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1870-1871 William P. Rathburn

WP RATHBURN 1870-1871(Lived February 12, 1822 - January 11, 1884)

William Rathburn and a group of other capitalists from Ohio arrived in Chattanooga in the summer of 1865.  Rathburn and others received a charter for the First National Bank in September 1865 and opened it immediately.  Rathburn served as president of the bank until 1884.  Fellow Ohioan John T. Wilder may have influenced Rathburn’s move to Chattanooga, as Rathburn had formed a business partnership with Wilder. 

Just four years after arriving in the city, Rathburn won the popular vote in the mayoral election and took office in January 1870.  During his term, the city of Chattanooga received a new city charter that mandated that all municipal elections be held on the third Thursday of November each year.  As a result, his term in 1870 was cut short, however, he won re-election for a second term.  

Following his terms in office, Rathburn continued to work closely with city officials, as he worked to assure that the Cincinnati Southern Railroad would build its line through Chattanooga.  Rathburn’s work with the Cincinnati Southern led the railroad to name a northern Hamilton County depot in his honor.  Today, the area that once was called Rathburn is in the vicinity of Soddy Daisy.

Photo by Phillip Stevens and Matt Lea