Biography of Dr. William R. Mathews
Lake County, CA Biographies





MATHEWS, WILLIAM RANDOLPH, M. D. (deceased.) Was of English, Scotch and German descent, his English and Scotch ancestors having settled in the Southern Colonies before the Revolution, and taken part with the rebels in the wild warfare of that period. His father was a Baptist minister, and William Randolph, the second son, was born at Covington, Kentucky, opposite Cincinnati, November 10, 1809. He afterwards moved to Ohio, lived awhile at Chillicothe, and was a foreman in the work on the Wabash and Erie Canal. Removing to Indiana, he taught school near Rushville, and located at Shelbyville, where he was married to Martha Jane Meloy. Having engaged in a course of study with Dr. Morris at Shelbyville, he procured a medical library and moved west, settling in southwest Missouri, where he engaged in the practice of medicine in Green and Polk Counties. Dr. Mathews was among the early settlers of Lower Lake. Having crossed the plains in 1854, and imported some thoroughbred stock, he procured a band of California horses and formed a partnership with his nephew, C. N. Copsey, for raising draft horses, a business which they continued for many years. The land claim on which he lived at the time of his death was bought in 1854, and he brought out his family from Missouri, in 1856. As no regular schools were then organized in the Clear Lake country, he removed with his family to Yountville, Napa County, where he engaged in the practice of medicine. He represented Napa County, then including Lake, in the Legislature of 1858, and was the Democratic candidate for the Senate from this district at the following term, but Henry Edgerton, his opponent, was elected. Having removed to Lake in 1860, he was at the special election in 1861 elected County Clerk, and assisted in organizing the most economical county government in the State. Dr. Mathews always owned and conducted a farm, and gave much of his time to agricultural pursuits, and was at various times engaged in commercial and manufacturing enterprises, but with indiffernt success. He never graduated from any college, commencing life in the Western States when educational facilities were limited, and depending on his own resources for a livelihood. From a sense of honor and a peculiar idea of propriety he refused the degree of M. D., which was tendered him by Dr. McDowell's Medical College. He at one time conducted a private class in the study of medicine, and his students passed their degrees at the medical college at St. Louis. He always held the highest regard for the authority of the medical schools, and was himself always a hard student, keeping abreast with the medical literature of the day, but he regarded the distinction of being a a self made man as an honor equal to any which could be conferred by an institution of learning. He never sought for or desired any higher recognition of his professional skill than was afforded by his own abundant success as a practitioner. He was generally on intimate terms and friendly relations with his acquaintances in the faculty, and only abandoned the practice of medicine as a business when his years and infirmities called for rest. In the duties of his professional life a generous and charitable disposition ever stood in the way of his financial success, and he always regarded it as an honorable privilege and duty to minister, to the wants of the poor and friendless. Politically, Dr. Mathews was a Democrat, having always worked earnestly for that organization since the dissolution of the Whig party at the election of Harrison and Tyler. He took a deep interest in all local enterprises: educational, charitable, and political, and too often made a personal sacrifice to promote the success of such undertakings. He was possessed of strong passions, but made it a rule of life and honor to keep them within due bounds. He was of a steady, muscular temperament, and capable of great endurance. Having a resolute disposition he was a vigilant foe, and a true and faithful friend. The traits of his character were moral, but not distinctively religious. Of a dignified demeanor, urbane and sociable, he placed a high value on a good reputation; and elevation and refinement of feeling, dignity and honor, were among the personal qualities which he most admired and esteemed among men. In his last years he was affected with paralysis. Dr. Mathews died at his homestead near Lower Lake, October 6, 1880, after a lingering illness.

From:
History of Napa and Lake Counties, California
Slocum, Bowen & Co., Publishers
San Francisco, California 1881


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