MATHENY, ELIJAH COOK, the son of Charles R. Matheny, was born in Springfield, June 13, 1826, and lived in Springfield practically all of his life. At the breaking out of the gold fever in California, in 1849, he crossed the plains by wagon to the Pacific coast and stayed there until 1854. He did not come back to Illinois overland, but sailed from San Francisco for Panama and thence to New York. He stayed in Panama for some eight months near where the Canal is now being constructed.
He was married February 3, 1857, in Springfield, to Alletta L. Van Norstrand, and they had two children, John R. and Louisa I. Both of whom are now living in Chicago. Mrs. Matheny died in June, 1864, and the subject of this sketch was married in 1865 to Mrs. Naomi L. Rittenhouse, whose family came from Pennsylvania and whose maiden name was Schroyer. Mrs. Matheny had two children, Charles E., of Springfield, and Louis P. Rittenhouse, of Chicago. Mr. and Mrs. Matheny had three other children: Mima, who is now the wife of George H. Siimpson, of Decatur, Ill.; Ada L. Matheny, who is now the wife of George Whiting, of Chicago, and Phillips G. Matheny, Manager of the Barclay Coal and Mining Company, of Springfield.
Elijah Cook Matheny was Deputy United States Marshal for the Southern District of Illinois for nine years and it is said that during that time he sold two million dollars' worth of confiscated property in Cairo. He died on the 13th of December, 1905. He was a man of unusual information and at the time of his death there was probably no man more familiar with the early history of the county. He had a remarkable memory and was a man of wide reading, and up to the time of his death kept himself fully informed regarding the public and local matters. He had been a member of Masonic fraternities for many years.