JOHN W. MATHENY,
who is holding the office of city clerk for the fourth term and who for the past decade has been engaged in the fire insurance business, has attained a prominent and influential position in the affairs of Newton and Jasper county. Since first becoming a factor in the world of affairs he has been engaged in more than one line of industry,—mercantile, grocery and the hotel business,—and has found success in all. Essentially public spirited, he has long been recognized as a safe man to whom to entrust important public interests and he has been the incumbent of a number of offices. It is a pleasure to the biographer to take up the record of his life, which has ever been of the most praise-worthy character.
John W. Matheny was born with what seems to be the greatest “open sesame” to success—his birthplace was upon the farm, and the date of his nativity was March 15, 1870. His father, Norman C. Matheny, was born January 12, 1850, also in Jasper county, and spent his earlier life upon his farm, but subsequently engaged in public life, holding a number of offices. He died February 14, 1912, at his home in Newton. He was engaged for a number of years in the hotel business at Newton, conducting the Hudson House. He was married in 1869 to Sarah Hunt, of Jasper county and they became the parents of six children, three of whom are living, and the subject being the eldest in order of birth. The first wife died in 1884 and in 1889 the elder Mr. Matheny was united to Nancy A. Matheny. Six children were born to the second union and three of this number survive. The subject's father was a Democrat of staunch conviction and took no small interest in public affairs. He was for several years constable of Wade township and was also acting special deputy sheriff. He had at all times taken much interest in the affairs of county, state and nation and was a man of such character as goes to make up the better element of citizenship in any community. He maintained his residence in Newton and was an honored member of the Lutheran church, in whose advancement he. took an active part. He was a lodge man, belonging to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Court of Honor.
The early life of John W. Matheny was spent on his father's homestead farm and its pleasant, if strenuous, experiences constitute some of his happiest memories. He received his early education in the public schools and then, desiring to drink deeper of the “Pierian Spring,” he matriculated at Hayward College, in Fairfield, Illinois, where he pursued a commercial course. He then returned to Jasper county and for a short time was engaged in a general mercantile business at Gila. In October, 1890, he came to Newton and for a period of six years was
employed in a store in this place. Subsequent to that he engaged in the grocery business in association with other parties, the firm having the caption of T. D. Foster & Company. He remained thus engaged for three years and then acted as clothing salesman for another firm for a period of three years. In 1902, following the example of his father, he entered the hotel and fire insurance business, conducting the Evans House, but his career as “Mine Host” was limited, for after seven months the Evans House was destroyed by fire. It was then that Mr. Matheny went into the fire insurance business, in which he has met with great success.
Mr. Matheny, like his father before him, is a loyal supporter of the men and measures of the party of Jefferson, Jackson and Cleveland. He was first chosen for public office in 1892, when the people elected him town clerk of Grove township. He could not have begun his career any younger, for that was the spring he became of age. He held the above-mentioned office for a year, and then came to Newton. In 1895 he was elected alderman of the Third ward and as such served one term of two years. In 1897 he was appointed city collector and served one year, and in 1898 he was re-elected city alderman of the ward he had previously represented so well. In 1905 he was elected city clerk and has ever since held the office, having now entered upon his fourth term. He is one of the most progressive and enlightened members of the board of education and has served in that body for twelve years. At the present time he is also deputy county coroner. Mr. Matheny has achieved that highest success—good citizenship. His methods are in keeping with the progressive spirit of the twentieth century. He is a man of broad humanitarian principles, of earnest purpose and upright life and he does all in his power for the uplifting of his fellow men and the promotion of the moral welfare of the community.
Mr. Matheny was married in 1894 to Irene B. Foster, daugthter of Thomas D. Foster, and their happy union has been blessed by the birth of a trio of interesting children—Nellie S., Alta E. and John A. They are members of the Methodist Episcopal church and the subject is a member of the Court of Honor, in which he enjoys well-deserved popularity.