ELISHA ALPHEUS MATNEY, the subject of this review, was among the honored and widely respected settlers of Montague county for nearly thirty years and his death removed an early settler and a man who has been identified with the frontier practically all his life. He grew up in the state of Missouri when it was new and crossed the hostile country of the red man to the borders of civilization on the Pacific coast, returning east in the early seventies and becoming a settler of Texas and Montague county in 1874. After an active and successful life of sixty-five years he passed away August 2, 1902, having made ample provision for those whom he left behind.

Elisha A. Matney was born in Haywood county, Tennessee, January 27, 1827, a son of Broadwaters Matney, who left Tennessee during the boyhood of our subject and established his family in Macon county, Missouri, where he brought up his family on the farm and from where he emigrated, with his son, to Oregon, in Jackson county, in which state he passed away about 1874. The latter married Miss Sarah McCully, and was the father of sixteen children.

The farm knew Elisha A. Matney all his long life and the rural schools of Missouri gave him a scant education. He was possessed, naturally, of an active and logical mind and a sympathetic heart and this combination brought his efforts substantial returns and won and maintained warm friendships through life. His second experience away from home was as a “forty-niner,” and he crossed and re-crossed the “Great American Desert,” as the plains were then known, six times. His first experience with the world at large was when he enlisted in the army for service in the war with Mexico. He was in thee quartermaster’s department, attached to the wagon train, and Hancock Jackson and General Sterling Price were his immediate commanders. Although his sympathies were with the south in her efforts to win independence, he did not enlist as a soldier in her armies.

Upon his return from California in 1852 he was married, October 22, in Randolph county, Missouri, to Miss Mary Mayo, a daughter of Valentine and Margaret (McCulley) Mayo. Mr. Mayo was born in Virginia, but came into Missouri from Tennessee and was married in Missouri, and died upon the place he settled. His children were: William and Jackson, who died in Missouri; Jane, who married William McCulley and resides in Howard county, Missouri; Thomas, who died in Nebraska; Rev. Samuel Balso died in Nebraska; Mary, wife of our subject; Isaac, who passed away in Arkansas, and Sarah, wife of John Cockrell, of Nebraska.

Having brothers on the Pacific coast and being urged on to thither by his father, who wished to be among his sons, Mr. Matney settled up his affairs, loaded his wagons and joined a caravan on the Missouri river en route across the plains. There were from forty to forty-eight wagons on the train and they followed up Platte river, crossed the mountains and traversed Green and Snake rivers and across the mountains in Idaho into Oregon to their destination in Jackson county, eight miles from Jacksonville. Mr. Matney was not pleased with that country and remained only one season, going thence to California, and locating in Shasta county. He followed agriculture on the coast and after spending four years in California he decided to return “to the States” and he reached Arkansas after months of travel, without his family, who subsequently came to him by rail, and in that state he remained until his advent to Texas. He chose a spot near Queen’s Peak, in Montague county, and in 1877 purchased twelve hundred and ninety-seven acres of the Philpott and Connor survey, which he occupied, improved, cultivated and divided among his wife and children before his death.

Elisha A. Matney was a man who practiced the teachings of the golden rule. He liked friends, welcomed everybody to his home and turned no man away from his door hungry. He belonged to no society or organization and was always just plain Matney, as he often said.

Mr. and Mrs. Matney’s children to reach maturity were: Iantha, wife of Charles Berry, who died June 11,1897, leaving a son, George; William P., born in Macon county, Missouri, February 19, 1860, resides on a part of the home place with his wife, nee Lizzie Boone, whom he married December 16, 1900. Mrs. Matney, Jr., was a daughter of Needham A. Boone and Sarah Smith, of Bosque county, Texas, and their other children are: James A., William R. and Clara, deceased. Ida, the second daughter, is the wife of J. E. Walthall, of Bowie, and John T., of Hansford county, Texas, is the youngest and is married to Edna Crawhorn, his children being: James, Virgil, John T. and Mary Edna.

Elisha Matney and his posterity have filled a niche in the industrial fabric of Montague county. The founder of the family has finished his work and gone to his reward, yet he has left his imprint upon the heads of families of succeeding generations that only time can efface.

Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 428-429.