Nephthali A. Durham was born in Warren County, Tenn., February 21, 1826, the son of Asahel and Jane Stembridge Durham, natives respectively of North Carolina and Virginia. Our subject came with his parents to Saline County, where he was reared to manhood. Early in life, he began the study of dentistry. He studied under Dr. J. Simmons, professor of the State Board of Dentistry of Alabama, and practiced successfully in the Southern States until 1852, when he came to Benton. He practiced here and at DuQuoin, his home, and through southern Illinois until 1871. He had invented an improved dental forceps, consisting of one handle arranged to operate a full set of adjustable beaks, and, in 1872, having secured a patent, went East and
organized a stock company at Hartford, Conn., with a capital of $50,000, for the purpose of manufacturing this instrument. He was elected president of the company, and it had operated but a year or so, when, in the panic of 1873, "it went to the wall" with numerous other enterprises throughout the land. He remained in Hartford eight years practicing dentistry. In 1879 he returned to Illinois, and soon to Kansas and Indian Territory, and later to the Southern States, and finally, in 1884, settled in Benton, where he is now practicing. In 1853 he married Mary C. Stiegall, of Benton, who died in 1863, in DuQuoin, leaving four children, two sons now living: Edward, in Hartford, Conn., in the employ of a railroad company, and Charles, superintendent of a paint factory in Philadelphia. Both are married. Our subject is independent in politics, and a spiritualist in religious views, having devoted much attention to this faith in his travels, and with Dr. Dunn, of Duquoin, published a book, "Life among the Angels," a series of communications from the spirit of Joseph Miller. He is now compiling a work treating on revelations from a high order of spirits. He was president of and instrumental in the organization of the first spiritualist society in DuQuoin. He is a Mason.