Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book


Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Nehemiah Matson  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Non-Fiction

Born: 1816

Sites:


Illinois Connection

Nehemiah Matson was an early Illinois settler and wrote extensively about the earlier French and Indian inhabitants.

Biographical and Professional Information

Nehemiah Matson was a Princeton resident and was one of the most prolific and entertaining amateur historians of the nineteenth-century llinois. Because of his indiscriminate mixing of fact and legend, however, scholars generally discount his books as valid sources. But he does providevaluable clues for the researcher, and some of his apparently legendary tales can be verified.


Published Works Expand for more information


Titles At Your Library

French and Indians of Illinois River (Shawnee Classics)
ISBN: 0809323648

Southern Illinois University Press. 2001

Complex and paradoxical, Nehemiah Matson (1816–1873) celebrated the occupation of the Middle West by European pioneers even as he labored to preserve the memory of the natives these pioneers replaced. He perpetuated the memory of the Indians who were driven out of the territory, but he nevertheless accumulated wealth selling their land to the pioneers. Rodney O. Davis notes in his new foreword to this book that Matson combined the attributes of a scholar with those of a salesman and promoter.

Matson settled in Princeton, Illinois, in 1836. He left behind a library partially endowed by him, named for him, and finally completed in 1913. According to Davis, however, Matson’s other legacy, “of equal significance in his own eyes, consisted of the five books he authored on northern Illinois and Illinois River history and cartography, volumes based not only on conscientious scholarship but also on both Indian and white reminiscence and on local folklore.”

Matson’s historical writings are valuable even when he deals with well-known events because his personal perspective makes his observations unique. Without the stories and reminiscences he collected, much valuable information would have been lost, especially since many of his informants, both Indian and European, were illiterate. Because his informants often told conflicting stories, Matson admitted that “harmonizing all conflicting accounts . . . has not been a success.”

Although Matson’s sources may not always have agreed, and sometimes his heart may have overruled his head and colored his accounts, he was a conscientious and committed author. “Obviously,” Davis explains, “this book must be evaluated as what it is, a piece of colorful local history, romantically anchored in legend yet rooted also in invaluable research and produced by a dedicated amateur whose standards were high. . . . French and Indians of Illinois River is a model of its type, indeed a minor classic.”

**REPRINT** Matson, N. (Nehemiah), 1816-1883. Pioneers of Illinois, containing a series of sketches relating to events that occurred previous to 1813; also narratives of many thrilling incidents connected with the early settlement of the West, drawn from history,**REPRINT**
ISBN: B004IODXUS

Chicago. Knight & Leonard, printers, 1882.. 2010

Reminiscences of Bureau County [Illinois] in Two Parts, Parts 1-2
ISBN: 1148698205

Nabu Press. 2010

This is a reproduction of a book published before 1923. This book may have occasional imperfections such as missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. that were either part of the original artifact, or were introduced by the scanning process. We believe this work is culturally important, and despite the imperfections, have elected to bring it back into print as part of our continuing commitment to the preservation of printed works worldwide. We appreciate your understanding of the imperfections in the preservation process, and hope you enjoy this valuable book.

Beyond The Atlantic; Or, Eleven Months' Tour In Europe, Egypt And Palestine, With Illustrations
ISBN: B004J8D3XA

Princeton Ill. Republican Printing Establishment. 2010

Memories Of Shaubena: With Incidents Relating To The Early Settlement Of The West
ISBN: 0548224072

Kessinger Publishing, LLC. 2007

This scarce antiquarian book is a facsimile reprint of the original. Due to its age, it may contain imperfections such as marks, notations, marginalia and flawed pages. Because we believe this work is culturally important, we have made it available as part of our commitment for protecting, preserving, and promoting the world's literature in affordable, high quality, modern editions that are true to the original work.