JOHN R. MATNEY. - An historical compilation of Wyandotte county, Kansas, would indeed be incomplete were there failure to make mention of John R. Matney, one of the oldest residents of the immediate vicinity of Kansas City, whither he came as a pioneer and where he died on the 1st of January, 1911. He came to Westport when Kansas City, Kansas, was only a landing where steam boats that were able to navigate the Missouri river during the "June rise" came up from St. Louis loaded with the wants and necessities of the then western frontier and were unloaded.
A native of the fine old commonwealth of Virginia, John R. Matney was born in Tazewell county, that state, on the 23rd of January, 1834, a son of Charlie and Abbie Matney. The Matney family immigrated westward in the year 1844, at which time the subject of this review was a lad of but ten years of age. The trip across the country was made in a wagon and the family first settled near Parkville, in Clay county, Missouri, where the father purchased a farm and where the family home was maintained for one year, at the expiration of which removal was made to Westport, Kansas. The new home was on a farm of one hundred and twenty acres along the state line, in what now comprises a part of the Roanoke district. John R. Matney was reared to the invigorating influences of frontier farm life; he early became associated with his father in the work and management of the home farm, hauled timber to Westport as a young man and traded in cattle. With the passage of years he had himself been able to acquire some small tracts of land, and when he had reached his legal majority he had a splendid start in life.
In 1854 Mr. Matney, of this notice, made a trip across the plains with four yoke of oxen drawing a prairie schooner loaded with four thousand pounds of supplies to be distributed among the Indians in the more western country. The supplies were sent out by the government and Mr. Matney's schooner was only one in a long wagon train, all in the government service. Accompanying this expedition was a hunter on horseback who supplied the men with fresh meat, consisting of buffalo, deer and antelope. Each night a corral was formed of the wagons and a guard kept watch lest the men should be surprised with an attack by unfriendly Indians. In 1856, a year after Mr. Matney's marriage, he and his wife settled on a farm in the vicinity of Thirty-ninth street and State Line, where they continued to reside until the close of the Civil war. During that sanguinary struggle he was a member of the Home Guard and on two different occasions the home was invaded at night, all removable property and horses being carried away by the marauders. Mr. Matney farmed the land comprising Toad-a-Loup in 1855 and the bottom land forming Rosedale in 1857. In March, 1866, he sold his farm in Missouri and removed to his late home in Kansas, which constitutes the Matney homestead and which is located one mile and a half southwest of Argentine. This land had been previously acquired of an Indian woman named Peggy Spiebuck, but during the war period Mr. Matney deemed it unsafe to live with his family upon it. His judgment was confirmed, for during that strenuous period the man living upon the place as Mr. Matney's tenant was called to the door by a band of marauders that infested the country and shot to death.
After the close of the war between the states the Matney family moved to this farm and have there maintained their home to the present time, in 1911, a period of about forty-five years. Mr. Matney devoted his attention to diversified agriculture and the raising of high grade stock and his entire estate, from its modern and substantial buildings to the well cultivated fields, indicated the ability of its practical owner. While he never manifested aught of ambition for the honors or emoluments of public office of any description, he was decidedly a cooperant factor in all matters projected for the good of the general welfare.
On the 15th of March, 1855, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Matney to Miss Missouri Matney, who was born and reared in Kansas and who is a daughter of William Matney, who was likewise an early pioneer from Virginia. William Matney upon his arrival in this section of the country settled upon and owned a tract of some two hundred acres of most arable land just south of Westport. This estate was later known as the Ward farm and a portion of it now comprises the Country Club grounds. William Matney was the uncle of Charles Matney, father of the subject of this review. Mrs. Matney survives her honored husband. Of the eleven children - six girls and five boys - born to Mr. and Mrs. John R. Matney, eight are living at the present time. Concerning them the following brief data are here incorporated: Sarah Elizabeth Morgan is with her widowed mother; David maintains his home at Vinita, Oklahoma; Ella is the wife of C. E. Dodson, of Kansas City, Kansas; Henry and Albert both reside at Argentine, Kansas; Alexander is a most successful fruit grower south of Argentine; Minnie is the wife of Rush L. Fisette, a prominent lawyer at Rosedale, Kansas, concerning whom further mention is made on other pages of this work; and Edith is the wife of Ed. Kuehnl, of North Fond-du-Lac, Wisconsin. Mr. and Mrs. Matney celebrated their golden wedding aniversary[sic] on the 15th of March, 1905.
Conecrning[sic] the high and elevated character of Mr. Matney the following extract is here reproduced from an article which appeared in a paper at the time of his death:
"Mr. Matney was a typical pioneer and was an original and unique character. A man of mighty physique, he had more than ordinary physical and intellectual strength. He had not the opportunity of early schooling and in books was unlearned, but in taking care of himself and always being ready to meet the emergencies of the hour he was an educated man. He learned to write his name when as a township officer it became necessary for him to sign his name hundreds of times to township bonds being issued. He signed the bonds and signed them well. It illustrates the man, he did what was required of him. He made no religious pretentions but was always a God-fearing man. Amiable and congenial, he was always the same. He loved right and justice for their own sake and hated all forms of lying, deception and intrigue. He was a home loving man and a model husband, a kind and indulgent father, a good neighbor and a benefit to the community in which he lived. For many, many years he has been the largest farmer tax payer in Wyandotte county. An even tempered man he disliked all forms of extravagance. Controversy and confusion he always shunned. He never indulged in arguments, quarrels or profanity. What could not be avoided or remedied he endured without complaint. To fault finding he was total stranger. A companionable, lovable man he died as he had lived without one murmur, groan of complaint or cry of anguish. A man of high impulse, strong moral fiber, fine judgment and keen foresight, he helped to upbuild the community in which he lived and it suffered an irreparable loss though he had quite retired from active life for many years."
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