Biography of Bruce S. Matthews
Mahoning County, OH Biographies

BRUCE S. MATTHEWS, a successful farmer and extensive breeder of Delame sheep, with which industry he has been identified almost since boyhood, owns 165 acres of fine land, which is situated in Boardman township, about five miles measuring south from the Diamond in Youngstown. He was born in a log house then standing on his present farm in Boardman township, Mahoning County, Ohio, May 1, 1846, his parents being Thomas and Cynthia (Shannon) Matthews.

The Matthews family has an interesting history and is one of the old and substantial families of this part of Ohio. The grandparents of Brtice S. Matthews were Thomas and Jane (McClurg) Matthews, well known names in County Down, Ireland, where they were born. Thomas Matthews followed the trade of stone mason in Ireland until after his marriage and the birth of one child, when he decided to emigrate to America, where he hoped to better his condition. In 1813, accompanied by his family, he took passage on a sailing vessel, which safely landed its voyagers at Castle Garden, New York, in July, after a passage of six weeks. Mr. Matthews proceeded to Pittsburg, where he worked at his trade for about a year, and afterwards at other points up to 1822, when he came to Poland, Mahoning County, where there was much work in his line to he done at that time. Thomas Matthews built the abutments of the old Poland bridge, which stood until within three years ago. He died at Poland, aged 8o years, and was buried in the old buryingground here.

After the death of her husband, Mrs. Jane Matthews moved to Sheakleyville, Pennsylvania, where she died in advanced age. Their daughter, Ann Jane, who had been born in Ireland, married in America John Wishard. Five more children were born in the United States, the eldest of these being Thomas, father of Bruce S. whose birth occurred August 17, 1813, at Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania, six weeks after the family reached there, the site being that of the old garrison. He accompanied his parents when they made the overland journey to Poland, and when his father died he went to live with Richard Hall. Mr. Hall found in him a youth he could trust and his reliability was proved when he was sent alone, with a six horse team and a load of clover seed, from Poland to Buffalo, New York, where he transacted his business and returned within the specified time, bringing back a load of salt. He remained with Mr. Hall until he attained his majority.

On December 29, 1841, Thomas Matthews was married to Cynthia Shannon, who was born in Youngstown township, Mahoning County, Ohio, April 18, 1824. Her father, Major John Shannon, an officer in the war of 1812, was born in Ireland, came to America and settled first at Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, but later moved to Youngstown. After his marriage, Thomas Matthews resided for a short time in Poland township, where he rented farming land, and then bought, in 1844, the farm now owned by his sons, from Dr. Wick. At that time all this surrounding country was heavily timbered, but a two story hewn log cabin stood on the place, which had been built in 1811. This remained the family home until the winter of 1863, when the present commodious ten room frame dwelling was erected. In this home Thomas Matthews died, June 2, 1883. He was survived a number of years by his widow, her death occurring November 21, 1896. They were people of real worth and their lives were connected closely with the growth of the section in which they lived for so many years. They reared a family of six children, the two survivors being Bruce Shannon and Charles Wick. Those deceased were: William S.; Ellen Jane, who died April 1, 1855; Ella Day, who died December 16, 1863; and Cora Cynthia, who died at Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, January 29, 1866.

Dr. William S. Matthews, the eldest brother of Bruce S. Matthews, was born October 30, 1843, practiced medicine at Youngstown, and died May 9, 1888. When but 17 years of age he entered the Federal service as a member of Company I, 60th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, was made orderly sergeant and for unusual bravery was promoted to the rank of lieutenant and then to that of captain. The particular occasion which brought promotion so rapidly was told at the time in the public press, but will well bear repeating. In a charge on a fort one of the members of his company, of which he was then lieutenant, was wounded so that he could not escape with his comrades. When Lieutenant Matthews realized the danger of his companion, he quickly called for volunteers to assist him to carry the wounded soldier from in front of the enemy's fire to a place of safety. One man, Andy Barger, a private, was the brave comrade who, with Lieutenant Matthews, faced the bullets whistling around their ears, and safely conveyed the helpless soldier to the breastworks of the Union lines. It was so valorous a deed that the Confederates could not restrain their admiration and set up a great cheer which united with that of all who witnessed this act of devotion. Both participants received well deserved promotion.

Bruce Shannon Matthews was reared in his native township and went to school in an old log log house which stood in the woods. Its furnishings were rough hewn logs with wooden pins driven in for seats, while the desks. were built along the walls, a slanting plank resting on more wooden pegs. At first a fireplace gave heat to the loosely built building, but later a hugh cannon stove was installed. Nevertheless Mr. Matthews can remember when the children would frequently find the floor covered with ice and no winter passed without many hapless little ones getting frozen feet. As far as he was concerned, he was given little time to attend school, work always pressing on the farm, and before he reached man's estate he had done a large amount of clearing. His father was a large sheep grower also, and from his boyhood he has been having experience in this line. For 17 years he has stood in sheep pens at county fairs, exhibiting fine specimens. He makes a specialty of raising the Delaine strain, keeping about 200 head.

In 1871, Mr. Matthews went out with a paty of surveyors who were working in the interest of a railroad. His idea was to spend a few days with the party, more for experience than anything else, but he remained out for two years, working between the lake and the Ohio River. He was recalled to the farm by his father's failing health, and has remained in Boardman township ever since. Few men are better or more favorably known. He has done business with the larger number of farmers all over Mahoning County, and they are ready to affirm their respect for him as an honest, fair dealing man.

On February 28, 1888, Mr. Matthews was married to Myrtle Harris, who was born on her father's farm in Boardman township, and is a daughter of Hamilton and Candace (McFarlin) Harris. Hamilton Harris, now living retired in Youngstown, was born in Coitsville township, Mahoning County, Ohio, July 11, 1833, and was married in April, 1857, to Candace McFarlin, who was born in Coitsyule township, May 23, 1831, and died August 8, 1874. They had six children, three of whom died young. Those living are: Myrtle (Mrs. Matthews), William, and Minnie. Mr. and Mrs. Matthews have one child, Jessie Harris, who is attending the Boardman High School.

Mr. Matthews, like his father, has always been a strong supporter of the principles of the Republican party. He has served three terms as township trustee. His father served as second lieutenant of the old home militia company. Mr. Matthews and family belong to Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church at Youngstown.

20th Century History of Youngstown
and Mahoning County, Ohio and
Representative Citizens,
Edited and compiled by Gen. Thos. W. Sanderson
Youngstown, Ohio
Biographical Publishing Company
Chicago, Illinois 1897

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