The Siege at the Wyatt Earp Birthplace Museum


Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 7.00.54 PMLet’s face it, the time of year is a little appropriate for what is turning out to be a gunfight at the kuku corral.  Ironic is the fact that the ‘Cowboy’ is now in jail, and on October 27 (the day after OK Corral Day) will be the subject of status hearing in criminal court in Monmouth, Illinois, the birthplace of Wyatt Earp.  He was arrested last Friday evening, after a campaign of harassment, bullying, threats, and just plain old nastiness towards to very sweet people I care about.  Once I read, on FB, what he was doing to them, I went after him, to divert some of his wrath.  He turned on me, quite vilely.  As soon as I realized what Bob and Melba Matson had been dealing with for months, I was furious.  At least we now had additional evidence that he would not only attack them, but anyone who ventured to cross him.  Allegedly this alleged disabled vet has allegedly left a path of victims in his wake, over the years.  Anyone who has worked with abuse, or experienced knows an abuser when they see one.  He is classic, as in you made me do something bad to you.  It isn’t my fault.  If you had not crossed me, or upset me, or done exactly what I wanted you to do, and allowed me to have my way, none of this would be happening. Right now, I’m just thankful he is in jail, unable to raise the $500 bond, and the Matsons, who are my parents’ age, are hours away from him.


On the evening of Friday, October 16, 2015, Kelly Semande, tenant of WEB (Wyatt Earp Birthplace Museum), 406 South 3rd Street, in Monmouth, Illinois. was arrested by Monmouth police  following ongoing complaints filed by the long-time owners, Bob and Melba Matson.

Complaints included violations of their lease-purchase agreement, non-payment of rent, and damage to the historic house. The house is full of antiques, and period furniture. The condition of the contents is unknown.

The Matson’s are concerned not only about the antiques, which are part of the museum, but the general condition of the property itself.

According to inspectors, he gutted the home of anything modern, in an attempt to allegedly put it back to original form.

During the process he sold the new furnace, refrigerator, water heater, air conditioner, removed the stove, tore out all the furnace duct work, and twisted all the wires in the electrical panel.

Outside of the house, he removed the power company’s electrical wires.

Estimates for the damage, along with unpaid rent plus sewer repair could be upward of $27,000, according to Melba Matson.

According to Bob Matson, “The sale price of the broken contract was $30,000.”

On Thursday, October 22, 2015 Semande appeared in criminal court. A status hearing was scheduled for the morning of October 27, 2015.

Since October of 2014, Semande has been implying, locally, that he was now the owner of the property.

He established a Facebook page, where he has battered, harassed, bullied, and threatened Melba Matson, aged 85, and Bob Matson, who is approaching ninety, taking advantage of their age and the fact that they are no longer living in Monmouth.

According to author and Earp historian, SJ Reidhead, Semande attacked her the same way after she corrected several of his statements concerning the ownership of 406 South 3rd Street and his actions against the Matsons.

Reidhead is currently the president of the National Board of Trustees and a National Advisory Council, a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization.

Copies of the written attacks by Semande have been forwarded to the police in Monmouth.

Facebook, even after repeated requests, has refused to remove the fraudulent page and refuses to take Semande’s threats threats.


Both Bob and Melba Matson were born in Monmouth, living there for well over 70 years.  Their family arrived in Monmouth in 1868, according to records of the First Lutheran Church, originally called the Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church.  The couple spent their lives teaching school in Monmouth, with numerous ties to the community.  Several years ago, after retiring, they are now living out of state, to be near their daughter, Jane Lee, and her family.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999 as the Pike-Sheldon House ( it was built, around 1841.  In 1848, Wyatt Earp was born in the house.

It was listed in the Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Wyatt Earp Birthplace Marked, in 1956; State of Illinois Inventory of Historic Landmarks in Warren County, Interim Report in 1974; Certificate of Historical Significance by the Monmouth Preservationists in 1986; and the Illinois Governor’s Home Town Award in 2005.  Bob and Melba Matson have owned 406 South 3rd Street for thirty years.

The situation, for Melba and Bob Matson is very frustrating.  Living on their pensions, it is going to be very difficult for them to repair the damage done by Semande, and replace the items which have been removed from the house and allegedly sold.

According to SJ Reidhead, “Apparently, as owners of the property, dealing with an abusive tenant, the Matsons have very few rights of their own. It is quite obvious that Kelly Semande, who falsely stated that “…406 South 3rd Street is the nicest place I have ever owned”, has limited resources.  It will be very difficult for him to make restitution to the couple. Not only is the situation very stressful for Bob and Melba, but it is making those of us who care, not only about the Matsons, but also their labor of love, angry. It is frustrating for everyone involved.  There is something very unfair about what Semande has done to them.”

On his Facebook page, on October 10, 2015 Semande, who had been trying to defend his actions, wrote, “…Now they are accusing me of stealing I removed the furnace that I ask not to putting in if we are going to make the home as it was in the 1800’s no power no gas all operated by sar power and battery operated candles lanterns etc that are safe to use for they will not cause fires. Now I am accused of stealing things that I did not yes I removed an inoperative air conditioner that has cause water damage in this home these windows damaged…”

His actions were taken without written or even verbal permission  of the owners as required by the contract. He never contacted either Bob nor Melba Matson about the changes he wanted to make.  The 406 South 3rd Street is an upright and wing home.  Semande allegedly has been living in the back of the modernized square wing of the historic house.

Semande has also been stating, publicly, that the WEB is a false museum. He is doing his best to tarnish Matson’s  legacy, and all those years of hard work, trying to maintain and grow the Wyatt Earp Birthplace Museum.  His harassment and threats include things like this.  “…but looking at the Wyatt Earp page, it looks like you are making the war public with the Matsons, and that make the whole thing seem a bit crazy and unhinged… a marketing site should be professional 100% of the time. I can tell you right now, the Mayor and the Council won’t be happy at all for you and the Matson to bring your private argument to the Council chambers… it looks like you are digging yourself into a hole here. an friend of mine wrote this to me. and i agree with it 100% i should have been more professional about this…” (sic).

The Matson’s were threatened many times that Semande was going to take the Matson’s to the council, IRS, Illinois Job Services, and the Health Department just to name a few.

The situation is now critical for the Matsons. They are not quite sure what will happen after Semande has his day in court. All they know is their wonderful little house at 406 South 3rd Street will never be the same again.  All they wanted was  to do something for their community. They led the fight for the city swimming pool in 1976 when Bob Matson was Bi-Centenennial Chairman and twelve-year Alderman.   These are just a few examples of their legacies for a better Monmouth.