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Eugene La Barron Matteson
(1847 - 1911)

From: Biographical review of Lee County, Iowa
Hobart Publishing Company, 1905
By Hobart Publishing Company


Peace of mind and a contented spirit belong to the farm. Close to the heart of nature may be found true wisdom, and in the tillage of the fields may be nurtured the noblest philosophy of life. Under the shadow of the great trees with the blue skies above, and the waving grain before the eye, there is little room for envy and bitterness. The country life is good for the largeness of the soul and helps men cultivate and strengthen the things that belong to God and immortality and the free soul. More and more does it become evident that the men of this generation who keep close to the soil are wise. They escape the heart worry and the nerve exhaustion the strenuous and utter abandon to business cares and interests that so strongly characterize the present life; and while no less earnestly laboring in their appointed fields of work, do so in that steadiness and patience that make men strong and mighty in their day.

Eugene La Barron Matteson, whose name introduces this article, is a good illustration of the wise farmer and the upright citizen, who prefers the airs of nature and the fragrant odors of the meadow to the turmoil and commotions of the city pavement. He is an honorable and successful farmer, and is widely regarded as a good citizen and a man of unimpeachable character.

Mr. Matteson, whose pleasant and spacious residence is on his farm in section 4, Green Bay township, Lee county, was born at Central Falls, Rhode Island, July 3, 1847, a son of Isaac A. and Joan (Gage) Matteson, The father is known as one of the early settlers of Lee county, coming into this part of Iowa as early as 1854, when he secured a fine farm of 240 acres in section 4, of Green Bay township. He was born in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, April 14, 1819, and was a son of Greene and Sallie (Fowler) Matteson, both natives of Rhode Island, where they spent their entire lives. They were the parents of a family of eleven children, of whom Isaac A. was the fourth in order of birth. When he was a boy he became an employe of the cotton and woolen mills in his native town, and there continued at work until he reached the age of twentysix years. His tastes were for a more open and out-of-door life, and he became a carpenter and machinist, in which occupation he rose to positions of trust and responsibility, soon attaining place as a foreman in railroad bridge construction. In this work he continued until 1851, when he removed to the West. While constructing two or three bridges he spent a year in Chicago, then giving but little promise of its future greatness. The following year Mr. Matteson went on to Kankakee, where he constructed a railroad bridge. Returning to Chicago, where he stayed until 1854, when he came into Lee county, where he bought his farm and on which he spent his remaining years, with the exception of a period of three years, when he was a resident of Fort Madison. When he made his first purchase of land he contracted for 240 acres, but part of this he later sold.

Isaac A. Matteson was married in Southfield, Rhode Island, May 20, 1840, to Miss Joan Gage, a daughter of Benjamin and Isabella (Randall) Gage, natives of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, respectively. She was born in Cranston, October, 22, 1818, and was the mother of one child, Eugene La Barron. Mr. Matteson was appointed a member of the county board of supervisors in 1883, and was re-elected for three successive terms. He filled the office of justice of the peace for many years, and was called upon from time to time to fill other minor positions. In politics he was a Democrat, and enjoyed more than a local reputation as an upright citizen. I lis death occurred February 9. 1899, his wife having passed to her rest October 11, 1887.

Eugene La Barron Matteson was educated in the public schools, and in a commercial school at Fort Madison, which he attended one winter. He remained at home until 1880. That year he went to Colorado, where he found a profitable business in the gold" and silver mines. For three years he remained in that state, and then returned to his Iowa home, having met with very fair success in his western ventures.

Mr. Matteson was married in 1867 to Miss Eliza Speaks, a daughter of Thomas and Sarah (Haynes) Speaks. Mrs. Speaks is still living, and has her home with her daughter, Mrs. Matteson. She has reached the age of ninety-four years, and is a bright and well-preserved old lady.. To Mr. and Mrs. Matteson have been born two children: Joan, who married Frank Farnsworth, and has her home in Denmark township; and Arion, who married Miss Nettie Osborn, and still has his home with his father.

Mr. Matteson is much interested in stockfarming. In this line he has done a large business, and is known far and wide as a reliable and trusty dealer. Politically he is a Democrat, and is an intelligent and thoughtful student of the times, preferring, however, to follow the peaceful avocation of agriculture to the turmoil and disturbance of active political cares and ambitions. The farm to him is a field large enough for all noble aspirations, and he has lived in the enjoyment of the full privileges of the modern agriculturist, studious, public-spirited and industrious. He is wide-awake and enterprising, ready for business at any time, and keeping his hands clean and clear of taint in all transactions.

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