Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Leonard Matthews' Obituary

Leonard Matthews Dies at 102; ‘49er, Druggist and Broker

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

May 6, 1931

Succumbs to Series of Heart Attacks – Continued Supervision of Garden Until Last Fall.

Leonard Matthews, 102 years old, died last night at his home, 5447 Cabanne avenue, where he had lived for more than 40 years, and there his family had gathered on his 100th and other birthdays. A series of heart attacks, which had kept him in bed for a month, caused death. Arrangements for the funeral, to be held probably tomorrow afternoon, are awaiting word from members of the family at a distance.

Mr. Matthews, who was one of the ‘49ers of the California gold rush which followed the Mexican War, spent most of his mature life in St. Louis, and was in the drug business, retail and wholesale, and then in brokerage. In 1890 he settled in the Cabanne avenue home. There he devoted himself to his garden, which become one of the city’s show places, and to study and writing.

23 Great-Grandchildren.

The Matthews homestead, still unusually spacious for a city estate, was nearly three times as large until, a few years ago, the pressure of apartment builders became irresistible. The frontage of 316 feet was cut to the present 106 feet. Mr. Matthews continued his garden work and supervision up to last fall. Since his 100th year his sight and hearing had been somewhat impaired.

He is survived by fours sons, three daughters, 23 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren. The sons are William N. Nisbet of St. Louis, Edmund Orville Matthews of Nogales, Ariz.; Leonard Jr. and Claude L. Matthews of St. Louis. The daughters are Mrs. Robert Lee Morton of St. Louis, Mrs. Saunders Norvell of Larchmont, N. Y., and Mrs. William L. Chambers of St. Louis. A sister of Mr. Matthews, Mrs. D. C. Gamble, died nearly three years ago.

During his business life, Mr. Matthews often related, he learned to eat sparingly, as he found that a heavy lunch meant an afternoon headache. He never used tobacco, but he drank “all sorts of liquor,” though not to excess, in a time when merchants and bankers commonly treated their customers on the premises. He attributed his long life to his regular habits.

Descendant of Huguenots.

Leonard Matthews was born Dec. 17, 1828, in Baltimore. His parentage, in both lines, went back to the Huguenots, whom King Louis XIV drove from France, by revoking the edict of Nantes, in the seventeenth century.

At the time of his birth John Quincy Adams was near the end of his single term as President of the United States, and Andrew Jackson had been elected to succeed him. The slavery question had been settled “forever” by the Missouri compromise of 1820-21. Abraham Lincoln was a Indiana youth of 19. Construction of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad was begun in that year. Morse’s telegraph line was 16 years in the future.

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