Jonathan Fairbanks and Clyde Edwin Tuck

Past and Present of Greene County, Missouri

Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens


DR. J. LEROY ATHERTON. As we stand amidst the wonders of modern achievements and take a cursory glance over the factors that make up the sum total of the highest civilization the world has known since the age of Pericles, one factor looms forth conspicuously--the art of healing. Some even in their enthusiasm claim that it is above all the rest. This may not seem plausible to many in view of the fact that such great progress has been made in the mechanical sciences, which is more closely allied with our every-day life and is therefore more generally understood and appreciated. Whereas the study of the ills of the flesh is restricted to a proportionately small number of students. However, the progress in the art of healing has been somewhat remarkable during the past half century. One of the younger generation of physicians of Greene county is Dr. J. LeRoy Atherton, who has been unusually successful in the practice of his Profession, and that he deserves the good fortune that has attended his efforts is indisputable.

Doctor Atherton was born in Illinois, February 13, 1879. He is a son of Aaron S. Atherton, a native of Ohio, a minister in the Methodist Episcopal church, who followed his profession until his health began to fail in 1883 when he located on a farm in Vernon county, Missouri, later removing to Nevada, this state, where he resumed preaching and continued at this work for about five years, practically doing charity work, filling various pulpits without recompense. His death occurred in the city of Nevada about 1902, after a long and useful life. He was highly esteemed by all who knew him for his many fine characteristics and he ranked high as a preacher. His wife, mother of our subject, was known in her maidenhood as Mary Sanders, and she traces her ancestry back to Holland. She is still living in Nevada. Milton Atherton, paternal grandfather of the subject of this sketch, was born in Ohio. In his later life he removed with his family to Vernon county, Missouri, where his death occurred when about seventy-eight years of age. His progenitors were very early settlers in New England from which country they came to Ohio in pioneer days. From Ohio the family removed to Illinois when that state was still a wild unimproved prairie. The older members of this sterling old family were typical pioneers and liked the wild frontier life best of all.

To Rev. Aaron S. Atherton and wife the following children were born: S. M. Atherton, Waldron Arkansas; Mary E. Atherton, deceased; Ruth E. Pheils, Nevada, Missouri; Aaron E. Atherton, Dover, Oklahoma; Joseph R. Atherton, Nevada, Missouri; Gilbert H. Atherton, Girard, Kansas; J. LeRoy Atherton, Springfield, and Agnes S. Johnson, Nevada, Missouri.

Dr. J. LeRoy Atherton received his early education in the public schools and later studied at Baker University in Kansas, after which he began the study of medicine at the Bennett Medical College, Chicago, Illinois, where he made a good record, and was graduated with the class of 1912. Soon thereafter he began the practice of his profession in Chicago Where he got a good start and remained in that city until January 1, 1915, when he came to Springfield, Missouri, opening an office with a view of remaining here permanently. He has started out well in his new location, his patients gradually increasing all the while. He is a member of the Greene County Medical Society, the Missouri State Medical Association and the American Medical Association. Fraternally he belongs to the Masonic order, including the Chapter, Royal Arch Masons and Council.

On December 18, 1909, he was united in marriage with Dr. Mary Jean McLaggan, who was born in Chesley, Ontario, Canada. She grew to womanhood in her native province and received her early education at Toronto, later taking the course at the Bennett Medical College in Chicago, from which she was graduated with the class of 1912, and a few months later began practicing in that city with her husband, and since coming to Springfield she has continued the practice of her profession with gratifying results. A separate and complete sketch will be found of her on another page of this volume.

The union of our subject and wife has been without issue. Doctor Atherton is deserving of a great deal of credit for what he has accomplished in the face of obstacles. He is a self-educated and self-made man. He has earned his own living since he was seventeen years of age. He worked hard during vacations to get money to defray the expenses of a higher education. Learning something of civil engineering he followed that for the most part between terms of school, but was not above doing any kind of work to earn an honest dollar.

[1550-1552]


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