Friday, July 27, 2018

Matthew Harvey Nace

Nace Monument
photo taken by Mike Ruble on July 28, 2018
I first blogged about Matthew Nace back in 2010 in the “Nace Settlement” post about his father’s estate. What became of Matthew was a mystery. From what I’d learned on the Internet, Matthew had apparently died mysteriously in Kansas, date unknown, and his widow married another man. Or maybe not. From what I’ve learned recently, it’s not. But there’s still a mystery.

Some background: Matthew Harvey Nace was one of four sons of William Nace (6 Feb 1797—May 1863): William M. Nace (19 Sept. 1826-2 Oct 1908), Matthew H. Nace (1824-?), Robert M. Nace (1835-?), and John C. Nace (22 Nov 1828-17 Feb 1928). William Nace worked for Col. Matthew Harvey, so it's logical where Matthew Harvey Nace got his name.

The youngest son, John C. Nace, stayed home (except for his service in the 22nd Virginia infantry during the Civil War). But the older sons all left home.

 William Nace Jr. had worked in Richmond at a wholesale grocery and commission house in Richmond from 1848 until early 1856, when “at the solicitation of Honorable Daniel Woodson, secretary of the Interior, he removed to Kansas.” In Lecompton Kansas, he was successful in a number of ventures.

William Jr. was soon joined by his younger brother Robert, who—as of May 1859—became manager of the saloon at the Rowena Hotel, “the most lavish hotel west of the Missouri River.” But Robert appears on the 1855 New York census, where he was living with his older brother Matthew.

So, for some of the Nace boys, there were connections to Richmond, Kansas, and New York. They'd come a long way from Buchanan, Virginia.

Now for Matthew: According to various Internet sites, as well as, Matthew was married to two women named Evaline—one was Evaline Ann Frances Christian (born act. 1830), daughter of Saluda Baker Fuqua Christian Watson (b. 1805 in Charlotte County, Virginia; d.  November 1886 in Lecompton, Kansas, where Matthew's older brother William lived.) This Evaline, who'd had a daughter (Jenny Frances—called “Fanny”) with Matthew in 1849, supposedly also married Robert William Pate in 1849. But that didn't add up.

Here’s the problem: Matthew, Evaline, and Fanny all appear on the 1850 census for Richmond, Virginia. So, it is likely that the Evaline who married Matthew was actually Evaline Augusta Fuqua Christian (whose mother was Saluda Baker Fuqua Christian Watson—same mother as the other Evaline). Somehow, many Internet sites have confused the wives' names while keeping the name of the mother—and the name of the first-born child—correct. 

1850 Richmond Census: Living next door to Matthew and Evaline is a William Christian
and his wife Fanny, and children William (2) and Fanny (6 months), plus a 9-year-old Martha.
Might William be Evaline Christian Nace's brother?
A record exists that this Evaline and Matthew were married in Lynchburg on November 10, 1847. Apparently they were a happy couple. Within a few years, they had three children: Jenny Frances (“Fanny”) in 1849, William (Willie) in December 1850, and Virginia Harvey (“Jenny”) in 1852. During the early 50s, they lived in Richmond where it appears that Matthew was a successful businessman. Since Matthew's older brother had started his career there before going to Kansas, perhaps William had gotten Matthew a job there. At any rate, neither William nor Matthew ever returned home to Buchanan.

In late 2016, a pdf of an article, “The Nace Monument in Hollywood Cemetery” appeared online. It was about the restoration of a lavish monument erected by Matthew Nace for his widow, Evaline Augusta Fuqua who died May 5, 1854. 

The article provides not only the name of his wife, but also connects them to Richmond and hints at Matthew's wealth.

 Here are some screen-grabs from part of the pdf:
The year after his wife died, Matthew and his three children were living in Brooklyn, New York. The New York census for 1955 also shows an L(?) P Christian Nace (listed as "sister" but probably his sister-in-law) and R. W. Nace (his brother Robert?) living with him in a stone house worth $10,000. His vocation was listed as "tobacco." Also in the household were three servants from Ireland. 

Matthew was apparently co-owner of Nace & Coe Company, which seems to have run into problems in 1856. Matthew is accused of robbing and swindling:

Article in The Daily Dispatch of Richmond, VA, 02 May 1856

Did Matthew make it to California? Or did he choose "self-destruction"? It remains a mystery.

It seems unlikely that he ever claimed his children again, and—if he sent them to his father—they didn't stay with his father long. 

According to the 1860 Kansas census, nine-year-old Willie was in Lecompton, Kansas, with his Uncle William. Willie was still there in 1865. The 1870 Federal census for Lecompton Kansas lists eighteen-year-old Virginia Nace living with her grandmother Saluda Christian Watson, who is now the postmistress. Living with them is eleven-year-old Laura Pate, who is likely another granddaughter of Saluda (Was Laura's mother married to Robert William Pate who had allegedly married Evaline in 1849?). What happened to Matthew's oldest daughter Fanny? What became of her is a mystery.