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T. N. Matthews House

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This wonderfully preserved house was built in 1885 by cattleman Thomas Newton Matthews. Thomas was born in Gonzales County April 4, 1849, and was the son of William A. Matthews of Vermont. W.A. Matthews came to Texas in 1824 and helped Green DeWitt establish the DeWitt colony. W.A. first married Naomi DeWitt. Naomi was the daughter of Empresario Green DeWitt and Sarah Seeley. After Naomi died W.A. married Nancy King Fuqua. Thomas was one of their seven children. Thomas was the older brother of Henry Walter Matthews. By 1867, when he was only 18 years old, Thomas was in the cattle business and was extremely successful. He married Miss Fannie Walker, born September 5, 1848, and they had five children. Sadly, only one survived him. In 1886 he moved to Coleman, Texas, where he continued his cattle business. He later moved to Wyoming where he spent several years before moving to Spearfish, South Dakota. Fannie died August 30, 1894, and in 1895 Thomas married Carrie Menagh. He died August 15, 1912, at his home in Spearfish. His body was returned to Gonzales and buried next to Fannie in the Gonzales Masonic Cemetery. This Victorian style house is constructed of Florida longleaf pine shipped in by water to the old port of Indianola, Texas, and hauled to Gonzales by ox teams. It was quite modern for its time, with fire escapes, lightning rods and indoor plumbing. Double doors on the first and second floors have decorated glass in the top half of each door. The house was purchased by James Bailey Wells and on January 1, 1890, Mr. and Mrs. Wells, their sixteen year old son, Charles, and their twelve year old daughter, Effie, moved to Gonzales from Leesville. Mr. Wells marked the date of the move on the old calendar clock on the mantel. Some of the furniture and mantels were made by James Bailey Wells, Jr., who was born in Gonzales in 1892 while the family was living in the house. The hall tree was made from an old organ and slats from a discarded bed. The love seat was made from two walnut chairs. There is a walnut staircase and a lamp stand purchased in New Orleans by Mr. Wells, Sr. The green and white marble mantel holds two tall vases that have been in the family since 1873. Most of the wood trim and furniture is made of Gonzales County walnut. Only the kitchen and bathrooms have been modernized and the total structure stands as it was built. This historic home now belongs to the Daughters of the Republic of Texas.
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