J. W. Matthews, Governor 1848-50
The South Reporter, Date Unknown
Submitted by Martha Fant
Joseph W. Matthews, who served as governor of Mississippi from January 10, 1848 until January 10, 1850, is the only citizen of Marshall County who has been elected to this exalted position. A curious circumstance of Governor Matthews' election is that he defeated another citizen from Marshall County for the governorship. As the nominee of the Democratic Party, Gov. Matthews received 26,985 votes to 13,997 for Major A. B. Bradford of Holly Springs, hero of the Mexican War and nominee of the Whig Party.
Governor Matthews was a native of Huntsville, Alabama. He came to Pontotoc in 1832 as a surveyor for the Federal Land Office located there following the Chickasaw Cession of 1832 and was employed with surveyors who mapped out the lands of the Chickasaws formally deeded their titles to lands in the state.
Upon completion of the survey, Governor Brown took his pay for survey work in Indian lands. These lands were near the later village of Old Salem. These lands, consisting of several hundred acres, were then in Marshall County but became a part of Marshall County in 1870, when Benton County was created.
Governor Matthews first settled upon his estate, bought slaves and began clearing his lands. After residing upon his plantation for a time, he decided to enter politics and moved to Holly Springs. He was elected a member of the state House of Representatives in 1840, reelected in 1842, and was elected senator from Marshall County in 1848, serving two years.
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