Howard A. Mathews, who for the third term is filling the position of county superintendent of schools, and whose labors have been effective in raising the standard of public instruction in Des Moines county, was born in Danville township, Sept. 27, 1866. His father, Henry C. Mathews, was born in Michigan during a brief residence of his parents there. They had come from New York to the Middle West, and removed from Michigan to Illinois, and later to Des Moines county, Iowa. The grandfather was a millwright by trade, and was interested in pioneer days, in establishing mills at Lowell, Henry county, a few miles south of Danville, one on either side of the Skunk River, and operated by water power. For many years he was thus identified with the early industrial development of this part of the State, while later he turned his attention to farming. He was also one of the early school teachers of the State, and his labors proved an important factor in promoting progress and upbuilding here. He died on his farm, aged seventy-six.
Henry C. Mathews, father of Professor Mathews, was only two years old when brought by his parents to Des Moines county, and under the parental roof he was reared amid pioneer environments. After arriving at years of maturity he married Miss Cyrene E. Dodds, who was born in this county. Their wedding was celebrated in Danville, March 19, 1864, and they began their domestic life upon a farm. Mr. Mathews was engaged in agricultural pursuits throughout his entire life. He owned four hundred acres of land in Danville township, constituting a valuable farm, and he was also active in community interests, serving as township trustee for many years and otherwise supporting progressive and beneficial measures for the general good. His political support was given to the Republican party and he was a consistent member of the Congregational church. He died in 1897, at the age of sixty-two years, and his widow still resides upon the old homestead near Danville. They were the parents of eight children, and with one exception all are yet living, namely: Henry Sherman, of Danville, who married Lucretia Beck; Howard A.; Warren L., who married Ida B. Mix; Willis S., who married Edith Ferinsworth; Grace A.; Birdie B., who is engaged in teaching in the public schools: and Fred D. The deceased daughter was Lilly Mathews.
Professor Howard A. Mathews was reared upon the home farm, and his early education was acquired in the district schools, supplemented by study in the Danville high school, from which he was graduated with the class of 1887. He began teaching in the public schools, and was thus identified with the educational interests of the county for twelve years, or until elected to the office of county superintendent in September, 1899. He was for one year principal of the schools of Danville, and was teaching in the Maplewood school south of Danville when elected to the office of county superintendent in 1899. His nomination came entirely without his solicitation, and was a public recognition of his ability as an educator and his worth as a citizen. He discharged his duties with such satisfaction to the general public that he was re-elected in 1901, and again in 1903, so that he is now serving his third term, and under his guidance the schools have made satisfactory progress. He is continually studying out new methods for improving the schools along practical lines, and he has the faculty of securing the cooperation of the teachers and arousing their zeal in behalf of the improved plans which he introduces. He is a member of the State Teachers' Association and the Southeastern Iowa Teachers' Association; was chairman of the county superintendent's section of the Southeastern Iowa Association held at Burlington in 1903.
Professor Mathews was married in Danville, in 1896, to Miss Emma A. Gugeler, who was born in Danville township, Des Moines county, Oct. 29, 1870, and they have three children: Alvin G., George H., and Grace A. Mrs. Mathews is a daughter of Fred Gugeler, who was born in Germany, and his wife, Mary (Nau) Gugeler, who was born of German parentage, in Des Moines county. They now reside upon a farm in Danville township, and their children are: Henry, deceased; Charles, who married Pearl Carter: Mrs. Lizzie Dodds; Mrs. Emma Mathews: George, Anna, and Maggie, all at home.
In his political views Mr. Mathews is a Republican, well informed concerning the questions and issues of the day, and yet never active as a politician. He belongs to the Congregational church, and has wielded a wide influence for the betterment of his fellow-men along the lines of intellectual and moral progress, while his own sterling worth and allegiance to high principles have gained for him the uniform regard of the residents of eastern Iowa.