Matthew Rogers was an unwilling show attraction to the snake oil salesman Dr. McQueen. He escaped and later became the adoptive son of Isaiah Edwards until his biological father who was searching for him found him and took him home with him.
Matthew Rogers came to Walnut Grove as a roadside attraction known as the "Wild Boy". He was nonverbal, kept in a cage, and was highly aggressive. Dr. McQueen, who was his legal guardian, beat him with his cane and starved him, also keeping him drugged with the 'miracle cure' he peddled.
Matthew escapes his guardian's maltreatment, seeking refuge in in the Wilder's farm. He is found by Jenny, who is undeterred by his appearance and reputation and takes the time to understand he is a mute and the two become friends. When Laura and Almanzo discover Matthew, Jenny persuades them not to turn him in. While Matthew's aggression has apparently lessened, Laura and Almanzo are concerned for the welfare of their young daughter, so Isaiah Edwards secretly takes him in.
Matthew has a violent episode early in his stay, which prompts Mr. Edwards and the Wilders to call Doc Baker. His examination reveals that Matthew's lack of a voice is due to damage to his vocal chords caused by lye down his throat at a young age, and that his violent episodes are in fact the results of morphine withdrawal, the base of Dr. McQueen's Elixir.
Laura decides to teach Matthew sign language, which Jenny and Mr. Edwards also decide to learn. He picks the language up quickly and becomes highly communicative; he also learns to whistle after hearing Isaiah do it while he works.
After a tip from Nancy Oleson and her mother, Dr. McQueen returns to reclaim his charge, much to Matthew's horror. During the hearing to determine his custody, the boy is called into the room, where McQueen brandishes his cane at him: reminded of his beatings, Matthew lashes out in fear and runs away, badly hurting the case against McQueen. He is only saved from being returned to McQueen when the latter's star witness retracts, revealing he was bribed. However, the judge also rules Matthew unstable, and that he must be returned to the orphanage.
While upset with the decision, Matthew refuses to follow along with Isaiah's plan to run away from the law. The next day at church, he asks Reverend Alden to allow him a few words. With Isaiah and later Laura as his translator, Matthew thanks the community (particularly Almanzo, Laura and Jenny) for accepting him, also expressing a wish to return someday. He is seen tearfully hugging Isaiah when the judge recants.
Behind the Scenes
Matthew Rogers was played by Jonathan Hall Kovacs