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An alum

Yes, indeed. Joe Matthews, an Englishman who immigrated to the United States in 1899, initially settled in Marathon, Iowa, where his uncle ran a livery stable. In 1901, he met a UW employee who offered him a job as a teamster on campus. Matthews said yea instead of neigh and trotted to Madison. As university coachman, he used his carriage, “an elegant surrey with a fringe on top,” and Belgian mares — also boasting some fancy fringe — to cart university presidents, deans, and distinguished guests around like royalty. When President Theodore Roosevelt came to campus in 1918, Matthews took him for a spin around Lake Mendota. During his 47-year tenure at the UW, he spent 28 years living on the university’s Eagle Heights farm breeding horses for the College of Agriculture (now the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences) and 25 years acting as sheriff of the area. He never arrested any students, but he did spend much of his time thwarting thefts from the Eagle Heights apple orchard. When Matthews retired in 1948, he griped about newfangled farming techniques. “These young fellows today are taking to the tractors. You have to be behind a horse to appreciate farming,” he lamented. “In fact, I’d be surprised if half of them could harness a horse.” One can only imagine what he’d say about today’s high-tech soil sensorsdrone-aided precision agriculture, and data-driven farmers.

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