Kate Seston Matthews
(August 13, 1870- July 5, 1956)
Real life model in Annie Fellows Johnston’s
“Little Colonel” Series
Photographer of the Little Colonel Stories
A nationally known pioneer woman photographer
It is in "The
Little Colonel at Boarding School”
that we first meet Lloydsboro Valley photographer, "Miss Katherine Marks,"
her home next door to the
She also appears in later books, including "The
Little Colonel's Christmas Vacation"
Little Colonel's Knight Comes Riding.
Annie Fellows Johnston describes Katherine
Marks as “an artist” in “The
Little Colonel at Boarding School,”
… She has a great big camera in her
studio, and takes bettah pictuahs than any professional photographah
could, because she thinks of all sorts of beautiful things to pose
people fo. She gets a medal or a prize every time she places a pictuah
She also mentions that Miss Katherine lives with her mother, and that
when Lloyd and Magnolia arrive at Clovercroft, the two are listening to
“Flora” play the piano in the music room.
Chapter V of “The
Little Colonel’s Knight Comes Riding,” we learn that Miss Marks allows
only a select few – those with “artist souls” – admittance to her studio
and we discover more details and secrets about her prize-winning
Miss Marks came out with a large
photograph exquisitely tinted. So artistic it was, both in colouring and
composition, that Leland's admiration was as great as his surprise. He
had expected to see some little snap shots such as he had made himself
when he had the kodak fever, the kind that are interesting only to those
who take them and those who are taken. This was so beautiful that no
sooner was it in his hands than he was fired with a desire to possess
it. It was the picture of a rose garden, every bush a glory of bloom,
and in the path, her pink dress caught by a clinging brier, was Kitty
herself like another rose, looking down over her shoulder at the bramble
which held her a prisoner in its thorny clasp.
"It is to illustrate a fairy-tale,"
explained Miss Marks. "When naughty Esmerelda runs away from the good
prince, everything in the garden is in league to help him, and Brier
Rose catches at her skirts as she hurries by, and holds her fast."
"Isn't it lovely?" cried Gay, flashing
out of the studio with an armful which Miss Marks had given her
permission to show. "Here's Betty taken as a nun --- Sister Doloroso ---
and Lloyd as an Easter angel. It's perfectly fascinating to hear Miss
Marks tell how she got that effect of flying. Arranged the draperies
with Lloyd lying on the floor, and photographed her from a trap door
above. Tell him how you added the doves' wings please."
Much to her surprise Miss Marks found
herself telling things to this young man that she would not have dreamed
of telling to another stranger; some of the remarkable makeshifts she
had used in costumes and backgrounds...
…The English garden was too far away for
them to attempt that morning, but Miss Marks finally agreed that the
moonlight scene might be managed. It was just the right time of day to
take a moonlight picture, while the sunshine was so direct that it would
cast the blackest of shadows. She could retouch the plate to give it the
right effect, and paint in a moon.
Chapter VII of the
same book, we learn that “the unearthing of old costumes was one of her
Kate Matthews with her camera in 1942
Just as described in the Little Colonel
stories, Kate Matthews was, indeed, a pioneering woman photographer and
lived in Clovercroft, the Matthews home in Pewee Valley. One of eight
children born to Lucien and Charlotta Ann (Clark) Matthews, she moved with
her family from New Albany, Indiana while still a child and remained in
Pewee Valley until her death on July 5, 1956.
Just as in the books, she had a sister
named Florence/Flora, who could play anything on the piano after hearing
And, just as in the books, she
“exquisitely tinted” some of her photographs and loved to pose her
subjects in fanciful tableaux to illustrate poems and classic literature.
“History & Families Oldham County,
Kentucky: 1824-1924,” pages 254-255, provides the following biographical
information about her:
A contemporary of Annie Fellows Johnston
and her friend in Pewee Valley, Kate Matthews (1870-1956) was not only
one of the first women photographers in the country, she was also one of
the first accomplished practitioners of the new medium. She began
recording life in Pewee Valley through the lens of a camera when she was
still a girl of 16 years. During her lifetime, Kate printed hundreds of
photographs and her work was shown in galleries and museums around the
country, including New York’s Whitney Museum of Art and in the permanent
collection of the Museum of Modern Art.
Kate’s niece, Lillian Fletcher Brackett, posed for this photograph
titled “The Bridesmaid,” which appeared in Pictorial Photography in
America, Volume 4, published in 1926 by The Pictorial Photographers of
America at the Art Center, New York City
Click here for a similar view of the same subject
Though she was born in New Albany,
Indiana, Kate spent most of her life in Oldham County. As an adult, she
rarely left Pewee Valley, preferring instead to ride in her pony cart
around town, stopping to photograph the romantic lifestyle she saw
around her or to pick up trash left carelessly behind by others. She had
no quarrel with giving handouts to vagrants who may have stopped by the
quiet gate at Clovercroft, her home on Central Avenue. She befriended
and photographed nearly everyone she ran across, including the town
minstrel, Jim Felton, who often played for her, and Abe Parker, a
laborer she would hire to help her pick up trash…
…Kate’s life was itself less than
perfect, but just as she managed to soften hard edges pictorially, so
she managed to rebound from the whooping cough that damaged her eyesight
and rendered her fragile from infancy through the rest of her life.
Lillian Fletcher Brackett (her niece) gave an eloquent address
abut her Aunt Kate called “Recollections of Kate Matthews,” on May 31,
1974 before the Oldham County Historical Society at the Brownsboro Social
Club. The majority of her speech is below:
One hundred and four years ago on the 13th of August, Kate
Matthews was born in New Albany, Indiana. That ‘13’ may have seemed an
unlucky number, when, while she was still a baby she caught whooping
cough, probably from one of her seven brothers and sisters which left her
very delicate and weakened one eye so badly that their doctor advised her
parents not to send her to school, but have her privately taught at home.
Her education therefore was unique and a perfect backdrop for her creative
Her older brother, Gustavus, was a writer, later editor of the
“Courier-Journal.” He read to her constantly while he was at home, and
taught her to love poetry and learn it by heart.
Her sisters were musical. Florence played by ear everything she heard.
Jessie was so talented she became a pupil of Leschetizky in Berlin.
Lillian, the eldest, painted well and taught little Katie. Her mother and
father collected Italian paintings and her sister, Charlotta Osborn
lived in Chicago after her marriage and took Katie on rounds of its
museums and galleries. Besides this family devotion, Kate had the best
tutors to keep her up with girls her age.
This was all very sufficient when she was little, but as she grew into
her teens, her oldest sister Lillian and her husband, Charles Barrow
Fletcher, my father and mother, feared that she was lonely. She was shy
and very quiet and had no interests outside her home. They asked her to
spend the summer with them in Vermont to get her away.
My father was a camera enthusiast and found that Katie was interested
in all phases of his photography. He wrote her father, Lucien Matthews,
that Kate might have found the very thing she would like to do if she had
a camera of her very own.
Soon after, her father went on a trip to New York and bought the finest
professional camera he could find – a great big heavy box with a tripod
and an extra fine lens and a case of glass plates ‘as big as a bread box.’
And a yard square of black cloth to to on her head and the camera to shut
out the light and make it dark inside like a black tent while she focused
on what she was taking by pulling a sort of accordion bellows in and out
until she got the image clear on the ground glass – and to make it more
difficult, the image was upside down.
“Going Visiting” by Kate Matthews
From the private collection of Suzanne Schimpeler
We have the first pictures she may every
have taken. One is of four children pulling sleds through the snow in
Vermont – the other the same four children – my brothers and sisters – I
was not yet born – off on a hunting trip, for bunnies perhaps, armed with
guns held very correctly with a beagle hound scenting game going before.
The children’s ages probably three to five, seven and eight. It is a
charming amusing picture with criticisms on the back of each as to timing
and focusing in my father’s handwriting. I presume that Kate was fifteen
In those days and indeed throughout her
life she developed and printed her own pictures. They are so expecially
hers that one can tell at a glance a Kate Matthews photograph.
To go back to the workings of her camera
which she used for many years or others quite like it – after her upside
down view of her subject was to her liking she put a leather cap over the
lense, inserted a wooden frame into the top of the camera underneath the
black cloth, took off the cap, counted one, two, three or the time she
felt was needed for the prevailing light, put the cap on again, pushed a
black shield down into the plate frame, took the frame out of the camera,
folded it in another cloth and tenderly put it in another box for safe
keeping. Quite different from the click of a camera today – an awkward
operation to describe but done with such method and precision by her.
In the early Pewee Valley days she had a
cart and pony to take her about and carry the load and we visiting
children loved to go along to an
old mill or to take Story
Book pictures in a Fairytale glade. Sometimes even acting as characters
and always there was a picnic basket tucked in somewhere. When we walked
we had to help lug plates and tripod and once even a boat. It was hard
work, but – such honored work. Then home again and rest for us but for her
all sorts of mysteries in Kate’s dark room behind its red glass window
pane – and often horrid odors escaped. The only chemical we knew by name
was hypo, which was Aunt Kate’s pug dog’s name. I believe that we thought
he too had some part to do in the developing. After a long while she would
emerge from this witches den with the developed plates and later with
sensitive paper in frames and it is my impression that this too was
shrounded in black and clasped to her heart as she ran to a window
uncovered the frame whispered a few magic words and clasping it again
against her chest raced for the dark room. Sometimes we found pictures
floating in the bath tub, why we never knew but often when we wanted a
bath Aunt Kate’s pictures had gotten there first.
From the private collection of Suzanne Schimpeler
When Kodaks became popular friends and
family sent her the latest models. She tried them, was interested in them
but she went right back to her dear old camera which was part of her…
…The “Courier-Journal” has often featured
Kate Matthews pictures and sent feature writers to interview her. Once
they sent a couple of photographers out to take her picture for a special
article on her life. They brought with them a whole battery of lights
which they focused on her as she sat on a sofa in her library. Afterward
she showed them her albums of pictures. One was of her sister Jay Joy
seated on the same sofa. “This is beautifully lighted, Miss Matthews. How
did you get this effect without spot lights?” “I am very conscious of
light,” she said. “I watch it from day to day and when it is where I need
it, I use it.” “As simple as that,” they said laughingly.
As simple as that were all her
masterpieces, as simple as light itself. She saw beauty and captured it
even in the white wash of a cottage door she used to frame a weather
beaten old face leaning against it. She seemed never to lack for
inspiration. As children we were suddenly called upon to wade in a creek
or swing high in a swing. Iva Barbee was an instant goose girl driving a
flock of geese down a creek bed. Mary Johnston became a nun with the
Matthews icehouse as a lovely chapel in the backbround. The wash woman
carrying a huge bundle of clothes on her head as she walks down a path to
her cabin at sunset, where even the smoke from the chimney sets the mood
for the picture hard work behind her, a big washing before her, but this
evening ‘The Lord Be Praised’ a fire and food and laughter. Then there is
her fine picture of ‘Miss Sara” leaning over the gate to chat with a
passerby completely unconscious of her own beauty but proud of her neat
garden and cozy home. It is more than a picture, it is a poem, a true
moment of life fixed forever by an artist in time.
“As Sweet As A Rose” by Kate Matthews
From the private collection of Suzanne Schimpeler
How often we have all said “We woke up this
morning to find everything covered with a soft blanket of snow it made the
trees look as if they had been etched black on white but it melted away
when the sun came out.” Kate caught it before it got away with the first
beam of light. It is perfect.
I used to think that the soft clearness of
her pictures was a mystery known only to herself and that indeed is partly
true. Perhaps without her kind of camera, her machanics of developing and
printing, her pictures would be less exquisite. Of course, it must be a
great advantage to see what you are taking, full picture size, on the
ground glass and perhaps that is part of her amazing composition, but
where did she get that lovely soft light?
…I remember when she took “The Windy Line.”
We were at breakfast in the dining room probably ten of us at least. It
was a hot summer morning with the door to the long side porch open toward
the orchard and the sound of the Old Confederate Soldier pumping water
from the cistern up into the big lead tank in the attic and the
rub-a-dub-dub and splash of wash day could be plainly heard. Suddenly,
Aunt Kate left her breakfast half eaten and disappeared in a quiet trance.
She was often dreamy and nothing every interfered with her genius when it
was burning. After breakfast we scattered to pick flowers, feed the
chickens or eat cherries, sickle pears or perhaps grapes in the shadowy
tunnel of the grape arbor and there in the meadow was Aunt Kate covered by
the black cloth, taking a picture of the wind blown sheets on the clothes
line that looked like a ship in full sail billowing with the wind, and
that is why their sheets were so fragrant when I visited them as a child
and went to sleep upstairs in the big breezy old house racked by the music
of piano and violin from the music room downstairs.
And to go back to the Old Confederate
Soldier of whom there is somewhere a picture. Every house had its old
Confederate soldier, or so it seemed to us. He pumped water, did small
gardening jobs and raking for tobacco money. They lived at the Confederate
Home on the hill where the Villa Ridge Hotel had been in earlier days. I
am sure I have seen half a dozen photographs of Kate’s Soldiers. They were
handsome, young and brave or very old. They were romantic and
photographic. She took her younger brother Edward in his
K.M.I. uniform when he was a lad.
Later she turned him into a wounded Confederate, with a sword and crutch
and a blanket over his missing leg, and later she took a Soldier’s
Farewell (a real tear jerker) with Mary Johnston as the lovely golden
haired girl leaning from her horse to say “Goodbye.” She took my brother
in his New World War I Cavalry uniform walking off to war…
George Lawrence Parker wrote the following reminiscence about Old Jim
Felton, above, in December 1942: This is a portrait of ‘Old Jim
Felton,” a wandering minstrel and ‘character’ of Pewee Valley,
Kentucky, during my boyhood years there. He and his fiddle and his dog
were known and loved by all of us. He slept for a great part of each
year under the tower of St. James Episcopal Church. I secured this
picture of him in 1928 from Miss Kate Matthews when Helen and I
Photo from the Oldham County Historical Society.
Tramps and orphans and old people touched
her gentle sense of pity. Tramps came off the railroad and got regular
handouts at the kitchen door spring and fall. I suppose on their way north
or south when the freight trains side-tracked here long enough for them to
catch a bit and a cup of coffee. “Don’t give me any of that bread and
jelly stuff. I want meat in my sandwich and milk in my can.” He came for
several years, would never sit on the step and eat or use a cup, just an
old rusty can. We were all so curious about him until Aunt Kate saw him
stop at the gate where his hound dog was waiting to snatch the meat and
eagerly lap milk from the can. All those years he had been begging for his
dog, so next time he came she would give them both their dinners with meat
and milk and coffee and take their pictures but he never came again.
Jim Felton used to come by with his dog and
his fiddle and play for us. I don’t remember who he was, except his name
and I used to even know the name of his doge, but he and his dog are
immortalized by Kate’s camera…
There was no aspect of the
Valley that she did not wish to press between the covers of an album and
cherish always. She was proud of its beautiful houses, their shaded lanes
and lacy fences. Its gracious ladies in high ceilinged houses.
Miss Fanny Craig beside her Powers statue of the
Greek Slave. Annie Fellows Johnston’s writing busily upstairs in her
study, May Dulaney in her round garden of roses and lilies and her
Valentine of a house,
Mary Johnston’s lilies and even a bride in her
wedding grown picking lilies. She looks like a lily herself but you wonder
if this was before or after the ceremony. Her Alice through the looking
glass is of her niece Elizabeth Brackett Moore and is adorable and of
course her Little Colonel characters made famous by the books especially
Betty in the big arm chair reading.
She often hired Abe Parker and his horse to
go with her while she picked up bottles, cans and papers trying to keep
The Valley unspotted from the careless, and there was real understanding
and affection between Old Abe and Kate…Abe had a very old mare and an even
older carriage that had seen elegant days. I like to think that I remember
that it had a bud base in it for a ladies single rose. Abe sat of course
in the coachman’s seat in a coonskin cap and drove his ancient mare with a
thin little wisp of a colt running by its mother’s side and when he
stopped to pick up trash it nursed its mother.
The story I remember was that Abe had
worked for Mr. Wooldridge long ago. One day Mr. Wooldridge joked with Abe
about his old mare lasting so long, and Abe offended said she wasn’t old,
just tired and thin. “Well,” said Mr. Wooldridge, “If she is so young,
Abe, why don’t you bring her over here and have her bred to my fine
stallion and then you’ll have yourself a race horse.” And much to Mr.
Wooldridge’s surprise and Abe’s delight that is how Abe got his colt…
our blacksmith, Mr.
Jacob Herdt, tall, strong, handsome in his leather apron looking out of
the door of his smithy with a Ringling Brothers poser slapped onto the
wall beside him of a bare back rider on her galloping horse.
…Whenever Kate was pressed for funds she
entered a contest and often she won top prize and sometimes that meant
$100.00 but she never really enjoyed photography for money. She was very
modest about her prizes and only when they were published did we know
about them. She had letters from well known, quite great photographers
congratulating her and asking about her methods and she corresponded with
some, now famous, when they were starting like Edward Steichen and
Stiglitz, who gave praise and criticism and advice….
Christmas at Twigmore, about
On the couch, Kate Matthews (center) flanked by her nieces “Fliss” (Felice
and “Bet” (Elizabeth Feagin, aka the "Betty" of the Little Colonel
On the floor, Marjorie Fletcher Thompson, center, with her parents,
“Hunny Bunny” and Matthews Fletcher. The spaniel was named Danny Boy.
Kate’s subjects ranged from the people and places in her neighborhood to
staged tableaus of Annie Fellows Johnston’s storybook characters. As her
photographs circulated around the country, reprinted in magazines such as
“The Youth’s Companion” and “Vogue,” Kate gained recognition from other
celebrated photographers of her time, including Edward Steichen and Alfred
Stiglitz, with whom she corresponded. When
Alexander Woollcott of the
famed New York radio show, “Woollcott Speaking,” visited Kentucky, it was
Kate Matthews he most wanted to see.
In a November 29, 1942 Courier-Journal story called “These Pictures Will
Take You Back” by Bunch Brady, Kate talked about her 50 years as an amateur
…Having taught herself everything she
knows, which is plenty, Miss Kate has won innumerable trophies, medals and
cash prizes for her photographic reproductions of people and scenes around
Soon after the late Mr. Matthews sent his
18-year-old daughter Kate a big camera from New York City, the farmers and
residents of the southwestern corner of Oldham County became accustomed to
seeing Miss Kate with her camera and Miss Mary Johnston with her paints
and brushes in a field taking and painting pictures.
One of her favorite subjects being scenes
from literature, Miss Kate says she never will forget the farmers, who,
while driving a team of horses past a pond saw a woman “lying robed in
snowy white” on a barge that was steered by a bearded gentleman, the late
Bert Gatchel. Floating down
to Camelot was Miss Mary posed as Tennyson’s Elaine. The farmers thought
they were crazy.
Preserved in her albums, but seldom shown
by their modest owner, are photographs of prominent Louisvillians, many in
unusual tableau type pictures, which are specialties of Miss Kate.
“You have to love photography, for it’s
downright hard work,” contends Miss Matthews, who has gone to no end of
trouble to take some pictures such as the one of Miss Johnston symbolizing
Easter. In the attic of Clovercroft, the Matthews home, Miss Kate held her
camera in the large trap doorway and took a picture of an angel, Miss
Mary, gowned in a white drape and lying on a black shawl. By another
process, Miss Kate photographed the wings on the original picture. Many
times Kate and Mamie Johnston used to climb through a window in the
condemned Episcopal Church
building and dress up in the choir’s vestments.
When the photograph of her sister, Mrs. H.
M. Joy, was printed in Illustrated American, Miss Kate received a letter
from Mr. W. C. Simons of Lawrence, Kan., which said, “Your picture of the
young lady with violin struck my fancy and I have worked it up in oil. The
painting has been complimented very highly by several newspapermen and it
is seldom that I take up my brushes. I am a married man and therefore not
looking for flirtation, but out of curiosity, should like to know the name
of the original of the photograph.”
One summer afternoon forty years later, Mr.
Simons, the publisher and editor of the Lawrence Daily Journal World,
called at Clovercroft. Not wanting to disillusion the artist, so she said,
Mrs. Joy – the former Jesse Matthews – hid upstairs during his visit.
Miss Florence Matthews says Alexander
Woollcott is an ardent admirer of Miss Kate’s work. Not so long ago he
came across one of her postcards in Texas and mailed it to his friend, who
had introduced him to the charms of Pewee Valley, Mrs. Charles Brackett,
the former Elizabeth Fletcher of Pewee, whose husband wrote “The Major and
The Minor.” When Mr. Woollcott was last in Louisville, he had lunch with
the Matthews sisters in Clovercroft.
A Valentine featuring Mrs. Felice “Fliss”
Guttenberger, Kate’s niece, playing the violin.
Fliss lived with her aunt for some years and inherited Clovercroft when Kate
From the private collection of Suzanne Schimpeler
Kate Matthews was also a long-time member of Pewee Valley
Presbyterian Church, where she served as Treasurer of the Women’s
organization (Busy Bees, King’s Daughters, Ladies Aid Society) for 60
years. When she retired, a gift was given in her honor to the Seminary for
the student loan fund. Her collectible “Little Colonel” post cards were
used as church fundraisers and were later sold in Pewee Valley’s general
store, according to an August 29, 1936 article about Pewee Valley written
by Hewitt Taylor for the Louisville Herald Post:
Souvenir cards of the
valley, made by Miss Kate Matthews, who illustrated the “Land of the
Little Colonel” and who appeared in the series as Miss Marks, have a
heavy sale at the valley’s general store, which is the only place they
One of Kate Matthews’ souvenir post cards from the
private collection of Suzanne Schimpeler.
The photo is of her mother, Charlotta Ann Matthews. To see another photo of
visit the Clovercroft page.
On the back of this post card is a verse Kate penned
about her mother:
“The sweetest face in all the world to me,
Set in a frame of shining silver hair,
With eyes whose language is fidelity,
This is my mother. Is she not most fair?”
According to her great-great niece, Marjorie Fletcher
Thompson, the Matthews family had fallen on hard times financially before
World War II. “Her brother, E.H. (Ed) Matthews worked as a teller in a
bank and he was their only source of income. They were just eking out an
existence, but kept up the façade of a gracious lifestyle, while their
home deteriorated,” she says. “They barely had enough money to pay their
taxes. Lillian Fletcher (Kate’s niece and Marjorie’s great aunt) provided
them with a stipend for food and helped them stay in Clovercroft.”
Kate’s sister, Jesse Joy. This photograph is one of six Kate Matthews’
in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
Though Kate was a talented photographer,
she never used her skills to earn a living. “I think her family saw her as
an eccentric, artistic person. They didn’t broadcast her photography
talent. It was considered a whimsical thing,” says Thompson. “She actually
has become much more famous since she died.”
Kate Matthews in her garden at
Thompson says Kate was ill for about three years before her death. “She
used to get what they called the leaf mold virus – an upper respiratory
infection – every fall,” she recalls. “She died in Room 8 of the Pewee
Valley Hospital.” Her obituary, published in the July 6, 1956 issue of the
“Courier-Journal” is shown below:
Miss Matthews of Pewee Valley,
Photographer 70 Years, Dies at 86
She Had Won Many
Miss Kate Seston
Matthews, who began her career as a photographer 70 years ago when
photography and professional women were rarities, died at 6 a.m.
yesterday at Pewee Valley Hospital. She was 86.
She brought to life
with her camera the real-life counterparts of characters in “The Little
Colonel” books. And she herself became a character, “Miss Katharine
Marks,” in the series by Annie Fellows Johnston.
In May an exhibit of
her photographs was on display in the Administration Building at the
University of Louisville. The exhibit included such titles as “Sleep, My
Pretty One,” “Going Home,” “The Shepherd Boy,” “Little Body blue,” and
“In The Studio.” It also included portraits of Little Colonel characters
– Mom Beck, the old colonel, and Mrs. A. B. Dick as the Little Colonel.
‘Tells the Truth’
In a program
accompanying the exhibit, Creighton Gilbert of the U. of L. art faculty
wrote: “These photographs are not merely documents of a dates past…Miss
Kate is a good photographer and therefore tells the truth.
“Therefore, along with
the sentiments, the lilies and the sofas, we are presented in hard focus
with the unpainted fence behind which the picturesque bonneted old woman
stands, the plain kitchen table which is the cute little boy’s
environment, and the touch of the macabre that we find in Victorian
purity and Victorian plush.”
Started in 1886
Born in New Albany,
Miss Kate lived most of her life in the sleepy little Oldham County
community of Pewee Valley. She began taking pictures in 1886 when she
was 16, using a bellows-type camera with photographic plates. She stuck
with that kind of camera the rest of her life, resisting efforts of
friends to convert to a candid camera. “I was the only one in the valley
who had a camera in the old days,” she once recalled. She maintained a
snapshot couldn’t produce the shading or detail of a time exposure.
In her early days as a
photographer, Miss Kate won many prizes in contest of national
magazines, such as Youth’s Companion, Illustrated American and Forward.
She also had her work reproduced in Vogue, Good Housekeeping,
Cosmopolitan and Ladies Home Companion.
Won Ad Contract
article about her appeared in the Southern Magazine. She often took
prizes at the Kentucky State Fair, and in exhibits at Chicago, Columbus
One she won was an
advertising contest sponsored by a soap company with a picture of a
delicate young woman holding a rose and smelling a cake of soap. The
caption read, “As Sweet as The Rose…”
Her photographs were
used to illustrate “The Land of the Little Colonel,” a sort of
postscript to the Little Colonel series written by Mrs. Johnston.
In recent years Miss
Kate took up oil painting, and in 1953 won a blue ribbon for a painting
in an exhibit sponsored by the Kentucky Federation of Women’s Clubs.
Producer Visited her
Miss Kate often played
hostess to a distinguished visitor from Hollywood – producer Charles
Brackett. His wife was a niece of Miss Matthews.
Miss Kate lived with
two other nieces, Mrs. Fliss Guttenberger and Mrs.
Elizabeth Feagin, in her family home, Clovercroft. It is a 14-room
home more than 100 years old.
Another survivor of
Miss Kate is a grandnephew, Matthews Fletcher, Pewee Valley.
She had been ill about
a month, and in the hospital since Sunday. The funeral will be at 4 p.m.
today at Pewee Valley Presbyterian Church, where Miss Kate was Sunday
school treasurer more than 50 years.
She will be buried in
Her last will and testament, transcribed below, was written on October
20, 1955 and witnessed by her two friends, Mary G.
Johnston and Hallie Burge Jacob
I, Kate Seston Matthews, of Pewee Valley,
Kentucky, do make this my last will and testament, hereby revoking any
and all wills by me heretofore made.
Item I. I appoint my nephew,
executor of my will.
Item II. I bequeath to my niece
Mrs. Charles Brackett, of
Los Angeles, California, any three of the oil paintings and any
photograph album which she may choose, also Majolica dishes, the two
marble statues, the two marble top tables, and the rugs she loaned to
Item III. I give to my niece, Mrs. Ferd
Guttenberger, my house in Pewee Valley, Kentucky, known as
“Clovercroft,” as well as the grounds on which it is located, together
with all of the furnishings of every nature in and about the premises,
with the exception of the items mentioned in Item II above.
University of Louisville photographic
hold 366 original Kate Matthews glass plate negatives and gelatin
silver prints, including some she hand colored. The collection was donated
to the university by her great-nephew, Matthews Fletcher (Majorie Fletcher
Thompson’s father). Her prints are also held by the Art Museum of
Princeton University, the International Museum of Photography at the
George Eastman House and the Museum of Modern Art.
Kate Matthews is buried in the Matthews
family plot of Pewee
Valley Cemetery with her parents and many of her siblings:
- Lucien George Matthews (Father)
- Charlotta Ann Matthews
- William John Matthews (Brother)
- Harriet Wood Matthews (Sister)
Charlotta Matthews Osborne (Sister)
- Florence Matthews (Sister)
- Jesse Matthews Joy (Sister)
- Kate Matthews
- Edward Hubbert Matthews (Brother)
A handmade bookmark that belonged to Kate Matthews
from Marjorie Fletcher Thompson’s private collection
Page by Donna Russell
"I heard a bird sing
in the dark of December"
Signed and titled photograph by Kate Matthews
Samuel Culbertson Mansion
Read more about
Kate Matthews and life in her home, Clovercroft
What's New? Biography of Annie Fellows
Books on Line (Complete
Original Little Colonel Book Series)
The Little Colonel (link to U. Penn))
Knights of Kentucky
The Little Colonel's
The Little Colonel's
The Little Colonel's Hero
The Little Colonel
The Little Colonel in
Colonel's Christmas Vacation
The Little Colonel, Maid of
The Little Colonel's
Knight Comes Riding
Mary Ware, The Little Colonel's
Mary Ware in Texas
Mary Ware's Promised Land
Check our home page for more titles by AFJ on other sites
The People & Characters:
The Little Colonel, Papa
Jack and Mrs. Sherman, The
Old Colonel, Two Little
Knights of Kentucky,
Two Little Knights of Kentucky(2),
Uncle Sidney & Aunt
Elise, parents of the Two Little Knights of Kentucky,
Aunt Allison, The
Waltons, Rob and Anna
Jack Ware, Mom Beck,
Walker, Katherine Marks,
The Lees of Arizona,
Their Final Resting Places
The Places: In Pewee (Lloydsboro) Valley:
Where it all began, The Locust,
The Little Colonel's Cottage,
The Railroad Station,
Post Office, Churches,
The Haunted House at Hartwell Hollow,
Minor Places In Old Louisville:
Mansion, "Home of a Hero"
The Cuckoo's Nest (Indiana), In Arizona:
Camelback Mountain &
Hole-in-Rock, In Texas:
The Little Town of Bauer (Boerne),
The Barnaby Ranch,
The Gate of the Giant Scissors
Letters from Annie
Fellows Johnston and "Mrs Walton"
Cooking with The Little Colonel
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best to answer your questions.. Much of the material included on
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Old Louisville Guide
(Old Louisville and
original material & research ©