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07/29/2021 01:51 AM
Pennsylvania State Senate

James Mathers


Session Position District Party
1841 8 Whig
 Counties   Huntingdon, Juniata, Mifflin, Perry, Union


1803 - 1850

James Mathers, Esq., was early identified as a prominent member of the bar with the new county of Juniata. He was born near Newville, Cumberland County, Pa., on January 21, 1803. His parents were Joseph and Eleanor Mathers. While the subject of this sketch was a mere youth, his parents removed to Lost Creek Valley, in what is now Juniata County. Here his youth was spent on a farm. His education was obtained at the neighborhood school, and at the classical school of Rev. John Hutchison, in Mifflintown. He improved diligently his opportunities, and was well furnished for the duties and responsibilities of life, in consequence of his close application and sound judgment. He studied law in the office of Hon. Calvin Blythe, who in an early day practiced his profession in Mifflin County, with his office and residence at Mifflintown. He was admitted to practice in the courts of Lewistown in August, 1827, and immediately thereafter opened an office in Mifflintown, where he busily employed his time in better fitting himself for the practice of his profession. He acquired the confidence of the people, and soon rose to a leading position at the bar. He was employed on nearly all important cases, and was more than ordinarily successful in the advocacy of his clients’ interests. A superficial analysis of his character, as a man and advocate, would develop sterling qualities of mind and heart. He was a man of unblemished reputation. Any interest entrusted to his care was scrupulously guarded. He enjoyed the fullest confidence of those who sought his professional services, and they became his life-long friends. He was a man of fine judgment. This fact gave him power with a jury, although his gifts as an orator were not of the highest order. His statement of a case and presentation of an argument had great weight with those who were called upon to decide the questions at issue. Being of industrious habits, his knowledge of the law was extensive, whilst he carefully kept himself abreast of the times in the knowledge of the sciences and of literature. He had great influence with his clients, and in the exercise of that influence often prevented useless litigation. An eminent journalist (who in his early career was the special friend and Protégé of Mr. Mathers) remarked some years ago to the writer, that he had more influence in this direction over his clients than any lawyer whom he ever knew. He was leader in his party, and in company with others established, in 1846, the Juniata Sentinel, calling to the editorial chair A. K. McClure, at present the eminent editor of The Times (Philadelphia), a leading paper in the country. He was a man of positive convictions. What he believed to be right in politics and religion he advocated with all his might. Reared in the Presbyterian Church, he adhered to its doctrines and polity with unswerving fidelity. He was an evenly-balanced man, with many admirable qualities, which compelled the respect of those who knew him. His life was comparatively short. He died October 5, 1850, in the forty-eighth year of his age. He had served in both branches of the Legislature, and maintained every trust committed to his keeping. He was united in marriage, in May, 1829, with Jane Hutchison, eldest daughter of Rev. John Hutchison. Three children were born to them—John H., who became a eminently successful lawyer in Western Ohio, and died on the 29th of April, 1875; Joseph H., a minister in the Presbyterian Church; and James, a youth.