In late 1840, the young Dr. Hiram Rutherford moved from Pennsylvania to the new prairie town of Oakland, Illinois, to set up his medical practice. He remained there until his death in 1900, and although he was known for being the village's first educated doctor, that is only one small part of his amazing story. Dr. Rutherford left an indelible mark on local, state and national history as a friend of Abraham Lincoln, as a champion of human rights in the Matson slave trial (in which Lincoln unsuccessfully argued for the rights of a Kentucky slave owner keeping slaves near Oakland), and as a civic-minded leader in his community.
Dr. Rutherford saw his patients in the residence for several years, but as his family grew, he decided to build his doctor's office in 1855. "We can now use my office for a living room and keep the parlor for a parlor," he wrote. The Rutherford House is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The buildings on the property are full of historical treasures and fully furnished as they would have been in Rutherford's day, including many items from the Rutherford family.
Landmarks sites are open 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, from April 1 through Oct. 31. Tours at other times are available by appointment by calling (217) 948-5629 or sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.