Ida Elizabeth Brandon, the daughter of Mary
Baldwin Munn Brandon and Washington McClure Brandon and wife of Giles
Huff Mathis, was born in Florence, Alabama in 1857.
Ida Brandon Mathis was called the "Economic
Moses of the South" by Mittie McDavid in the May 12, 1918 issue of the Times
Picayune. She was a farmer's daughter and a practical woman who not
only was a successful farmer and financier, but also dedicated herself
to the principle of an agriculturally sound state and nation. Mrs.
Mathis, a strong proponent of crop rotation and crop diversification,
preached her economic doctrine of "Safety in Food Crops" from New York
to Louisiana and in states westward. She was appointed by Alabama
Governors Henderson and Kilby to represent and assist with agricultural
and developmental conferences. She spoke at the very first meeting of
the Alabama Chamber of Commerce on October 26, 1916, and was the only
woman on the committee of 100 that worked to secure a nitrate plant for
Muscle Shoals. Merle Crowell, in the February 1917 issue of American
Magazine declared the "Mrs. G. H. Mathis has been worth $20,000,000
to the state of Alabama."
In 1917, Ida Mathis was also the first woman in
seventy-five years to deliver a the baccalaureate address at Alabama's
Howard College (now Samford University). Receiving many invitations to
speak outside of Alabama, she addressed the Banker's Farmer Conference
in Chicago in July 1917. On October 7 and 8, 1915, she spoke at the
Farm Mortgage Bankers Association of America (FMBA) in St. Louis. Her
speech was so moving that a copy of her address was sent to President
Wilson along with resolutions expressing the appreciation of the FMBA
for the great service she was rendering to the cause of better social
conditions in the South. In May of 1917, Secretary Treasurer McAdoo
called her for a conference.
John Skelton Williams, Comptroller of the
Currency, Washington, D.C. told her that with her credit system she had
done more toward winning the War than any other person in the United
As a field agent of the Alabama Bankers
Association, farmer, economist, teacher, lecturer, and reformer, Mrs.
Mathis was a woman of foresight who sought to prepare her country for
its responsibilities during restless times by sharing freely the
successes of her own experiences with others.