Matheny, James H. (Matheany, Matheney)

Born: 1818-10-30 Lebanon, Illinois

Died: 1890-09-07 Springfield, Illinois

Alternate name: Matheany, Matheney

The third son of Charles R. Matheny, James H. Matheny moved to Springfield, Illinois, with his family when he was three years old and lived there for the remainder of his life. The Sangamon County recorder appointed James at the age of fifteen as deputy clerk in his office, and Matheny also worked as a clerk in the Springfield post office. In 1839 and 1840, Matheny served as deputy clerk of the Illinois Supreme Court and, in 1841, he became a deputy clerk for the Sangamon County Circuit Court. A close personal friend of Abraham Lincoln, Matheny served as the best man at the 1842 wedding of Lincoln and Mary Todd. On February 11, 1845, Matheny married Maria L. Lee, with whom he had seven children. He gained admission to the bar in 1843, and he practiced law until 1852, when voters elected him clerk of the Sangamon County Circuit Court, a position he held until 1856. He also served as a delegate to the Illinois constitutional convention of 1847. Politically, Matheny was a Whig until 1856, when he supported the American Party’s presidential candidate, Millard Fillmore. During the Civil War, he served as lieutenant-colonel in the 130th Illinois Volunteer Infantry regiment. He also served as a judge advocate for military courts. In 1860, he owned real estate worth $10,000 and $11,000 in personal property.

David Herbert Donald, Lincoln (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995), 70, 111; Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 8 September 1890, 4:1-2; Mark E. Neely Jr., The Abraham Lincoln Encyclopedia (New York: McGraw Hill, 1982), 207; John M. Palmer, ed., The Bench and Bar of Illinois: Historical and Reminiscent (Chicago: Lewis, 1899), 1:191-92; The United States Biographical Dictionary and Portrait Gallery of Eminent and Self-Made Men: Illinois Volume (Chicago: American Biographical, 1876), 171-72; Paul Selby, ed., History of Sangamon County Illinois (Chicago: Munsell, 1912), 2:1422-23; U.S. Census Office, Eighth Census of the United States (1860), Sangamon County, IL, 123; Illinois Statewide Marriage Index, Sangamon County, 11 February 1845, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL; John Carroll Power and S. A. Power, History of the Early Settlers of Sangamon County, Illinois (Springfield, IL: Edwin A. Wilson, 1876), 479-80; Gravestone, Oak Ridge Cemetery, Springfield, IL. Illustration courtesy of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Springfield, IL.