Sangamon County ILGenWeb © 2000
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By Joseph Wallace, M. A.
of the Springfield Bar
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, IL

CHARLES R. MATHENY - was officially the most prominent man of his day in Springfield and Sangamon county, and was one of the most useful. He was born in Loudoun county, Virginia, March 6, 1786. While yet a young man he went to Kentucky, whither a brother of his had preceded him, and was there licensed as a Methodist preacher. In 1805 he was sent by that religious body as a home missionary to Illinois, which then formed a part of Indian Territory. Locating in the old county of St. Clair, he there married Jemima Ogle, a daughter of Jacob Ogle, and one of the first American children born in that section of the country.

Mr. Matheny followed the calling of a minister for some years, and meanwhile read law and was admitted to the bar. In 1811 he was elected a representative from St. Clair county to the third territorial legislature of Illinois, which convened at Kaskaskia in December of that year. In 18I7 he was appointed prosecuting attorney for his county or district. In 1820 he was a member from St. Clair county of the second state general assembly, which convened at Vandalia. In the early spring of 1821 Mr. Matheny removed with his family to the small settlement of Springfield in the newly established county of Sangamon. He was induced to come here by the tender of several county offices and other prospective advantages. In April of that year he was appointed county clerk, and in May circuit clerk, and held both of these offices until 1835 or 1836 when he resigned the latter office. In 1822 he was made probate judge of the county, and retained the office for three years. He was also recorder from 1821 till 1827. On the incorporation of Springfield as a town, in 1832, he was chosen president of the board of trustees and filled this position almost continuously until his death. But with all these offices, such was the scarcity of money and the limited amount of business transacted that he hardly made a sufficient support for his large family.

Charles R. Matheny continued to fill the office of county clerk until his demise, which occurred October 10, 1839, in the fifty-fourth year of his age. His widow survived him for many years, and several of his sons became men of note and influence in the city and county. He transmitted the mantle of his office of county clerk, together with his pleasing manners and personal popularity, to his eldest son Noah W. Matheny, who, by successive re-elections, retained the office until 1873. In that year his brother, James H. Matheny,was elected county judge,and held this important office continuously until the close of his life in September, 1890. Seldom, indeed,has one family held office in the same county for so long a period of time.

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