The Story of My Life
There must have been a lucky star near in or near Sagittarius on December 4, 1875. On that cold winter day a baby girl was born to Mary Spottswood Nisbet Matthews and Leonard Matthews. This took place at Oakland, Missouri, near Kirkwood, in a large yellow stucco house with deeply slanting roof and gables, a widow’s walk and high brick chimney. There were wide porches in the three sides of the house, and one porch over the front door. These had much pretty white cutwork trimmings, the vogue of the Victorian era. There was a large water tank on top of the house. It received screened rain water, and a pump in the basement kept it full so that we had running water in our bathroom and toilet. Most people had only outside toilets. We had a large two-sided privy _______.
This large house was situated twelve miles west of St. Louis, Missouri, between the Missouri Pacific and Frisco railroad tracks. One station was Glendale and the other Oakland. When we went to town we often drove in a surrey or a spring wagon with two horses, so in 1875 and the 80’s this, for county life, was what might be called luxury! Now about that baby girl.
I was born on December 4, 1875, under the constellation Sagittarius, the seventh child of a seventh child (like John Burroughs). Whether the number “7” has a luck portent or not I cannot say. However, as I go on with my tale it may be amusing to call attention to a few times when that number or a multiple of it turned up. People born under Sagittarius are supposed to have ups and downs in their lives.
In 1963 my daughter, Mary Levering Chambers Wiese, has asked me to write the story of my life and family with as many dates as I can remember, so here goes!
My mother, Mary Spottswood Nisbet, married Leonard Matthews in St. Louis _______ October 7, 1861. They went to housekeeping on Doris Row, which was on Locust near Sixth Street. A daughter, Mary, was born there in 1862. Isabel, the second daughter, was born two years later.
These two children were left with their grandparents while my mother and father left for a year of extensive travel! On their return they built a cottage on Glendale and Holmes Avenue. Nina and William Nisbet were born there. Then in 1867 father bought the big house previously described, and the family moved in 1869. It was here where the five other children were born – Edmund Orville, Leonard, Jr., and I were born; also a stillborn child, and Claude Levering in 1880.
Mother was still nursing Leonard, seventeen months old, when I was born. Thus the stamp of being a delicate child followed me through life. (Reading novels of Victorian days I found that one child of a large family was usually stamped “the delicate one”.) Well, here is the delicate one, living in fair luxury, good health and comfort, writing her story when eighty-seven years of age!