Musician Charles Russell Oatman

Charles Russell Oatman was born on Oct. 5, 1846 in Belleville, Illinois. His parents were Daniel L. Oatman, M.D. and Mary Louise Chamberland. Daniel Oatman was of French and Prussian ancestry. Both of his parents died before his sixth birthday. Living with his guardian Felix Scott, Oatman earned his early education at Lebanon and Shiloh public schools while working on a farm with his two sisters and brother. He was 15 years old when he volunteered as a drummer boy in the Illinois 117th Volunteer Infantry. Records show that he was one of the youngest soldiers in the war. He was never seriously wounded during battle, though he contracted typhoid fever in spring of 1865 after the capture of Fort Blakely and was grazed by enemy bullets three times, once hitting his drum. He received an honorable discharge on Aug. 5, 1865.

He married Josephine Chilton Lemen in 1871 and had four childrenL, orenzo, Olive, Carl, and Louis.  All three of his sons became doctors.  After Josephine's death in 1909, he remarried Miss Frank Bostick. He attended St. Louis Medical College to earn his medical degree. He moved to Collinsville, Illinois in 1875 to practice medicine and was elected Alderman, President of Education, was a trustee of the school district, and held the office of mayor in 1885-1886. He was a member of the faculty of the Marion-Sims Medical College in 1891 and in 1892, became a member of faculty at the Barnes’ Medical College. He passed away on June 29, 1926 in Collinsville and is buried in the Bethel Cemetery in Caseyville, Illinois. The gothic revival-style home that was built for Oatman in 1875 still stands in Collinsville today and, in addition to being a historic landmark, also houses a Victorian-era tea room that is open to the public.