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Descendants of Massey-Clark House builder give papers to Matthews Heritage Museum

Brother and sister Kevin Furniss and Jennifer Nemes recently traveled from Englewood, Fla., to Matthews to visit the Matthews Heritage Museum in the Massey-Clark House. Their great-great-grandfather, Dr. H.V. Massey, had the house built in 1879. The siblings donated a box of papers belonging to Massey to the museum.
Brother and sister Kevin Furniss and Jennifer Nemes recently traveled from Englewood, Fla., to Matthews to visit the Matthews Heritage Museum in the Massey-Clark House. Their great-great-grandfather, Dr. H.V. Massey, had the house built in 1879. The siblings donated a box of papers belonging to Massey to the museum. MATTHEWS HERITAGE MUSEUM

Folks at the Matthews Heritage Museum now know lots more about the building that houses the museum, and the building’s former occupants, thanks to the great-great-grandchildren of Dr. H.V. Massey, the original owner of the Massey-Clark House.

Englewood, Fla., residents and siblings Kevin Furniss and Jennifer Nemes recently traveled to Matthews with a box papers that belonged to their great-great-grandfather.

“Their mom, Elizabeth Furniss, had sent a few documents relating to Dr. Massey to the town of Matthews about 13 years ago,” said Museum Director Barb Taylor. “Once we got the museum established, I was doing all the necessary paperwork to organize our collection, and I came across those documents. I sent a contract letter to Elizabeth, but she had passed away and my letter to her was returned.”

But Taylor persisted in her research and found Furniss’ son, Kevin Furniss. Taylor and Furniss emailed back and forth for about a year, exchanging information about Furniss’ relative.

As Furniss and his sister were cleaning out their parents’ estate, they found more papers related to their great-great-grandfather.

The siblings made a trip to Matthews, and Taylor said the two were thrilled to find their ancestor’s house preserved.

“Neither of them have children, and they were happy that their great-great-grandfather’s house was saved and is now a museum, and that we were so excited to get his papers,” Taylor said.

She’s only a third of the way through cataloging the documents and has already discovered a letter dated 1863 from T.B. Stover, a Civil War soldier writing home; tuition receipts from Massey’s children; and documentation that the Massey-Clark House was built in 1879 – one year prior than thought.

Paula Lester, president of the Matthews Historical Foundation, said she’s excited about the valuable information the newly discovered documents contain.

“These documents certainly add a lot of information to what was already known about the Massey family,” Lester said. “It is so interesting to have everything come together with these people that we’ve studied but never knew. This adds a whole new dimension to Dr. Massey and his family.”

Melinda Johnston is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Melinda? Email her at m.johnston@carolina.rr.com.

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Matthews Heritage Museum Director Barb Taylor said that once she’s finished cataloging the information, some of the documents will be put on display, probably in fall.

If you have any historical documents or pictures of Matthews you would like to share, Taylor invites you to bring the items by during regular museum hours, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday or call 704-708-4996. The museum is at 232 N. Trade St., Matthews.

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