Clio Logo

In the spring of 1874, Charles R. Mathews settled in the Victoria Creek valley. With the help of neighbors, Mathews built two log cabins, one as a residence, and one to house the first post office in Custer County. Cedar logs from Cedar Canyon, located just northwest of the park, provided the structure for the cabins. C.R. Mathews became the first postmaster in Custer County and held that position from 1875-1889. Mathews also served as Custer County judge for a few years, resigning from that office in 1883. The first store in New Helena was in Mathews's log cabin home. The cabins and Mr. Mathews served an essential purpose in the beginnings of New Helena.


  • C.R. Mathews, seated. Oscar Smith, left. George Carr, right. In front of Mathews cabins.
  • C.R. Mathews and other first settlers in front of the Mathews cabins - 1886
  • East Cabin
  • East Cabin
  • Inside the west cabin
  • Inside the west cabin
  • West Cabin
  • Memorial monument

Harvey B. Andrews, Charles R. Mathews, and Edward Nielsen were some of the first settlers in Custer County. They arrived in the spring of 1874 and were directed to the Victoria Creek valley by trappers, who had spent the winter in the area. Charles R. Mathews settled on the land where his two log cabins still stand. One cabin became his residence, and the other was the post office. Cedar logs from Cedar Canyon, located just northwest of the park, provided the structure. With help from neighbors, construction on the buildings finished in 1874. Shortly after, Mathews opened the first post office in the area in 1875. He named it after his hometown in West Virginia. While there is some disagreement over which cabin housed the post office, the slot for the letter drop was in the door of the west cabin. There was a cellar under the east cabin, and logs extended outside from the cabin walls to the east. Wild game hung from these logs to freeze in the winter. 

The first mail arrived in New Helena on April 15, 1875. C.R. Mathews became the first postmaster in Custer County and held that position from 1875-1889. Mathews also served as Custer County judge for a few years, resigning from that office in 1883. After Mathews resigned as postmaster, the post office moved several times until it was eventually discontinued in 1910. The first store in New Helena was in Mathews's log cabin home. C.R. Mathews sold his farm to C.O. Williams in 1919 and returned to West Virginia to live with his niece. The Mathews cabins are a testament to the courage and entrepreneurial spirit of the first settlers in Custer County.

On Sunday, October 24, 1937, the Daughters of the American Revolution of Custer County dedicated a memorial monument at Victoria Springs State Recreation Area. The inscription reads, "The log cabins, built in 1874, were used as the home of the first postmaster, Judge C.R. Mathews and the first post office in Custer County. Placed by General George A. Custer Chapter DAR 1937." This monument's location is near the two log cabins. 

The Anselmo Historical Society. Victoria Creek Neighbors: 100 Years of Memories (Callaway: Loup Valley Queen Press, 1986).

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Custer County Historical Society - Photo by Solomon D. Butcher

Custer County Historical Society - Photo by Solomon D. Butcher