Finding aid prepared by Sarah K. Piester
Joseph Bruce Mathews papers
University of Kentucky Special Collections
Collection is arranged by form.
Collection is open to researchers by appointment.
62M98: [identification of item], Joseph B. Mathews papers, 1890-1932, University of Kentucky Special Collections.
0.73 Cubic feet
2 boxes, 1 wrapped item
The Joseph B. Mathews papers (dated 1890-1932; 0.73 cubic feet; 2 boxes, 1 wrapped item) of civil service files, a letter copying book, a letter, and two scrapbooks of newspaper clippings. The collection document Mathews work for the U.S. government, including his work as a railroad detective and a prohibition agent in New Orleans.
Joseph Bruce Mathews was born in Nicholas County in 1862. During his life he worked as a soldier, a railroad detective, a deputy United Sates marshal, and a Prohibition administrator during the Volstead Act. In 1883 Mathews joined the U.S. Seventh Cavalry Regiment as a sergeant. He was discharged in 1888 after five years of service. He then worked as a special agent for several railroads, guarding cargoes and investigating robberies and other crimes. He became the Kentucky assistant secretary of state under Caleb Powers in 1900, during the administration of Kentucky Governor W.S. Taylor. Caleb Powers was convicted in 1900 as an accessory to the assassination of Governor William Goebel.
Following his tenure as assistant secretary of state, Mathews became a deputy U.S. Marshal with the New Orleans office of the Bureau of Investigation. In 1926 he was assistant administrator in charge of enforcing Prohibition laws in New Orleans. Mathews was fired from the Bureau in 1927, accused of conducting unauthorized investigations into the conduct of fellow officers. In his retirement he lived in the community of Laurel County near London, Kentucky farming with his wife Daisy. He died in Louisville, Kentucky on May 9, 1959.
The Joseph B. Mathews papers (dated 1890-1932; 0.73 cubic feet; 2 boxes, 1 wrapped item) of civil service files, a letter copying book, a letter, photographs, and two scrapbooks of newspaper clippings. The collection document Mathews work for the U.S. government, including his work as a railroad detective and a prohibition agent in New Orleans. The bulk of the papers consists of Mathews' civil service files. The photographs consist of nine gelatin silver prints taken in Frankfort, KY following the assassination of Gov. William Goebel in 1900. Additionally, the collection contains one of his letter books, a single handwritten letter, and two scrapbooks, one of which details his work and controversial dismissal in the Prohibition Department in New Orleans.
The Civil Service files series consists of files compiled by or on Joseph Bruce Mathews regarding his service with the United States Civil Service. Mathews seems to have compiled the files in response to his controversial dismissal from the Prohibition Department in New Orleans.
The first bound file titled United States Civil Service File contains letter copies to/from Joseph B. Mathews regarding United States Civil Service, Bureau of Investigation, Southern Railway Company Law Department, Cincinnati, New Orleans & Texas Pacific Railway Company, Illinois National Guard, Attorney General, and Department of Justice, Prohibition Department. Additionally the file contains letters of recommendations for Joseph B. Mathews, and blank and completed applications for positions within the United States Civil Service.
The second bound file titled Examination for prohibition service contains letters and information regarding his time as a railroad detective as well as files relating to Mathews' years with the Bureau of Prohibition in New Orleans.
The third bound file titled Department of Justice File For Copying contains letter copies to and from Joseph B. Mathews to/from numerous individuals of varying ranks in the Department of Justice.
The fourth and fifth bound files are titled Hon. George W. Wickersham, Chairman, National Law Enforcement Commission, Washington, D.C. From J.B. Mathews, New Orleans, LA Subject Conditions in Connection with the Federal Prohibition Bureau at New Orleans, LA. Originals contains letters to and from Joseph B. Mathews regarding Mathews and other Prohibition agents, telegram wires, Exhibits, reports, and glued down newspaper clippings about Prohibition.
The Letter series consists of a letter copying book and a letter from O.D. Howe from 1927. The copying book concerns his work as a railroad detective from 1891-1896. The letter from O.D. Howe thanks Mathews for his service during Prohibition.
The Photographs series contains nine silver gelatin prints showing Frankfort, Kentucky, shortly after the assassination of Governor William Goebel. The photographs show the capitol building and trace the route that Henry Youtsey, one of the conspirators, took when he fled. Many of the photographs have extensive handwritten notations. Additionally, the photographs include two unlabeled prints, one showing a military review and the other three men in an office.
The Scrapbook series contains two scrapbooks. The first scrapbook consists of articles about Mathews' New Orleans years, including the controversy over his departure in 1927. The second scrapbook includes newspaper clippings, lithograph images, and poems.