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Chicago: Chapman Bros., Publishers


DR. JAMES LEIGHTON, of Manchester may be considered to have been a pioneer physician of Scott County, although not among the earliest here, and for many years he was a leading member of his profession in this part of Illinois. He is widely known and honored, for he has not only been the beloved physician but the close friend in many a household, where his soothing touch has healed disease or stayed death's ravages. He has nor retired from active practice, though notwithstanding his advanced age, he is in full possession of his mental faculties and preserves his physical powers to a wonderful extent, enjoying excellent health, and frequently may be seen riding horseback to look after some of his farms or other property near here. While attending to his professional duties our subject has displayed an active propensity for business and finances and has accumulated wealth, and owns considerable valuable real estate in Greene, Morgan, and Scott counties, besides houses and lots in Manchester.

The doctor was born May 20, 1806, in Harmony, Somerset Co., Me., coming of sterling New England stock. His father, James Leighton, a miller by trade, was a native of the ancient town of Kittery, in York County, that State, and his mother, whose maiden name was Betsy Quinby, was born in New Hampshire. Of a family of eleven children, of whom but three survive, our subject was the third in order of birth. He was carefully reared by his parents and given the advantage of a liberal education, attending at first the district school, and at the age of sixteen entering Bloomfield Academy preparatory to studying medicine, and in that institution he was a pupil portions of three years. Shortly after his twentieth year he began to study medicine in Bowdoin College, and received his diploma in 1831, having pursued a thorough course of instruction and taking high rank for excellence of scholarship. He established himself in the practice of his profession in the town of Monson, in his native county. Jan. 30, 1832, the doctor was united in marriage to Miss Ann Hall, a lady of superior intelligence and culture, who was educated in Bloomfield Academy, of which her father, the learned Rev. James Hall, was preceptor. He afterward accepted a similar position in Anson Academy, the same county, and died there in 1835. The doctor remained in Monson six years, and then deciding that the West offered great attractions for a young and well-instructed physician, he removed with his family to the then far-distant Illinois, it requiring a month to make the journey by public conveyances, overland and by water. He settled here in Manchester, and opening an office was in continuous practice for forty years, not withdrawing from general practice till 1877. Those were busy years for him, as he had a large number of patients, and he won an enviable reputation among the members of his profession for his skill and success. During the fifty or more years of his life in Illinois the doctor has seen many eventful changes, and has watched with much satisfaction its great growth in population, wealth and standing, till it is one of the richest and proudest states of the Union. When he came here the country was very thinly settled and the improvements were simple and cheap. Illinois was then entitled to a representation of only three congressmen, and all the state north of the northern line of Madison County was in one congressional district. Now the State has twenty representatives in the National Legislature.

Our subject is a fine representative of the gentlemen of the old school, always courteous and considerate and refined in his manner, gentle and kind in his disposition, and a general favorite with all. He has mingled much in the public life of the community, and his wise counsel and enlightened views have made him invaluable as a civic officer. He has been Trustee of Schools for many years, and has been Township Tr4easurer for seventeen years. He is entitled to the prefix Hon., before his name, as in 1844, he was elected to represent his district in the Illinois Legislature, and served with honor and distinction. He has watched with intense interest the political growth of the country, and has always been strongly in sympathy with the Republican party, having been an old-line Whig before the formation of the Republican party. He identified himself with the temperance movement in 1831, and has favored it ever since, being a strictly temperate man in deed and word, and, in fact he is in favor of all reforms.

Aug. 15, 1864, death invaded the household of our subject and removed the beloved wife, who had walked with hand in hand over thirty-two years. She filled the perfect measure of all that belonged to a true and noble womanhood, and was an influence for good upon those about her in whose hearts she held a warm place and has left an abiding memory that is pure, sweet and holy. Of her wedded life with our subject six children were born, five of whom are living, as follows: James M., a general merchant in Manchester, married, and his wife died, leaving him three children; Horace, in the grocery business in Manchester, married and his wife died; Kate, wife of Nathaniel E. Pegram, of Lincoln, Logan Co., Ill., has six children; Helen keeps house for her father; George Clinton is married and lives in Pennsylvania.

1889 Index
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