Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Nation Oliver Mather (1875-1938)

From the Biographical Annals of Ohio, 1906-1907-1908.

   A successful lawyer and two-term Ohio state senator, Nation O. Mather was for a short time one of the leading lights in Ohio politics, later being elected as President Pro Tempore of the Ohio Senate in 1909. Judging from his unusual given name and later success in politics, "Nation" certainly proved to be a very apt first name! Despite being a figure of prominence in Ohio government during the early years of 20th century Mather is little remembered today, and a quick Google search on him only reinforces this point. While facts on Mather's life and career in the public forum remain rather difficult to come by, the following lines will hopefully fill in the existing void when it comes to this life of this oddly named Buckeye State politician!
   Born on December 1, 1875 in Union County, Ohio, Nation Oliver Mather was one of five children born to John (1846-1909) and Ruth Tallman Mather (1845-1918) and was also mentioned by the 1938 Ohio Bar publication as being "a direct descendant of Increase Mather", the famed Puritan clergyman and president of Harvard University. He received his early education in the public schools of his home county and later studied at the Northern Indiana Normal School. 
   Following his graduation Mather returned to Union County and taught school for a few years before enrolling at the Chicago Law School, graduating from here in the class of 1898. Mather opened a law office in Akron, Ohio sometime after his graduation and in February 1902 formed a partnership with Henry Marcellus Hagelbarger in the firm of Hagelbarger and Mather. This partnership dissolved after three years and Mather later  joined the firm of Grant, Sieber, and Mather, also located in Akron.
   In the mid 1900s, Mather entered the political field, becoming secretary of the Republican County Executive committee of Summit County. In November 1905 he won election to the Ohio Senate as a Republican, defeating his opponent Charles Lawyer by a vote of 22,575 to 21, 478. Representing the 25th and 26th Senatorial district, Mather's brief biographical snippet in the Biographical Annals of Ohio 1906-1907-1908 denotes his public career with the following lines:
"Attorney. Lucrative law practice. Successful advocate. Close student of public affairs. Careful and investigating legislator. The welfare of his people his chief concern. Unmarried."
   Taking his senate seat in 1906 Mather held a seat on the committees on the Judiciary, Manufactures and Commerce, Medical Colleges, Municipal Affairs, Roads and Highways, and also chaired the committee on the Soldiers and Sailors Home. During his first senate term, Mather married in Akron on December 31, 1908, to Adeline Hoover (born 1889) and later had two daughters, Betty Jane (birth-date unknown) and Mary Ann (1911-1985). Described in the Ohio Manual of Legislative Practice as a "ready debater and parliamentarian of unusual ability", Mather won re-election to the senate and during his second term was elected by his fellow senators as President Pro Tempore of the Senate for the 1909-10 term. 
   Nation O. Mather left the Ohio senate in 1911 and in the years following his service formed another law partnership, this time with Roy H. Nesbitt. The firm of Nesbitt and Mather is listed by the American Bar Journal of 1918 as being counsel for a number of important companies, the Northern Ohio and Traction and Light Co, the Western Union Telegraph Co., the Erie Railroad Co. and the Wells Fargo Express Co. being among them. In 1921 Mather and Nesbit later added a third name to their firm, an up and coming corporate lawyer named Wendell Lewis Willkie (1892-1944), who went on to be the Republican nominee for President of the United States in 1940! 
   Nation O. Mather continued to practice law through the remainder of his life, and in November 1937 filed a substantial libel action suit against the Time, Inc. publishing company, well known as publishers of both the Time and Fortune magazines.  Fortune magazine had earlier ran a story mentioning Mather which he claimed was "defamation of his reputation", and although little else could be located on the particulars of the lawsuit, the Sandusky Star Journal article below notes that the "suit was transferred from the Summit-co courts to federal court here."

                                                       From the Sandusky Star Journal, November 16, 1937.

  Within a year of filing the aforementioned law suit, Nation O. Mather was dead, passing away shortly before his 63rd birthday on November 9, 1938. He was survived by his wife Adeline and his two daughters and was later interred at the Rose Hill Cemetery in Akron.


  1. My great grandfather and yes we all thought the name was strange. I was surprised to find his name on this website.

    1. Louise,
      My husband and I just moved into a new home and he spotted what looked to be a gravestone near the edge of the woods by our creek. It doesn't look like it should be there. After doing some research, the name and date matches this person! Looks like he was buried in akron/fairlawn at Rose Hill Park, which is about 30 miles from here. Not sure how it got here, but I will call the cemetery to see what we should do!

    2. I had no idea. We haven't been back to Akron in quite a while. Who would steal a grave stone. I'd appreciate it if you keep me informed. You can let Rose Hill you have been in contact with a relative.

    3. I have no idea who would do it...probably kids. I will call tomorrow!

  2. Hello all,

    What a curious case of apparent gravestone napping! Yes, Mr. Mather was interred at Rose Hill in Akron according to the information I've seen, and its truly unusual as to how his stone managed to get 30 miles away from where he's supposed to be buried! Please message me either here or on the site's Facebook page as to further happenings in regards to his stone. All in all very unusual and slightly funny at the same time!--Andy

    1. The cemetery said he was buried there in 1938, then in the 50's he was moved to a family plot with 4 names on it. They think someone in the family must have taken it home as a keepsake since the cemetery no longer needed the marker. I guess it will have to stay.

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    3. I talked to my dad and he said that Nation is in a Family Plot with Betty and Adeline. Now were curious who in the family would have taken it.

      Andy - Betty was born in 1910 and died in 1967. I noticed here birth/death date was missing in the article.

  3. Andy - is there a way I could contact Alisia and find out where she lives so I can track down who might have taken it?