Robert Jay Mathews was born in Marfa, Texas and grew up in Phoenix, Arizona. He was the son of a retired U.S. Air Force officer. He developed an interest in conservative politics at a young age.
July 1974, he moved to Metaline Falls, Washington, a town of 238 people in the northeast corner of the state. He purchased 60 acres of property and called it, Mathews Acres. He worked as an electrician for two different local companies. During this time period, he became more interested in extreme right-wing politics.
In 1980, Mathews joined the National Alliance.
September 1983, Mathews invited eight men whom he felt held beliefs similar to his own, to his property in Metaline Falls. The group Mathews founded that night became known as The Order.