Civil War Blog

A project of PA Historian

Sudden Death of John L. Matter

Posted By on October 11, 2011


LYKENS — Shortly after 10 o’clock Saturday morning our citizens were shocked by the announcement that John L. Matter died suddenly at his home on Main street.  Inquiry elicited the fact that just a few minutes previous to his demise William James, the apprentice in Mr. Matter’s tailoring establishment, had come down from the sewing room on the second floor to have him mark where to hem a pair of pants.  Mr. Matter took the pair of pants and sent the young man upstairs for something, and as he reached the top step heard the lower door close, as this was Mr. Matter’s method of signaling him to come down.  He found his employer lying on the floor near the centre of the room, purple in the face and apparently strangling.  The boy immediately summoned Mrs. Matter and her niece, Miss Carrie Gratz, when Mrs. Matter lifted her husband’s head to her knee after which he breathed twice and expired.

The funeral was held Tuesday afternoon at 3 o’clock, services being held at his late residence, at which his pastor, Rev. B. F. Powell of the M. E. church, officiated, assisted by Revs. L. D. Steckel and Frederick Getty.  Besides a large number of relatives and friends, Wiconisco Lodge No. 533, I.O.O.F., of which he had been treasurer, and Heilner Post, No. 232, G.A.R., attended in a body. Interment took place on the family burial plot in Odd Fellows cemetery.  The pallbearers were selected from the above named organizations, and J. S. Reiff was the funeral director.

Those attending the funeral from a distance were as follows:  Mrs. John Greenawalt, New York City; Mrs. John O’Neill, Miss Helen Greenawalt, North Clarendon; Mrs. William Bachman, Mrs. Gussler, Mrs. Syler, Sunbury; Mrs. Stroup, Walter Reinhart, Shamokin; Charles Martz, Lock Haven; William Martz, Tower City; Michael Matter and wife, William Messersmith, Mr. Lenker, Mr. Crow, John Messersmith, Miss Bordner, Mrs. Williard, Elizabethville; Mr. Minnich, George Wren and wife, Williamstown; J. H. Stroup, wife and two children, Mrs. Frain, F. W. Sponsler, and wife, Millersburg; Mrs. Jonathan B. Wright, Miss Hannah Weaver, Miss Lillian Holland, Warren E. Yeager, Philadelphia; G. B. Brubaker and wife, Lancaster; H.M. Silverood and wife, Harrisburg; Samuel Orndorff and wife, Miss Jennie Fencil, Steelton; Clara Weaver, Mr. Woodside and wife, Berrysburg; James A. deR. Griesemer and wife, New York City.

Deceased was a son of Christian Matter and wife (nee Lenker) and was born in Washington Township on 8 February 1839.  About the year 1855 he went to Wiconisco to learn the tailoring trade with Jonathan B. Matter, but was with him only about a year when Mr. Matter failed, after which deceased came to Lykens to finish his trade with Amos Kuntzelman.  On Jonathan Matter’s return to Lykens, he again entered his employ and remained with him until the breaking out of the rebellion, when he laid aside the needle to take up the sword in defense of his country.  His first enlistment was for three months in the 10th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company F, under Captain E. G. Savage.  on 14 September of the same year he re-enlisted with Capt. Savage for three years’ service with the 9th Pennsylvania Cavalry, and was veteranized, 1 January 1863 with the same regiment and E. A. Hancock, Captain and was honorably discharged at Harrisburg on 18 July 1865.  he served as an orderly under Col. Francis Jordan in Sherman’s army and had the honor of capturing a Confederate Colonel after an exciting chase of several miles through a  southern wilderness.

After being mustered out of the service he returned to Lykens and engaged in the tailoring business in the basement of J. C. Miller‘s store on Market street.  On 31 October 1865 he married Harriet, daughter of William Martz of this place and about the year 1870 built his present commodious tailoring establishment and residence on East Main street.  His marriage resulted in the birth of three children….

In the death of Mr. Matter, Lykens loses one of its most respected citizens and the  family a kind and good husband and father.  He has held various positions of honor in borough council… and has been treasurer of the local lodge of Odd Fellows since 1874.  He also has for years been a consistent member of the Methodist church and one of its most ardent supporters.  He was one of the veterans in this section to advance the organization of a Grand Army post at this place and has always taken a deep interest in its welfare.

The above article is taken from the Lykens Standard of 6 September 1901.  A complete copy of the obituary is available from the Civil War Research Project.  Mr. Matter is buried in Odd Fellows Cemetery (I.O.O.F.) in Lykens.  Contributions of pictures, documents, etc., pertaining to John L. Matter are sought for the Civil War Research Project.


Leave a Reply

Please note: Comment moderation is currently enabled so there will be a delay between when you post your comment and when it shows up. Patience is a virtue; there is no need to re-submit your comment.