Laurel County Women: Daisy Matthews

My blog entry last week promised to bring you information about some of the notable women in Laurel County’s past. Here is the first of what I hope to be many such entries.

Daisy Matthews, a native of Laurel County, was a woman ahead of her time. In 1922, at age 45, she not only operated a stock farm in Laurel County, she was also a special deputy sheriff appointed by Judge Hiram Johnson.

Daisy was married to James B. Matthews, an employee of the United States Department of Justice, who was assigned to duty in Louisiana in 1922, so she was responsible for running the farm on her own.

At the February term of court, an alleged moonshiner named Frank Helton refused to divulge information about others involved in the moonshine operation and Judge Johnson gave him 13 jail sentences for contempt of court–one for each time he refused to answer the questions of the grand jury.

In March, Helton escaped from the road crew he was working with and disappeared into the Rockcastle Springs area.

Laurel County Sheriff J. E. Stringer and a posse of eight deputies searched for Helton for a week without any luck. Even a reward of $200 yielded no results.

On Monday, June 5, however, Special Deputy Daisy Matthews arrested Helton at his home, brought him to London, and turned him over to the sheriff.

Judge Johnson praised Daisy Matthews for her success in “making good where the Sheriff and a posse of men had failed for a week,” saying that “he never gave her a case until all the men had failed and that she always ‘got her man.'”

It should be noted that she was assigned the case on Saturday, June 5, two days before she brought the fugitive to justice.

I’m sure Daisy Matthews performed many other daring feats of justice, but this is the only one I had time to find. If I locate any others, I will add them to future blog entries.

Meanwhile, if you have any information on a notable woman from Laurel County history, send it to me by using the “Contact Form” at right. I appreciate any assistance in finding information on notable Laurel County

See you next week!

Danna C. Estridge
Guest Blogger

[Quotes are from a newspaper article on the front page of the Richmond Daily Register, Madison County, Ky., published on June 6, 1922.]

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