Nathan K Van Matre Diaries

Name of the Collection

Nathan K Van Matre Diaries, 1880-1916
Accession #1982.07
.20 cubic feet

Provenance of the Collection

The contents were created by Nathan Kelly Van Matre.  The records were donated by Hazel (Mrs. Earl) Whitford on December 8, 1982.  How Mrs. Whitford came to have the diaries is unknown.

Biographical Background

Nathan Kelly Van Matre was the son of John and Mary (Matthews) Van Matre.   He was born on November 14, 1834 in New Vienna, Ohio. In 1836, Nathan's family moved to the Wisconsin Territory in what is now Lafayette County.  Nathan married Marilda Wiley (born 1835 near Cleveland, Ohio) on October 1, 1856.  Nathan and Marilda (known as Rilda) had 4 children and farmed in Willow Springs township in Lafayette county.  By the 1870's, he had become very successful.

Nathan and Marilda moved to Mineral Point in May of 1884 where Nathan worked in publishing and insurance.  Their granddaughter, Leila Allen Ludden, reported that the couple were very religious but after the Christian church they attended near their farm burned, they rarely attended services elsewhere.  They were well known in Mineral Point and the surrounding area.

In their last years, the couple moved in with their youngest daughter, Clara and her husband, Charles Allen on the Allen's farm in Willow Springs township. Through Clara, Nathan and Marilda became the great grandparents of the television celebrity, Allen Ludden.

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of a single Series I, Diaries, 1880-1916.  There are 12 diaries.  These do not cover all of the years between 1880 and 1916.  It is not known if the missing dairies were not saved or if they ever existed.  All but one are handwritten in hard bound books of the type used to keep cash records.  The first diary is a carbon copy of a typed transcript. 

In the diaries, Nathan tracks the weather and daily chores, his business transactions and sales of livestock as well as who visited and where he and his family traveled.  For a reportedly deeply religious person there are only rare mentions of church involvement.

Nathan's diaries begin during the years he was farming and end before his death on December 28, 1917.  A life in a small town between the Civil War and World War I emerges from his daily observations.



Box Inventory of the Collection

Box # Contents of Folders Date Span
Series I. Diaries
1 Diary transcript, carbon copy 1880
1 Diary 1881-1884
1 Diary 1886-1887
1 Diary 1889
1 Diary 1893-1895
1 Diary 1896-1897
1 Diary 1900-1901
1 Diary 1902-1903
1 Diary 1904-1906
1 Diary 1906-1907
1 Diary 1908-1910
1 Diary 1914-1916

Collection Arranged by Shan Thomas, 2016
Finding Guide Written by Shan Thomas, 2018