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Biography - William Matney

WILLIAM D. MATNEY, M. D. The town of Sorento has upon the list of its citizens able representatives of all the professions. Our subject is the leading physician of the He was born on a farm near what is now the town of Herrick, in Shelby County, his natal day having been January 26, 1840, and he was the second child in the family. Four other children were afterward born to Leonard and Mary (Burrus) Matney. Only two of the family survive, William D. and a sister, Ruth C., now the wife of H. H. Meyerholz, of Ramsey, this State.

Our subject's father was a native of Tennessee, where he was born in 1811. He was by occupation a farmer and was a veteran of the Mexican War. He settled in Shelby County, Ill., about 1835-36, and died there September 30, 1847. Our subject's mother was born in Kentucky in March, 1819, and was descended from an old Virginian family. However, but little information is at hand relative to the early history of the antecedents of either of these families. We have been able to glean the simple fact that the Boswell family, which was the name of the great-grandmother of Leonard Matney, was from the old Bay State, whence its members early emigrated to Virginia. Jacob Burrus, the maternal grandfather of our subject, was born in Virginia and in early life went to Simpson County, Ky., where he became a prominent citizen. Our subject's mother was born in Kentucky and is still living, at the age of seventy-three years, and makes her home with her daughter, Mrs. Meyerholz, of Ramsey.

It is of the man himself, however, that we wish to write and we will give a full account of his rise in the world from the son of a poor farmer in the early settlement of Illinois until the present time. The boyhood days of young Matney were spent on a farm much as other farmer boys spend their time, tilling the ground in the summer and never having received over six months' schooling. We find him prosecuting his studies at the breaking out of the Civil War, when he promptly tendered his services to his country, and December 10, 1861, we find him in the ranks of Company K, of the Fifty-fourth Illinois Infantry, under Capt. T. C. Rodrig and Col. Harris. December 26, 1863, he re-enlisted as a veteran and served until October 15, 1865, when he was discharged at Little Rock, Ark., with the title of Sergeant. We will not attempt a history of his war career, suffice it to say that he was with his regiment from first to last, never being off duty, and he never received a scratch, although in many of the hard-fought battles, among them the siege of Vicksburg and the Steele campaign at Little Rock.

After his return from the army, our subject took up the life of a farmer and was thus employed for two years. In the meantime, however, he was busy prosecuting his medical studies, and in 1869 he became interested in the drug business in Oconee. For the five years that he remained there he faithfully continued his medical studies, for that was his chosen profession. In August of 1875, he located at Harvel, Montgomery County, and after a successful examination passed before the State Board of Health he received a license and hung out his shingle. His experience as a prescriptionist and his protracted studies gave him more than an ordinary store of practical knowledge, and he met with marked success from the start. There he continued his practice until September, 1882, when he removed to Caldwell, Kan. But not prepossessed in favor of the West, he returned to his native State and in October, 1883, located in the new town of Sorento and has since been an important factor in the building up of the place.

Aside from our subject's professional interests, he has many other interests and is the patentee of a burglar alarm which he has, however, n ever pushed upon the market. The Doctor was first married in Shelby County, in 1867, to Sarah E. Lowe, who was a native of Johnson County, Ind., born January 28, 1840. She was the daughter of John and Rachel Lowe. Her decease occurred October 18, 1876. From this union six children were born, all of whom died when young with one exception Mary Ellen, who is now the wife of Samuel E. Cress, a prominent hardware merchant of Sorento. The Doctor again married, September 30, 1878, the lady of his choice being Miss Drucilla C. Scott, born in Portsmouth, Ohio, April 23, 1854, a daughter of Jeremiah and Sarah (Davis) Scott. Mrs. Drucilla Matney died in Sorento February 25, 1888.

Dr. Matney was married to his present wife in St. Louis April 17, 1889. She was Miss Melvina Allen, a daughter of Abram Allen, now of New Douglas, Madison County, Ill. Two children have been born to Dr. and Mrs. Matney, Mabel Louise and William D., Jr. Dr. Matney came from an did Democratic family, but at the breaking out of the war he joined hands with the party that was destined to do so much for the salvation of his country and has ever since been an ardent Republican. He has since been favored with many local offices by his party. While residing at Oconee, he served as Postmaster for five years and was a member of the Shelby County Board of Supervisors. At Harvel, he held the office of Town Clerk for five years and was besides a Village Trustee. For the past seven years, he has been Police Magistrate of Sorento. He is a prominent and enthusiastic member of the Grand Army of the Republic, and for two years has been Commander of the Samuel McAdams Post No. 497, of Sorento. He is a member of Sorento Lodge No. 318, K. of P., holding the Chair of Past Chancellor Commander. He is also prominent in the Masonic fraternity, being Master of Lodge No. 392, of Oconee, and now a member and Past Master, of Madison Lodge No. 560, of New Douglas.

Extracted 20 Dec 2016 by Norma Hass from 1892 Portrait and Biographical Record of Montgomery and Bond Counties, Illinois, pages 388-390.

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