Strange Happenings

Submitted by Ruby Casto

      Benjamin Matthews was a prominate farmer for over 70 years in Eagle District of Harrison County, WV near the small village of Lumberport.

Benjamin was listed in the United States 1860 census living in this area with his wife Rachel (Aschraft) Matthews with their children listed as:
Elizabeth age 25, Catharine age 24, Mary A. age 22, Louisa age 20, John age 15, Benjamin age 12, Thomas age 7 and Mariah C. age 4.

Again in 1880 Eagle District Harrison County, WV, Benjamin, his wife Rachel and his children Elizabeth age 45, Mary A. age 46, Mariah age 24 all listed as daughters house keeping. There was also a grandson Francis B. age 19.

Benjamin's death was placed on record in Harrison County, WV on November 24, 1887 having died on August 17, 1887 at age 75. His occupation was listed as a farmer married and a resident of Lumberport, being an American born in East Virginia and being a resident of Harrison County for 70 years.

John Mathews (1844-1864)

      The subject of this story is of their son John who was only 16 years old when the Great Civil War began.

      The story follows which was told to Ruby Casto the Harrison County Genealogical Society author of our monthly notes, “Ruby's Notes” which everyone enjoys very much and is appreciated by all members.

      Like most families in Harrison County, the Mathews family supported the Union during the Civil War. A son John (1844-1864) joined the Union Army.

      In October, 1864 Benjamin and Rachel received a letter from John in which he wrote that he would be home for a visit in a couple of weeks. One night, close to the time of his arrival, they heard a loud noise coming from the outside. Thinking that the horses kept near the house were trying to get into a barrel of salted meat stored in a corner room off the porch, Benjamin opened the door to investigate. He peered into the night and saw a young Union Soldier standing in the whirling night mist. Straining his eyes to see in the darkness, too his surprise, John was standing in the yard. Startled, Benjamin turned toward Rachel to tell her John was there. When he turned back toward John to tell him to come in, he couldn't see him.

      Believing their son might be playing a trick on them, they went around the house twice and then searched the area near the house. John did not reappear, and no trace of him could be found. A few days later a letter came from the War Department informing them that John had been taken as a POW and died in a Confederate Prison on the same day that he had momentarily appeared at his home.

      This story Benjamin told to his granddaughter, Gertrude Mathews Preston(1878-1957), when she was a little girl.

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