March 19th, 2020
In a lidded two-drawer chest on the west wall of the attic are several wrapped items of clothing, including Jane Floy Mather’s wedding petticoat from 1893, and Ella Maria Mather’s little blue dress, the topic of “She Wore Blue…”
Also, similarly wrapped, in the New York Times from September 1, 1953, is “Aunt Rana’s Shawl.”
Rana Mather was one of two never-married daughters of Deacon Joseph Mather who built the house in 1778. After Deacon Mather died in 1840 and his wife in 1843, the house was left to Rana and her unmarried sister Phebe. They were joined in the house by a twice-widowed sister, Betsey Mather Bell Lockwood, and Betsey’s daughter, Ann Elizabeth Lockwood.
Rana was born 4 May 1784 and died 27 August 1880, at the age of 96. Think on that for a moment. Consider of the arc of history she witnessed!
Rana was born three years before the United States Constitution was signed and four years before George Washington became President. In her lifetime, the United States grew from 13 to 38 states, had 19 different Presidents, declared Emancipation, and survived a Civil War.
But how did the shawl belonging to this woman get to a chest in the attic of the Homestead? The answer is found in a note wrapped with the shawl…
“This shawl belonged to Rana Mather – daughter of the builder of this house. It was given to Anna Mather Weed who in turn gave it back to Bertha Mather McPherson in 1933 – to be kept in the old house.”
And so it has been kept. And will continue to be. Part of the legacy and the history that the Homestead holds and shares.
Detail of Rana Mather's 1800's shawl (above and below)
Rana, Phebe and Betsey in front of the Mather Homestead, late 1800's.
Rana Mather's headstone in the Mather Cemetery in Darien.