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The Dr. Hiram Rutherford House is located in Oakland, Illinois. Dr. Hiram Rutherford lived from 1815 to 1900 and was a doctor for the town. He was recognized as an abolitionist. He was also associated with the Matson Trial of 1847. The only case where Abraham Lincoln defended a slave owner.


  • Dr. Hiram Rutherford House
  • Dr. Hiram Rutherford
   Dr. Hiram Rutherford, a doctor and known abolitionist, came to Oakland from Pennsylvania and studied medicine at Jefferson College. He met his first wife while in Pennsylvania and his second while working on a trial. He worked on the Matson Trial of 1847. The only case where Abraham Lincoln defended a slave owner. 
   A slave owner, General Robert Matson, would bring his slaves from Kentucky to an Illinois farm to harvest crops. Anthony Bryant, one of his slaves, always remained at the Illinois farm. During the harvest of 1847, Bryant heard rumors about his wife and children being put up for sale. Bryant and his family decided to flee during the night. They were provided shelter at Gideon Ashmore's hotel with Ashmore and Dr. Hiram Rutherford's connivance. The wife and children were soon placed in jail. 
   General Robert Matson filled a suit against Ashmore and Rutherford asking for $2500 because they took his human "property." Rutherford and Ashmore argued that under the Illinois Constitution of 1818 slavery was illegal, therefore they were not his property. They settled in 1847 in favor of the Bryants and they were provided passage to Africa. 
"Dr. Hiram Rutherford House," Aboard the Underground Railroad, accessed December 1, 2014, http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/underground/rutherford.html
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