Harve Lee Matthews
by Carl Matthews
Used here with his permission
H. L. MATTHEWS, M.D.
SOME FAMILY HISTORY
Matthews family lineage dates to the late 1300's in Wales and
includes family migrations to North Ireland in the 1600's and to
America in the 1700's. Philadelphia, PA and Newcastle, DE were
the primary ports of entry and the Matthews were found early in
Chester Co. Pa. with the Hanna, Doak, Mitchell, Houston, and Wilson
families. These families began settlement of the
Shenandoah Valley in 1740 and established Augusta Co., Virginia, a
rallying point for more than 30,000 Scotch Irish.
David and Mary Hanna Doak had lived in Pennsylvania, perhaps married
there, and owned four hundred acres of land When the
settlement of the Shanandoa Valley began in 1740 David and Mary
Hanna Doak settled in Augusta Co. Virginia. It was
there they raised their family. Mary Doak, named for her
Mother, was born in 1749 and her Mother, apparently, died soon
after. Mary and some of her siblings may have gone to live
with Mary Hanna's brother, John. John Hanna settled in Surrey
Co. North Carolina, probably, as early as 1760 when Mary Doak was
James Matthews Sr. had purchased property on The Great Alamance
River in North Carolina in 1758. Six years later, 1766,
James Matthews Jr, met and married Mary Doak , purchased five
hundred acres of land near John Hanna, and raised his family on
Stewart Creek. Surrey Co NC documents record James Matthews buying
and selling land, serving as a witness to land transaction, and
serving in various capacities in county government.
Stewart Creek was not far from the Alamance Community of Guilford
Co. NC and their son, Robert, born 1774, went there to find and
marry Mary Ann Stewart in 1800. A few years later, 1805-1810, James
Matthews led his family over the mountains to Middle Tennessee.
Some children had died, and son Samuel Matthews had married the Rhea
girl and was settled in North Carolina. John, Robert, Joseph,
Martha, and Abner went with their parents.
When the wagons were loaded and goodbyes were being said, Sampson
Stewart, father of Mary Ann, presented Robert with a powder horn
which Sampson had carried in the Revolutionary War. Robert carried
the powder horn when he served in the War of 1812. It was
given to his son, Robert Harve Matthews, when he left for Mexican
Texas in 1835 and it was with him when he mustered briefly with
General Sam Houston's rag-tag army camped on the Colorado River,
when he fough Indians near "The Navasot." and when he
served as a Texas Ranger. The powder horn disappeared after
the death of Robert Harve in 1894.
It was in the canebrakes of Maury Co., Tennessee that Robert and
Mary Ann raised ten children. Five remained in Tennessee.
Jane, never married was buried with James and Mary at Browns
Cemetery, Maury Co
William Newton married Eliza Mack
John married Sarah Rebecca Covey
Elizabeth married Henry C. Estes
W. Lafayette Never Married
Graduated from Jefferson
Medical College, Philadelphia
and Vanderbilt University.
And...five...settled in Western Navarro County, Texas.
Martha Patricia (Aunt Patsy), who married her First Cousin, James
Minerva Katherine, who married Francis Slaughter in 1835, and
Dr. George Washington Hill in 1847.
Robert Harve, Texas Ranger-Indian fighter, married Bettie
Priddy at age seventy
Prudance Shaw, who married Samuel Wright
Sampson Stewart, who married Sarah Reece
Samson Stewart Matthews, third son of Robert and Mary Ann Stewart
Matthews, married Sarah Reece. Their children were raised in
Maury Co. Tenn. All,
except Jane, lived at Spring Hill, Texas at some point.
Ann Elizabeth - 1831, who married James Jefferson Coffey
Sarah Jane - 1836, who married William C Turnbow
Robert Harvie - 1837, who married Frances Staaden
Joseph Calvin - 1841, who married Margaret Adney (Maggie) Sims
Mary Ophelia - 1847, who married John Morgan
Jane, who, probably died in Tennessee
Their third son, Joseph Calvin Matthews, married Margaret Adney
(Maggie) Sims in 1861 and immediately marched into action in the
Civil War. Joseph Calvin Matthews served in Co. D, 3rd
Tenn Regiment, Walker's Brigade, Longstreet's Corps in The Army of
Tennessee. Wounded during the Battle of Chickamauga in
Georgia, he was sent home only to be captured..He was quickly
released due to the seriousness of his wounds.
Hard times were experienced in Maury Co. Tennesee after the Civil
War and many families began to migrate to Texas.
It was in 1869 that Joseph Calvin and Maggie Matthews joined several
other families, formed a wagon train. and headed for Navarro County,
Texas. Their children, the first three of whom were born in
John Walter - 1862 Never married
Harvie Lee - 1864 See below
Charles Stewart - 1866, married Libby Sue Cates
Lucy Anna - 1870, married George William Cates
Willie A. - 1873, Died in 1892
Theodore Calvin - 1876, married Lelia Alice McVey
Maud - 1876, Died in 1884
Joseph Calvin Matthews purchased two Spring Hill, Texas"Farm
Lots" from his Uncle Robert Harvie Matthews. Robert
Harvie Matthews had surveyed the "New Spring Hill" in 1860
and drew the plat on the flyleaf of the County Clerk's book in
Corsicana. Joseph Calvin built his house on the Broadway
lots and raised his family there. Later, he opened a General
Store located down the street and on the West side of Broadway.
He was named Postmaster.
Joseph Calvin had come into possession of an old "Cap and
Ball" pistol that was "harmless" and which had been
snapped many times. The pistol lay on the roll top desk
in the Post Office section of the General Store as a souvenir of the
past. It was recalled that one day Joseph Calvin was busy at
his desk when his best friend arrived and interrupted him.
Playfully, Joseph Calvin picked up the pistol, pointed it at his
friend, cocked the hammer, pulled the trigger...and...the
ancient load exploded. Joseph Calvin's best friend fell
to the floor, mortally wounded.
Joseph Calvin had been permitted to keep the rifle he had carried
during the Civil War and was handed down to his son, Charles Stewart
Matthews, who lived his life at Spring Hill. The rifle was
stolen from the Charlie Matthews home at some point. Years
later, after Charlie had died, his son, Culous Matthews, located the
rifle and purchased it. Charles C. Matthews inherited it from
Father and recently, gave the rifle to the husband of his sister's
BOYHOOD OF HARVIE LEE MATTHEWS
PHOTO OF HARVIE VIRGIL MATTHEWS & SISTER WILLIE MARGIE MATTHEWS
Harvie Lee Matthews, son of Joseph Calvin and Maggie Sims Matthews,
remembered little of Tennessee or the 1869 wagon trip to Texas.
He remembered growing up in the house located on the two "Farm
Lots" on North Broadway. He remembered the General Store
operated by his father down the street. Little is
known concerning his early childhood, but he may have attended
school in the crude Spring Hill structure framed with timbers
from Richland Creek and covered with buffalo hides.
Family lore recalls that Harvie Lee spent much time at the General
Store and was always interested in the bottles and boxes of
"Patent Medicines" that lined the shelves and were so
important to the rural area where physicians were rare. It was
said that when he was an early teenager he began prescribing the
"Patent Medicines" to families in the area and was given
the nickname of "Doc."
He was said to have been near seventeen when some elderly lady in
the community who was ill requested some squirrel stew.
Harvie Lee, evidently the obliging young man from the General Store,
made his way to Richland Creek to hunt the needed squirrels.
He was, apparently, crawling through a fence when he dropped his
shotgun and pellets and wadding were fired into his foot.
Removing all the pellets and wadding was impossible and infections
in the foot continued through his life. He would walk with a
decided limp and, often, was forced to use crutches.
Harvie Lee Matthews was eighteen or nineteen when his decision to
train to become either a pharmacist or a physician was made and he
began to make arrangements to serve an apprenticeship. 1884 must
have been an exciting year and was, partially recorded in a
"Book of Remembrances" given to him on December 14, 1883
by his Mother, Margaret Adney (Maggie) Sims Matthews who wrote
in the book on December 15, 1883'
"Take Heart, nor of the laws of fate complain,
Though now is cloudy, Twill clear up again"
Maggie A. Matthews
Uncle Walter Matthews must have had dinner with them on New Years
Day 1884 and placed his note in the Book of Remembrances that day.
Others who wrote notes that year were W J Anderson of Spring Hill;
John H Morgan who had married his Father's sister; J T
Davidson whose family lived down by the Spring Hill Cemetery; J H
Stockard whose sister had married a cousin; E C Freeland from
Navarro Mills; and Rose M Adams, a daughter of Dr. Adams and a
sister of Mrs. B W D Hill.
THE YEAR OF 1884
Harvie Lee Matthews spent the first eight months of 1884 at Hubbard
City, Texas, one of the communities that had been spawned when the
railroad came West in 1882. Harvie Lee had progressed from
being "Doc Matthews" prescribing Patent Medicines at the
Spring Hill General Store to an apprentice to a pharmacist, to Dr.
A. M. Clinkscale or, perhaps, both, at Hubbard City. It is possible
that such an apprenticeship was a prerequisite to entering
Vanderbilt Medical School in Tennessee.
The Book of Remembrance began to be filled at Hubbard City with
names that included Anne Lippard, Angie C Shelton, Ottis Taullman,
Aquilla Herring, the Case sisters, W A Bass, J T Bothwell, Lula M
& Wanita Trice, Robert F Coffey, Lottie Yarbrough, Canzada
James, and others.
Ivy Jeanette Blumm added "Chicago, Ill." and "Maignanette???"
to her signature. Had Harvie Lee made Ivy Jeanette into "Mag-a-net?"
One interesting signature that appeared on May 8, 1884 was that of
J. M. Carroll, brother of B. H. Carroll, pastor of The First Baptist
Church of Waco from 1870 to 1890 and later, president of
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The railroad had
provided a means for students and faculty at Baylor University to
access communities here-to-fore isolated by un-accessible roads.
J M Carroll may have been in Hubbard City to assist with the
organization of the church or to lead in a revival.
Harvie Lee met him, was impressed with him, and had him to sign his
Book of Remembrance.
Harvie Lee had more than a casual interest in The Bible.
His library was filled with medical books, but there were
theological books as well, books not found in the hands of most
laymen. He owned a four volume set of Jamison-Fauset-Brown
Commentaries. And there was a well worn leather bound volume
of The System Bible Study.
The final Summer entry to The Book of Remembrance was on August 13,
1884 and signed "Laura B., Spring Hill." This was,
without doubt, Cousin Laura Matthews, who lived in Spring Hill, who
married Cab Cunningham, and lived in Hubbard for many
A JOURNEY TO TENNESSEE
A month and one-half passed before the next entry. This
was, probably, the time when Harvie Lee made the train trip from
Dawson, Texas to Tennessee, a journey that took him to Corsicana, to
Texarkana, to Little Rock, to Memphis, and, possibly to Pulaski,
Giles Co. Tennessee. Giles Co. was the County immediately
South of Maury County where most of the Matthews "kin"
continued to live. Family was important and despite the
five hundred miles of rugged terrain families stayed in touch and
visited. Minerva Katherine Matthews Slaughter had gone
to Mexican Texas in 1835, but she was back in Tennessee in 1838 to
visit with her ailing Father and to bear her second child.
Travel in 1838 did not have the luxury of the railroad, but was by
flat riverboats to the Texas Coast, schooners to the mouth of the
Mississippi River, paddlewheelers up the Mississippi and Ohio to
Smithville, Kentucky, and South on the Tennesse River to the Duck
It was September 29, 1884 when "Cousin" Jesse A Evans
and his wife, Maggie Rozelle Coffey, signed the book.
Maggie's mother was a sister to Harvie Lee's Grandfather Sampson
Stewart Matthews. Maggie's older sister, Calidonia, had
married Jesse's brother. Both families lived in Tennessee in
1885, but both settled in Clay County, Texas later.
VANDERBILT MEDICAL COLLEGE
Vanderbilt Medical College, probably, did not have dormitories on
campus in 1884. Harvie Lee Matthews, however, found living
quarters at "Mrs. Canaly's Boarding House which was located at
525 South Market Street in Nashville. Mrs. Dora Canaly signed his
"Book" on December 3, 1884.
R.E. Oliver, Bolling Green, Kentucky, signed his name December 3,
1884 and added "Your Friend." Oliver
lived two blocks away at 397 South Market Street.
Dr. Jowman of Nashville, probably a professor, signed in on October
11, 1884 as did Dr. George T Cox, M.D., Nashville. Other
signatures include Terry from Nashville, Oct 11; Will Whitfield,
Nashville; and Beula Goosberry, Nashville, December 3, 1884.
Harvie Lee returned to Spring Hill for the Summer of 1885. It
was to be an exciting summer for Harvie Lee, now a handsome young
man. An old "Tin Type photo," probably made in
Nashville in the Winter of 1885, presents him as a remarkably good
looking, well dressed young man. 1885 was, probably, the
summer that he fell in love with Jennie Follis, almost
Harvie Lee was home by May 29, 1885. "Lulu,"
(no last name) signed his Book on that date. Signings in The Book
were limited during the Summer of 1885 and it appears that Harvie
Lee Matthews has other things on his mind.
Jennie Follis' sister, Salley, five years her elder, signed in on
July 7, 1885, but wrote .........nothing. "M. H.
C." wrote in numeric code on July 7, 1885.....
"Soap is slick, but grease is slicker,
My love for you shall never flicker."
And...on the same day and in the same numeric code, "J M Follis"
"The"..Jennie M Follis...wrote:
"Leaves may wither & flowers
Friends may forsake thee,
but never shall I"
The location of Jennie Follis' Family in 1885 is not known, but they
were first found in the 1870 U S Census of Giles County, Tennessee
FOLLIS, Stephen 1825 Alabama
Elizabeth 1829 Tennessee
Martha 1851 Tennessee
Daniel 1853 Tennessee
Steven 1857 Tennessee
Susan 1859 Tennessee
Sallie 1864 Tennessee
Virginia 1869 Tennessee
The Stephen Follis family was continuing to live in Giles Co. at the
time of the 1880 U S Census, but could have moved to Western
Navarro Co. Texas by the summer of 1885. Several Follis
Families lived across Richland Creek in the Silver City area.
The Evans, Caskey, Adams, and Follis Families had, apparently, been
close in Tennessee and may have made the move to Texas together.
Regardless of where the Follis Family lived, when the Summer of 1885
ended and Harvie Lee was scheduled to return to Medical School in
Nashville, Harvie Lee Matthews and Jennie M. Follis were equally
smitten with each other.
Harvie Lee Matthews must have expressed more than casual interest in
Jennie Follis when he returned to school in September 1885.
Classmate Sevier D. Clark, Adairsville, Georgia penned the following
admonitions in The Book,
Be good at home, and better abroad,
Love your Sweetheart, and serve the Lord"
Nashville & Vanderbilt
Medical College Ses. 85 & 86
Activities in The Book of Remembrances stopped with the summer of
1885 with the exception of the words of Sevier D. Clark.
Harvie Lee may have spent more time with his studies and he now had
important letters to write.
He had returned home by February 10, 1886 and the final entry in The
book of Remembrance reads, "Charles Matthews,
Spring Hill, Texas." Charles Stewart Matthews was Harvie
Lee's older brother and closest friend.
A TEMPORARY MEDICAL PERMIT
Harvie Lee had completed the prescribed apprenticeship with Dr. A.
M. Clinkscale in Hubbard and a portion of the Medical Course at
Vanderbilt. A letter from Vanderbilt University, 1992,
"Unfortunately, records stemming from previous to the early
1900's were destroyed in a fire. Therefore, the only
information I am able to provide you with is the fact that a Harvie
Lee Matthews graduated from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
receiving his Doctor of Medicine degree in 1887."
It was on February 22, 1886 that Harvie Lee appeared before J. M.
Blair, M.D. of Corsicana, a Member of the Texas Board of Medical
Examiners. He, apparently, convinced Dr. Blair of his
proficiency and Dr. Blair penned the following words on a plain
ruled sheet of paper,
"I hereby certify that I have this day examined H L Matthews as
required by the Board of Medical Examiners and hereby grant him a
temporary permit to practice medicine until the next Meeting of the
Medical Examiners for the 18th Judicial District or until the 15th
day of November. next.
J M Blair, MD
Mem. Board of Medical Examiners
The Blair document was carried the same day to the Navarro County
Courthouse in Corsicana where it was placed on file as required by
law. J. H. Kerr, Clerk of the County Court, wrote:
"I do hereby Certifythat the foregoing attachedTemporary Permit
to Dr. H. L. Matthews was this day entered in the registeryof
Physicians of Navarro County according to Law
News traveled swiftly in the rural communities of Western Navarro
County and the young, yet to be
graduated....physician......probably, began seeing patients soon
after his return to Spring Hill. Harvie Lee, his brother ,
Charlie, and, possibly, his carpenter Uncle, Walter Matthews, began
to construct an area in the General Store to serve as an office and
examining room. Harvie Lee may have made a trip to Dallas to
purchase equipment and supplies from the medical supply houses
Harvie Lee was careful to reserve some time each week to be with
Jennie Follis. Jennie would turn seventeen on August 15, 1886
and had, probably, matured from her coded loved letters created a
year earlier and become even more "fetching" in the eyes
of Harvie Lee.
THE FINAL YEAR AT VANDERBILT
Harvie Lee was back at Vanderbilt in the early Fall of 1887.
He was, probably, applying himself to more intense study after
having had to treat patients himself. The days moved by
swiftly and soon it was Graduation Day. The Matthews
Delegation from Maury and Giles Co. Tennessee was led by
Harvie Lee's Great Uncle, Dr. Lafayette Matthews, who had graduated
in the late 1840's from Jefferson Medical College in Philidelphia
and from Vanderbilt University.
THE FIRST WEDDING
The train ride from Tennessee to Texas appeared without end, but
did, and when Harvie Lee arrived at Spring Hill the community was
ready for the wedding. Both families were well known on both
sides of Richland Creek and the event may have gathered a record
number of witnesses. The Widow Dempsey was there with her
fourteen year old daughter, Mattie Bell. Mattie Bell
would, later, recall to her children that Jennie Follis was a
The bride and groom settled quickly into the routine of rural life
at Spring Hill. Harvie Lee was always busy with caring for
sick people of the area. Jennie, probably, was helping her
Mother-in-law with canning and other chores. Jennie
became pregnant in October and from that moment on she had her mind
on the coming of a baby into their home.
It was on August 15, 1888 that the baby boy was born.
The day should have been one of sheer joy for both Harvie Lee and
Jennie, but something had gone wrong. Harvie Lee may have
requested and received the assistance of Dr. P L Adams who lived
across Richland Creek in the Navarro Mills Community.
Dr. Adams, whose daughter Cynthia married Dr. B W D Hill, had,
probably, had many successful deliveries in his years of practice,
but it was, probably, quickly apparent that the prognosis for mother
and child was not good.
The baby son lived until August 22, 1888. Jennie Follis
Matthews died four days later. They were buried together and a
stone marker near the entry gate at
Spring Hill Cemetery identifies
their resting place. Friends and family were present to
offer sympathy, but life had tumbled in for Harvie Lee Matthews.
He had lost the love of his life. He had lost the son that he
had so wanted. He had trained to become a physician and
couldn't save the life of his own wife and child.
The following months, probably, found Harvie Lee bearing his sorrow
and remorse by spending more and more time with his patients.
Vigils with some patients would sometime extend into the wee hours
of the morning. It was said that Harvie Lee would often
collapse in his buggy, rein "Old Cream," his buggy horse,
in the direction of Spring Hill, and go to sleep. Early
risers using the Spring Hill road would see the young doctor still
asleep in his buggy, his faithful horse patiently waiting for the
sun to rouse his sleeping owner.
Harvie Lee was now twenty-four. He would not spend his
life alone as had his Great-Uncle Lafayette had done after being
spurned by the Mack girl in Tennessee. Mattie Bell
Dempsey, the buxom young daughter of The Widow Dempsey, had
developed into a beautiful young woman and after several months of
loneliness Harvie Lee began to notice.
Harvie Lee Matthews married Mattie Bell Dempsey in the Fall of 1889
and they went to the Cotton Palace Exposition in Waco as a part of
their honeymoon. pictures were made at one of the
professional studios in Waco. One picture presents the
newly married couple as a young man with a serious countenance,
dressed in a frock coat fully buttoned, and a young lady whose
corset has been pulled tightly around her tiny waist. A
second picture was made of the new bride whose stern facial
expression makes her appear beyond her sixteen years.
Uncle Harve (1814-1894) who had surveyed and developed the New
Spring Hill in 1860 still owned much of the real estate there, but
changes had come. The new road that led to the iron bridge
that crossed Richland Creek down the hill from the quarry by-passed
Broadway and travel had moved one block west. The
intersection of Waco and Commercial was now "Town
The old General Store on Broadway was showing its age and Harvie Lee
and his Father bought the northwest corner of "Town
Center" for a new General store. Another
small building was constructed for the "New Drug Store."
Harvie Lee purchased the two lots on the southeast corner from his
Great Uncle Robert Harve for twenty-five dollars and workmen
began immediately to construct one of the finest homes ever built in
the town of Spring Hill. The right wing of the house was
separated from the main portion of the house by a hall that led from
the front porch to the rear porch. A single room was in the
right wing. Above the single room was a copula accessed by a
small stair. The main house had four large rooms, three
of which opened to the long rear porch. The barn
contained stables for the buggy and riding horses, milk parlors, and
a loft for hay. There was a horse lot, a cow lot, and a pig
pen. A dug well, located between the house and the barn,
provided an abundance of water for the inhabitants of the house and
Harvie Virgil Matthews was born there October 30, 1890.
Willie Margie was born in 1892, Fred Bell in 1894, Carl Waymon in
1896, and Kitty Vera in 1899. Life had become beautiful once again
for Harvie Lee Matthews. He was a successful physician
with a good practice. He had a beautiful wife and five fine
and healthy children. A photograph made in the mid 1890's
presents Harvie Lee in his buggy, his hat tipped to the
photographer, and still driving "Old Cream."
Life caved in again on Harvie Lee Matthews in 1901.
Mattie Bell Dempsey died on April 27, 1901. The cause of
death is not known, but it could have been, as in the case of
Jennie, birth related. Mattie Bell's body was laid to rest at
the Spring Hill Cemetery not far from Jennie and her baby.
Harvie Lee was now thirty-seven and a second time widower.
This time he had to be concerned with rearing five small children.
Virgle was eleven, Willie was nine, Fred was seven, Carl was four,
and Kitty was two. A black man, Cook Crowder, came to live
with Harvie Lee and his five children and remained for several
years, assuming the role of both father and mother to the
children. He cleaned the house, cooked the meals, cared
for the children when they were sick, ironed the clothes.
The children remembered him as a strict, but loving disciplinarian
and they came to love him as a member of the family.
Carl Matthews remembers the black man asking what he wanted for
breakfast and Carl would request his favorite each
time...."Syrup and eggs!"
Five years would pass before Harvie Lee would marry for the third
and last time. The date was January 29, 1906.
Harvie Lee was forty-two when he married Miss Ida Dixie Fields, the
twenty year old daughter of David F and Martha Agnew Fields of
Raliegh. a small community north of Richland Creek. Their wedding
picture presents Harvie Lee beginning to have the middle age girth
common to country doctors and Miss Ida, a remarkably beautiful
young, woman stands by his side in a long dress.
Miss Ida was only four years older than her oldest stepchild, but
she must have been mature far beyond her years. Miss Ida began
immediately to "take charge" of the Matthews household
and, apparently, did very well. She was called "Big
Mama" by her step children, and "Big Mama" quickly
earned the love and respect of all her step children. a love and
respect that remained until her death in 1936.
Four children would be born into this third and happy marriage.
Leo Fields was born 1907, Aline 1909, Windol 1912, and Dixie Lee
It was near the birth of Leo that Harvie Lee purchased his first
automobile, a red Maxwell with carbide lights and a license plate
bearing the number...188. The Corsicana dealer had delivered the car
to Spring Hill and a driver had been hired since no one in the
community knew how to operate a motor vehicle. Harvie Lee and the
driver had taken Carl now twelve and Kitty ten for a ride and had
retired to the interior of the General Store as the motor continued
to run. Carl had closely observed the driver use the levers and
pedals of the vehicle and as he and Kitty sat in the automobile he
began to experiment. Soon Carl and Kitty were moving down the
dirt road. They circled the next block and returned to the
front of the General Store and stopped before an amazed Father and
others. Harvie Lee hobbled down the steps of the store on his
crutches, took his seat on the passenger side of the
automobile, yelled to the hired driver that he was fired, and
ordered Carl to drive home. Carl became his driver.
Two years later, Carl and Fred decided to utilize the now unused
Drug Store to open "Matthews Bros. Meat Market." The
boys obtained saws and knives from home, a large cutting block from
a cottonwood tree on Richland Creek, butchered a large steer, and
were doing a brisk business. Harvie Lee had been so busy for several
days that he had not noticed the new business. The boys
proudly showed their Father the profits generated. Harvey Lee
inquired concerning the source of their meat supply and they
informed him that they were from his herd. That was the
day the Spring Hill Meat Market....closed.
Collecting accounts for medical services from poor people was
difficult. Once Harvie Lee stopped at a farm house where a
twenty dollar account existed. The man expressed the fact that
he had no money, but that Dr. Matthews was welcome to anything he
had. Harvie Lee spotted an ox yoke and inquired if the man
needed it and the reply was, No." Harvie Lee told
the man he would give him twenty dollars for it and told Carl to
place the yoke in the car. That yoke hangs today in the home
of Carl's son.
Carl related that the yoke was used when he and his brother
yoke a steer to a wooden slide to haul hay in winter to cattle
located in the Richland bottom. Harvie Lee would ride a horse
to the hill over looking the creek and, as Carl related,
"Holler louder than anyone else he ever heard." The
cattle knew the voice, recognized that it was feeding time, and came
to where the hay was placed. Once, ice covered the
Spring Hill countryside as Carl and Fred hauled the hay and
sometimes the slide would be in front of the steer and sometimes in
Another patient paid his account by giving Harvie Lee a dwarf red
mule. The mule was too small for field work, but perfect for a
small boy to ride. Harvie D. Davidson. a grandson, recalled
that he remembered his brother, Raymond and Leo, Harvie Lee's son,
riding the "little red mule."
Automobiles were fragile in the early years and the Spring Hill
roads were not user friendly. A front axel once broke at three in
the morning as Harvie Lee and Carl returned from a patient visit.
Word was sent to Pete Bills, the local blacksmith. Bills got
out of bed, came to the stranded vehicle, removed the broken axel,
returned to the blacksmith shop and made the repair, and installed
the repaired axel.
Another early morning incident occurred as they passed an isolated
farmhouse that appeared to have a fire inside. A log had
rolled from the fireplace into the middle of the room and fire had
burned a circular hole in the floor. While Harvie Lee
yelled and banged his crutch on the door to awaken the occupants,
Carl crawled under the house and attempted to stop
the fire with his gloved hands.
Harvie Lee saw patients with every type of illness and accident.
Babies were being born on a regular basis. Arms and legs and
ribs were broken. Farm related accidents demanded stitches.
Fevers demanded to be watched and treated. Pneumonia and flu
often became terrifying in the winter months. More than once
when the banks of Richland Creek were full and the bridge covered
with several feet of water Harvie Lee would swim his saddle horse
across in order to treat patients at Navarro Mills and Raleigh and
Once Harvie Lee was called when a black teenager had been hit in the
stomach by an accidental discharge of a shotgun.
Harvie Lee examined the opened abdomen and saw that the internal
organs were damaged severely. Carl watched as his Father
stitched the open wound closed, told the family that the lad would
not live long, and provide sufficient morphine to keep the patient
comfortable until the end.
Harvie Lee moved his family to Dawson in 1911.
Many of his patients had moved there. The school was larger.
Churches were growing. The family lived for a brief time
in a house later occupied by the Clint Pitts family that stood on
the left of the present entrance to the Dawson School. Two
years later, Harvie Lee purchase the two story home on the west side
of Main and Third Street that had been built in the 1890's by
J. A. Buckingham, Dawson's first banker. Harvie Lee
would live there for eleven years.
Uncle Walter, Harvie Lee's brother whose hearing and speech had been
impaired by what was recorded as a "rising" in his ear
when he was young. came with Harvie Lee and his family to Dawson,
but soon returned to Spring Hill. The "Big City of
Dawson" was just too much for the man who had always live in
One of the few sad times in the big house on Main Street was when
Little Aline died in 1916. Harvie Lee had purchased a
large plot at the Dawson Cemetery and she was buried there. Aline must have been the Darling of the family. A photograph
recorded a shrine like display of her gifts that still surround the
Christmas Tree after her death.
Harvie Lee located his office above the V T Matthews Grocery Store
and accessed by "iron stairs" located outside the building
and facing the alley that ran between the grocery store and the
bank. One large room served as office and waiting area
and contained a huge roll top desk, a wooden green settee, a
black leather covered chaise lounge stuffed with horsehair, and
several individual chairs. A smaller room contained a
white examining table, a white metal framed cabinet enclosed
with glass front and sides held supplies and instruments. and a wash
stand with pitcher and basin.
A elegant pull down "coal oil" lamp hung from the ceiling
above the roll top desk. It was a double headed lamp with
clear glass bowls on the bottom and white milk glass chimneys. When
electricity came to Dawson, Harvie Lee gave the lamp to Mrs. Jim
Nesmith who lived in the country and raised her family by the light
of the lamp. Mrs. Nesmith willed the lamp to Harvie Lee's
grandson and has been passed on to a great-grandson, Michael Alan
Matthews of Houston.
Prentice Priddy remembered Harvie Lee as "The First Child
Psychologist" he ever knew. Prentice was a small child
and living with his parents near the Spring Hill Cemetery. He
had been ill and under the treatment of Dr. B W D Hill. His
mother saw Harvie Lee's car approaching and called to her husband,
"Priddy, go stop Dr. Matthews and have him look at this
boy." Harvie Lee examined Prenctice who informed him that
the medicine that Dr. Hill had prescribed tasted "awful."
While Harvie Lee was preparing his prescription he began telling
Prentice that Dr. Hill's medicine might not taste good, but
"Dr. Matthews medicine tasted just like candy."
And...according to Prentice, it did!
The "flu epidemic of 1918" was a world wide calamity and
Western Navarro County was hard hit. Harvie Lee and Carl would
be away from home three and four days as they made their way from
house to house treating those who had become ill. Carl
remembered that when they stopped at a home he would eat a bite of
whatever food was available and find a place to sleep.
Harvie Lee would wake Carl when he was finished and Harvie Lee would
sleep while Carl drove to the next stop.
The large house on Main Street was a happy place for Harvie Lee.
He was proud of his children. And now, he was happy with his
Grandchildren. He was active in the local, county, and state
medical societies; he was affiliated with Woodmen of the
World; he had become a 32nd Degree Mason; he was a member of the
Independent Order of Odd Fellows; and served as health officer for
Dawson. He, apparently, never united with a church, but
attended the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Dawson.
It was three o'clock on the morning of February 7,1924 when Harvie
Lee was returning home after having been with a patient who lived in
the country until after midnight. He had parked his car
at the street and began walking across the front yard when he fell.
He crawled into the house and family members responded to his calls.
Dr. A B Worsham and Dr. Livingston Barnes were summoned, but there
was little that skilled physicians could do. Harvie Lee was
conscious until about five thirty on Friday afternoon when entered
"a deep sleep." He died the following
afternoon at one fifteen.
F H Butler, a close friend and long time editor of The Dawson
Herald, stated that his death was "caused by brain trouble, he
having been troubled with it for some two or three years."
Mr. Butler place the obituary on the front page of the February 15,
1924 edition and gave a glowing tribute to his friend.
The Funeral was held on Sunday following his death on Saturday at
the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Dawson. Rev. F P
Aterburn and Rev. J. T. McKeown conducted the three o'clock service.
Mr. Butler reported that the church was filled to capacity a full
hour prior to the service, most with people who had traveled long
distances. He stated that only abut one fourth of the crowd
assembled were able to be seated inside the church.
"Floral offerings were profuse, probably surpassing anything of
the kind ever seen here before."
"After the service the body was laid to rest in the
Cemetery by the Masonic Lodge of which order we was a faithful
Harvie Lee Matthews, MD had lived fifty-nine years, two months, and
twenty days and had practiced medicine throughout Western Navarro
County, Texas for thirty-six years.
"The memory of a God fearing, Christian man who
always claimed God as his co-worker, will linger until
death in the minds of those who knew him well.
May God's purest angels guard his slumbers."
- F H Butler