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The Mather family of Long Island
PLEASE Note - There is another reference work on this family available here on Long Island Genealogy: Pedigree of the family Mather - pdf file
Two Obituaries for John R. Mather 1814-1899

Brooklyn Times August 5, 1899

    An old ship builder and a tried Democrat passed to the ranks of the great majority, through the death of John R. Mather, at his residence, Saturday afternoon. He had been sick but a few days. It was noticed that he was failing rapidly Saturday morning and in the afternoon he died. "Boss" Mather, as he was familiarly called by the thousands who knew him, was one of the prominent figures in the early history of Port Jefferson. At the time of his birth, which was on November 20, 1814, the village was known as "Drowned Meadow." He was born in the house known as the Bayles homestead and now occupied by H. L, Dikeman, of Brooklyn. When he was two years old his father, who was a shipbuilder, died. As soon as he was grown he followed his father's occupation and secured employment with his uncle in Bridgeport. In 1837 he associated with his stepfather, William L. Jones, who was then conducting a shipyard in what is now Dr. R. C. Jones' door yard, and this partnership was kept up until 1844. During that interval the road known as Jones street was built across the meadow and a dock five hundred feet long with a fifty foot "L" was built at the foot of the street. He was actively engaged in ship building until 1885, when he retired and left the business to be carried on by his son, John T. Mather. At the time of his death several thousands of dollars were being spent in rebuilding the dock and laying a new set of marine railways. This work will be suspended until after the funeral, which will take place tomorrow afternoon. In 1848, Mr. Mather married Miss Sarah Jane Wells, daughter of a prominent ship builder at Stony Brook. Mrs. Mather died in 1892. The remaining members of the family are Mrs. M. L. Chambers, Miss Irene W. and John T. Mather. Mr. Mather was always a staunch Democrat. He was a warm admirer of Grover Cleveland. In 1840 he served as Postmaster. Following is a list of the vessels which were built by John R. Mather: Schooner, Caroline E. Thorn , built 1838; schooner, Alfred E. Thorn, built 1839; schooner, Excelsior, built 1840; brig, William L. Jones, built 1841; schooner, Lady Suffolk, built 1849; sloop, Thomas B. Hawkins, built 1849; sloop, William H. Sanford, built 1850; schooner, John R. Mather, built 1851; schooner, Magnolia, built 1852; schooner, Neptune's Bride, built 1853; schooner, War Steed, 1854; schooner, Millard Fillmore, built 1856; schooner, Willow Harp, built 1858; schooner, B. H. Jones, built 1861; schooner, William H. Jones, built 1861; schooner, James I. Hazard, built 1872; schooner, James Slater, built 1874; brig, John McDermott, built 1878; schooner George R. Congdon, built 1879; schooner Bessie Whiting, built 1882; schooner, D. K. Baker, built 1883; schooner, J. H. Parker, built 1884.

Obituary #2 - source unknown

    On Saturday afternoon the venerable John R. Mather passed away. His death was comparatively sudden, although he was known to be failing rapidly by a giving away of every faculty; but he did not give up until a day before his death, and was down town early in the week, but very feeble.
    In the death of this gentleman our village loses one of its most estimable citizens and a man who in his life time contributed much to enhance the fame of Port Jefferson as a shipbuilding place and added greatly to its prosperity by his untiring energy and business ability. "Boss Mather," a title by which he will best be remembered by the present generation, was a native of this village and was born November 20, 1814, when it was known as Drowned Meadow. In 1837 having learned the ship carpenter trade in Bridgeport, his step-father, William Jones gave him an opening in a shipyard upon the premises now occupied by Dr. R. C. Jones. This continued for seven years, when Boss Mather become his own boss, continuing the building of vessels inside the millbridge until the seventies, when he moved to the location now occupied by the Mather marine railway plant. A column might be written upon the fame of Brookhaven built vessels launched from the Mather shipyard; they are numbered by the score, including square riggers, and would make a long list. Mr. Mather was postmaster in 1840. In the sixties he was associated with Capt. Thomas B. Hawkins and the late F. F. Darling in a general store business under the firm name of F. F. Darling & Co. for a few years. Later he embarked in the lumber business with William Jones under the style of Mather & Jones, which business still flourishes, but the active head is John T. Mather, his son, who, as agent, conducts this large business for Mather & Jones. The Boss was instrumental in creating Jones street, and built the old wharf that had an L at the outer end many years ago.
    John R. Mather was a sympathetic man, a genial citizen among his friends, but had a gruff manner at times that was enhanced by an eye defect. He was a man of tremendous convictions, very set of purpose, and upon occasion difficult to reason with, but always had the courage of his convictions, and while you might not always agree with his conclusions you could not but admire his sterling honesty of purpose and deep sincerity of manner. He married in 1848 Miss Sarah Jane Wells, of Stony Brook, who died in 1892.
    He is survived by three children, Mrs. Dr. M. L. Chambers, Miss Irene W. and John T. Mather. The funeral on Tuesday from his late residence on Prospect street was largely attended. Rev. Mr. Peck of the Presbyterian Church officiated. The pall-bearers were postmaster William B. Dayton, James E. Bayles.

John R. Mather
Portrait and biographical record of Suffolk County (Long Island) New York published by the  Chapman Pub. Co., 1896

     It is a pleasure to chronicle the history of a man whose life has been one of honor and success, and through good business management, before he had reached the zenith of his career, John R .Mather had accumulated a comfortable competency, and with his further accumulations in later years, he is now enabled to enjoy to the fullest extent the comforts of an ideal home. He was born at Drowned Meadow (now Port Jefferson) November 20, 1814, a son of Richard and Irene (Willse) Mather, the former of whom was a son of Alexander Mather, and the latter of John Willse, who carne to Port Jefferson in 1801. Upon his arrival he erected and conducted a hotel here and became one of the most progressive citizens of the place. Richard Mather learned the trade of a ship-builder under his step-father's direction, and this he made his life occupation.
     When a lad the subject of this sketch used to ride his father's horse to Mr. Hawkins' home to be shod, he being the nearest blacksmith in those days to the residents of Drowned Meadow, and while growing up attended the district schools and later the academy at Huntington, whither his grandfather had moved and located nearly opposite the old Episcopal Church. Here the latter died in 1824 and now sleeps his last long sleep in the old Presbyterian burying ground at that, place. The maternal grandfather of John R. Mather, John Willse, lived in the house recently known as the residence of James Van Brunt, on the east side of Setauket Harbor. During this time he purchased of judge Thomas Strong a tract of land since owned by James R Davis and James M. Bayles, and built the house in which Mr. Bayles lived at the time of his death. This he conducted as a hotel, and a portion of this old building is still standing. In those days the land was little else than an unsubdued swamp, prolific in briars, and while the terms of the sale were being agreed upon judge Strong made this remark: "Willse, I thought you were a man of better judgment than to build a house in this swamp."
     In this house John R Mather was born in 1814, as above stated. Mr. Willse obtained from the town authorities permission to build a wharf here, a portion of which still remains. He was by trade a ship builder, and he is said to have built the first vessel ever 'constructed at Drowned Meadow, which he named the "Jay" How many he built in subsequent years is not known, but it is certain that he was the pioneer ship-yard proprietor and that he followed the business successfully until his death in 1815, at the age of fifty years. He was a man of unblemished reputation and to his foresight and energy the village of Port Jefferson owes its first start. He was the father of four sons and four daughters, and his eldest daughter married Richard Mather, who met with an accident in 1816 while manning the schooner "Rogers," which resulted in his death at the untimely age of thirty years. He was a first-class mechanic and an excellent man and his death was deeply deplored, not only by his immediate and sorrowing household, but by all who knew him.
    Mrs. Mather was married five years later to William L. Jones, who, in connection with her first husband's brother, Titus C. Mather, revived the shipyard and continued the business until about 1826, when the latter removed to Bridgeport, Conn., where he established himself in the same occupation. Mr. Jones was one of the leading men of his day in Port Jefferson and his memory is cherished by the subject of this sketch, to whom he was always a kind and considerate father. He was an exceptionally useful citizen, was generous to a fault, and did all in his power to build up the section in which he lived.
     John R. Mather was but two years old at the time of his father's death, but later in life went to Bridgeport and there completed his education and engaged as an apprentice with his uncle to learn the trade his father had followed, and remained thus occupied until the spring of 1837. In 1830 his step-father, W. L. Jones, had bought ,what was known as the Point property, on which lie built a residence on the street which still bears his name. Here he conceived the idea of buying a ship yard, which he carried into effect, although laboring under the disadvantages of floating his vessels to deeper waters. The first vessel was built at this yard in 1834 and was called the "Pearl." He was joined by his step-son, our subject, who had completed his apprenticeship, and this partnership continued until 1844, during which time a road was constructed across the marsh, now constituting a part of Jones Street. A grant for constructing a dock at the end of this street was obtained from the town and an agreement to build a road eighteen feet wide with walls of stone, and a bridge under which the water might flow and ebb, all of which was faithfully performed on the part of Mr. Jones and Mr. Mather. This road or causeway reverted to the town and was to be maintained as a highway.
     The construction of a dock, which run five hundred feet into the bay, with an arm fifty feet long, forming an "L," was a great public improvement, but financially it was a failure. These gentlemen then laid two sets of marine railway on the shore, which was so very low at first that it had to be filled in with fresh earth from three to four feet, and the road was completed in 1841. Mr. Mather remained at the old yard until 1878, when he removed his place of business, and finally, in 1885, retired. Although he has now reached the age of four score and one years, he is in the enjoyment of excellent health and looks much younger than he really is. He has nothing but words of praise for his step-father, W. L. Jones, whom he considers, next to his mother and his Grandfather Willse, the greatest friend he ever had and one of the benefactors of Port Jefferson. It was through his efforts that the town was laid out and established at its present location.
     In 1848 Mr. Blather was united in marriage with Miss Sarah Jane Wells, daughter of Henry Wells, a prominent ship-builder of Stony Brook. Their union resulted in the birth of four children, one of whom died in infancy. Those living are Sarah Jane, wife of Dr. M. L. Chambers, of Port Jefferson; Irene Willse and John Titus. The mother of these children closed her eyes in death in 1892. Mr. Mather has always been a stanch Democrat and a warm admirer of Grover Cleveland; and in 1840 served in the capacity of Postmaster, although he has never been an official aspirant.

The Rev. Nathaniel Mather

  Although the Rev. Nathaniel Mather, first minister of the first church in Riverhead Town, was not listed in the church memorandum, he clearly was one of Riverhead's early pioneers.  We do not know exactly when Nathaniel Mather arrived in this area, but he married Mrs. Ruth Terry of Aquebogue (Jamesport) in 1724. This fact and the ordination of "Mr. Nath Mather" on May 22, 1728 are documented in the Salmon Records. Through his efforts the Aquebogue parish was established between 1720 and 1730 and in 1731, the first meeting house in what is now the Town of Riverhead was erected, although he is not listed as one of "thos that Workt upon the meting hous tember" or "those that carted." The Rev. Nathaniel Mather was the first pastor in the first church parish in our town, and the church at Jamesport (now united with the former Sound Avenue Congregational church) is presently called First Parish for this reason.
    Since he was a member of the eminent Mather family of clergymen, which included Increase and Cotton Mather of Boston, some Mather genealogy is of interest. The following information concerning these relationships is from Vol. XXVII of  Americana, published by the American Historical Society, Inc., July 1933. Nathaniel Mather's grandfather, the Rev. Richard Mather, progenitor of the Mather family in America, was born in Lowton, Lancashire, England, in 1596, and died in Dorchester, Massachusetts, April 22, 1669, From 1635 to 1669, he was pastor of the Congregational church in Dorchester, which is now part of Boston. He married his first wife, Catherine Hoult, in September 1624. She was the mother of all of his children and died in 1655. Richard and Catherine's eldest son, Rev. Samuel born in 1626, died in Ireland in 1671. Their second son Timothy was born in Liverpool, England, in 1628 and died in Dorchester, Massachusetts, January 14, 1684. Their third son, Rev. Nathaniel born in 1630, died in London in 1697. A son Joseph died young. A fifth son, Rev. Eleazor, born May 13, 1637, died July 24, 1669 in Northampton, Massachusetts. Their youngest son, Rev. Dr. Increase Mather was born in Dorchester, Massachusetts, June 21, 1639 and died August 23, 1723, in Boston. Increase, at the age of twelve, was admitted to Harvard College. He also studied in Dublin. On May 27, 1664, he was installed over North Church. When he was forty-two years old, he became the first native-born president of Harvard, a position he held for a total of eighteen years. He married first, Maria Cotton, daughter of the Rev. John Cotton. Their son, Cotton Mather, was the "greatest man New England produced in the last quarter of the seventeenth century." (Ibid.)
    Timothy, the only one of the Rev. Richard Mather's sons who did not become a preacher, was called the "Mather farmer." He married first, about 1650, Catherine (sometimes called Elizabeth) Atherton. They were the parents of the Rev. Samuel Mather, born July 5, 1650 died March 8, 1727/8, who served as minister in Windsor, Connecticut, for forty-five years and was one of the first trustees of Yale College. He married Hannah Treat and their son, Nathaniel, who later became the minister at Jamesport, was born at Windsor, on May 30, 1695.
    The Rev. Nathaniel Mather was one of three graduates in the class of 1715 at Yale College. Little is known of his early life, but "Nathaniel Mather of Windsor" and twelve others are listed as teachers at the Hopkins grammar school in Hadley, Massachusetts, between 1702 and 1724, according to Historic Hadley. The author, Alice Morehouse Walker, describes these as "embryo ministers," college graduates or students in the midst of their college course.
    Ruth Mather died May 9, 1745 at the age of 53. Her grave is in the Jamesport cemetery, probably next to the unmarked grave of her husband.
    Two sons survived him, Increase who married a Brown and Ebenezer who married Margaret Downs, on April 16, 1752. Ebenezer "Marther" with a family of eight was living in the "Aduabogue District of Southold" when the Suffolk County census of 1778 was enumerated.

Here is an abstract of the will of Nathaniel Mather:

In the name of God, and Man l, Nathaniel Mather, of Southold in Suffolk County, minister of the Gospel, being weak in body. My house and lot where I live, and all movable property except as hereafter mentioned, are to be sold by my executors, and the money to be put to use till my second son, Ebenezer, is of age, and then to be paid to my two sons, Increase and Ebenezer. Whereas my eldest son, Increase, hath received a piece of land at the price of 1- 55, purchased by me, therefore my son Ebenezer is to have f 50 when of age, and the rest equally divided, and all my plate, silverspoons, also all my small books. All my provisions, pork, beef, wheat, etc. are to be wholly at the disposal of my nurse, Mary Wiggins. I make Isaac Howell and John Conkling, son of Henry Conklin, executors. Dated November 26, 1747. Witnesses Joshua Youngs, David Brown, Philip Leek. Proved March 28, 1748.