornelia, so her nickname was Aunt Cornie. That's
pecul iar. "
Dr. B.: "How did she meet your father?"
Sarah: "When she was teaching a short term in Caberas
County, she was introduced to Charles Hamilton, this
promising young bachelor there in the community."
Dr. B.: "Right. So they got married in 1900 and lived on
the home place the, how long?, before they moved into town?"
Sarah: "About 1919."
Dr. B.: "Alright, well us about the children in your
Sarah: "I was the oldest, Sarah. I don't know why they
didn't put the Melinda into my name, but it was just Sarah.
I used to say, "Mother, why didn't I have a middle name?"
She said, "Well, I just thought Sarah Hamilton whatever you
might marry would be enough. So I was Sarah. I was born
on September 20, 1901 at the house in Caberas County. Then
3 years later, Martha was born and Martha was named just
Martha for grandmother Deaton,, Mother was Cornelia Deaton
and so she was named for Martha Cornelia Deaton. Her mother
was Martha McN'eel y and so I was named f 4or granamother
Iamil ton and Martha was named for grandmother Deaton,
mother' s mother."
Dr.. : "Martha was born October 1, 1904."
Sarah: "Yes and then Thomas was born Selptember 9, 1906. He
was the son.. :'l have to digress there a minute because
there were two more girls but mother always said Thomas was
her "pleasing interu.id e". She said I had Sarah and Martha,
then I had Thomas, then I had Mary, and Lois Neal, so Thomas
was "my pleasing interlude". She had only one son. Then
the next o:ne w was Mary Cornelia, was named for mother., she
pu-r the C ornei. a in but she is still known as Mariy, Mary
Dr. B.: "She was born Octo::er 31st, 1908?"'
Sarah: "Then there was a baby that was stillborn and did
not live, so then Lois Neal was born December 20, 1914."
Dr. B.: "You have a picture showing at least your mother,
father, grandmother and four of you, but Lois Neal had not
been born yet, and it shows Mary when she was a tiny baby,
so this photograph was made in 1908, about, I'm not sure."
Sarah: "Yes, 1908. '
Dr. B.: "Well.,. let's go back. Tell me about Martha. What
happened with Martha?"
Sarah: "My sister Martha graduated from high school and was
valedictorian of her class and she and I went to college
together to North Carolina College for women, so we
graduated together and then taught two years together in
Gastonia, North Carolina. Martha then went to New York to
Columbia University to get her graduate work: in history.
Mary...Well, Sarah and Martha both graduated from North
Carolina College for Women where mother had graduated
earlier. Mary said I'm not going to go to North Carolina
College. I don't want to be known as Sarah and Martha's
sister or mother's daughter. I want to go where I can make
my own record, so she chose Converse College and really made
a record. She was President of the student body and acting
dean and president of this and that, YMCA and I don't know
what all, but anyway when Martha was finishing her Master's
Degree at Columbia, Dr. Pell, the President of Converse
College in Spartanberg, South Carolina, came up looking for
a teacher and he found Martha Hamilton and he said, 'Are you
any kin to Mary Hamilton?" She said, 'She's my sister.' So
Martha always says, 'I got my job of teaching history at
Converse College because of my sister, Mary', who had gone
to converse. So Martha taught there and married the
Professor Elfred Morgan. He wasn't Dr. then but later got
his Ph.D., Elfred Chapman Morgan who had graduated at
Warford College in Spartanburg and who was teaching at
Converse and who became the academic dean there for 25 years
anrd was President, acting President of the college once.
Just to digress a minute, he later to the Associaton of
Colleges and Universities in Atlanta and set up the self -
study for the universities in the system and was doing that
when he di ed l after, but anyway Martha and Elf red, she
marr ied Elf red Morgan, the Professor, you see, and she
taught. He would let her teach when he needed a special
teacher. He would let her teach after they were married.
But they had two sons, El.fred Hamilton Morgan and Charles
Hamilton Morgan, so that was Martha. They had a wonderful
married( life and she went to England with him, helped him
get that PIh.D. degree. He studied at the British Museum.
Well anyway, he got his degree at Chapel Hill in English
Literature. Martha, his wife, was the historian, so she
taught. She was a wonderful wife to help him. I remember
once we were at a meeting in Cincinatti and she had to leave
early because he was having his Board Meeting at Converse
and needed her back, you know, to support him and be at home
uir r. ; -is sne ST.Il aiive ana in reasonably gooo health:'
Sarah: "She's in pretty good health. She's a wonderful
speaker and a scholar. She's a scholar. She really reads
and studies and is called on often for talks."
Dr. B.: "She lives where now?"
Sarah: "She has a home. After Elfred died, she taught in
Charleston. They had a home at 45 E. Battery for 25 years
and she stayed on after he died in this same beautiful home,
one of the old Charleston homes, then she had to move
recently to a condominium on the Ashley River. so she has a
and help entertain. As I say, he was with the Southern
Association of Universities and Colleges for four years and
then he realized he wanted to take it easy and he took the
work teaching English at the College of Charleston. There
he had a heart attack .a:n-d died very suddenly, so Martha was
left. She was teaching. At least, she'd been offered the
job of teaching history at the Ashley Finishing School,
Ashley School for Girls, finishing school for girls, a very
prominent well--known school, so she taught there for 25
years and has just retired."
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Elfred Hamilton, is a prominent lawyer in Spartanburg and
has a son and a daughter and the other son, Charles, is head
condominium in Charleston and spends part of the time,
because she's lived there so long. Her other home is in
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Dr. B.: "That sounds wonderful, doesn't it?"
Sarah: "She's a lovely person."
Dr. B. : "Maybe she'll come down and visit us sometime when
we have the Open House or something."
Saran: "Well, I wish you could know all of them."
Dr. B.: "Tell us about Thomas Henderson Hamilton."
of the English Dept. at Converse College, followed his
father's footsteps and he has two little girls. So the two
sons wanted their mother to come back to Spartanbu..rg, so
they found a lovely apartment, so she spends about all of
her time in Spartanburg with the grandchildren and her sons
and part of her time she is in Charleston. She's making a
talk this week, will go back. They have a beautiful summer
home up at Clarkl:'s Mountain. The whole top of the mountain,
which is one of the old, old, old homes there, the only one
on top of the mountain and she has to be back for the Garden
Club, that is going to bring a whole crowd up there,, 25
miles for that. "Then she spends 3 months with me at
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Dr. B.: Sure. Let's see. Reverend Thomas H. Henderson, so
of a pioneer -family in the Davidson area in 1772, died
October 8, 1887. His grandfather, Thomas Henderson
Hamilton, entered Davidson College when it opened in 1837
and his father, Charles H. Hamilton, served several terms as
Mayor for the town of Davidson, was a leader in many
constructive developments of the community, including the
organization of the Piedmont Bank, and also a member of the
state legislature during the administration of Charles B.
Aycock, known as the education governor. Thomas graduated
from Davidson High School in 1923 and Davidson College in
'27 and taught at Chamberlain Hunt Prep School in Port
Sarah: "I want you to just read that. It is the most
interesting to me."
Dr. B.: "He was a minister?"
Sarah: "Yes, he graduated at Davidson College since his
grandfather had entered the first class at Davidson. This
was when he was a student and I have a wonderful portrait of
him there in the hall that I want you to see. I'm sure
you've seen it, but he graduated at Davidson and went to
Union Seminary. Just read this."
Theology at the University in Tubegin in southern Germany to
which University he often returned for continuous education
Gibson,' Mississippi and then'' entered Union Theological
Seminary in Richmond where he received his B.D., T.H.M. and
Ph.D. degrees. So he was a doctor of theolpov., He stpri.ed
old Eggrock area where there was property that he still
owned. He was a lifetime supporter of Montreat where he
owned a residence and where he was for many years treasurer
of the William Block home. He was a great traveler and had
recently visited China where he particularly enjoyed being
invited to visit a class in church history at the Nan King d
Theological Seminary. Dr. Hamilton is survived by his wife,
Marie Garland Hamilton, a son, Thomas H. Hamilton, the 3rcl,
both of Kenston, daughters Maria Hamilton Cochram, of- Los
Altos, Cal ifornia and Laura Hamilton Rowl of Charleston ,
S.C. and five grandchildren. He is survived by four
sisters: Sarah Hamilton Matheson of Gainesvi :1 e, Fla.,
as ne a:l.a also to aT. Hnarews university in acotland. His
pastorates included the Presbyterian Church in Rox;sboro,
N.C., and a remarkable ministry of 39 years at the First
Presbyterian Church in Kenston, N.C. Since his retirement,
he also has a happy pastorate in Grif ton, N.C. where he
preached two Sundays before his death at age 81. He was
active in the Presbytery Synod and general assembly and
served on many boards and commissions and was a loyal
alumnus of Davidson College where he was a trustee for 17
years. He was able to attend the 60th reunion at Davidson
College and to have his son finish college in the class of
1.963. He never missed an opportunity to return to Davidson
and visit the towns surrounding the country, especially tfhp
Martha H. Morgan of Charleston, S.C., Mary H. Stevens of
Lumberton, N.C. and Lois Neal Hami I ton Tennant of
Spartanburg, S.C., buried at Kenston, N.C. where a memorial
service was held at the First Presbyterian Church. Dr. John
Bright, his classmate at.-Union Seminary and lifelong friend,
led the family and fri ends in giving thanks for his deep
Christian faith.' S5 that tells us about your brother.
Alright, tell us about Mary Cornelia Hamilton, I believe she
was ... 'Let' see, Thomas was born Sept. 9, 1906, we
Sarah: "Then Mary October 31, 1908. I told you part of
hers, that she graduated. I bet she was valedictorian. I
know I was valedictorian, Martha was, Thomas was historian
and Mary was valedictorian. She went to Converse College as
as told you previously and she graduated there with real
honors, President of Student Body and so forth, a beautiful
leader. Then Mary taught school for years in Lumberton,
N.C. and somewhere up in the mountains, where was that? I
can't think where it was, near ..., Lenore, N. C. But in
Lumberton, 'she met James L. Stevens and they were married
and he was a mortician, he and his brothers. lHe and his
brothers had this funeral home together. He was a great
lover of wildlife and worked for several years in Raleigh,
N.C. with the Wildlife Association. In fact, after his
death, a beautiful park in Lumberton is named the James L.
Stevens Park, which is ... there home is on the Lumbee River
and the park is just a few blocks from her home named for
James L. Stevens. Mary met him and they were very happy
together. They did not have nay children, so they adopted
little Richard Hamilton Stevens, when he was 6 weeks old.
They adopted Richard Hami ton Stevens, who ... wish that
you could see her stai rs. They built this beautiful home
ein Lumberton. The backyard goes down to the river and
James loved to fish and as I say, wildlife, ... One time
when i was visiting him there and mother and I were there
and he came in from his work and said, 'Come quickly, there
are about a dozen or 15 or 16 white geese, snowgeese, that
had come from the Northi, that were on the lake nearby and he
was so excited. Swans, swans, excuse me. He loved them.
Once he got them for his farm. He had a big farm, too, and
every day he'd go to a farm where he had pecans and tobacco.
That's a tobacco area down there in Lumberton, N.C., but
anyway, that's where Mary and Richard grew up. Mary was
teaching most of the time. See, she had the little boy but
she took care of him and she continued to teach French. I
didn't tell you that she and Lois Neal went to study at the
Sorbonne and then one summer, they stayed with a countess
down in southern France in a chateau where they studied
French again. They were both French teachers and students so
Mary taught for years. In fact, she just retired, I don't
remember how many years ago, but she is very much beloved in
Lumberton. In fact, the son of a former governor, Hector
Maclaine, have been elders together in the PresDyteri an
St. Andrews down to that area, they asked Mary Stevens to
head up the Committee to write the talk, you know, to urge
to choose Lumberton. Tom was working in Kenston to try to
get them to come to Kenston but they chose Laurenberg for
St. Andrew's. So Mary is still a teacher, the first woman
elder in her church and a great bridge player. Oh. she
belongs to so many bridge clubs and so many literary clubs.
She has led tours of Europe. In fact, she's been to Europe
and other countries, 41 trips that she has taken tours of
young people and adults. I have gone with her a number of
times. After Elfred Morgan's death, she asked Martha, her
sister to join her because Martha was teaching young girls,
Church. By the way, Hector Maclaine said one day, 'Mary, I
want to honor you. You have meant so much to this town of
Lumberton and to this church that I have asked for the
social room at the church and on the next Sunday of
something I want to havy a reception honoring Mary Cornelia
Stevens for all thaty,:ou've meant to all of us. And so, he
put advertisements in'the paper, pictures and all of this.
Martha went. I.was not able to go, but Martha was there and
she said, I don't think anybody will come, but oh, there
were 400 or 500 people who came to honor Mary. She is quite
a speaker. When they were trvina to brina the Colleae of
these places we've studied. Mary was the conductor and knew
the language of all the countries and Martha would work
you see, very prominent wealthy girs lrom iarn Oar'-tna
are, so Martha was teaching them history and then by
invitation, she would say come and go to Europe and see
Dr. B.: "Did her husband die?"
Sarah: "Her husband died. I can't remember just which year
Dr. B. : "Several years ago?"
Sarah: "Yes, several years ago. And Richard, her son, is
teaching in the hign school. He:'s a professor, a teacher
and he married and they have two little sons."
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those wonderful for 25 years, they have gone. They just
stopped this last year, was the first summer. The mothers
of Charleston would say, 'Martha, please don't retire. I
have one more daughter. You must stay on to take her to
Europe, you know. We've all been world travelers, world
travelers. I've traveled around the world twice. Mary has
taken all these tours. Martha has gone with her many times.
They are writing a ook now of their stories and they have
wonderful, funny and interesting stories, of the experiences
with these young people, always some adults with them, but
young people. It's been a wonderful thing. So Mary :is
still living there, very active in church and community
the prom and met his bride. All of those. It's just
fascinating to see the pictures of this son's life."
Dr. B.: "Tell us about Lois Neal."
Sarah: "Lois Neal is our little one, coming 10 years later,
wasn't she, from Martha, anyway."
Dr. B.: "December 20, 1914, yes."
Sarah: "She was a beautiful little baby and we all loved
Bunny and watched her grow. We have a picture of her about
Dr. B.: "That was the child that had the adopted child."
Sarah: "But interestingly enough, he is the member of the
whole family that is so very much interested in the history
and is bringing the general ogy up-to-date."
Dr. B.: "Well, isn 't' that fascinating!"
Sarah: "It's Very fascinating and one thing in Mary's
house, this lovely home she built when Richard was six. weeks
old, she has pictures of going up the stairs of nearly every
v=r n* him .li f. till he was married. vou see, when he had
little tatting cap on, when Papa brought the first Ford car
home that we had. He drove it in on Saturday. He had never
a year -or= *"two 'olid,'- ancdi'n oh'" Y"ne"' rnn Pn''n' nb'i5'f T- i
first Ford car. You see, that was 1914. Well, it must have
been about 1915. She was maybe just a year old, with a
and you had to get special permission for girls to go to it,
ibut living right there in the college next to it, she did
attend Davidson College and then when she grew older, she
went to Converse College, as Mary had, and graduated with
honors there and while she was there she met Ed Tennant, who
was a bachelor in Spartanburg and a very prominent man but
later when she graduated, she became Associate Dean of Women
at Mary Bal dwin i College in Stanton, Virginia and she was
there when Ed persuaded her to get married, so they were
married in Davidson at the Presbyterian Church in Davidson,
North Carolina, where we were living and lived in
Spartanburg where Ed was so well-known and where she had
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home and you said, come on take us for a ride and we went.
He put it in the garage and this next Sunday morning got out
the surrey and we all went to church in the surrey and
somebody at church said, 'Mr. Charlie, I thought you bought
a car, but I never did break a horse on Sunday and I wasn't
going to break the car in on Sunday', so after that we began
to ride in it, but that was Bunny about a year old. That's
the way I called her. That's her nickname, Bunny. I don't
know how she got it, but she's always been Bunny. So being
younger, we kind of petted Bunny a lot. We moved into
Davidson in 1918 from the f arm. She went to college one
year, I think, at the college. It was not coed at that time
graduated from coll ege and where her sister Martha was
married to Dr. Elfred Morgan, you see. So I had two sisters
then living in Spartanburg."
Dr. B.: "What di d h er husband do?"
Sarah: "Her husband was a purchasing agent at a textile
mill. There are.so many mills around there and his father
had been and accountant and a purchasing agent, so Ed was a
purchasing agent and he had graduated at Warford College,
the same college that Elfred had graduated from first. They
had four children and I read in book that 4 was the perfect
number if it came out a boy and a girl and a boy and a girl
and that it what they had. They had Edward, Jr. and then
they had Martha. Edward now had a wonderful life out of
Washington with IBM. He goes everywhere, miles and miles,
for IBM. That is Edward. And then Martha went to Mary
Baldwin and for her junior year, she went to Spain as an
exchange student and fell in love with a boy from Madrid,
but she came back and graduated from Converse College but
his young man from Madrid followed her over and they were
married in the First Presbyterian Church in Spartanburg. So
she lives in' Spain. She is now living in Barcelona, Spain
and she has a little girl, so that's Martha Tennant. Then
the next was a boy, Charles Tennant. Charles Tennant is in
Lyons, S.C.. He is now working for a big company like
Merrill Lynch. Then the youngest one is Anne Cecile and
Anne Cecile lives there in Spartanburg and is a great help
to my sister Bunny, has been a traveler too. She would die
with Mary. Mary was the first director of tours, but Bunny
loved to do it, too, so she has carried a lot of people to
China, Australia, Scotland, Europe many times and she is
just back this last year from Australia and New Zealand and
was planning to go follow Marco Polo over the Himalayans and
she got sick. She has diabetes and so this summer. We
said, we'll have to see that doctor. He just cannot let her
go. She is not able. 'Oh, yes,' she said, 'it doesn't
matter. If I die there, it'll be alright. I'm going.' But
she finally had to give up. She was with us at Montreat for
a weeK and on Saturday AM, she went into a coma, scared us
nearly to death. We were trying to get something into her.
But anyway, we call ed 911 and the medics came i mmedi ately
and we got her to Ashville. In an hour, she was back home
with us but they are having such a time getting her blood
sugar regulated. So she has given up her travels now and I
admire her. She has decided to sell her beautiful home and
go into a retirement home. I talked to her. She said I
found the apartment that I need., It's the ast one so I
won't have to go outside to the dining room and she said
there is plenty of parking, plenty of storage space around.
It has everything she wants. Martha said to her, 'Keep your
home thru Christmas. Let's have one more big Christmas.
She said, 'Oh, I'm real excited about this apartment.:' So
that's Bunny. I'm sorry to say that she is the youngest and
yet she goes to the doctor constantly checking on it,
monitoring it, of course. She's been able to give herself
the Insulin all of these years and go on these trips and we
were scared to death because she was often by herself.
She'd have a friend with her, but she's an independent soul
and a very wonderful strong person, very attractive and had
this beautiful, beautiful home and has acted in many, many
activities' of the community. So that's Bunny."
Dr. B.: "Let's go ahead and talk about you now. Tell me,
you were born in ...?"
Sarah: "1901, September 10. Notice how many Septembers.
My husband was the 5th, my mother's the 7th, my brother's
the 9th and I was the 10th. My sister Martha, October 1,
and sister Mary, October 31st, so we were all fall babies.
I was born, as we said, at the farm, in Davidson, North
Carolina, out of Davidson. That was still home. I always
said Davidson, N.C. It was a very happy home. Often,
mother would gather the group at noon and when the people
would come in to rest, we would sit on the front porch or
late in the evening and she would read Dickens. I remember
listening to mother read David Copperfield to us and
wonderful stories like that, St. Nicholas. We got St.
Nicholas and the Youth's Companion, wonderful stories that
we had, always the Bible. Sarah Melinda, the one I was
named for, when she couldn't read, would say, 'Sarah, read
to me, read to me and I'd read the Psalms, I remember to my
grandmother. So it was a very happy life. We moved into
Davidson i.n 1918. Papa said, it was to the nicest college
town that I know because of education. We had a school in
Irdle that was just a few months in the year and for about 4
years, he had sent us in a little buggy driving 6 miles
into Davidson. My brother, Tom and Martha and I, all in
this little buggy. We'd drive in 6 miles, carry some milk,
put the milk can off at the station, then we'd go to the
livery stable and park the car and we had permission to be a
little late. If we were a little late, we were not counted
tardy and so we were in the school up there. There were
only 10 grades when I graduated from the 10th grade. So the
whole class stayed out a year and went back to school and
had another year of Latin. I think I had 6 years of Latin.
We had a private teacher up on the College who taught our
class, 10 of us in the class, very small class. I was
valedictorian of the class. Jessman Brown, we were very
close, we didn't know which won was going to win out, but i
finally dic, then I graduated. from North Carolina College
for Women in G reensi borougi which was North Carolina College.
When I went, here were 700 students, 1400 when I graduated.
Now there are about 10,000. This is one of the outstanding
universities of North Carolina. When I finished, I taught
fourth grade in Gastonia, N.C. Martha, my sister, had gone
with me. We had roomed together four years. We taught
together a year in Gastonia. Then she went to New Yor:: to
Creek, Pawnee and Comanche tribes of Indians represented in
the school and of them were younger. It was an acknowledged
junior college, two years of college, because the
Southeastern University was in Durant, so they could go on
to the University from there. I taught 5 years there. In
'33, met Chris Matheson, though. Chris, my husband, had a
wonderful career in Gainesville, Fla. and had gone into the
ministry in Shawnee, Oklahoma. I was in Durant, Oklahoma,
southeastern, just 95 miles from Dallas. Red River, you
see, divides, so I could get in the car and run down to
Dallas for shopping and enjoyed Durant very much but Chris
Matheson was on the Board of the College and would come down
get her graduate work in history and I went to Richmond,
Virginia to do my graduate work in Christian education,
Bible and Christian education. I finished there in 1928.
When I finished, the F:Prsident, Dr. Walter Lingel, said,
'Sarah, I think you'd like to work with Indians.' 'I said,
'What makes you think so?' "I just do.' I said, 'Alright,
help me to get e. job, so he did and I went out to Oklahoma
'resbyterian College, OPC, in Durant Oklahoma to teach,
Bible and Christian ethics. What would that be? Christian
ethics. Anv way, we did have Choctaw, Chickasaw, Seminole,
was a bachelor and there was Sarah'Hamilton from Davidson,
North Carolina, Mary Bittinger from Virginia, Mildred Mosley
There were 3 young teachers there. I say young, compared to
they had already finished college and teaching, but Chris
married August 21, 1933, at Montreat, and.Chris said, "Here
you selected the most public place for our wedding. We said
we'd have a very quiet wedding since he had been a bachelor
and was rather quiet, dignified, wonderful gentleman. We
were married on our porch at Montreat, where 'brother played
the violin. My friend played the golden harp and my friend
from Davidson sang and Chris had 2 cousins that performed
the ceremony, so then we went on our honeymoon coming south
from North Carolina down to Columbia the capitol and then to
Charleston. He wanted to shows me the Citadel, so we
stopped at the Citadel and then to Gainesville and here his
old home town where he had lived so long. Who is this woman
thatt, %va, a-F, -/i*.A.nsi .'L\.rni,a,'z;-; cari.-.h lr;a a *i-hw-.a .hria- v. Fb'! rlt-. -.4.s *hi-,c
was partly Indian, not half, but quite a bit Choctaw and the
4 of us went around together a lot, but Chr:i.s would take the
3 of us out to dinner and to a movie, always included all 3
of us, most of the time. But I have a summer home at
Montreat, N.C. where I went in the summer. His custom had
always been to go to Montreat to the hotel for his
vacations, so that was where he pursued me. I say he
pursued me, because I said, "No, I can't marry you, you re
older than I am.:', but I liked him. He was so wonderful and
he wouldn't take no. He kept on coming and we were married
there in 1933, the 21st of August. Papa died the 23r-, up
at Montreat, I spoke of that earlier in 1919, but I was
girls in Gainesville that I had heard about, as well as
Shawnee, but anyway we were married and we had a happy
honeymoon, continuing it here in Gainesville. We went over
to the beach for several days and stayed at Aunt Ola:'s
house. She was living,-in one of Chris' homes up the street
here, where William her husband had lived. So we went back
to Shawnee, Oklahoma'where he was the minister and I was the
minister's wife there and they greeted me and fixed up the
manse. He had helped them buy a manse but they had never
used it, so now he had a wife, so we moved into the manse
and I was there in Oklahoma altogether 17 years and Chris
was there 26 years."
Dr. B. : "How many years after you married did yal stay
Sarah: "From 1933 to 1945."
Dr. B.: "Then, who lived in this house from the time Chris
left until you got back?"
Sarah: "His cousin, Adamson. J.D., James Douglas Adamson,
moved in first, and he lived here a while and then it was
rented for a few years. We gave back every year, we came
back:: to check it and so forth, but it was owned
continuously, you see. His cousin died. I don't remember
.what year he died, but James D. died, but his kin people,
Aunt Ola, lived right up the street and she would come over,
because Chris, being a bachelor, had just left barrels of
c hi na a. Peop 1e would say, What happened to Ms. Gussi e: s,
his mother s, beaut:i f u.l chi na?: Well we never knew. A
bachelor cou..d n :' t take care of everyth i neg. There were
paintings and things. He kept one room upstairs locked, but
people later on didn't care for it too much, but Aunt Ola
was the watchdog. She was over here watching and with them
and she moved things over to her house, as she could. She
took care of what she could. Well, Chris was beloved in
Shawnee, Oklahoma as he had been in Gainesville. He had a
beautiful di position. The church had a little trouble. The
minister before him had left and the church was split a
little bit, because this was the southern branch. We hadn't
united then, so there was a northern Presbyterian Church and
the southern and his church was central Presbyterian Church,
but Chris, when I knew him, was, well, even the oil men, the
roughnecki:s, loved him around the hotel. He always went to
get meals, you know. And the women where he boarded, they
were all loving Chris Miatheson and continued to. i"'Mr Word,
a very wonderful oil man, had Chris have the funeral for his
mother and then before he died, he willed to Chris the
mineral rights of certain areas there that Chris finally got
a little bit of oil money for just about the time we
retired. I was glad that he got those checks. They weren't
big ones, but he could say :'I got my oil check today, so he
was real proud of that and he a charter member of the
Kiwanis Club. And the Kiwanians were pretty rough fellows,
tight and said, 'Mr. Matheson, I'm so glad you came to see
me. I would have been greatly disappointed had you come to
Washington and not come to see me.'" So Chris had told that
little story once to one of his friends who was head of the
Savings and Loan. He never forgot it. "Chris, tell me that
story again about you and Mr. Clark and Theodore Roosevelt."
But that was something that he remembered and that was when
he was practicing law, but now he was known, all the
ministers in town. He had been president of the
Presbyterian Encampment in Indian country, you see. The
families would gather. They'd all go to this camp meeting
together and there'd be the fathers and mothers and the
%rI I In (i* i 1 .a n m na" l i 1 n I r-i t- mn ldi whnlno o 1hmi lin= Th In c;nmr -F
so they'd call on Chris for jokes. He always had a good
joke. There is one story I just tell you about this that I
have not told you before. Before he left Gainesville, Clark
was a Representative in Washi ngton and through Mr. Clark
(Chris was a great friend of his) was invited to come up to
Washington. That is. when Theodore Roosevelt was President
and so Chris went and'hfr. Clark said, you've got to meet the
President, so he arranged for him to come one morning. he
went over to the White House, the Capitol, I guess, to his
office and they had to wait a little while, but finally
Roosevelt came out and Chris is, "He just shook my hand so
you ::now and the families would De the fathers and mothers
and the pioneers or the children for a while. Finally, they
separated. Rut Chris was presi Jdent of that for _15 vear,
the Christian education thought that was different, they'd
better separate. So then they took the young people off,
starts inis' man anti nis wC-e' wn' Inviteo us n'ao there
cottage and guest house and then a place for the fishing and
Chris caught one or two fish. He was just greatly beloved
and honoree by the whole community several times. Finally,
he developed Parkinson's disease. We went to Mayo's twice.
They gave be.iia donna, I beli eve. We went to Scott White
Clinic in Tex'as. That was the Mayo of the southwest and they
used tincture of stramonium,, was what they u.sed. We went to
Oklahoma City to some special i st there. hey didn't know
any known cure i.n those days, but that was what they used,
so they'd have to adjust it to hi s. character and his system,
bu..t he his Parki:nsoni m got too much for him and he had to
resign a few years before retirement. So we kept his dear
He was a member, that summer, of the general assembly
committees on union and cooperation and I don't know what
all. H-e represented our church at the World Council of
Churches in Boston and he was Vice-President of: the American
Bible Society for 31 years, represented from Florida. That
is when he was made the representative from Florida, then
continued when he was in Oklahoma. Well, the people, when
we were married, gave us a Buick car. They kept us in cars
and we were Invited out to Colorado that first summer. I
drove the car. Chris didn't drive much, but I was the
driver and we went out to Colorado t o Queen??, which is the
Par-aise for fishing, you know, where the Rio Grande River
them a remembrance. There is a big window called the "Sarah
and Chris Matheson window' in the church there. They are
very loyal to him."
Sarah: "He was retired from 1945 to 1952. He died in '52."
Dr. B.: "And so you decided to stay on in the house?"
Sarah: "Yes, that was my home. Yes, you see, we didn't
have any children. I had a miscarriage once, but that was
our only disappointment that we didn't have any children.
So, when I was in l:orea, I adopted two sons, helped them
through school. I had a letter the other dav from onr onf
home, you know, and we came back to Gainesville at the end
of 1945, yes, in 1945."
Dr. B.: "He retired a.t -that time?"
Sarah: "Yes, at that time he retired. He still had a few
more years before he had to, but anyway, they honored him so
much in the church. They still do. I get the little
bulletin, the newsletter that they send out every month.
They had their 75th anniversary the other day and I sent
Dr. B.: "Is that right?"
them who is a minister in Sun Chun. I didn't tell you about
im-11-1 .1i -1. p M ,I p) U kLd ^.1tc t-
in. He was a lawyer and his father before him, so he had
many acres out on the Hawthorne Road. We sold some to get
the money to do the house over, because it had used been
pretty roughly for the last few years, even though Aunt Ola
had done her best and we had in the summer and we'd kept up
with the rent. So, we fix;ea the house up and, how'd I get
off on that? So then, I continued here. I did the same
thing here. I was President of the Local Women, President
of the Suwannee Presbyterian of the Presbyterian Church and
then of the President of Women of the Senate of Florida for
4 years and then I went to Korea. I got a letter one day
out of the blue one day, saying, 'Mrs. Matheson, you've been
Sarah: "I was telling you about Chris mostly there in
Shawnee. Since we didn't have children, I helped very much
in the church then. I helped with the Junior Dept. and then
I was President of the Women, got interested in the women's
work, so I president of the local women, president of the
Presbyterial and President of Women of the State of
Okl:ahoma. They gave me an honorary life membership and then
I was in, oh, AAUW, Delta Kappa Gamma and Red Cross and I
substituted some in the school. I didn't take a job, but
they'd call on me to teach anywhere from art to history to
iEngli sihi. I never knew what I had to teach. Then, we we
retired in '45, we came to Gainesville, to this dear old
h- /-i f t l 4 1, '! I,- -r I -. rX* r-. ..4- 4-L L ... 4i- 1 ._ .... :I J a_.. I ._- _
nominated for mission service.
Would you consider going
into Korea?' and that was in 1960, so I prayed that the door
would open or shut tight and it opened and I went to Korea
and taught in '60 and '61,and came back in the fall of '62."
Dr. B.: "You were over! there over two years?"
Sarah: "Yes, over two years. And that was my first Social
Security. I had never had any. That was a fringe benefit,
that I had a part of a year and a whole year and a part of a
year, so when I came back I wrote to Preacher Gordon, who
was minister at First Presbyterian, where Chris and his
father had been elders in the church here, so I wrote to the
preacher and I said, ''Preacher, I need a little part time
job to finish out the quarters to get the minimum in Social
Security.' So, he came and said, 'Sarah, would you be our
church visitor on a part-time basis. We'll give you June,
July and August off if you work from September thru May.' I
said, 'Oh, I'd love it. I've never seen a stranger. I
would just love to be a visitor.": So I started in and I am
still Church Visitor at First Presbyterian Church. They
honored me 3 years ago for 25 years and gave me a silver
bracelet that said you must have something to see and then
they gave me a check for travel or for recreation. That was
about $1,400. I found I had about that much more left over
that is going to be, I had the First Medallion, that is
going to be in the Church for the Apostles Walk and Ross
Mackenzie, my beloved minister, then said, :I want Sarah to
have the first one and I think she would like to be the
Apostle John', so I'm to have that. And now, they are just
finishing up the 12 Apostles, with Sarah:'s as the first one
and they are to be dedicated soon. I was Synodical
President for the state. After I came back from Korea,