The Mather and Jopling Home – 321 Cedar Street

The Mather and Jopling Home

Henry Mather, the original owner of this home, was part of the prominent Mather family which has been so involved with the iron industry in Marquette County. The Mather family had already been famous since the seventeenth century in New England where their ancestors included prominent Puritan ministers Increase and Cotton Mather. The Mathers moved to Cleveland, Ohio from where the family would operate their interests in Upper Michigan’s iron mines. The Cleveland Iron Mining Company, today Cleveland-Cliffs, was begun by the Mather family.

Samuel Livingston Mather Sr. was a co-founder of the Cleveland Iron Mining Company, today known as Cleveland-Cliffs. Samuel Sr.’s first wife, Georgiana Woolson, would give him two sons, Samuel and Henry, and his second wife, Elizabeth Gwinn, would be mother to William Gwinn Mather. William Gwinn Mather would be head of Cleveland-Cliffs from 1890-1940 and would name the town of Gwinn, Michigan for his mother.

Samuel Sr.’s first wife, Georgiana Woolson, was the sister of Constance Fenimore Woolson. The sisters were great-nieces to the novelist, James Fenimore Cooper. Readers of The Only Thing That Lasts may remember Robert O’Neill’s visit to Anne’s Tablet on Mackinac Island and how it inspires his literary aspirations. Anne’s Tablet is a monument to Constance Fenimore Woolson, author of Anne and several other novels set in the Great Lakes area. Woolson lived in Cleveland where her nephews often visited her, and Samuel Jr. would later become her financial advisor. Although no record exists that Woolson ever visited Marquette, I count her as a literary predecessor for being one of the first authors to depict Upper Michigan—specifically Mackinac Island—in fiction, and she certainly would have known about Marquette. She also did well picking Samuel Jr. as her financial advisor; he became not only the richest man in Ohio, but he also had Anne’s Tablet built in her memory.

As for Henry Mather, he married Mary Hewitt, sister of Ellen Hewitt White, thus making him Peter White’s brother-in-law. Henry Mather built his home at 321 Cedar in 1888 and had it designed by Charles VanIderstine. Mather later sold the house to James Jopling, who had married his daughter Elizabeth “Bessie” Walton Mather. James Jopling had first come to Marquette in 1881 as a civil engineer. His brother, Alfred.O. Jopling, would marry Peter White’s daughter Mary. Over twenty-six mining companies would employ Jopling as a mining engineer before he went to work exclusively for Cleveland Cliffs for forty years. James Jopling would be hired by the city to build the road to Presque Isle, which included filling in the swamp that separated it from the mainland.

James and Bessie’s only child, Richard Mather Jopling, was born in Marquette but attended school back East. He reputedly loved Marquette and returned home frequently to visit. His aspirations as a writer were cut short when he died in World War I while serving in the ambulance corps in France. His only book Prose and Verse by Richard Mather Jopling was published posthumously in 1919. His parents signed a copy they gave to Alfred.O. Jopling, his uncle, which is now part of the Peter White Public Library’s collection. The Jopling home would later belong to Dr. Fred Sabin, an ophthalmologist for nearly fifty years. It has since been sold again.

The home is approximately 4,000 square feet in size, contains a formal dining room, large butler’s pantry and an enclosed sun porch with a south view of Lake Superior, five bedrooms and baths and several stately fireplaces. It retains its original woodwork, oak wainscoting, and French pocket doors.

For more about Marquette’s historical homes, read My Marquette.

Explore posts in the same categories: Marquette History, Marquette's Historical Homes, Upper Michigan Books and Authors, Upper Michigan History

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2 Comments on “The Mather and Jopling Home – 321 Cedar Street”

  1. Mark F. Harsy Says:

    I surfed in my googling Geogianna Woolson. Nice article with alot of history. I am a member of the Constance Woolson Litetary Society and distantly related to Constance and Georgianna thru the WOOLSON line.


    • Thanks for the comment, Mark. It’s a pleasure to hear from you. I wrote to the society when I wrote my book, hoping to find evidence Constance Fenimore Woolson had visited Marquette at some time, but unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like she was so lucky. Still, I consider her one of my literary predecessors in writing about Upper Michigan. Best wishes.


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