Lucy Ann Spotswood Matthews, A Vintage Vignette

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Lucy Ann Spotswood Matthews
A Vintage Vignette by John P. Rankin
September 4, 2010

There is such an overwhelming amount of information about Lucy Ann Spotswood (1816-1874) and her husband Luke Matthews (1796-1875) that an entire book could be written about their life stories and their ancestry. They both came from prominent Virginia families and lived in this area during the plantation slavery era and survived to live in Huntsville for ten more years after the Civil War. In their last census record of 1870, six of their children were living in their household. That household included twelve members listed as “black”. One was a minister, three were cooks, two were laborers, and one other adult (a 40-year-old female) was shown with no occupation but was checked in the column headed “deaf and dumb, blind, insane, or idiotic”. It appears that the Matthews family was continuing to provide for their household servants after emancipation, but they had been shown to have at least 72 slaves in the earlier censuses before the Civil War.

Lucy was Luke's second wife. Luke died owning about 10,000 acres. The Huntsville Advocate newspaper obituary stated that he had eight children by his first wife, Judith Peete, and eight more by Lucy. Census records and other sources, such as the book LURE AND LORE OF LIMESTONE COUNTY by Chris Edwards and Faye Axford, show that Judith had only four children. It is certainly possible that four more were born but passed away without being recorded in the censuses. Luke's obituary also stated that he had served in the War of 1812. Considering his birth year, he would have been a very young soldier. His father, another Luke, was a soldier of the American Revolutionary War. After Luke Senior died in Campbell County, Virginia, his wife Judith Dance Matthews came around 1820 to the Madison and Limestone County area with several of her children, including Luke Junior. The 1830 census shows Judith with son John Matthews living next door, both in the Triana area of Madison County. Their neighbors included William J. Adair, Harris Toney, James Lewis, William Watkins, Mary Lanier, and Thomas Whitworth. It is thought that the 1830 Thomas Whitworth may have been the father (or an uncle) of Daniel Whitworth, the progenitor of the Whitworths of Madison.

Lucy Ann Matthews' parents were Elliott Spotswood (1785-1837) and Sarah Dandridge Littlepage (1790-1854). They were married in 1808 in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. Elliott's parents were Captain John Spotswood (1747-1800) and Sarah Rousee (1750-1798). Captain John's parents were another John Spotswood and Mary Dandridge. The senior John was son of a colonial governor of Virginia, Alexander Spotswood (1676-1740) and Ann Butler Bryane. Mary Dandridge was a daughter of William Dandridge and Unity West. William was an uncle of Martha Dandridge Custis Washington, wife of a man named George, who was our first President. Martha Washington was also a great-grandmother of General Robert E. Lee's children. Alexander Spotswood was born in Morocco, a descendant of King Robert II of Scotland of the 1300s. Alexander had numerous connections to the family of George Washington (see the on-line Wikipedia for many more details of his life and links).

Connection to our country's first President was not at all the only link to America's leadership for the family of Lucy Spotswood. The list of “Famous Relatives” for Lucy is quite long, including such notables as U. S. Presidents Bill Clinton, Lyndon Johnson, and Zachary Taylor plus “First Ladies” Lady Bird Johnson (Claudia Taylor), Rosalynn Smith (wife of Jimmy Carter), Grace Goodhue (wife of Calvin Coolidge), Harriet Lane (popular “fill-in” niece of James Buchanon, a bachelor), Julia Gardiner (John Tyler's wife), Anna Tuthill Symmes (wife of William Henry Harrison, and Angelica Van Buren, daughter-in-law of Martin van Buren, a widower. Besides such political figures, Lucy's line is also related to other famous folks such as Wernher von Braun, Mae West, Helen Keller, Doc Holiday, Pretty Boy Floyd, Sam Walton, Howard Hughes, William Randolph Hearst, Dezi Arnaz (Cuban-American actor-musician), Ruby Dee (African-American actress), F. Scott Fitzgerald, Aldous Huxley, Walt Whitman, William Faulkner, Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and others in America and overseas. Her descendants should be proud of their overall heritage through time.

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