VALENTINE RATHBONE, M. D., and WALTER RALEIGH RATHBONE, his son, both deceased, were prominent and influential men in their day and place, and the name Rathbone is closely identified with the early history as well as with the later annals of Saline county, Illinois.
Valentine Rathbone was born in Saratoga county, New York, February 25, 1816, son of Dr. John Rathbone, a representative of one of the oldest and wealthiest families of the Empire state. Dr. John Rathbone died at Elmira, New York, at the remarkable age of one hundred years. In his youth Valentine attended school at Cortland, and after leaving school spent nine years on a farm. In 1843 he came west to Illinois to join his brother, Dr. George Rathbone, who had settled at McLeansboro. A letter written by this brother in February of that year and received at Scipio, New York, a month later, speaks of the hard times: States being almost bankrupt, scarcity of specie and discouragement of everybody. But in the face of these conditions Valentine saw fit that fall to join his brother. Reaching McLeansboro, he took up the study of medicine in his brother's office, which he alternated with school teaching. Money being scarce, he took calves, sheep, hogs and other produce as his pay, and later he drove his stock to St. Louis, where he turned it into cash. He continued his medical studies at St. Louis, in the St. Louis Medical College, where he graduated with the class of 1851, after which he opened an office at Raleigh, then the county seat of Saline county, and in connection with the practice of his profession he conducted a drug store. He remained at Raleigh until 1860, when he came to Harrisburg. Here for nearly forty years he made his home, up to the time of his death, February 2, 1898. He continued in the drug business and in the practice of medicine, in which he was so successful that he ranked with the foremost citizens of the county, both by reason of the wealth he had accumulated and on account of his many estimable qualities as a man, a neighbor and friend.
The year he graduated, 1851, he married Mrs. Lucinda Baker, nee Clayton, a native of Kentucky and at the time of their marriage a resident of Raleigh. She survived him several years. By her first husband she had two sons, Mitt and Neil Baker, and by Dr. Rathbone two sons, Walter Raleigh Rathbone and John V. Rathbone. The last named is now a confectioner of St. Louis, Missouri.
Walter Raleigh Rathbone was born April 15, 1857, and died January 10, 1904. His first business venture was as a merchant. About 1878 he opened an abstract office, which he conducted for a number of years. His father owned a large amount of farm property as well as town realty, and to this, as the father grew older, the son gave attention. He erected the Harrisburg Opera House, which is still in the family, being owned by his son, Walter V. His own affairs and those of his father almost wholly occupied his time, and while he was public spirited he never sought public office. The only official position he ever filled was that of city clerk. In 1883 he married Miss Maude C. Parker, who came to Harrisburg with her parents when a girl. For a number of years her father was proprietor of the Parker House of this city. She is now the wife of Judge A. W. Lewis. Her children are Walter Valentine, Lucinda and Edith. Miss Lucinda is a music teacher of Harrisburg, and Edith, now the wife of W. W. Largent, Jr., is a resident of Portageville, Missouri.
Walter Valentine Rathbone, bearing the names of both father and grandfather, succeeds them as a citizen in the town in which they lived and where he was born and reared. For the past five years he has been engaged in the clothing business, occupying one of the best buildings of the town. As already stated, he owns the opera house which his father
built, and he also owns farm lands, which he rents. He has been a member of the School Board two years and is now its president. On December 30, 1907, he married Miss Helene Oehm, of Mt. Vernon, Illinois.