Throwback Thursday by Matson Insurance: Risk Taker and Timber Entrepreneur “Mac” Matson

Matson Insurance is partnering with Jefferson County History Center to offer exploreJeffersonpa.com readers a look into Jefferson County’s past. Today, Risk Taker and Timber Entrepreneur “Mac” Matson is being showcased.

[Among other things, “Mac” Matson had an interesting career as a timberman. His recollections make interesting reading. (JCHS Collection)]

RISK TAKER AND TIMBER ENTREPRENEUR RICHARD MCCONNELL “MAC” MATSON

“Mac’s” father, Uriah (the second so-named) acquired extensive lumber holdings, and when the boy was fifteen, allowed him to pilot his first raft alone. In his autobiography written during the last decade of his life, Richard wrote:

I was very fond of the water and would take chances that I now know were dangerous. Father was rafting below town and sent me up the creek to turn loose a stick of timber he wanted. The men were to catch it when it floated down to where they were working. I concluded there was no use me walking back those two miles when I could ride. So, I pushed the stick out into the stream and perched myself on top. A more frightened set of men you never saw than they were when they saw me riding on that log. Everybody got ready and as I sailed by several pike poles were fastened into the timber and I was pulled to the shore. Father seemed to be somewhat out of temper, but I could see no reason for so much fuss about a little matter like that.

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Too young and too small to enlist, Richard went to work in his father’s store during the Civil War and received business training that was “a very valuable asset” to him during his lifetime. Over the next two decades, he tried law, opened and closed another store, lost money in a sewing machine deal, dabbled in politics where he usually lost, and ran a raft or two of shingles and such to Pittsburgh. Richard McConnell Matson was not afraid to venture forth, to lose, to succeed, and to learn from his experiences.

Finally, at the age of 39, he and four others purchased timber and a sawmill in Forest County. He wrote that the mill business was not doing well but that he was determined “to stay until the job was finished,” and moved his family to Forest County for the summer.

He later concluded, “Here I laid the foundation for a knowledge of the lumber business that has been of great use as I have continued in the sawmill business up to the present time…. I look back on the time spent in the woods as the most pleasant part of my life. My family were all at home and were working on the mill, and we thoroughly enjoyed life.”

Today, “Mac’s” descendants continue that business.

Copyright@Jefferson County Historical Society, Inc.

Throwback Thursday is brought to you by Matson Insurance in Brookville.

Submitted by the Jefferson County History Center.


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