Singing conventions were held on the Hayesville town square each May and September. Church choirs competed in the old courthouse for the banner which proclaimed them the best. After the morning session, they spread table clothes under the shade of maple trees and had dinner-on-the-grounds.
Luther Matheson’s group was popular at the singing conventions. “The Ritter Quartet” consisted of Luther who sang lead, Strubbie Galloway, Doc Stanley, and Glen Byers.
Luther and his family attended Myers Chapel United Methodist Church. He sang in the choir and developed a love for gospel music. He also wrote sacred songs. The Stamps Baxter Company published his music in their hymnals.
A native of Clay County, Luther grew up in the Matheson Cove. His parents were Dallas and Martha Elizabeth Norwood Matheson. Dallas owned a lot of land including Shew Bird Mountain where he grew an apple orchard above the frost line. Luther worked on the farm, but followed the example of his father who loved to read.
Luther had a thirst for knowledge. He attended the Hicks Academy and was an outstanding scholar. He received an award for his achievement. Luther became an educator and taught multi-classes at Ogden School and Tusquittee.
He started dating the lovely Mary Elizabeth (Elza) McClure who was George McClure’s daughter. She belong to Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church. Although Luther’s parents were “dyed in the wool” Methodists, he became a Baptist when he and Elza married.
He and Elza lived in the town of Hayesville and joined Truett Memorial First Baptist Church. Luther directed the choir for many years and served as church treasurer.
They were blessed with five children: Ora Matheson Turner, Cora Matheson Johnston, Worth Matheson, Virgil (Dude) Matheson, and Dorothy (Dot) Matheson Moore. Ora and Cora were twins and Dot was the youngest child.
As a youngster, Dot skated on the sidewalk around the town square. She often visited her father, Luther, in the courthouse. He served as Clerk of Superior Court from 1919 to 1930. Luther was well liked by the citizens of Clay County.
He also worked in the Hayesville Post Office. Luther delivered mail on horseback and crossed the river at Herbert Ford. One winter the Hiawasse River had ice. The horse slipped and Luther fell into the cold water. He got pneumonia, a lung collapsed and he was admitted to Emory Hospital. Due to his illness, Luther had to resign as the mail carrier.
Then he opened a country store in town. It carried a variety of goods including groceries, shoes, clothes, and dry goods. It was a popular place for musicians to meet and sing gospel songs with Luther. My grandmother, Minnie Matheson Ledford, was Luther’s sister. She would visit him in the little store when she came to town on Saturdays. Grandma was very proud of Luther because he accomplished so much in life.
Dot has fond memories of her father. “He was a quiet man. Daddy never talked about anyone. He gave a lot of people credit at the store. He didn’t care for material things. It’s amazing how much you miss them when they’re gone.”
Finally, Luther Matheson was a man of many talents. Besides family, his first love was praising his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ through gospel songs at churches and the singing conventions.
by: Brenda Kay Ledford