Chemung County NY
History of Tompkins, Schuyler, Chemung, Tioga 1879
Page 262 - John T. Rathbun Biography
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1879 Four County History - Table of Contents
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John T. Rathbun was born in the town of Ballston, Saratoga Co., N. Y., March 8, 1810.

His father, John Z. Rathbun, was a native of Lee, Mass., was a physician by profession, settled in practice while a young man at Ballston, where he continued a successful practitioner for some forty years, and in the year 1822 removed to Cayuga County, town of Scipio, where he remained in the practice of his profession for some twenty years, when his age debarred him from the further active duties of his profession, and he came to Elmira, where he died at the very advanced age of ninety-eight, in the year 1867.

His mother, whose maiden name was Celia Tobey, a native of Lee, Mass., lived to the age of eighty, and died at Scipio, Cayuga Co., N. Y.

Of their family of three sons and six daughters, Mr. Rathbun was second son. His other two brothers, Lorenzo and Valentine, were prominent physicians, the latter of Harrisburg, Ill., the former of McLeansburg, Ill.

The boyhood days of Mr. Rathbun were spent at home, receiving the advantages of a fair English education. After reaching his majority he selected farming for his occupation, which he followed in the town of Scipio for some thirty years, and was one of the most successful agriculturists in grain raising, and also sheep breeding, of his time in Cayuga County, raising some years as many as one hundred acres of wheat, and as much more spring grain.

In the fall of 1857 he removed to Elmira, where down to the present time he has been quite largely engaged in the purchase and sale of real estate. Among his first purchases was the "Brainard House," now known as the "Rathbun House," one of the finest and largest structures and well-appointed hotels in the city and in the southern tier of the State.

Mr. Rathbun, during his residence in Cayuga County, was connected with the most important offices of trust in the vicinity where he resided; was supervisor for several terms, and represented the Auburn district for three terms in the Legislature of the State. He was originally a stanch member of the old Whig party, and upon the formation of the Republican party became an ardent supporter of its platform.

Since his residence in Elmira his attention has been given wholly to business matters. For some nine years he was one of the directors of the Chemung Railroad, and president of the same for six years; was one of the prime movers in forwarding the construction of the Elmira, Tioga and State Line Railroad in 1876, and one of the first directors of the road.

He was one of the first men connected with the construction of the rolling mills, and was trustee for several years. He is also a trustee of the Elmira Female College, acting as president of the board of trustees for one year, and has been a trustee of the La France Manufacturing Company since it organization.

Mr. Rathbun has been closely identified with most of the enterprises of the city during his residence here, and among the important ones has acted as principal manager of the Simeon Benjamin estate, of which a portion was bequeathed to benevolent institutions. In all enterprises tending to educate and elevate the rising generation he has shown that liberality and integrity characteristic of his life, and which is largely filled with sympathy for those in need.

He was first married, in the year 1835, to Maria, daughter of Jesse Reed, of Auburn. By this union there were born four children, -George R., of Desota, Ill.; John H., of New York; Mrs. Mary Van Campen, of New York; and one died in infancy.

His wife died in 1845. In the year 1847 he married Sarah M., daughter of Simeon Benjamin, Esq., of Elmira. By this union he has had four children, -Simeon B., of Elmira; Sarah Maria, deceased; William R., of Elmira; and Louis G., in the office with his father.