Nathan Way Frazier House
Frazier married Martha Boots, daughter of Martin Boots, on August 18, 1841. In 1843, Nathan began building a brick house for Martha. He added rooms as he could afford them and the house was completed in 1873. When the couple's second child, a daughter Lydia was born in 1844, the house only had one room. Martha Boots Fraizer died on October 14, 1864 at the age of 45. She left five children Sarah, Lydia, Monroe, Francis, and Matilda (Whiston 364).
When Nathan moved to Grant County in 1836, it was covered in a dense forest. Nathan converted the forest into 310 acres of farmland, which he owned until his death. In 1843, the same year he was building his house, he and another pioneer farmer, Jacob M. Smith held a fair on Franklin Street (now Fourth). The Smith-Frazier fair was very popular for the sparsely settled Grant County. The fair showed cattle, horses, and hogs. Many fairs would come after the first fair in Grant County (Whitson 570). In the spring and summer of 1853 the necessity for an agricultural society began. On August 13 of the same year the first organization of the Grant County Agricultural Society began with Nathan W. Frazier as president. Nathan also owned a limestone kiln by the Mississinewa River. Nathan died on January 12, 1875 at the age of 66. Nathan was a very respectful man in the community and added a landmark on Grant County's soil.
The Matter Family
The Matter family owned and operated the Fraizer farm from 1876-1948. Philip Matter was born near Palmyra, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, in 1842. After all the schooling he could have in the common schools, Philip went to work for his brother John at the age of fifteen. Throughout his apprenticeship with his brother he learned the business as a dealer in horse and cattle and afterwards he became a prominent banker and landowner in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. During the Civil War, Philip was an inspector of horses for the United States Government and he personally rode thousands of horses for the Union. During the battle of Gettysburg, he barely escaped being captured by the Confederate army while herding cattle through the mountains (History of Indiana 3).
Philip settled in Indiana in 1868 and took residence in Marion in 1876. Philip bought the Frazier farm from Nathan's heirs in 1876 and made it a horse and cattle farm. The farmhouse was abandon for sometime and it also was made a granary (Whitson 1277).
When new opportunities came upon Eastern Indiana and natural gas was discovered in the 1880s, Philip became the organizer of the Marion Gas Company. Philip also became a part in establishing and financing of the Anderson Glass Company, the Tin Plate Mills in Anderson, and the Peru Steel Casting Company at Peru, the Highland Iron and Steel Company, with mill at Terre Haute and West Pullman, Illinois. Philip and a group of young prominent men from Indiana also founded the town of Monessen, Pennsylvania. Philip also with the financing of the first electric interurban railroad in America. This line ran to Anderson to Summitville. It was a part of the Union Traction System, then the Indiana Railroad System (History of Indiana 3+).
On September 9, 1892, at the suggestion of his wife, Philip donated thirty beautiful acres to the city of Marion for a public park. In 1910, they planted shrubbery. As the popularity of the park increased a dam was built across the river. Also pavilions were built and playgrounds for children. Matter Park held many reunions there. At one time the park had a zoological exhibit and swimming pool. It still has a baseball diamond and playgrounds, with picnic tables and pavilions (Scenic Spots 40).
Philip Matter married Leile Harter of Wabash and they had six children namely Cathrine, Lucile, John, Milton, Delight, and Robert. Philip and Leile made sure that their children all had good educations. Milton, John, and Robert all attended Princeton University.
Milton became president of the Philip Matter Estate Incorporated in 1928. Milton was born in Marion on August 12, 1887. He attended Lawrenceville Preparatory School in New Jersey. He then went to Princeton and graduated with a master's degree in Art. He had the privilege to travel to Europe. While there he studied at the University in Berlin and the University of Goettingen in Germany. When he returned to the United States in 1911, he was appointed director of John Herron Art Institute in Indianapolis. He left that job for an assistant professor of art at Wells College on Aurora, New York. In 1913 he became close with the Marion State Bank that Philip founded in 1883. In August of 1928, Marion State came together with the Marion National Bank, which he became vice president. Milton married Mary Ann Sweetser in 1926. The couple had one son, Philip. He was born in 1929(History of Indiana 4).
Robert Matter was the second son of Philip and Leile. Robert married a woman named Dorothy. The couple sold land to the City of Marion for the development of the Shady Hills Additions in 1945. The couple also owned the Frazier house and sold it to Denzil and Mildred Stanton in 1948.
John Matter, the youngest son of Philip Matter, was an author in Chicago. He married Grace Sweetser. In his book Three Farms, he wrote about the Matter estate and the Frazier farm. In this work, he wrote about the city of Marion and how he loved it. He said it was the best place on earth to be.
Philip Matter died in 1928 from an accidental fall in his home. He was 85 years old. The Matter family contributed much to the city of Marion and Grant County.
The Adsit Family
The Adsit family bought the Frazier house in 1984. They purchased the house from John and Martha Ferguson. John worked at Ball Foster and was transferred to a different company just like the two owners previous to them. Dr. Gary and Lynette Adsit made some renovations to the house. They took the previous garage, that used to be the kitchen, and closed it off. They hope to make it a master bedroom some day. They also switched the kitchen and a sitting room. They placed the kitchen in a smaller place and took the wood floors from the old kitchen floor to make the floor for the new kitchen. With the left over wood, Gary made a desk/bookshelf for the sitting room. The family also repainted the house and many of the rooms. It took six weeks for Lynette to take the wallpaper off the master bedroom walls. The walls had seventeen layers of wallpaper with paint in between. After all of it was off, she found writing on the wall with what they believe are children's names.
Stories of the House
It is rumored that the house was a part of the Underground Railroad. This story has some credibility because Nathan Frazier was a Quaker. Since the Mississenwa River has changed courses, river water now comes up through the hole and the Adsits have to pump the water out.
Like many old houses, there are ghost stories behind it. One such story was that Martha Ferguson, the wife of the family that lived in the house before the Adsits, thought she saw a ghost at the top of the stairs. She said it was a lady that wore a dress like the ones that were worn in the 1800s. Another one was that the mother of Lynette was helping paint the ceiling in the family room and she needed light to see better. When she said that she needed light, the light just came on. At that time, no one was in the house except her and she was on top of scaffolding.
The Adsits have been told that there is an underground tunnel that goes from their house to the river. They have said that it was used to haul dead bodies from the farm to the river. In John Matter's book, Three Farms, he mentions this. Some people also believe that this tunnel was used to transport slaves to the river so they would not get caught. The Adsits have never found evidence of this underground tunnel or any tunnel in the house; except the natural spring that they used to cool food.
The Nathan Way Frazier house has been through slight changes and many families. Nathan Frazier built the house and lived and operated the farm for thirty-nine years. Philip Matter bought the land from Nathan's heirs and ran the farm and much more as Philip Matter Estate Incorporated. Philip was a major part in Grant County's history founding and financing many buildings and projects that made Grant County great. The Adsit family now owns the historic Frazier House and has made changes to it. The Nathan Way Frazier house is a part of Grant County and Marion's history.
Written by Erin Shively
- History of Indiana. Obtained from Lynette Adsit. 3-4. 5 January 2001.
- Nathan W. Frazier. Obtained from Lynette Adsit. 5 January 2001.
- Scenic Spots. Obtained from Lynette Adsit. 40. 5 January 2001.
- Whitson, Rolland Lewis. Centennial History of Grant County, IN. Chicago: Lewis, 1914. 77; 363-4; 570; 1276-77.