1.   Historical note

2.   Scope and content

3.   Provenance

4.   Processing note

5.   Inventory

6.   Subjects

    List of finding aids

    R.I.H.S. Library page

    R.I.H.S. home page

 Matteson Family Papers

 Coventry and Providence, R.I.

 Papers, 1843-1944

 Size: 1.5 linear feet

 Catalog number: MSS 1021

 Processed by: Rick Stattler, November 1999

©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            Asahel Matteson (1811-1890), son of Reuben and Esther (Burleson) Matteson, was born in West Greenwich, R.I. at the family farm now known as Stepping Stone Ranch. He operated general stores in Escoheag, West Greenwich from 1836-1839; Rice City, Coventry from 1839-1842; Providence with his brother Archibald from 1843-1845; and Centreville, Warwick with Jacob Lewis from 1845-1848. After 1848, he resided in the village of Anthony in the town of Coventry, where he had a distinguished career as a banker, merchant and state senator. He married Julia M. Johnson (1811-1890) in 1837, and they had three children: Charles Matteson (1840-1925); Amy A. Matteson (1842-1905); and Ella J. Matteson (1852-1946). Neither Amy nor Ella married or had any children.

            Asahel's son Charles Matteson attended Brown University and Harvard Law School, and had a distinguished law career in Providence that culminated in his term as Chief Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court from 1891 to 1900. He married Rosabelle "Belle" Himes (1852-1920). She was born in Cranston, R.I. on January 8, 1852, the daughter of Paul and Sarah H. (Covel) Himes. Charles and Belle had three sons: Archibald C. Matteson (1873-1939), George A. Matteson (b.1875) and Paul Matteson (b.1884).

            Charles' son Archibald C. Matteson also attended Brown University and Harvard Law School, and after working for prominent Providence lawyer William G. Roelker, he established himself as a prominent Providence maritime lawyer. He also served as a lieutenant in the Spanish-American War, and as a colonel in the Rhode Island National Guard. He married Alys McCreery of South Carolina in 1899, and had five children, including Elizabeth (Matteson) Farnsworth.


Rhode Island Cemetery Database

Cole, J.R. History of Washington and Kent Counties (New York: W.W. Preston, 1889), 230-231 1220. Biographies and engravings of Job Kenyon and Charles Matteson, respectively.

Providence directory, 1844

Representative Men and Old Families of Rhode Island (Chicago: J.H. Beers, 1908), 1:319-321.

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Scope and content:

            This collection relates mostly to Asahel Matteson; his two daughters Amy and Ella Matteson; his daughter-in-law Belle (Himes) Matteson, and his grandson Archibald C. Matteson. Among the most noteworthy portions are Belle's diaries spanning 1890 to 1918, with a complete transcription; Asahel's tavern ledger book from 1843 giving accounts for lodging and care of horses; Ella J. Matteson's travel diaries in Europe and the American West from 1905 to 1913; and Archibald C. Matteson's diary of a trip to England, possibly sponsored by the R.I. Bar Association.

            The collection also contains important Civil War letters, mostly from Dr. Job Kenyon of Anthony (1821-1889), who served as Assistant Surgeon of the 3rd Regiment, R.I. Heavy Artillery. Kenyon's first wife Phebe Hoxie (1830-1855) had been dead for several years, and he wrote Amy A. Matteson frequently from the regiment's headquarters at Hilton Head, South Carolina from September 1862 to January 1863. He also wrote a single letter to her father Asahel, and one to her adopted brother George W. Arnold.

            George W. Arnold (1840-1862) was the son of Burrell Arnold (1798-1848) and Mary A. (Waterman) Arnold (1821-1844). His father died in the Mexican-American War. According to family tradition, George was adopted by the Mattesons after the deaths of his parents. He graduated from Yale University in 1860, and also served in the Civil War, in Company I of the 12th R.I. Infantry. One of his war letters to Amy dated 10/28/1862 can also be found in the collection; he died of fever just over a month later.

            Elizabeth Francis Grinnell (1852-1906) was another friend of the family's whose papers appear in this collection. She was a childhood friend of Belle (Himes) Matteson who never married and lived with the Matteson family for most of her adult life. She was a seamstress by trade. This collection includes her diary from her 1904 trip to Europe with the Mattesons.

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            These papers were all gathered together by Elizabeth (Matteson) Farnsworth (b.1900), who served as executrix of the estates of her great-aunt Ella Matteson and her mother Alys (McCreery) Matteson. She then passed the papers of Job Kenyon, Asahel, Amy, Archibald and Ella Matteson on to her daughter Alys (Farnsworth) MacLeod, who donated them to the R.I.H.S.L. in 1998. The Belle Matteson and Elizabeth Grinnell diaries were held jointly by five family members: Alys MacLeod, William B. Farnsworth, Jane M. Love, Ellen M. Knox and Dr. Sarah M. Mitchell. This portion of the papers was donated in 1999.

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Processing note:

            A carte-de-visite proof photograph of Charles Matteson was found enclosed with his letter dated 5/6/1861 to his sister Amy, and was transferred to the Graphics Division. The 1877-1878 edition of Civil Government in Rhode Island: Joint Rules and Orders... issued to Asahel Matteson was transferred to the Printed Collection. Several photographs were donated along with the 1999 accession, and these were placed in the Graphics Division.

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Elizabeth F. Grinnell

Box 1, folder 1. Diary, 1904

Box 1, folder 2. Diary, 1904 (typed transcription)

Job Kenyon

Box 1, folder 3. Miscellaneous:

                                    Letters to Asahel Matteson 9/27/1862; and George Arnold, 9/28/1862

                                    Job Kenyon's copy of New South newspaper dated 9/20/1862

                                    Bill from Job Kenyon to Asahel Matteson, 6/21/1885

Amy A. Matteson

Box 1, folder 4. Miscellaneous letters received, 1861-1864, from:

            1861/5/6       Charles Matteson (brother), 5/6/1861 re mustering of troops in Providence

            1862/9/3       Charles, re starting Harvard Law School

            1862/9/11     Charles

            1862/9/28     Charles

            1862/10/19   Charles

            1862/10/28   Sgt. George W. Arnold of 12th R.I., re journey to Virginia

            1862/11/16   Mary L. Sisson (friend) of Quidnick, writing from Providence

            1862/12/19   Eliza __, of Lockport N.Y., re riding in upper train berth in hoopskirt

            1863/1/28     Eliza __, re return of Dr. Kenyon

            1863/5/4       Mary G. Gillette, re life at Music Vale Seminary

            1864/2/4       Charles in Providence, re efforts to teach an escaped slave: "Please send in my old Thompson's Practical School Arithmetic...I wish it for an 'intelligent contraband' who has placed himself under my tuition."

All letters addressed to her in Quidnick, R.I. except 5/7/1861, addressed to the Music Vale Seminary, Salem, Conn.

Box 1, folder 5. Letters from Job Kenyon, 9/1862: 9/15, 16, 19, 26

Box 1, folder 6. Letters from Job Kenyon, 10/1862: 10/1, 7, 12, 14, 19, 24, 28, 29

Box 1, folder 7. Letters from Job Kenyon, 11/1862: 11/13, 20, 29, 30

Box 1, folder 8. Letters from Job Kenyon, 12/1862: 12/11, 13, [22]; 1/1/1863

Box 1, folder 9. Typed transcriptions of Job Kenyon letters, by Alys MacLeod, 1998

Archibald C. Matteson

Box 1, folder 10. Travel diary, 7/11/1924 - 9/2/1924. England and France.

Box 1, folder 11. Letters to father, mother and brother from Harvard and England, 1895

Box 1, folder 12. Genealogical correspondence re Matteson family, 1929-1937

Box 1, folder 13. Miscellaneous:

                                    Letter from aunt Ella in France, 9/29/1908

                                    Biographical data sheet submitted to History of Rhode Island, 1929

                                    Photos and clipping re 1887 journey on ship Kennard, 1933

Asahel Matteson

Box 1, folder 14. Ledger, 1843-1844 for tavern kept at 123 High Street, Providence

                                    High Street ran along what are now Weybosset and Westminster Streets.

                                    Includes accounts for lodging, drinks and care of horses.

                                    According to Representative Men..., in partnership with brother Archibald.

Box 1, folder 15. Miscellaneous:

                                    Recipe for "Tanner's Vegetable Cordial", ca. 1843

                                     Receipt, 1849

                                     Memoranda re George Arnold, 1847-1849

Ella J. Matteson

Box 2, folder 1. Diary, 8/27/1905 - 11/5/1905 ("Records of Eastern Travel, Vol. I")

                                    Across U.S., to Japan, China, India.

Box 2, folder 2. Diary, 11/5/1905 - 12/7/1905 ("Records of Eastern Travel, Vol. II")

                                    Travels through India.

Box 2, folder 3. Diary, 12/7/1905 - 2/4/1906 ("Records of Eastern Travel, Vol. III")

                                    Travels through India.

Box 2, folder 4. Diary, 3/25/1906 - 5/22/1906 ("Records of Eastern Travel, Vol. V")

                                    Java, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Hawaii

Box 2, folder 5. Diary, 5/22/1906 - 6/21/1906 ("Records of Eastern Travel, Vol. VI")

                                    Hawaii, San Francisco, Yellowstone Park, across U.S. to R.I.

Box 2, folder 6. Diary, 6/16/1908 - 7/22/1908 ("Two Years in Foreign Lands, Vol. I")

                                    Steamship across Atlantic, travels in England.

Box 2, folder 7. Diary, 7/23/1908 - 9/4/1908 ("Two Years in Foreign Lands, Vol. II")

                                    England, France.

Box 2, folder 8. Diary, 9/4/1908 - 10/6/1908 ("Two Years in Foreign Lands, Vol. III")

                                    Travels in France.

Box 2, folder 9. Diary, 10/6/1908 - 11/1/1908 ("Two Years in Foreign Lands, Vol. IV")

                                    Travels in Spain.

Box 2, folder 10. Diary, 6/14/1910 - 6/21/1910 (Azores to Boston)

                                    and 2/3/1913 - 4/1/1913 (Rhode Island to Jamaica)

Box 2, folder 11. Miscellaneous:

                                    "The Dorr War", poem dated 1937

                                    Will, 1944

                                    Letter from Dr. James H. Eldredge, 2/10/1890, re her father's death

Rosabelle "Belle" (Himes) Matteson

Box 2, folder 12. Diaries, 1890, 1891, 1892, 1893 (no 1894)

Box 2, folder 13. Diaries, 1895, 1896, 1897

Box 2, folder 14. Diaries, 1898, 1899, 1900

Box 2, folder 15. Diaries, 1901, 1902, 1903

Box 2, folder 16. Diaries, 1904, 1905, 1906

Box 2, folder 17. Diaries, 1907, 1908, 1909

Box 2, folder 18. Diaries, 1910, 1911, 1912

Box 2, folder 19. Diaries, 1913, 1914, 1915

Box 2, folder 20. Diaries, 1916, 1917, 1918

Box 2, folder 21. Diary transcription, 1890-1903

Box 2, folder 22. Diary transcription, 1904-1910

Box 2, folder 23. Diary transcription, 1911-1918

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Arnold, George W. (1840-1862)

China - Description and travel

Coventry, R.I. - Social life and customs

Diaries, 1890-1918

Diaries, 1904

Diaries, 1905-1913

Diaries, 1924

Dorr Rebellion

Europe - Description and travel

Grinnell, Elizabeth F. (1852-1906)

xHimes, Belle

Hotels, taverns, etc. - Rhode Island - Providence

India - Description and travel

Japan - Description and travel

Kenyon, Job (1821-1889)

Matteson, Amy A. (1842-1905)

Matteson, Archibald C. (1873-1939)

Matteson, Asahel (1811-1890)

xMatteson, Belle

Matteson, Charles (1840-1925)

Matteson, Ella J. (1852-1946)

Matteson, Rosabelle (Himes) (1852-1920)

Providence, R.I. - Business records

Tanner's Vegetable Cordial

3rd Regiment, Rhode Island Heavy Artillery

12th Regiment, Rhode Island Volunteer Infantry

United States - History - Civil War, 1861-1865

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