It all started a few years ago when I received the Civil War pension file for John Conway Mattson (my 3rd great grandfather). In the file, I discovered a letter from his second wife Rebecca Oberland Mattson documenting her husband’s service and the history of their family. She mentions that there were four Mattson brothers who served in the Civil War. Four? Hum, I knew about John, David Baker and Jesse, but who was the fourth brother? (for more information on John’s pension records – see previous blog)
Bridging the 1850 Census Gap
The 1850 and 1860 censuses had indicated the brothers David and Jesse were living the house of their parents Joel and Mary Mattson. John Conway is not in the 1850 census with his parents because he is living in another town and working as a puddler. In 1860 there are also two younger children (Franklin – 7 years and Jones P. – 4 years), who I had always thought were more likely to be grandchildren, since the Joel and Mary are 61 years old. I didn’t know who Franklin and Jones’s father might be; could he be the 4th brother?
Bridging the gap to the 1830 and 1840 census records was the starting place, but in many ways added more confusion. You know the story – the adult’s and children’s age ranges were inconsistent from one census to the other, children were in one and disappear in the next (possible deaths), one older “young man” that would be too old to be a child of Mary and Joel Mattson were among other issues. I could account for John Conway and that left two other male children that could be candidates. But who were they?
Chester Civil War Records
When I was at the Salt Lake City Family History Library, I found the Index of Civil War Soldiers & Sailors from Chester County, PA by Douglas R. Harper. I looked for anyone with the last name of Mattson (Matson) and came up with these options:
Anthony Matson, U.S. Marines
David B Matson, Co. G. 82nd PA (Brother)
Jesse C. Matson, Co. H. 130th PA (Brother)
John C. Matson, 2nd PA (Brother)
George Matson, F 9 PA, A 97 PA
James P. Matson, Co. F. 49th PA
I looked up Anthony, George and James P. in Fold 3, but the results were inconclusive. No records for George in the Pennsylvania regiments, James P. appeared to have served as an engineer in a Pennsylvania and New Jersey regiments. And finally Anthony was the greatest mystery of all, with a minor’s pension record for Anthony W. Mattson alias P. William Thompson. I wasn’t confident about any of them to order the pension records at $75+ per pension.
Pay Dirt – The Chester County Archives
In planning for my 2 week genealogy trip to Pennsylvania this last July, I looked up the records that would be available at the Chester County Archives. They have an extensive online index and they had the first real clue to the Mattson grandchildren’s origins. They showed up in the docket of Orphan court records with Anthony W. Mattson identified as their father.
Ah…Anthony W. my old friend….so you just might actually belong to the family! But there was no way to be sure until I could get the records in July (More in Part II to be published in October)