24 January 2006

William Henry (Billy) Mathews


Born 1 Dec. 1846, William Henry (Billy) Mathews migrated with his family to Mississippi from his birthplace of Abbeville, SC, as a young boy of about five years old. He grew up in the hill country of Pontotoc MS, helping his father on the farm.

Inheriting his fathers land, William ‘Billy’ Henry took on the duties of a mercantile in addition to those of farming. With a couple of team of oxen and two wheel carts, Billy would make the trip to Memphis and pick up supplies and whisky to sell in his store located on his farm. On one such trip he was accosted by Indians, set to rob and possibly murder him. After getting them good and drunk, he simple drove off his carts, leaving the Indians to sleep off their whisky, and saving his precious cargo.

Coming from a small family, William was to have a large brood of children to pass on his legacy. He married Harriett Ann “Hattie” Roye in 1871, the daughter of a Confederate Veteran [7th MS Inf], Lemuel Roye, and grand-daughter of Henry Roye, a veteran of the War of 1812. By their 10th year of marriage they had produced four children: John Joseph, Lemuel Newton, Mary Jane and Euzella, and went on to have 11 children, 6 boys and 5 girls. One of which was born in 1884 and named Henry Thomas, my grandfather.

Billy farmed his entire life. A cousin, Delaine Matthews, stated just a few years ago, "Grandpaw Billy made a crop of cotton behind a pair of mules at age 92." Billy outlived his wife by 35 years. He is buried at Pleasant Grove Cemetery in Pontotoc County on Hwy 15S, as are so many of the Mathews'. His tombstone reads: William H. Mathews, Dec 1 1846-Apr 22 1938, "He died as he lived, trusting in God."

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