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About Oakland

Oakland, IL is located in Coles County Illinois. As of the 2010 census, Oakland's population was 880. Oakland is the home of the Tri-County Titans.

History

Oakland, formerly known as Independence, was platted in 1833.

Pioneer doctor and abolitionist Dr. Hiram Rutherford moved to Oakland in 1840 to start his practice in the young town. He became a prominent citizen. Rutherford is most widely known for his involvement in the 1847 Matson slave trial, which involved his friend Abraham Lincoln. A Kentucky slave owner, Gen. Robert Matson, annually brought slaves to work on his land near Oakland. One year, a family of slaves ran away from the farm and took refuge with Dr. Rutherford and Gideon Ashmore. Matson sued the men for harboring slaves; Rutherford and Ashmore countered that the slaves could not legally be held in a free state. Rutherford attempted to have Lincoln represent him in the case, but Lincoln had already agreed to represent the slave owner. Matson, represented by Lincoln, lost the case in Coles County court.

Rutherford's home and office, as well as other historic sites, are maintained and available for tours.

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