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Amanda Tate Allen and John Makemie Matthews

Family history and stories

Amanda was 43 when John died in September, 1890. Their children were the following ages:
Mary Tate (16), Allen (14), Sloan (10), Claude (6), Morton (4), Walter (1).
Soon after John died, Tate was sent to a girl's finishing school at Lebanon, Tennessee, to complete her schooling.
Allen was the second oldest child and the oldest son. At the age of 14 he became the "man" of the family. Allen had apparently become a skilled cowboy, and Sloan looked up to him.
Tate returned home from Tennessee, and married Rial Barnett, Jr. "one Sunday morning after church services on December 18, 1892, in the Spring Creek schoolhouse..." His father was Judge Rial Barnett, and Rial Jr. was later elected to a judgeship at Fort Davis.
Tate's first child was a boy named Rial Allen. Her second child and first daughter was Ethel Tate, whom we have quoted extensively in this book. She was born in early 1896, and knew her grandmother Amanda Matthews for the first 10 years of her life. The following paragraphs are from her:
"Young ladies were expected to be proficient in at least some of the accomplishments such as music, art, and fancy needlework. Grandma Matthews had been well trained in all three and Mama had the benefit of her teaching. I well remember the many beautiful oil paintings that hung on the walls of her home, both landscapes and portraits of members of her family. There was a life- sized portrait of Mama at seven years of age--her golden curls framing her face and her little skirt reaching about halfway between her knees and ankles with the pantalettes with embroidered ruffles showing below.
"During the years, Grandma made an effort to improve her herd of cattle by buying better bulls; some of which she sent to Missouri for. I remember one roan colored Durham cow that was turned over to Papa and Mama for a milch cow because she was a better milker than the Hereford cows, to furnish milk and butter for their family of children."
"Seeing that we had plenty of milk and butter was not the only thing for which we were indebted to Grandma, for it was she who saw to it that pictures of the children were taken a few months after the birth of each child -- or after the second child, so in later years, we had a pictorial story of the growing family."
"Although we lived about an equal distance from both grandmothers ... it was to Grandma Matthews' house that we most enjoyed going. We lumped Mama's four brothers into one endearing term--that of "Uncle Boys" rather than go to the trouble of naming each one individually, for we always thought of them collectively. Grandma had been in rather poor health since the birth of her youngest son, Walter, so the boys did all the housekeeping, cooking, etc. No trouble was too great to go to for "Tate's children." They could see us coming for a half mile; the two youngest in our little red wagon with Mama and the "middle group" bringing up the rear. By the time we got there "uncle boys" had a fire going in the cook stove, a cake stirred up in a dish pan and spoons ready for each of us to "clean up the pan," which we soon did. In the fall and winter there were always lots of pecans for us to crack on the large stone hearth in front of the fireplace in Grandma's room, with Grandma looking on lovingly from her bed or a comfortable rocking chair. I remember her as a very sedate, kind and dignified person with never a severe expression on her face or in her tone of voice. On a Saturday afternoon in Summer Papa would often bring a large piece of ice home from Talpa and freezer after freezer of ice cream would be made in the yard west of the house ..."
"The "English" in Grandma came out in her love for her cup of hot tea. She did not believe that tea was good for children, however, and when we begged for a cup she would mix a cup of hot water with milk and color it with a little tea; put in a little sugar and call it 'teakettle tea." Later, after we started to school, we never left home on a cold morning without our cup of teakettle tea."
"Although Grandma's main source of income was from cattle, her favorite meat was mutton contrary to the taste of most ranchmen. I remember hearing her tell of men who would travel through the country, kill a beef regardless of to whom it belonged, cut a large chunk out of a hindquarter and leave the balance on the ground for the wolves.
"We kids loved to be at Grandma's in the evening... and have (Uncle Boys) chase and catch lightning bugs with us, although, being the teenager boys they were, their favorite sport was to rope us as we ran by them. Their fun came to an abrupt end one afternoon when Uncle Sloan's rope settled on my shoulders and I failed to stop as he expected me to and consequently, got a bad rope burn on my neck. This was the only time I remember seeing her show anger. She gave him a good lecture on how to play with little girls."
"We older children gathered buffalo horns out in Grandma's pasture, especially near the "buffalo wallows" which in times past had been the bedding grounds of great herds of buffalo. The large depressions formed by them afterwards became watering places; sometimes being deepened to form surface tanks, holding water for the rancher's cattle"
When John and Amanda arrived in Coleman County in 1881 and began ranching, everyone ran longhorn cattle and the native grasses grew "as high as the belly of a horse." The land eventually became overgrazed, and where it used to support one cow per three acres, it now requires 15-25 acres to support a cow.
Once the range was fenced and the railroad provided an easy way to get cattle to market, short horn beef cattle were imported to improve the stock. Amanda was one of the ranchers who imported bulls from back East.
"(After 1900) the county went into a colonization period in which the large ranches were gradually broken up and sold out in small farm homesteads. During this period train loads of emigrants came into Coleman County to purchase farm homes and grow cotton."
I know from Sloan's writing and from listening to my granddaddy, Walter Matthews, that both of these Matthews boys loved ranching and had no interest at all in becoming farmers. Claude and Morton probably felt the same way.
Ethel told a wonderful story which illustrates their feelings: "After Papa and Mama were married, he tried to help the boys farm, but gave it up as impossible when he caught them trying to pick cotton from horseback!"
By the early 1900's, Sloan was in his twenties and had left home. His memoirs tell about a lot of cattle drives he was on and about breaking broncos for different ranchers. By going farther West, Sloan had found ranching country again.
The Matthews brothers wanted to move farther west in Texas, and their mother agreed to make the change. On June 27, 1905, Amanda wrote her will. Amanda Matthews subdivided the bulk of her ranch into 19 parcels and advertised them in newspapers back East. The plat of the "Mrs. A. T. Matthews Subdivision" was recorded 14 February 1906. By April, she had sold 5 of the 19 parcels.
In the spring of 1906, Claude, Morton and Walter Matthews were at home, and Sloan was in Garden City, Texas, where his mother owned some cattle. He received word that she was seriously ill with pneumonia and rushed home.
Amanda Tate Allen Matthews died on 7 April 1906 at the age of 56 and is buried next to her husband in the Talpa Cemetery.
In Amanda's will, she specified that the children's inheritance not be divided up until Walter had reached age 21. So the heirs leased most of the land that they were to receive, and the boys went west.
Walter later said that he and his brothers left Talpa en route west in the spring of 1906. They stopped and worked for a year in the Garden City area where his mother had owned some livestock before going on into the Glass Mountains in Pecos and Brewster counties where they worked as cowhands.
A man named George Andrew Yaeger had contracted for Blocks 19, 2, and 3 of Amanda's 19-block subdivision several months before she died but the sale was not yet final. The Matthews house was on this land, and Mr. Yaeger moved his wife Emily, his 10 minor children, and his married son John and his wife into the Matthews house. They lived there from 1906 to 1909 then moved to Oklahoma. (John Yaeger returned to Dalton, GA.) This passage is important to our family history because Claude Matthews married Fannie Yaeger and Walter Matthews married Flora Yaeger.
In 1907, when Walter was 18, the estate was settled. Amanda's will instructed that each of her five children was to receive 1/5 of the land and cattle, and each one of the four boys was to receive "one fourth of my horses, mules, machinery, farming tools, one bed stead, one feather bed with bedding, and one fourth of my pictures." Amanda specified that Walter was to receive "all household goods not given to the other children."
Tate's inheritance was separated from the other property, and she bought another piece of land from her brothers. The boys owned the remainder of the land jointly and sold the blocks off one by one over the years. In October 1911, the boys mortgaged the unsold 9 blocks of Amanda's subdivision; Walter bought his first ranch with his share of the proceeds of the loan. The last piece was sold off about 1913.
(By the way, the first oil man arrived in Coleman County in 1912, and the Matthews ranch now has pumping wells on it.)

Sloan was an eyewitness, and wrote:

"When I was 10 years old my Father died and one September morning, one year later, my brother Allen took three of us south and commenced driving cattle up Spring Creek. He had the drive stopped three miles from the corral and was busy cutting some out. An unbranded yearling heifer tried to come out near me, and I was circling it around the roundup holding my own by riding full speed when I heard Allen say, "Turn it in, Sloan." His tones were kindly and I knew he realized I would need help. They were his last words. Looking back, I saw him following me. The yearling went behind my horse and the knees of Allen's horse hit it in the side. I saw it all. His horse tried to jump it but it caught him with all four of his feet off the ground. I have never seen such a fall except when a horse jumps a strong fence and falls. The horse's head never touched the ground. Allen stayed in the saddle. I remember it as well as though it were yesterday; In fact there has never been a day since then when I have not thought of it. I saw them both off the ground. Allen in the saddle and the horse's legs sticking straight up in the air. They came to the ground and rolled over once. The horse got half way up before Allen left the saddle on the right side. His neck was broken and his back crushed ...
"The shock to my widowed Mother was pitiful and I sitting beside her grieving for our beloved Allen, I wondered what had become of that happy carefree life I had been living a short time before." Joe Allen is buried next to his father in the Talpa Cemetery.
Tate was in school in Tennessee when she received word of the death of her fifteen-year-old brother Allen. Ethel wrote, "Grandma decided that because of the great distance, Mama should not return home for the funeral but remain in school until the end of the term."
It was a "double blow when Allen was killed, because he had been raised to take over from his father. John was not expected to live to an old age due to his physical suffering in the Civil War. Now both Allen and his father were gone; but Tate and the other four brothers lived to maturity and ranching lives in Texas.

Owner/SourceThe internet
Linked toAmanda Tate ALLEN; John Makemie Wilson MATTHEWS

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