ATHERTON, DR. ALBERT, retired physician and banker, has done much to impress his personality on the community in which he has long lived and labored, always with a sense of his responsibility to the public. He was born in Morgan County, Ill., October 23, 1828, a son of Jonathan Atherton. The father was born in Dutchess County, N.Y., in 1803, a son of the Rev. Theophilus Atherton, also of New York nativity. The family of Atherton is of English descent and is related to that of the Harpers represented by the proprietors of the great publishing house of Harper & Brothers and their successors. The Atherton family was established in New York before the beginning of the last century. Rev. Atherton settled in Pickaway County, Ohio, about 1820. Not only was he a pioneer there in the work of the Presbyterian Church, but was also an educator and farmer. Jonathan Atherton was reared on the farm and educated under his father's able supervision. He married Ann Johnson, a native of Dutchess County, N.Y., and a daughter of Richard Johnson, who became a pioneer settler in Pickaway County. In 1826, about two years after his marriage, he moved with his wife to Illinois and they located among early settlers in Morgan County, where he developed a good farm, on which he reared a family of children and died about 1862. His widow lived some years after his death and passed away at the residence of the immediate subject of this sketch. She had three children who reached maturity, the survivors being Dr. Albert Atherton and a daughter, Mrs. Alice B. Howard, of South Dakota.
Dr. Atherton grew to manhood in Morgan County, attended public school until he was prepared to enter Illinois College at Jacksonville. As an aid to his medical studies and as a useful experience, he taught school several terms. He studied for his profession at Arcadia, Morgan County, and took lectures in St. Louis, Mo., in the winter of 1851-52. He graduated with the Class of 1853 and began practice at Cartwright, Sangamon County. In time his ride was widely extended. He was an active and successful member of his profession in the county until about 1870, when he began gradually to put aside professional cares. During the Civil War period he was a stanch defender of the Union. He has been an ardent Republican since the organization of the party in 1856, but has never been an aspirant for public office. Soon after coming to Sangamon County he bought land near Pleasant Plains, where he developed a farm which he still owns. It contains 160 acres and is under successful cultivation. He established a drug store and grocery at Pleasant Plains, which he conducted profitably for some years. He was one of the organizers, about 1880, of the bank of Tracy, Bukman and Company, later the bank of Atherton, Richardson and Company, which has long been known as one of Sangamon County's solid financial institutions. In 1906 it was reorganized, with increased stock, as the Pleasant Plains State Bank, with Dr. Atherton as President and A. Q. Irwin as Cashier.
Dr. Atherton married, in August, 1856, Miss Sarah Ann Hayes, a native of Lancaster county, Pa., daughter of August Hayes who, after she had been reared and educated in her native town, became an early settler in Illinois, to which State he brought his family. The writer is able to include the following items of interest concerning the children of Dr. Atherton. Elma C., married Robert Lane, the present Mayor of Pleasant Plains; Albert is a leading merchant at Jacksonville, Ill.; Mary Alice is Mrs. George Harnett, of Springfield, Ill.; August lives on a part of the old family homestead; Edward J. is Assistant Cashier of the Pleasant Plains State Bank and is represented by an independent sketch in this work; William, prominent in public and political matters, is Supervisor of Cartwright Township and is operating the Atherton homestead; Mabel is the youngest of the survivors; two have died - Franklin, aged four years, and LeRoy in infancy. Dr. and Mrs. Atherton are prominently helpful in the work of the Methodist Episcopal Church.