Eighty three years ago the eyes of Charles Rathbun, who is now living retired at Rome, first opened to
the light of day, and during the entire period he has made his home in Oneida county. He is one of the patriarchs
of the county and is numbered among its most respected and successful citizens. He was born on his father's farm
in Verona Mills in 1828, a son of Wells and Amy (Otis) Rathbun, the latter of whom was a native of Madison county,
New York. The father was born and reared on the old family homestead in Verona Mills and, became one of the well
established farmers of that section. There were seven chilthen in their family, Mary, Caroline, Mary Jane, James,
Alfred, Arthur and Charles.
The Rathbun family is of New England ancestry. Grandfather Acors Rathbun was born in Rhode Island January 25, 1772.
At the age of twenty one he was married to Sarah Peckham who was then a girl of sixteen. Immediately after their
marriage they started upon a wedding trip by wagon in search of a new home in what was then the far west but is
now known as Oneida county, New York. There were few roads or bridges and they were obliged to ford the streams
and to encounter many difficulties of which we can form little conception at this day. It is related that an axle
of the wagon broke down and the bridegroom felled a tree out of which he hewed another which enabled them to continue
their journey to their point of destination. He took up a large tract of land at Verona Mills which he proceeded
to clear of underbrush and trees and here he established his home, he and his wife passing the remainder of their
lives in this state. He died September 15, 1855, his wife being called away about four years later, on May 22,
1859. They were of Quaker faith and assisted in organizing a church of that denomination at Verona Mills. In their
family were thirteen children, namely, Joshua, William, Sarah, Solomon, Wells, Peckham, Joshua 2d, Mercy, Dorcas,
Perry, Mary, Rowland and James. All of the children grew to maturity except Joshua, who died in childhood
Charles Rathhun of this review was born on the old homestead and received his education in the district schools
of the neighborhood. After arriving at his majority he began farming on his own account and subsequently acquired
four hundred acres of good land which he greatly improved and still owns. In addition to farming on a large scale
he also conducted a cheese factory and gained an enviable reputation for turning out a fine product. He still retains
in his possession silver cups which he won in a competition in 1878 as the best cheese maker of his section. He
bought cattle and traded and speculated to good advantage, being now the owner of the business of Rathbun &
Company of Utica which is carried on by his sons Frank and Walter. He also owns and operates through his Sons the
Oneonta Knitting Mills. He is prominently known in financial circles and is a member of the board of directors
and the largest stockholder of the Farmers National Bank of Rome and a trustee of the Oneida County Savings Bank.
Sixteen years ago he retired from his farm and has since made his home at Rome.
On September 9, 1862, Mr. Rathbun was united in marriage at Verona, to Miss Jane Blair, a daughter of Oliver W.
Blair who came from New England and engaged in the mercantile business at Verona. Three children were born to this
union, Frank, Walter and Frederick, the latter of whom is now in charge of his father's farm. Mrs. Rathbun died
January 4, 1899. She was a woman of many sterling qualities that greatly endeared her to all with whom she came
into contact. Mr. Rathbun was reared in the faith of the Quakers but since the church of that denomination was
discontinued he has been a member of the Presbyterian church. He is a sincere believer in the Bible and in the
principles of the Christian religion and his life has largely been directed in accordance with that faith. A man
of unusual business capacity, he years ago accumulated a fortmie and now enjoys the results of his labors. It is
not necessary to know him long in order to become impressed with his sincerity and devotion to duty. He has faithfully
aimed to keep every promise and discharge every obligation and today it is doubtful whether any man in Oneida county
stands higher in the estimation of friends and acquaintances than Charles Rathbun.
History of Oneida County, New York
From 1700 to the present time
of some of its prominent men and pioneers.
By: Henry J. Cookinham
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
Oneida County, NY
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