Crabapple Stories is a segment of the literary arts section of AnthonyDJones.com. It features stories between 1860-1960 and is titled Hookers, Angels, Nuts & Snakes – The Incredible Mattoon Dynasty. Why such a title? The stories begin with three sisters (and two brothers) born of a prostitute in Nashville servicing soldiers during the Civil War. Ruby Mondragon, the mother, had relations with three different soldiers named Mattoon from which sprang June, Bea, and Hannah the Hook. Each woman is a chapter and their offspring down through 100 years offer up the other chapters…among them, some “different” people including con artists, saints, mental cases, criminals and the founders of snake worshipping in the Tennessee Hills. Humor and drama and just plain tomfoolery rule the Mattoon Dynasty.
Many things are not set right until the truth comes out and the lessons are learned, and that is why this story needs to be told. Others have a different angle on that, meaning my family and friends – and my enemies. I am going to have fewer of one and more of the other when this is published, especially with non-dead descendants.
“I cannot thank Anthony enough, the only one of all of us to go to college. He gave up many hours of his life to help me write this. He is a Southerner (with – to be truthful – some unfortunate Yankee influences in him) and understands us. If you read Crabapple you know he tells it like it is, which is why I contacted him to help me with this set of stories of the Mattoons from 1860-1960. Some say we was strange. To me we was all as normal as any other soul that tells the truth on this here planet.” -M-
Pictures of people and places in these stories were not copied from websites or commercial photo sites. Each picture inside came from an authentic original photograph, still in M’s possession. There has been an effort made by M and yours truly to protect identities. You will see why. Know that some of these stories had to be recreated based on gaps in timely information – meaning the claim of “poetic license” is appropriate in some instances. Despite every attempt to record these chapters just as interpreted and dictated by M, I suggest you read it not for historical accuracy but for entertainment. M is a blood relative of June Jezebel Mattoon, and that is where the story truly begins. Without her strictly private journal and the incredible pile of ancestral recordings and accumulation of diaries, records, letters, news clippings and firsthand accounts of the Mattoon Family Tree by descendants all the way to 1960 this story would not exist. And it IS quite a story – actually a series of stories.
I am a descendant of the Mattoon Dynasty and why I wanted to – felt impelled to – write this amazing saga. To be truthful, once I sat down with M this set of stories was a done deal. We spent many hours on a gray enameled porch in Mobile, rocking away with sweet iced tea with a sprig of freshly picked mint leaves twisted into the mix. I was spellbound most of the time (and, hopefully, you will be too). Sometimes I would be so entranced that M would remind me, “Ain’t you gonna write that down?”
I am grateful to M and family members who allowed me to be the compiler, organizer and author of this incredible journey that started with the three sisters, Fanny ‘Hook’ (Hannah), Bea (Roxanne), and Jezebel (June) Mattoon – and their two brothers, Cletus and Josiah – born dramatically in the middle of our country’s Civil War.
It has been an honor as well as highly entertaining to be part of the incredible Mattoon Dynasty – despite being told way too many times that I am “part Yankee”.
Anthony S. Dallmann-Jones, PhD
Fond du Lac, WI
Gus and Gay Mattoon Hannah “The Hook” Mattoon