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Mattie Walter Moore


Posted By: Bruce L. Pearson (email)
Date: 5/16/2013 at 19:45:30

Mattie Walter Moore

Mattie Walter was born on 15 February 1871 in Forest Home, Iowa, the only daughter of John and Sarah Walter and the grand daughter of John Walter and Barbara Spack Walter. (See separate write ups on John and Barbara Walter). According to Jay Dixon, John Walter, the oldest son of John Walter and Barbara Spack Walter, was born on 1 February 1846 in New York (possibly in Lynn, Steuben County) and died on 29 December 1904 in Prairie, Mahaska County, Iowa. His wife, Sarah T. Mackey, was born on 26 June 1844 in North Carolina and died on 25 May 1900 in Prairie, Iowa. John and Sarah Walter are both buried in Highland Cemetery, Eddyville, Iowa.

It is not known whether Mattie had any siblings. In a newspaper article about her 102nd birthday, Mattie said that her father had been a prisoner during the Civil War at Andersonville Prison in Georgia. According to the article, her father's father, name not mentioned, had been captured by the Confederates, but as was permitted during the Civil War, the Confederates exchanged Mattie's grandfather for her father, who was young and healthy. Mattie's father was a prisoner for nine months and almost starved to death before the war ended and he returned home. (Fresno, Calif. Bee, 20 March 1973).

The foregoing about Mattie's grandfather appears to be incorrect; it was actually her father who served in the Civil War. According to iagenweb.org/civilwar/books/logan/mil608.htm, one John Walter, age 18, born in New York, residing in Centerville, Iowa, enlisted on 22 August 1863 as a bugler in the Eighth Iowa Cavalry, Company H. He mustered on 3 September 1863, was taken prisoner (date and place not indicated), and mustered out on 5 June 1865 in Clinton, Iowa. According to another source (Centerville newspaper, in listsearches.rootsweb.com/th/read/IA-Civil War/2004-08/1091963806), John Walter was captured on 30 July 1864 in Newnan, Georgia. A third source, History of Appanoose County, 1878, page 421, lists "Jno. Walter, trumpeter, enlisted on 22 August 1863, capt(ured) at Newnan, Georgia. Member of Eighth Iowa Cavalry, Company H. The Eighth Cavalry was mustered out at Macon, Georgia, on August 13, 1865." A fourth source, itd.nps.gov/cwss/andDetails.cfm, lists both a John Walter and a J. Walter as prisoners at Andersonville Prison in Georgia.

We have one photo of Mattie as a young woman, taken in 1898 on her parents' farm near Forest Home. It shows Mattie sitting in a carriage with her dog, Max, behind two horses -- Prince and Alec. Mattie once told her distant cousin, Robert Pearson, that it was her favorite photograph. Little is known of Mattie's early life. In the Bee article, she mentioned she had been raised a Methodist. She married a man named Moore and had two children, Mildred and Willis. By 1911, Mattie was a widow raising her two small children in Oskaloosa, Iowa. She did "whatever I could find to do", including teaching piano and working as a practical nurse.

According to research in 2010 by Jay Dixon, a descendant of the Walters residing in Lisbon, Iowa, Mattie married William S. Scott (date unknown). Scott died on 24 June 1912 and is buried in Highland Cemetery, Eddyville, Iowa. William and Mattie had two children -- Mildred June Moore, born in 1904 in Mahaska County, Iowa, and J. Willis Moore, born on 1 December 1910 in Union Township, Mahaska County (according to his record of birth). On 11 August 1925, Mildred married Cecil Cavender Scott in Creston, Iowa. Cecil was born on 14 June 1905 in Wapello, Iowa, the son of Ulysses Grant Scott and Nancy Humphred (sic, should probably be Humphreys). Mildred died sometime in the late 1960's, possibly in California. It isn't known whether she and Scott had any children.

At some point, Mattie and Willis moved to Long Beach, Calif., which was where many other Iowans moved during the 1920's. She managed an apartment house there. Mattie didn't talk about Willis, except to mention in the Bee article that both her children were deceased. Robert "Bob" Hagan, a grandson of Hiram L. Walter, knew Mattie's son Willis. In an interview in Irving, Texas, in July 2007, Bob recalled the following:

Willis grew up in Long Beach and became an excellent swimmer and diver. He worked as a salvage and rescue diver for the City of Long Beach. In the mid-1940's, Willis served in the U.S. Army. Around 1946, he was stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington, when he met Bob Hagan, who was at that time living in Olympia, Washington. Bob sold Willis a 1928 Chevrolet. Willis was still an excellent swimmer, but he had become a heavy drinker. While at Fort Lewis, Willis married an older woman, Mrs. Banker, who was the mother of one of Bob's high school friends. After being discharged from the Army, Willis returned to California and just disappeared.

Jay Dixon learned that on 6 May 1944, Willis enlisted in the U.S. Army in Phoenix, Arizona. At that time, he was listed as married. His Army service number was 39865346. According to an obituary in the Arizona "Republic" newspaper, dated 16 September 1967, J. Willis Moore, age 56, born in New Sharon, Iowa, died on "Wednesday". He was a pipefitter who moved to Phoenix "20 years ago" from Long Beach, Calif. and resided at 1340 E. Mountain View, Phoenix. He was a World War II veteran and belonged to Post 9400, Veterans of Foreign Wars. His wife Ruth survived him.

Getting back to Mattie. Around 1957, she moved to Fresno, Calif. She had three distant cousins also living there: Louise Enger, Leota Stephenson and Robert Pearson. Note: Louise Enger and Leota Stephenson were sisters and were apparently the granddaughters of Edward C. Walter and Louisa Letitia Withrow. The parents of Louise and Leota are not known. Louisa Letitia Withrow Walter was born on 19 January 1866 and died on 23 May 1934, place unknown.

Mattie moved into the Fresno Senior Citizens Village circa 1964. Mattie died at the age of 104 on 27 July 1975 in Clovis, Calif., and is buried in the Odd Fellows (IOOF) Cemetery in Fresno.

Mattie was only 4 feet 8 inches tall and weighed 90 pounds. In the Bee article, she made the following observations:

"I believe the man on the moon was quite a feat, but they spent an awful lot of money on those things. Maybe someday they'll get a return that will help somebody."

"Our (religious) services here (at the Senior Village) are nondenominational. We're all striving for the same place, so it doesn't make any difference what our church preference is."

Mattie said she only tried smoking once. She admitted to having an occasional glass of wine but never drank any hard liquor. "And I don't drink milk. When I was a child, my parents got me a mug to induce me to drink milk, but I refused. Maybe that's the reason I didn't grow anymore." She ate a normal diet, including vegetables, cottage cheese, eggs and meat, and didn't take any vitamin supplements.

She attributed her long life to personal determination. "You have to set your mind to thinking you can do things, then do it. Just keep busy, work hard and don't complain. Complaining doesn't help anybody."

Mattie enjoyed knitting, working crossword puzzles, reading and watching Lawrence Welk and game shows on television. She also played bingo once a week.

Whatever she did -- or didn't do -- it worked for her. She outlived 15 U.S. presidents, lived through five wars and saw the advent of the automobile, airplane, the telephone, television and manned space flight.

Bruce L. Pearson, the author of this biography and the son of Robert Pearson, met Mattie a couple of times in the early 1970's, when she was already over 100 years old. He recalls Mattie as being very intelligent and having a good memory. Bruce, who had been living in Colombia, gave Mattie a small emerald, which she appreciated very much. Mattie had outlived almost everyone she had ever known and was therefore somewhat lonely. Nevertheless, she appeared to be cheerful most of the time and was still interested in current events. She was basically an optimistic person and didn't dwell on the past misfortunes of her life.


Appanoose Biographies maintained by Renee L. Rimmert.
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