John Emil Matson
My paternal grandfather, John Emil Mattson (2 t's) was born on December 9, 1886 in Cokato, Wright County, Minnesota to Lars and Stina (Mattson) Mattson. His father and uncle came to Minnesota with their parents, Lars and Greta (Persdotter) Mattson from Dalarna, Sweden in 1869. His mother’s family arrived in the Wright County area in 1880. John Emil’s generation was the first generation born in the United States. The Mattsons were a busy, full house with 11 children (12 children, with 1 who died in infancy), plenty of farm hands to work on the Mattson farm. The Mattsons attended the North Crow River Free Church in Cokato (Knapp), Minnesota.
|Mattson Family Farm House in Cokato, David, Lars, Stina, Hannah, and Rudolph|
|Mattson Family,circa 1902: Standing: Hannah, Mary, Carl, Emma, David, Lena, John, Lewis, Minnie. Sitting: Lars, Eddie, Stina with Edith|
On March 24, 1917, John married Annie Theresia Utterberg who lived on a neighboring French Lake farm. John and Annie married in Minneapolis and stayed in the North Minneapolis to raise their 6 children (born between 1917 and 1932)
John was close with his siblings as well as with his wife’s family. It was fairly common to have visiting aunts in the Matson home or to have visits to other family member’s homes…or, out to the family farms up in Wright County. John also enjoyed hunting with friends and family; his hunting rifle was given to his son who, in turn, gave it to his.
|Hunting Day: Center two are John and Lewis Matson|
|On the Utterberg Farm: Alexis Utterberg, John Matson, Henning Ottoson|
|1925 Mattson Family Reunion, Cokato, MN|
John started a cement block business, and helped build the foundations/basements of some of his family members’ homes. In January 1915, John took out a $400 loan with the Farmers and Merchants Bank in Cokato to start his business (and he paid off the loan in March the following year), co-signed by his father Lars and Uncle Andrew). He also employed his brother, Lewis and brother-in-law Kenneth. It has been shared amongst family members that the business name did not fit on the glass window of the door written as “Mattson”, so he changed the spelling of his last name to Matson.
|Matson Cement Block: Lewis Matson, Kenneth Utterberg and John Matson|
One of John’s daughters recalls that he would come home from lunch every day to rock and sing the younger children to sleep. The business did very well until it faced the Great Depression and all was lost. John made sure to pay his employees first before taking his own pay and would give oranges to the local neighborhood children, his daughter also recalled.
John lost his wife, Annie, in 1956 to congestive heart failure. 4 of his 6 children remained in the Minneapolis greater area, so he saw his children and grandchildren often. John was remembered for his great sense of humor and his hard work ethic. Even on vacation to his son’s house, he had a hard time sitting still, and ended up painting the backyard fence.
John spent his last Christmas with three of his daughters, Hermione, Thelma and Joanne and their families.
John died in January 1962 of heart failure and was buried along his wife at Crystal Lake Cemetery in Minneapolis. In the 13 months following his death, 4 of his siblings also passed away. One niece said of that period of time that they hesitated to answer the phone at home in the event that it brought notice of another passing of an aunt or uncle.
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