Francis Edward Mathews


Francis Edward Mathews, 1929, courtesy Mathews family

    Francis Edward Mathews was born in Brazil on January 20, 1879.  His parents, as young teenagers had gone to Brazil with their families after the Civil War.  They returned to the United States in 1882, when Frank, as he was always called, was 3.  They settled near Ocala, Florida.   

    Francis started out working with a carriage maker as a blacksmith, but somehow ended up building boats, and eventually owning his own boat yard known as the Mathews Boat Works.  He designed all the boats he built with the exception of the "Gay Jane".  During World War I he worked for the Navy supervising the construction of ships at the Gibbs Ship Yard in Jacksonville, Florida.  During World War II he returned to the Gibbs yard as a construction inspector of mine sweepers and sub-chasers.  

    Francis Mathews was an accomplished musician.  He traveled the country as a very young man as a band member in a traveling carnival.  He played both the cornet and the baritone and was always active in the city band wherever he lived.  While in Daytona Beach, he led the city band.   

    "Much has been said about Daddy and his boat building. There was another side to him; his musical ability. He could play almost any instrument including the piano, and he never had a lesson in his life.  I remember him as playing the cornet mostly.  Daddy was director of the Daytona Beach Municipal Band for many years.  This was a large group and they played for the community affairs and for the street dances then held down town on Beach Street in front of the old casino.  Further on boats...When Daddy retired, he did not stop building boats, but built sturdy little row boats, for fishing on the many lakes in Lake County, built with the same precision as the large yachts, in the garage for family members and friends.  Also, after he was retired and during World War II, he was recalled to supervise boats in Jacksonville"  Julia Mathews......2/24/00

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