JOE MATTHEWS

Brady and San Angelo Newspapers
1936

    Funeral services wee held Sunday afternoon at 2:30 o'clock in Menard for Judge Joe Matthews, erstwhile pioneer resident of Brady and since 1911 one of the most prominent and well-loved citizens of Menard.  Judge Matthews succumbed Saturday afternoon at 3:15 o'clock at the Brady hospital to a heart attack, within a few hours after he had been brought here from his Menard home.  He had been in bad health for several weeks past.  the funeral cortege left Broad Funeral Home at 5:00 o'clock Saturday evening for Menard.  Services Sunday afternoon were at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Joe Flack, the latter a sister of the deceased, and with the Rev. J. T. McCaa, minister of Brady Episcopal Church, in charge.  Interment was made in the new Menard cemetery.
    The great concourse of friends assembled for the last rites, attested to the popularity of Judge Matthews, and the high esteem in which he was universally held.  Besides the large number of Brady and Menard friends, there were assembled mourning and sympathizing friends from Mason, Fredericksburg, Sonora, Eden, Paint Rock, San Angelo and many intermediate points.
    Judge Matthews, together with his mother, the late Mrs. E. E. Matthews, his brother and his sister, came to Brady from Lampasas in 1893.  Mr. Matthews first engaged in the law business in partnership with Joe A. Adkins.  He also served here one term as county attorney; then he took up the fire insurance business, in which he continued until 1911, at which time he and his brother, Jim, bought the Peg Leg ranch in Menard County, and where they made their home since.
    Judge Matthews was a man of forceful character, straightforward, with decided views and opinions, yet of jovial disposition and of an agreeable nature that made firm friends of all with whom he came in contact.  To whatever he turned his hand, he believed in doing the job well.  among his many achievements, probably the most outstanding, and one in which he took the greatest of pride and satisfaction, was the magnificent new courthouse at Menard, and which was built during his regime as county judge.
    The following tribute paid to his life and memory is reprinted from the Sunday morning edition of the San Angelo Times:
    Judge Joe Matthews, 66, died of heart disease in Brady hospital Saturday afternoon.  County Judge for 10 years, he and his brother Jim owned the Peg Leg farm and ranch about 14 miles out from Menard on the Hext road.  He leaves his widow; three sisters, Mrs Joe Flack, and Mrs. Earnest Abbot of Menard; Mrs. E. S. Noble of San Angelo; a brother, Jim Matthews.
    Judge Matthews was county judge of Menard /county by appointment after the death of the late J. D. Suggs, and held that office until 1933, when he was not a candidate for re-election.  Prior to that time he had served as commissioner.  The riverside ranch where he and his brother and their wives lived kept the latch string on the outside all the time for their friends, and there were frequent week-end visitors.  Judge Matthews was an expert farmer and made money when others failed.  He was regarded as one of the most interesting conversationalists in the state and many people from all over Texas used to stop by his office in the old courthouse, now torn down, and chat with him
Once a man accused of violating some game law came in.  Judge Matthews doubted if the man were guilty and told him he planned to free him.  Said the man, "You know who i am," and detailed his important position.  "That makes no difference to me, if it were a broke Mexican, I would do the same for him, justice is justice."
    When he became county judge he began to build schools and put them up all over the county, building many without bond issues.  He did not like bonds, thought people should pay as they go.  When he was commissioner he had been the same sort of man.  A good road man, he built bridges, converted the old cotton yard which surrounded the courthouse into the handsomest park in the Southwest.  Then he built the new courthouse at a cost of $100,000, people saying the county got more for its money than any other which had built such a building.  Always willing to  learn from others he and the commissioners made a tour of the state to look at other courthouses and built into the Menard County structure the best features of all.  He quit the office of county judge because he wanted to get back to his farm and he had stayed there most of his time.  In the last few months, however, he began to come to town more than before.  He had been in this county 22 years.
    Born in Mississippi in 1868, Judge Matthews moved with his parents to Palo Pinto County, Texas, in 1874.  His grandfather, J. W. Matthews, after whom he was named, served as governor of Mississippi in 1848-1849,  J. H. Matthews, his father, served with the Oxford Grey in the Confederate Army four years, going in as a lieutenant and coming out as a captain,  He was wounded at Harper's Ferry.
    When a boy at Lampasas, Judge Matthew's father, encouraged him to be a lawyer, but the calling had little appeal for his son; however, he consented to his father's wishes and studied law in the office of a Lampasas law firm.
    When the call came to move westward he fell in the line of migrators but stopped when he arrived at Brady, then a small inland town that appeared to offer possibilities.  There he engaged in the practice of law until 1903.  He was married to Miss Laura Morgan of Lampasas soon after going to Brady.
    The talk of a railroad and the rapid influx of land buyers offered new opportunities for Judge Matthews.  He established a real estate and fire insurance business and made a success of the venture from the start.
    As Judge has expressed it, the bottom fell out of everything and he was left holding an empty sack.  That was in the spring of 1911-his brother, Jim, had sold the Brady Sentinel and the two families were free to move.
    A deal was made for the Peg Leg farm on the San Saba River east of Menard.  With teams and wagons they set out for their new homes, pitching camp on the river bank until a house could be constructed.
    A few years ago the Matthews brothers build a fine home which is modern in every respect.  They constructed a concrete dam across the San Saba and used water from the lake to irrigate their fields.  A camp house, shaded by hugh pecan trees, afforded pleasure for those who like to spend their week-end vacations in the country, attracted hundreds of visitor through the summer months.

Brady and San Angelo Newspapers
1936
Submitted by: Louann Hall