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Martha C. Irvine
Some discrepencies to the middle name have been found in research. Some sources say that the middle initial is "C". This could be from Clarke or Callender.
MARTHA C. RVINE, 2nd child but 1st daughter of James Callender Irvine and Martha Nevin Bartlett, was born in Mt. Vernon on 21st June 1833. Until 1950 there was no verification of the scanning of the "E", but Irvine Thompson Holloway was positive it was Elizabeth. From mid-life she was known as ‘Aunt Matt’ to family and community-at-large.
Nothing has come to light concerning neither the girlhood of Aunt Matt, nor any inkling of the influences, which guided her literary neither bent nor strong-minded adult characteristics. As a young lady in her mid-30’s she accompanied her sister Ellen A. to Europe. Ellen had married a man named Becker, of recent German extraction, and some two or more years were spent in visiting about Europe while Mr. Becker was engaged in Germany on business. By some unknown but happy circumstance Aunt Matt served as correspondent from the Court of Wilhelm II to the New York Times. Returning to Mt. Vernon she was soon to be involved actively in the early struggles of the "Equal Rights For Women" movement, and was equally as enthusiastic over genealogical lore.
Viewed at this late date it seems a strange fact that neither Aunt Matt nor her older Irish-born cousin Martha Thompson was successful in their mutual quest for ancestral lore. Known to both was the name of their great grandmother Jane Sproule, a daughter to "a Scottish Laird" - but where from and who was their common great grandfather escaped them. Aunt Matt was convinced he was a brother Brig.-Gen’l (Dr.) William Irvine and Major Andrew and Dr. Mathew - all of Revolutionary Renate. Until Aunt Matt was 19 and her Irish-born cousin Martha Thompson was 41 years old and the grandfather of the one and great uncle of the other was living and nearby. Surely this "Old Tom" to Lizzie Rowe (q.v. letter page 42 Irvine Section or page 5 Thompson Section) would seem more in keeping with Lizzie’s characterization then any concept one would like to picture as an approachable, understanding and co-operative grandparent.
Martha continued to be quite a traveler – to visit relatives scattered about the country or to centennials. Among places visited were Philadelphia, Chicago, and Mt. Lapic – Oregon, Mo. To see her older brother James Clarke – her Uncle Robert after he departed Mt. Vernon in 1866 for Pleasant Hill, Mo. – and several times to her nephew Louis Clarke Irvine during and after the Louisiana Exposition in St. Louis.
In her later years Aunt Matt prevented a picture of contracting mental alertness and corporeal enfeeblement – the latter worsened by creaky rheumatic joints, which bowed her frame. Her once brown hair was streaked with gray, her small eyes shrunken within what seemed like oversized sockets, her skin dry and sallow and wrinkled, hands of senile boniness. Her step was hesitant and unsteady, but once ensconced in her favorite rocker she at once assured a domineering air. Then would shine an alert and logical intellect, still questing for knowledge and readily showing impatience at "small talk". Her plainness of dress and this austerity of bearing gave the impression she was bitter against the world-at-large – but particularly so against the male sex. She lost no opportunity to belittle man and men, to magnify the accomplishments of women. She seemed to glory in her ability to deflate anyone praising or being praised, man or woman – save her favorite nephew Leigh Hadley Irvine. To Aunt Matt he was perfection – in physique, in manners, in conversations or oratory, his writings, just his any activity. His oratory – "brilliance, nothing less". Even his marital defection of his 2nd wife – when he is said to have abandoned in Tahiti (until reminded by the State Dept) – she scoffed at as a defamatory lie.
Visiting the old home site, 110 East Gambier St., in Dec. 1924, though incapacitated by infirmities of age Aunt Matt showed a – continuing interest in current affairs and a phenomenal memory in that she was more conversant with road conditions and repair blocks than the younger and more agile members of the household. It was on this visit that Aunt Matt was expatiating on the glories of past generation Irvines that I was dispatched to fetch her annotated copy on Irvine genealogy. Not finding it I was directed to another room. Still no book. Straightway I was accused of lying, of stealing the book, and she went to her grave at 93 believing her grand nephew a thief.
By engagement in this project the past 20 odd years she caused many a wish that I had been guilty. Aunt Matt died 6 Jan., 1925. Interred in the Irvine Lot, Mound View Cemetery, Mt. Vernon.
Copy of a letter found in the Pictorial Family Register of James Clarke Irvine – from Aunt Matt to his wife Ann Keturah nee Johnson Irvine: -
"Dear Annie, (Undated)
Your welcome contribution to the Irvine pedigree rec’d. I cannot find the first name of my great grandfather. In the Sproule Genealogy he is mentioned, as Jane Sproule, daughter of a Scottish Laird, married an Irvine – her youngest son was my grandfather Thomas – perhaps I’ll run it down some day. Mr. Boyd’s "Irvines and Their Kin" is so incomplete and very unsatisfactory. Gail McNugh McDowell is writing one that will be full, and I hope he can soon finish and publish it. Mrs. Boyd forced her book on Clare and Louis but in it isn’t a mention of our Fermanagh branch. The old lady quarreled with the Irvine of Bonshaw and gave all his descendents the go-by. She is a mad woman, I guess, and claims without proof her own connection through marriage with royal blood!
(Signed) Martha E. Irvine"
From John W. Love
Will you kindly look over the Thompson Genealogy and give me the first name of your great grandfather Irvine’s given name. He married Jane Sproule, and their daughter Mattie [Martha] married a Thompson, whose son was Irvine Thompson, your grandfather, and if possible any other information as to their place of residence etc. I’ve always heard they were of the Castle Irvine Branch, and I would like to be certain, as Gen’l Hugh McDowell is writing a history of the Irvine Clan, and desires to know my gr gr grandfather’s name, who is also yours! Strange how the Irvine, Thompson, Armstrong’s intermarried. Will you please attend to this very soon, and oblige.
Come and see us when you are in town. We will be most happy to have you do so.
I enclose a stamped envelope so as to give you no trouble.
(Signed) Martha E. Irvine
(At 80 years of age Aunt Matt was still on the trail!)