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Born in Stinesville, Matthews was the son of John H. Matthews, who opened one of the first quarries in Monroe County. John Matthews died in 1883, and his sons changed the firm name to Matthews Brothers.
Showing a knack for the stone business, Fred Matthews guided the firm from simply quarrying stone to dressing it, and his firm provided stone for many important national buildings. He was one of the men who started the highly profitable Perry-Matthews-Buskirk quarry at Bedford. For the final three decades of his life, Matthews was president of the Matthews Bros. Stone Company and also the Empire Stone Company. He served as a director of the First National Bank, and was instrumental in the Griffy Lake dam project.
In addition, he served two terms as auditor of Monroe County.
He was a 2004 inductee into the Monroe County Hall of Fame on which his plaque reads "He was one of the founders of Matthews Brothers Stone Co., served on the school board, the hospital board and as county auditor."