Thomas J. Mattes


Carroll County IL Biography



All that wealth and taste can supply has been brought together to complete the home of this gentleman, now a resident of Shannon, and one of the oldest and most prominent residents of Northern Illinois. He owns, in addition to his town property, 205 acres of some of the finest farming land along the eastern line of the county, located in Cherry Grove Township and four miles from the town of Shannon. It is embellished with a beautiful residence, finished and furnished in modern style, and considered one of the very best in the county. The main part covers an area of 40x70 feet, comprises two stories and a basement, and has an “L” 24 feet square. It is always kept in thorough repair, being painted whenever needed, and for this item alone Mr. Mattes has for the last eleven years, or since its erection, paid out several hundred dollars. The other buildings are in keeping with the residence, and the farm machinery and live-stock indicate in a forcible manner the thoroughness and skill with which the farm has been carried on.

Our subject began life in a modest manner in this county, purchasing first forty-five acres of land, and adding to it as his means justified. His first set of buildings were far inferior to those which he now has. While carrying on the cultivation of his land, he also added one improvement after another, setting out fruit and shade trees, and otherwise adding to the value and beauty of his property. In addition to his farming labors he has officiated as a minister of the German Baptist Church for the last twenty-five years, assisted in forming a new district, and worked very effectively in increasing the strength of the Society. He was largely instrumental in the erection of the church edifice at Shannon, which was at that time a part of the Cherry Grove district, but a large proportion of the members preferred to have the religious services at this place. It was one of the first societies of its kind in the county, and is now one of the strongest, numbering about 350 members.

Our subject was born in Union County, Pa., July 13, 1830, and lived there until a youth of seventeen years. Then, in company with an uncle, he set out for Illinois and located in Stephenson County in the year 1848. He was employed at farming in Loran a short time, and followed blacksmithing in Mt. Carroll a few months. He was one year a resident of Freeport. Later he returned to Mt. Carroll, where he established a blacksmith and wagon shop, which he conducted for a period of six years. He then sold out his interest for an eighty-acre farm in Stephenson County, where he carried on agriculture and blacksmithing combined for a period of eighteen years, in Loran Township. He added to his first purchase until he was the owner of a large farm, the whole of which he brought to a fine state of cultivation, and put up first-class buildings, set out an orchard, and added other embellishments which increased its beauty and value. He sold this property in 1870, and coming to Spring Valley, this county, located on section 3, in Cherry Grove Township, and was fortunate in securing land from which sprang the headwaters of the noted spring.

While a resident of Stephenson County, Ill., our subject was united in marriage with Miss Matilda Diefen. To them there were born two children only – John A., who married Miss Rosa Higley, and lives on his father’s farm; and Mary, wife of J. Youman, of Carroll County, Iowa. John is the father of two sons, and Mary the mother of three daughters. Mrs. Matilda Mattes was born in Union County, Pa., and came to this county with her parents the year prior to the arrival of our subject here. She departed this life at the homestead in March, 1862.

Mr. Mattes, February, 1863, contracted a second marriage with Miss Emeline Housel, and they are the parents of three daughters: Margaret is the wife of John Martin, and lives on a farm in Cherry Grove Township; Emma and Della May remain at home with their parents. On the 2d of February, 1886, Mr. Mattes removed from the farm to Shannon, where he had built a fine, large, frame residence, elegant in design and finish, and one of the most attractive features of the town. Besides this property he has seventeen town lots, which are steadily increasing in value.

Mr. Mattes, when coming to this State, had a capital of only $1.50, and is now numbered among the most wealthy and prominent men. His career should be a matter of encouragement to others who have been thrown upon their own resources early in life, as it illustrates in a marked manner the result of industry and perseverance. The father of our subject was David Mattes, who was born in Pennsylvania, and spent his entire life in his native State, engaged mostly in agricultural pursuits. The parental family consisted of five children. Mrs. Emeline (Housley) Mattes was born Aug. 19, 1835, in Union County, Pa., and came with her parents to Illinois in 1849. Her father took up a tract in Loran Township, Stephenson County, upon which he lived and labored until his decease. He was born in Northumberland County, Pa., and married Miss Margaret Musser, of Union County. She died when middle-aged, and he was married to Miss Rebecca Beck.

Our subject, politically, gives his support to the Republican party. While a resident of Stephenson County, he served as School Director a number of years, and has also filled the same position in Cherry Grove Township. He was Commissioner of Highways three years, and for six years an agent of the Mutual Home Insurance Company, during which time he materially increased its business in this section. He is a stirring, energetic man; one whom nature has endowed with more than ordinary abilities, and one who will most assuredly leave his footprints on the sands of time.

Transcribed and contributed by Carol Parrish. Portraits & Biographical Pg. 928

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