LIGHT AFTER DARKNESS
This is a tribute from a daughter-in-law to her mother-in-law.No one seeing
this lady in her sheltered life in Georgia during the latter half of the nineteenth
century would have dreamed of the cyclone of suffering that she had passed
through in Texas before she became the wife of Dr. William Asbury Mathews,
later my father-in-law. But that story of tragedy was engraved indelibly
on her mind. Twice I heard her tell it, and so impressed was I that notes were
made at the time. Now in my eighty-seventh year I am writing these remarkable
experiences that future generations may see the overruling Providence that
preserved the life of Tryphena Moore Mathews.
Mrs. George W. Mathews
Fort Valley, Georgia
EARLY DAYS IN GEORGIA
Her name was Tryphena, a Bible name, selected by her parents from Romans 16:12,
where Paul gives the list of those whom he saluted in the church at Rome. There
are original "Tryphena" is described as one who "labored in
the Lord." It was a fitting selection because this modern "Tryphena" was
to become one who labored much in the Lord. Her father was George Moore, Sr.,
a prosperous farmer who lived at Robley, near Roberta in Crawford County, Georgia,
and her mother was Rachel, the daughter of John Bryan Williams.
Tryphena was the first-born of many children that came to the Moore home.
She early developed a sense of responsibility as she helped her mother with
the care of her ever-increasing family. When Tryphena was about nineteen, she
married Samuel Crute. a young planter who had moved to Georgia from Louisiana.
She and her husband lived near the Moore home, and her efficiency was so great
that even while her four children, three boys and a girl, were coming she found
time to help her mother and father with their heavy responsibilities.
The Moore family were devout Primitive Baptists. Tryphena's oldest brother,
John Moore married Repsa Dawson and settled at Hatcher's Station, Georgia.
Her sister, Martha, married Jonathan Dawson and settled at Montezuma, Georgia.
Thus brother and sister married brother and sister, and two new homes were
established away from the parental roof-tree.
HER FATHER'S DESIRE
Tryphena's father was a family man. Reluctantly he looked at the two couples
who were newly-weds and realized that they were settled for life. But what
about his eight unmarried childred? He felt that he could not Jet them marry
and leave his neighborhood. And Tryphena! What if she and her husband should
move away? Oh, he could never do without Tryphena, for he depended on her judgement
and often went to her for advice. He looked out of the window at his thirteen
hundred acres of land there in Crawford County. They were not enough! He must
have more land so as to give a large tract to each of the children and thus
induce them all settle around him. But where could such a large tract of land
be found? He thought of South Georgia but rejected the idea. And then he thought
about Texas. The newly opened sections were beckoning to many people in the
Carolinas and Georgia. Land out there was abundant and cheap. The government
was anxious to have it settled. Why yes, that was the solution. They would
all go to Texas, taking Tryphena and her family with them. And then as the
children grew up, he would make it to their interest to settle around him.
He talked it over with his wife and older children. Since Samuel Crute was
a native of Louisiana, it was easy for him to see the possibilities of the
great west, and he readily agreed to go. Then George Moore talked on and on
until all the family, save the two couples already away from home, caught the “Go
West Fever" . So they planned a general exodus.
The first step was to send two of the sons to Texas to buy land. James was
selected for this purpose because he was twenty-eight years old, and he, like
Tryphena, was thoroughly dependable. With him the father sent George, Jr.,
who was twenty-five. These two sons set out upon this important mission to
far away Texas. The young men made the journey successfully and selected Anderson,
Grimes County, Texas as the future home. They thought this would be convenient,
as it was in the southeastern part of the state.
Land was bought, and then with carpenters, bricklayers and other needed helpers
brought with them from among the negroes owned by their father, they commenced
to clear land and to build. This was a big undertaking, for there was to be
a large house for the Moore family, with cabins for all the negroes and shelters
for the stock. Preparations in Georgia went on at the same, time. The house
in which George and Rachel Moore lived had been built in 1823 by her father,
John Bryan Williams an outstanding man in the Revolutionary war. This house
was sold to Dr. Josiah Hilsman. The thirteen hundred acres of land went with
the house. The house, still standing, is now the property of Mr. Walter White
of Robley, Crawford County, Georgia.
After many months spent in clearing and building, James Moore returned to
Georgia to conduct the Moore family to Texas, while son George, Jr., remained
in Anderson to receive them. The only currency used in Texas at that time was
gold. The record is that a false bottom was made in one of the wagons to conceal
the astonishing sum of $30,000.00 in gold which the family took with them.
The party consisted of Mr. and Mrs. George Moore, Sr., six son . and one unmarried
daughter, together with Tryphena Moore Crute, her husband and four children,
a total of fifteen white people. With them they took a large number of negroes,
such as were owned by every southern planter. There were domestic servants,
seamtresses, cobblers, carpenters, farmers, bricklayers - fathers and mothers
with their children - seventy-two in all.
This large party left Knoxville, Georgia, the latter part of January, 1854,
traveling by caravan. And what a caravan it was-the carriages and other vehicles
for the family, wagons for the negroes, other wagons filled with household
furniture and farming implements, all that they would need in that wild country
to which they were going. And somewhere in the long line of vehicles was the
wagon with the false bottom-the one with the $30,000.00 in gold. They started
on Monday morning, January 23, 1854, their first objective being Montgomery,
Alabama. From there on the following Sunday, the 29th of January, they took
a river streamer for Mobile, all their stock, vehicles and furniture being
taken with them on board. At Mobile they embarked on a larger boat for Galveston,
Texas. Sunday, the 5th of February, was spent in Galveston, and while walking
around that afternoon the Moores came to the cemetery. There they were amazed
to see many newly made graves, but (they did not learn until afterward that
an epidemic of Asian cholera had been raging in that port. On Monday the party
hastened on toward Anderson, traveling again by caravan.
The first night out they came to a camping place. In a vacant house articles
of clothing were found, presumably discarded by other campers. Before leaving
Georgia, George Moore had outfitted the whole company of negroes with two new
suits each as well as shoes and other articles of wearing apparel. But their
used things had been left behind to lighten baggage. To see articles of clothing
without an owner was too much for the negroes. They appropriated the garments
without a thought as to why they had been left.
Twenty-four hours later cholera broke out among the negroes feeling the importance
of getting as many of his party as possible Away from the contagion, George
Moore, Sr. left his wife with two Sons, James and Julius Caesar, to care for
the sick, while he took the rest of the party on toward Anderson. But soon
the cholera struck the family, Mrs. Moore, with the two sons left behind, was
attempting to overtake her husband when her strong son, Julius Caesar, twenty
years old, died in the carriage. That was February 10th, and the place was
somewhere between Houston and Anderson.
When Mrs. Moore caught up with the advance party, she was appalled to find
that cholera had broken out among them also, and that they had been forced
to make a camp, three miles south of Anderson. A vacant house had been secured,
but so great and rapid were the ravages of the disease that beds could not
be put up fast enough to receive the sick, and pallets were hastily laid on
the floor. Death and destruction came in like a flood. William Simpson Moore,
age 14, died February 12th, two days after Julius Caesar, and on the same day,
the record reads, Rachael, the young daughter of fifteen years also passed
The next day, February 13, George Moore, Sr., while sitting in the doorway
of the temporary home, discovered that his finger-nails were turning purple.
He recognized the ominous sign and sent at once to Anderson for a lawyer. While
waiting he called his family and gave instructions to them. Bobby, five years
old, was in the room when the lawyer arrived but went out into the yard to
play. George Moore's first words to the lawyer were, "Hurry! Hurry!" He
dictated his will, but his hand had to be held to sign it. Meantime little
Bobby was stricken with the disease and in a few hours died. As his father
saw him go, he knew that there was nothing more he could do.
The strong man who was bringing his family to Texas breathed his last. This
was February 13th. The next day Rachel Moore, the heart broken and now widow
mother, who had helped so valiantly by nursing both white and black, was stricken.
All the nursing was now the task of Tryphena, who was fast becoming exhausted.
Rachel Moore saw her daughter's condition and said, "You must lie down
and rest. I will call you when I need you."
Tryphena, worn with nursing and anxiety, did as she was told. She dropped
down on the pallet on which her mother was lying. How long she slept she did
not know, but when she awoke, the mother's hand was on the daughter's breast,
as if to keep her from rising. The mother was dead. That was February 14th,
and before night James Moore who had supervised the building of the house at
Anderson and who had returned to Georgia with high hopes to bring the family
to that desired haven, died also. The very next day, February 15th, Tryphena
saw her eighteen-year brother, Sylvanus die, and three days afterwards an eleven-year
old brother Augustus passed away. And then came the tragedy of tragedies. Sometime
during these days of agony-the record does not say when-Tryphena saw her strong
young husband, Samuel Crute, and their three boys, George Moore and William
and Allen, all stricken with the dread disease. The three boys died, but their
father rallied and said that he was all right. Meantime the mortality was great
among the negroes. Some died every day until thirty-two had passed away. Of
the seventy-two who had left Georgia, only forty were left.
One cannot visualize the suffering and distress which must have existed under
an environment so crude and harrowing. It was said that the disease ran its
course in some cases in three hours; in others, in three days. On February
19th Tryphena and her weakened husband with their only remaining child, a little
girl of one year, left for Anderson three miles away.
The sun was just up when the sorrowing couple reached the house that James
and George Moore had spent months in preparing to receive them all. Seeing
Samuel, her husband, put his hand to his head, Tryphena asked if he felt, sick,
and he replied, "No". After taking a bath that morning he went down
town and bought a full suit of clothes, but on returning to the house he had
to acknowledge that he was ill. The dangerous after effects of cholera were
upon him, and he died that day, February 19th.
Thus nine members of the Moore family and four of the Crute family had died
of the Asiatic cholera in ten days. No one of the Moore family in Texas was
left to Tryphena save her brother George, Jr., the one who had remained in
Anderson while James went to Georgia to conduct the party. And of the Crute
family there was only the baby girl, who like herself, had escaped the cholera.
But alas! measles were going around in Anderson, and the nursing baby, weakened
by t he ordeal through which her mother had passed, took the disease and within
II month she too was dead. This was the last blow in the amazing chapter of
calamites. But new friends were raised up to help Tryphena. The Episcopal
Rector of Anderson visited her, and the ladies of his church ministered to
her in her sorrow and desolation. Tryphena always spoke most gratefully of
News traveled slowly in 1854. John Moore, the married son who had remained
in Georgia, was in his front yard one afternoon when he saw Mrs. Pittman, a
neighbor who lived four miles away, riding toward him on horseback. As she
reached him, she spread out a county weekly which contained news of the tragedy
which had overtaken the Moore and Crute families in Texas. John Moore made
hurried preparations and left the next day for Anderson. It was all too true.
He found his sister Tryphena with George, Jr. two of them alone. He remained
several months, helping to adjust affairs, and then returned to Georgia by
stage-coach, bringing Tryphena with him.
Some years after this, John Moore, Jr. met a salesman on Lookout Mountain,
who lived fifty miles from Anderson, Texas. Speaking of the family history
connected with that place, John Moore asked this gentleman if, when in Anderson,
he would inquire about the graves of the Moore family, as George Moore, Sr.,
had provided in his will, on the day of his death, and adequate sum for funeral
expenses and markers for the graves.
A most courteous letter was received later from this friend, containing four
pictures of the lot and the graves. A tall monument in the center bore the
names of the Moores, seven buried in one grave. Another monument and individual
markers recorded the deaths of the Crute family.
FROM THE FAMILY BIBLE
GEORGE MOORE, SR.
Record of Deaths from Asiatic Cholera, February 10-19, 1854.
Near Anderson, Grimes County, Texas
Julius Caesar Moore, age 20 ..................... February 10, 1854
William Simpson Moore, age 14 ............... February 12,1854
Rachel Moore, age 15 .............................. February 12, 1854
George Moore, Sr ................................... February 13, 1854
Bobby Moore, age 5 ............................... February 13, 1854
Mrs. Rachel Moore ................................. February 14, 1854
James Moore, age 28 .............................. February 14, 1854
Sylvanus Moore, age 18 .......................... February 15. 1854
Augustus Moore, age 11 ......................... February 18. 1854
Since the Bible belonged to the Moore family, it did not contain the
records of the Crute family, but this much is surmised;
George Moore Crute
These boys died between February 14-February 18.
Samuel Crute-died in Anderson, February 19, 1854.
Crute infant girl, 1 year, died March 27, 1854.
George Moore, Jr . had cholera but recovered and remained in Anderson in charge
of property there.
LIFE BEGINS AGAINS
When Tryphena Moore Crute returned to Georgia, she made her home with her
sister, Mrs. Jonathan Dawson of Montezuma, Georgia. Bereft was she of father,
mother, six brothers, one sister, her husband and three children, who died
with Asiatic cholera in ten days (her remaining child dying one month later
with measles). Who can describe the loneliness of this sole survivor of the
family which left Georgia with high hopes for their new home in Texas?
What could life hold for her now? She might have said with Naomi: "I
went out full, and the Lord hath brought me home again empty." There are
few parallels to this tragedy. One is reminded of the annals of Job in Holy
Writ. But Thomas Moore in hymn, "Come, Ye Disconsolate," gives the
triumph of faith when he says, "Earth has no sorrow that Haven cannot
heal" So it was in the case of Tryphena. Long ago the prophet Isaiah recorded
this gift of God:
"Beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise
for the spirit of heaviness."
This was truly verified in Tryphena's life. In the course of time Tryphena
Moore became the wife of Dr. William Asbury Mathews of Fort Valley, Georgia,
who was himself a lonely widower. God gave her a happy Christian home, from
which arose daily the incense of family prayer.
Dr. Mathews, as the name Asbury would indicate, came of well-grounded Methodist
ancestry. His children recalled hearing him speak often of a visit made to
his father's home by Bishop Asbury, and how this visit became to young William
Asbury a treasured memory. Being an active practitioner, his attendance upon
church services was necessarily irregular, but his Christian experience burned
with a steady warmth and found expression in untold deeds of compassionate
ministry. For his children one of childhood's vivid memories is the picture
of his kneeling form at the family altar and the sound of his voice in prayer.
The epitaph upon his tomb is still his most fitting eulogy:
"A Gentleman, A Philanthropist, A Christian."
After her marriage Tryphena united with th Methodist Church. She devoted herself
unstintedly to the work of the Kingdom and was unsparing in her ministries
in the church and the community. When she was growing old, it was said of her, "Beyond
the deep stillness of the midnight, even when the snow of seventy winters lay
upon her saintly head, in the cabin of the negro, in the cottage of the white
man-wherever human beings were languishing in sickness, or human hearts were
a thirst for the waters of salvation, there her radiant presence turned their
gloom into comfort and joy." So much for her ministry in the community.
But what did God give her to make up for the children she had lost? Ah! here
was her crowning blessing, for He gave her exactly what she had lost; namely,
three sons and a daughter, actually born in the same order as the children
of her former marriage. But these children lived to grow up, and under a godly
father and mother they were trained in childhood, given a college education
and sent out to bless the world. They were Henry Asbury Mathews, George William
Mathews, Samuel Moore Mathews, Helen Mathews Wright. Here are brief sketches
of each of them:
HENRY ASBURY MATHEWS
After a happy childhood this son graduated from Emory College. He studied
law and soon became a jurist of distinction and was elect by his section, first,
to the legislature and then to the state senate. Later he was elected Judge
of the Superior Courts of Bibb County Circuit, which consisted of Peach County,
Houston County and Crawford County. Because of his keen mind, his deep sincerity
and high sense of justice, he was held in great esteem by all the people
of his section, With a real spiritual background it was not strange that
he was known as a man of the highest Christian integrity. For many years
he was a steward in the Methodist Church and was also superintendent of the
Sunday School. A pastor of his said, "Fort Valley thought of Judge Mathews
not so much as a man of good report, but as God's man, full of faith and
the Holy Ghost."
His death came suddenly on Monday morning in Macon. just after he had taken
his seat on thebench. Stricken with a heart attack. He was carried into
a n .adjoining room. Where in a few minutes he had passed away. It was said
of him, "This servant of the people while in his place on the bench and
engaged in the discharge of his duty, was at work up to the last moment of
his life." A short time before his death, when advised by some medical
friends to slow down in his activities, he had replied: "You need not
be disturbed. I have long ago set my house in order." He was survived
by his wife, the former Lulu Murphy of Ellaville and two sons, Samuel Moore
Mathews and Henry Asbury Mathews, Jr.
GEORGE WILLIAM MATHEWS
And what shall I say of my husband, Tryphena's second son? He became a minister
of the gospel in the Methodist Church of the South Georgia Conference, where
he served for forty-seven years. He was also a pioneer in the Holiness Movement
in Georgia, for he was one of the group of four , who, with Rev. W. A. Dodge,
selected the site for the Indian Springs Holiness Camp Ground. He followed
Brother Dodge as President of the Board of Trustees of the Camp Ground and
served in that office for twenty-one years. George Mathews is remembered
for his zeal in missions. The three burning themes of his ministry were: "Holiness
of Heart and Life"
"The Stewardship of Money and Property"
"The Evangelization of the World"
Bishop W. N. Ainsworth, who officiated at his funeral, paid this tribute: "George
Mathews believed in the Methodist doctrine of holiness and exemplified in his
own life all of its beauty and charm." On his ministry in the Conference
the Bishop said: "George Mathews was a missionary. He studied missions,
he prayed missions and preached missions. It is doubtful if any man in Georgia
Methodism contributed more than he to the creation of a missionary spirit in
his day and generation." In writing of him Bishop Warren Candler, a beloved
classmate and friend, said: "He was an Israelite in whom there was no
guile." Death came to him as the result of an automobile accident. He
lived nineteen days and died at the age of sixty-eight.
When told that his end was approaching, George Mathews lifted his arm and
waved his hand and with a clear voice said: "FOR THE HONOR AND GLORY OF
THE KINGDOM! " These were his last words. He left two sons and two daughters,
Alex M. Mathews, Helen Mathews Luce,George W. Mathews, Jr. and Lucy Mathews
SAMUEL MOORE MATHEWS
This third son chose his father's profession and became a physician. He always
remembered one incident in his life as a medical student. While in Louisville,
Kentucky, he heard one of his professors who was lecturing on epidemics relate
to the experience of a Georgia family which emigrated to Texas in 1854. The
Professor said, "This is one of the most remarkable cases on record,
for unwittingly they came in contact with Asiatic cholera. Of the fifteen
in the family which left Georgia for Texas, thirteen died with this disease
in ten days.
Thirty-two negroes who were taken to Texas with the party also died during
that period." After the class young Sam went forward and said, “You
have told the story of my own people, for my mother, Tryphena Moore Mathews.
was the sole survivor of that family which was wiped out.” After his
graduation Dr. Samuel Moore Mathews was a beloved physician in Quitman, Georgia.
Following a major operation he was a great sufferer. He died in the faith,
leaving a wife, formerly Hannah Mabbett of Quitman, and a little daughter,
Ida Helen, who in later years became the wife of Pomeroy Nichols.
HELEN MATHEWS WRIGHT
This was Tryphena's only girl-a worthy daughter of a great mother. One loves
to trace to its source the springs of her life. There was the godly home with
its family altar, with the daily life of Tryphena, her mother, as a constant
reminder of the abounding grace of God. In childhood Helen was converted
and joined the church. But there was an epochal experience in her life, when
as a young graduate home from college, she knelt at the altar during a revival
in the old Methodist church and made a wholehearted consecration of herself
The message that day was, " Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed
unto sin and alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Rom. 6:11
In the strength of that command, she lived a singulary devoted life, and through
the years which followed she was a witness to the cleansing blood of Jesus
Christ. For twenty-five years she was the teacher of the Woman's Bible Class
of the Methodist Church, and for a number of years she was the president of
the Woman's Missionary Society. She was a devoted wife and mother.
Her husband, W. C. Wright, was a faithful steward of the church. She passed
away at the age of seventy-three, leaving two sons, William Mathews Wright
and George Osgood Wright. A beautiful window in the church at Fort Valley is
dedicated to the memory of this splendid woman. The words of George Herbert,
which she loved and often quoted, might fittingly be called Helen's "Psalm
of Life." Teach me, my God and King, In all things Thee to see. And what
I do in anything To do it all for Thee. If done to obey thy laws E'en servile
labors shine. Hallowed is toil, if this the cause, The meanest work divine.
But to go back to Tryphena herself-who became my dear "Mother Mathews." Her
last years were spent in the home of Judge and Mrs. Henry A. Mathews. Time
fails to tell of the happy years she spent in Fort Valley. But mention must
be made of the closing time of her life, for then, as a result of a fractured
hip, she became a shut-in for a number of years. At that time her room became
a shrine where troubled hearts sought comfort and advice. Young wives and mothers
came frequently to talk about the problems of their lives. Especially was this
true of her preacher son, George Mathews. On the eve of a meeting in his church,
it was his habit to make a pilgrimage to her bedside. There he enlisted the
interest and prayers of his mother and gathered strength and faith for the
days to follow.
When she died in 1905 at the age of eighty-two, her pastor, Reverend T. L.
Lang, said: "She was an epistle known and read of all men," and "her
works do follow her ... In the group yesterday morn during the hour of her
translation, with the children of her own blood and her best friends of her
family, there were representatives of the progeny of Ham-a black man and a
black woman. This was not a coincidence. It was all unconscious tribute to
the universality of her beneficence. Her long suffering was crowning glory
of her years." The stone that marks her last ,resting place bears the
Wife of Dr. William A. Mathews
Nov. 16, 1905
Her children arise up, and call her blessed
Faithful unto death, she has received a crown of life, and had
entered into an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth
not away, reserved in heaven for her.
The following words of Frances Ridley Havergal are to men. Her daughter-in-law,
an epitome of the life of Tryphena Moore Mathew
Life after darkness,
Gain after loss,
Strength after weakness,
Crown after cross,
Sweet after bitter,
Hope after fears,
Home after wandering,
Praise after tears.
Sheaves after sowing,
Sun after rain,
Sight after mystery,
Peace after pain,
Joy after sorrow,
Calm after blast,
Rest after weariness,
Sweet rest at last.