Manuscripts Division William L. Clements Library University of Michigan
Finding aid for Matthias Papers, 1834-1835
James V. Medler Crime Collection
Finding aid created by Terese Austin, September 2008
Title: Matthias papers Creator: Matthias, Robert, 1778-1841 and Western, Henry Inclusive dates: April 1834-11 June 1835 Extent: 7 items Abstract:
The Matthias papers are a small, miscellaneous collection of letters and documents relating to Robert Matthias (a.k.a. Robert Matthews), the leader of the Kingdom of Matthias cult. They touch upon the lives and circumstances of Matthias; his wife, Margaret Matthias; cult follower Benjamin Folger; and Matthias’ legal counsel, Henry Western and N. Nye Hall.
Language: The material is in English Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave. The University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190 Phone: 734-764-2347 Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu
Access and Use
The collection is open for research.
Copyright status is unknown.
Matthias Papers, James V. Medler Crime Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan
Robert Matthias, a struggling carpenter living in New York State in the early 19th century, became the leader of a patriarchal cult known as the "Kingdom of Matthias." When the cult broke up, Matthias faced accusations of multiple offenses, including obtaining money on false pretenses, assault, and murder. He ultimately served four months in prison, three for assaulting his daughter and an additional month for contempt of court.
Collection Scope and Content Note
The Matthias papers include seven miscellaneous items: three letters from Robert Matthias’ wife, Margaret, to his legal counsel, Henry Western; two letters to Robert Matthias while he was living in Sing Sing, New York; and two legal documents. A full description of each item is located in the Detailed Box and Folder Listing.
Crime and criminals--New York (State)
Criminal justice, Administration of--United States.
Cults--New York (State)--History--19th century.
Folger, Benjamin H.
Hall, N. Nye.
Kingdom of Matthias (Cult)
Matthias, Robert, 1778-1841.
Container / Location
Box 4, James V. Medler Crime Collection
Matthias papers, 1834 April 4-1835 June 11 [series]
1834 April 4 . Letter from Margaret Matthias to Henry Western, asking for rent money.
1834 April 6 . Letter from Margaret Matthias to Henry Western asking for money to clothe her son so that he can appear in court; she claims to have suffered in her association with Matthias.
1834 May 29 . Brief letter from Benjamin Folger to Robert Matthias, relating to Folger's mental state, and to the disposition of articles sent for by Matthews.
1834 July 28 . Letter from "F" to Robert Matthias, describing an encounter with a man who mistook him for a robber after he "obtained entrance in the manner you suggested."
1834 December 26 . Statement signed by Ann Folger and Benjamin Folger acknowledging receipt of subpoena to attend court in White Plains on January 12.
1835 May 8 . Statement signed by Margaret Matthias giving the circumstances around the dismissal of N. Nye Hall as Robert Matthias' legal counsel -- she found him ill as a result of a "debauch," and Matthias, informed of Hall’s habits, directed that he be removed from the case.
1835 June 11 . Letter from Margaret Matthias to Henry Western informing him that she is writing "the true account of Matthias" and asking for some money for rent.
Additional Descriptive Data
Johnson, Paul E. The Kingdom of Matthias. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.