Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Close Encounters Of The Best Kind

May 29 in a Many Things Thursday post, From A Simple Postcard, I wrote about a postcard I had found in an antiques store in Missoula, Montana. I took the postcard and researched its owner, Grace Mathewson, and her family.

While wandering the web, Andy Graybeal bumped into that article. Andy is Grace's nephew, the son of her older sister Alice. Andy is an illustrator and designer in Mountain View, California, and authors a blog called Andy's Random Recollections, described as a memoir with periodic updates, beginning at the bottom. The blog is filled with information and photographs. My favorite post is, Required Reading: Random Recollections while I Still Remember Anything, which includes a photograph of E.P. Mathewson holding Andy.

Andy wrote to Shades and very kindly filled in more of the blanks for our readers.

What a surprise to see this blog! Grace was the second child of Edward and Alice Mathewson. Her sister Alice, the eldest, was my mother.

Grace was Miss Personality of the family when eligible young men were invited to call. My dad, Edward V. Graybeal, another young mining engineer, came to call on one of these occasions and when he came into the room, my mother whispered to Grace, "This one's MINE!"

What an amazing discovery! I wonder if her daughter Barbara overlooked the stash of postcards when cleaning out Grace's home on Brook Street. Incidentally, Grace's daughter Barbara and son Dave are still around.

Grandpa Mathewson left a whole shelf full of photo albums-pictures of mining and smelting operations in South America and Mexico taken in the early 20th century. I turned them over to the U of Arizona when we cleaned out our mother's garage. I have copies of the photos of more general interest.

Grandpa was responsible for many improvements on the basic reverberatory furnace used in copper smelting. At the time he was GM of the Washoe Reduction Works, he could boast of the lowest cost per ton in the production of copper metal.

We have an album full of post cards from trips as well. His last contract was in 1936-'37 for a smelter near to Hong Kong. He had colleagues in Japan dating from an earlier job in 1923 whom he visited on the way over. They advised him to discourage the Chinese from building the plant as war drums were indicating it would be captured by and used for the Japanese war machine. He convinced his clients of the veracity of this warning. Grandpa died in Tucson in July of 1948.

Grace . . . lived in Missoula all her adult life and was, before she died at 97 the oldest living alumna of the U of Montana, having graduated in 1916.

Edward Payson Mathewson, (Grandpa to me,) as you discovered was the general manager of the Washoe Reduction Works in Butte. The family lived in Anaconda.

Alice Mathewson, (Grandma) had six children, Alice, Grace, Gertrude, Margaret (died in infancy) Mary Elizabeth and Edward Jr. They were originally from Montreal,and EPM, upon graduating from McGill University, sought employment as a metallurgist and started an illustrious career in that field at Pueblo (CO) Smelting Co. in the assay office.

It was in Pueblo where Alice and Grace were born. E.P.Mathewson worked for the Amalgamated Copper Company, later the Anaconda Copper Co. for 14 years. He became general manager of what was then the largest smelter in the world and developed improvements on the reverberatory furnaces which could run 24/7 even during maintenance, leading to the lowest cost for extracting copper in the industry.

He was also sympathetic to the plight of the workers and was at odds with the owners and their anti-union tactics. His departure from that job had much to do with his position.

His profession took him and sometimes the entire family to such places as Chile, Peru, Mexico, Burma, Japan and China. He served as president of the American Institute of Mining & Metallurgical Engineers in 1923 while an independent consultant in New York City before retiring in Tucson, AZ as a professor of mining administration at the U. of Arizona.

Andy, what a wealth of information you possess. Thank you for sharing this with us. Please keep writing!

I do have one question for you. Do you have any information about the fire at the Arlington Hotel in Santa Barbara? I would love to know more about what happened.

~ Wander The Web ~
You Never Know Who You Might Bump Into


Blogger Becky Wiseman said...

Cool. Such a neat story. Your research into the family paid off and another connection made!

July 16, 2008 at 1:49 PM  
Blogger Family Curator said...

Your "Mathewson" note really caught my eye, as I have been working on a family line from Mercy Mathewson of Rhode Island born about 1798, daughter of Benjamin Mathewson. If you have connections to RI, perhaps we're cousins!

July 16, 2008 at 2:36 PM  
Blogger Lidian said...

What a wonderful story - and once again you have made a fabulous connection!

July 16, 2008 at 3:44 PM  
Blogger Andy said...

In reply to Denise L., My Mathewsons are probably not closely related to the R.I. family-maybe only distantly in Ireland. James Mathewson of Ardstraw, Co. Tyrone, had two families during his long lifetime. James was born in 1727 and various dates are given for his death but most likely 1828.

I checked the Mathewson list and can't find either Benjamin or Mercy Mathewson so perhaps we have only the name in common. Many of the emigre Mathewsons in our family headed for Canada, Halifax NS or Montreal PQ. I'd be happy to share the list if you would find it useful. Andy Graybeal.

August 6, 2008 at 8:16 PM  
Blogger Family Curator said...

A note to Andy,
I agree that our Mathewsons are probably not closely related. Mine came from England, I believe, and the earliest were here about 1767 in Johnston, RI. Benjamin Mathewson married Amey Brown, their children were Mercy, Janisha, Ashahel, Martin. Amey remarried to Josiah French. I am working on that end of the family line, so I don't have much more right now, but one never knows where things will lead!

August 7, 2008 at 4:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On a visit with my father, he showed me a printed version of your blog given to him by a friend in Missoula. Of course, we were fascinated by the narrative and the following comments. My Dad is David Mathewson Streit, born in Missoula Nov. 18, 1923 to Norman Church Streit and Grace Mathewson Streit. Dad attended Missoula schools including the University of Montana until the start of the war. He always had a fascination with flying, an interest his parents disapproved of. He once carried gasoline in ten gallon cans to fill the wing tanks of a barnstormer in order to get a ride at the end of the day. Punishment was meted out with a lilac bush switch. Nevertheless, Dad went on to a 31 year career as a pilot with Continental Airlines starting out flying DC-3's in Texas and Colorado and retired as a DC-10 captain on the South Pacific routes. He flew for a Continental subsidiary called Air Micronesia introducing regularly scheduled jet air service to Pacific Trust Territory islands like Kawjelin, Truk, Guam, Siapan and others that filled the newspaper headlines during WWII. Dad lives in Missoula again and is busy with the Missoula Carousel project and U of M Grizzly athletics.

To the best of our recollection Grace's siblings were Alice, Betty, Getrude and Edward. He doesn't recall a Mary but there was a child that died in infancy.

December 27, 2008 at 6:57 PM  
Blogger Andy said...

It's been nearly a year since checking the Mathewson name and low and behold, first thing on the list was this blog! I'm very gratified on this Thanksgiving having our family together around the table. Our daughter Michele, the culinary adventurer, treated us to turkey with all the trimmings, Mexican style. Delicious! She got the menu on line.

The comment about David Mathewson Streit was illuminated a branch of Grace's family that I had little information about beyond the 1930s when our two families had more contact. It didn't surprise me that Davey took up flying. It was one of the things that young men of the day were attracted to. I knew that Davey flew for Continental. My brother Jim loved to fly and had a distinguished career in the Air Force following WWII. Davey's sister Barbara was very close to her Aunt Betty as were we, so most of the news of the Streit clan was through her. I'd like for Davey's "anonymous" to get in contact.

Grandma and Grandpa Mathewson's children did include that one child who died in infancy, an all too familiar occurrence of those times. E.P. Mathewson had four brothers and two sisters who lived to maturity, but there were seven siblings who died in infancy or childhood. Great Grandma Amelia was married at age 22, pregnant much of her life, but she lived to age 74. What a different life people lead these days.

November 29, 2009 at 7:27 PM  

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