Mathias Peter King (1840–1910)

Jump to navigation Jump to search
Mathias Peter King
Born(1840-05-09)May 9, 1840
DiedApril 16, 1910(1910-04-16) (aged 69)

Early Life

Mathias was born on May 9th, 1840 in North Huntingdon Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania to Joseph C. King, a miller, and Elizabeth Rodabaugh. His baptismal record is found in the Brush Creek Evangelical Church records. Mysteriously, the King family cannot be found in the 1850 census, even after an extensive search. At the age of 20, Mathias is seen living with Francis M. Null and his family in the nearby East Huntingdon Township. His occupation is listed as "Farm Laborer," and was probably working on the Null farm. The rest of his family was also living nearby in East Huntingdon Township, indicating that the King family had moved sometime between 1840-1860.

Military Career

In April of 1861, the Civil War had broke out. Only two months after it had started, Mathias enlisted in the Union Army on June 28th. After serving two years, he reenlisted in the 28th Pennsylvania Infantry. On May 29th, 1864, Mathias was wounded in the Battle of New Hope Church, but lived to see out the end of the war. Ultimately, he mustered out with company on June 28th, 1865, serving for over four years.

Annals of Southwestern Pennsylvania Biography

Mathias is mentioned in his son Lloyd's biography in the Annals of Southwestern Pennsylvania (1939):

[Lloyd] was born in Bethany, Pennsylvania, November 24, 1889, the son of Mathias P. and Mary Ann (Breegle) King, both of this county. His father, who died in Bethany in 1910, was postmaster at Tarrs Station at the time and prior to that, had been associated with the H.C. Frick Coke Company for many years. Though only sixteen years of age at the outbreak of the Civil War, the elder King enlisted with the Union forces and became a member of Company B, of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, which he served with throughout the conflict, being honorably discharged with the rank of sergeant. During his military career, he was captured by Confederate forces and imprisoned at Libby prison from which he escaped. His brother, Eli, was killed in the battle of Gettysburg. Mathias P. King's wife survived him for twenty-six years, passing away in Bethany on February 10, 1936.

This biography makes several claims about his military career, including many which are simply not true. For example, Mathias was at least 20 years old at the start of the civil war, not 16. Most sources also put Mathias as a Corporal, not a sergeant. His gravestone is also inscribed as a Corporal. The claim that Mathias had escaped Libby prison is up for much debate. Primarily, there are no records tying Mathias to Libby prison in any manner. It is also not known that he was ever even captured by the Confederates. The Libby Prison escape is considered one of the most sensational prison escapes during the Civil War, let alone in the entire United States history. Therefore, it is possible that parts of Mathias's military career were exaggerated or incorrectly told.

Later Life

Soon after the end of the Civil War, Mathias married Mary Ann "Polly" Breegle. It is known that Mathias had worked many years with the H.C. Frick Coke Company, which operated Coke ovens throughout southwestern Pennsylvania. By 1890, Mathias had become Postmaster of Tarrs, a nearby village. As postmaster, he was the enumerator for the 1890 Veterans schedule, which detailed any Civil War veterans living nearby. As a Civil War veteran himself, he is mentioned in the schedule, and therefore enumerated himself.

Mathias died on April 16th, 1910 in Tarrs. His death certificate mentions a cause of death, but is largely illegible. It does, however, mention that rheumatism had contributed to his death. An obituary was ran in the Daily Courier, a newspaper located in nearby Connellsville:

On Saturday night M.P. King, an aged and respected citizen of this place, was summoned to the great beyond. Deceased had been in ailing health for the past several years. It being due to ill health that he was forced to give up his position of Postmaster at Tarrs which he had held for five or six years. He was born May 9, 1840 and when the war of the rebellion broke out, he enlisted in Company B 28th Pennsylvania Volunteers and served to the close of the war. Deceased is survived by his widow and eight sons and one daughter. His only full brother was killed in the Battle of Antietam. The funeral service will be conducted Tuesday afternoon at 2 O'clock. Interment in the Mt. Lebanon Cemetery. As the deceased was a member of the K. of P. (Knights of Pythias), they will have charge of the funeral. He was also a member of the Grand Army.

Portrait Name Birth Death
Frank M.B. King 2 March 1867 1 Dec 1900
William S. King 25 December 1868 13 December 1959
Delano B. King 12 January 1870 18 May 1916
Edward Breegle King 11 December 1872 10 September 1959
Albert B. King May 1876 4 December 1929
Milton Page King 30 May 1877 10 April 1945
Barnette Thomas King 31 August 1879 15 February 1966
Charles Homer King 28 February 1882 26 May 1909
Clyde B. King March 1884 23 November 1932
Catherine B. King 6 March 1886 1967
Lloyd B. King 24 November 1889 6 April 1963
Year Residence Occupation
1860 East Huntingdon Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania Farm Laborer
1870 East Huntingdon Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania Laborer