Biography of Hiram Rutherford

Hiram Rutherford, retired physician and surgeon, Oakland; one of the early settlers of Coles Co.; was born in Lancaster Co., Penn., Dec. 27, 1815; his great-grandfather emigrated from Ireland in 1729, and settled in Lancaster Co., Penn., upon a branch of the Susquehanna, where, with his wife, he lived until 1755, when he removed to Great Limestone Springs, two miles east of where the city of Harrisburg now stands, and near which place a large portion of his descendants now live; this grand old patriarch died 100 years ago, and lies buried in the Paxton Church-yard, the oldest burial-place in that country. The subject of this sketch was the eighth member of his father’s family; he was raised to heavy farm labor, and at the age of 18, he commenced the study of medicine with an older brother, an eminent physician of Harrisburg, and graduated from the Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, in the spring of 1838; with $10, a horse, saddle and bridle, he set out to seek his fortune; his first location was at Millersburg, Penn.; in the latter days of 1840, he emigrated to Illinois, and located at Oakland, Coles Co., where he has since resided; the practice of medicine in a new country is a work of great labor, when the calls are numerous and the extent of territory covered, as in this case, embraced half a degree of latitude and longitude; the roads at that time, in this ” Ambraw ” country were mere deer-paths, and . the streams were allowed to flow on their winding to the sea, unvexed by bridges or ferries, except such of the latter as a dug-out canoe afforded; canoe ferriage, now one of the lost arts, was then a distinguished occupation in high-water times; the traveler led his stripped horse in the water on the upper side of the canoe, taking for himself and saddle a position mid-way between the bow and stern; the ferryman, seated on the stern, paddle in hand, sent the unsteady craft across the stream, carefully keeping pace with the swimming horse; the small streams had to be forded, in which case a high horse was a valuable help, but not infrequently a glorious ducking was the result of such necessary adventures. The Doctor has been married twice, and has eight children living – two girls and six boys. He has now, from advancing years, retired from the practice of medicine, and enjoys, perhaps, as well as any other man, the fruits of a well spent and prosperous life. Of petty local public honors, he has had his full share; village, town and school trusts have been his in plenty, seldom holding less than two offices at a time; as School Treasurer, he has held and successfully managed the funds of Township 14, R. 10, for twenty-seven years; as Supervisor, he has represented East Oakland on the County Board many years; further, with a conscience void of offense, he trusts, with God’s help as a heritage to his children, to at last go down to the dark valley like unto his fathers before him, without a blot or stain; neither a great nor remarkable man, but one whom his cotemporaries will probably admit was not a failure and did not live in vain.



Chapman Brothers Portrait and biographical album of Coles County, Illinois Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887.

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1 thought on “Biography of Hiram Rutherford”

  1. Dr Hiram Rutherford was known for being in a court case over rescuing slaves in Illinois. \
    It was the only instance where his friend , Abraham Lincoln, represented a slave-holder.

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