Oakland in Coles County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
The Matson Slave Trial
óLooking for Lincoln ó
Dr. Hiram Rutherford was a key person involved in Abraham Lincolnís famous slave case, the only instance in his career where Lincoln represented the rights of a slave owner. Robert Matson brought slaves from Kentucky to work his farm north of Independence each year until after the harvest. By doing so, Matson was taking advantage of a common loophole in Illinois law, which allowed slaves to be held here while in transit. In 1847, one of Matsonís slaves, Jane Bryant, argued with his housekeeper and future wife, Mary Corbin. Mary threatened to have Jane and her children sent south to be sold. Janeís free husband, Anthony, learned of the threat and sought help from Gideon Ashmore and Hiram Rutherford of the village of Independence (now Oakland.) Rutherford and Ashmore concealed the runaways in Ashmoreís hotel while Matson brought suit against them for the loss of his property, hiring Usher Linder and Abraham Lincoln as his lawyers. Lincoln made his case that under the law, the runaways should be returned to Matson because he had publicly declared that they were not held permanently in Illinois, but were in the state for temporary labor.
While the outcome of the Matson trial resulted in freedom for the Bryant family, Hiram Rutherford and Gideon Ashmore realized the Bryants couldnít
With the help of Rutherford and Ashmore, and a donation from Lincolnís law partner, William Herndon, money was secured to transport the Bryant family to Liberia, Africa, which was established as a home for freed American slaves. In 1848, Reverend S. S. Ball of the Colored Baptist Association of Illinois, traveled to Liberia to report on conditions there and found the Bryants in a “deplorable situation” and wishing to return to America, a task that he could not accomplish.
Erected 2008 by Oakland Landmarks Inc.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Looking for Lincoln marker series.
Location. 39° 39.25′ N, 88° 1.632′ W. Marker is in Oakland, Illinois, in Coles County. Marker is on North Pike Street north of Illinois Route 133, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Oakland IL 61943, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 14 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Home of Dr. Hiram Rutherford (here, next to this marker); Civil War Memorial (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Gristmill Stone Recovered from the Little Embarras River (about 400 feet away); Oakland, Illinois Community W. W. I War Memorial (about 400 feet away); Abraham Lincoln - Eighth Judicial District (approx. 10.6 miles away); Grandview Township Veterans Honor Roll (approx. 12.4 miles away); Coles County War Memorial (approx. 13.5 miles away); Coles County - - Civil War Memorial (approx. 13.5 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Oakland.
Also see . . .
1. Lincoln & Slavery ::. Courtesy: "Prairie Fire" WILL-T.V.:: This video gives a well balanced view of Lincoln and his position concerning Slavery. (Submitted on May 19, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.)
2. Travel with Lincoln ::. Climb into Lincolnís buggy and take a trip with Lincoln and his fellow lawyers on the job traveling Illinois as Circuit Lawyers. See all the Lincoln Circuit Markers (and a surprise or two), in the order of his travels while a member of the Circuit of the Eighth Judicial (Submitted on May 19, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.)
3. Looking for Lincoln::. Many resources for the Tracking of Lincoln through History and Illinois. Aimed at all ages. (Submitted on May 19, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.)
4. Looking for Lincoln Video - on P. B. S. Follow Henry Louis Gates, Jr. "...from Illinois, to Gettysburg, to Washington, D. C., and face to face with people who live with Lincoln every day..." (Submitted on May 19, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.)
5. Matson Slave Trial Program offered annually in September. The story of the 1847 Matson Slave Trial comes to life on the third weekend in September each year when a program is presented by three local historical organizations in Oakland, IL. Ticket holders meet seven of the characters involved in the story, enjoy and 1847 meal, and watch a historical drama about the trial. Participants learn more about each of the characters lives, their points of view on the trial, and how the trial fits into other state and national events. (Submitted on July 9, 2010.)
Categories. • Abolition & Underground RR • Notable Events •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on May 19, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana. This page has been viewed 1,442 times since then and 48 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. submitted on May 19, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.