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California Genealogy and History Archives

San Bernardino County and Riverside County


DENVER CHAFFEE, one of the successful orange growers of San Bernardino County, has a well improved orange grove at Bloomington, where he is also a director of the Citizens Land & Water Company, his modern and attractive residence being at the corner of Slover and Linden avenues.

The consistency of the personal or Christian name of Mr. Chaffee becomes apparent when it is stated that he was born at Denver, Colorado, March 22, 1876, prior to the admission of that state to the Union. He is a scion of the staunchest of American stock, his ancestors having established residence in this country in the early colonial period and representatives of the line having been found as patriot soldiers in every war in which the nation has been involved. Mr. Chaffee is eligible for affiliation with the Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, John Medberry, his great-grandfather, having served under General Washington and having been with his great commander in the historic crossing of the Delaware River in an open boat, on a Christmas night. George and Charles A. Chaffee, uncles of Denver Chaffee, were gallant soldiers of the Union in the Civil war, George having been a sharpshooter in his regiment, and both were held captives in infamous old Andersonville Prison.

Mr. Chaffee is a son of John M. and Charlotte (Culver) Chaffee, the former of whom was born in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, March 17, 1830, and the latter was born at Athens, Athens County, Ohio, September 6, 1834, her death having occurred at Ontario, California, April 4, 1914, and her husband having passed the closing period of his life in the home of his son Denver, at Bloomington, where his death occurred February 29, 1920.

John M. Chaffee became a pioneer settler in Iowa, developed one of the fine farm estates of Pope County, that state, and was one of the most honored and influential citizens of the county, as a member of whose board of supervisors he did much to enable the county to free itself from debt. He was a staunch republican in politics and in the Scottish Rite of the Masonic fraternity he received the thirty-second degree and was also a member of the Shrine. Mr. Chaffee passed two years in traveling about the western states with team and wagon, and in 1903 he established his home at Ontario, California, and both he and his wife passed the remainder of their lives m San Bernardino County. Fannie, (Mrs. McClain) eldest of their four children, is resident of Des Moines, Iowa ; Ira resides at Alhambra, California; Jennie M. died in 1921, in the City of Los Angeles; and Denver, of this sketch, is the youngest of the four.

After having received the advantages of the public schools of Iowa, Denver Chaffee there pursued a higher course of study, in Drake University, at Des Moines. At the age of twenty-one years he returned to his native state, Colorado, and for eight years he was in the employ of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad, first as fireman and thereafter as engineer. He resigned his position as engineer to become a melter in the United States mint at Denver, where he was employed four years. While on a furlough from the mint he entered the temporary employ of Sterns, Rogers & Company, of Denver, and while thus engaged he met with an injury that led, upon his physician's orders, to his coming to California. Here he made permanent settlement in the autumn of 1911. He purchased twenty acres of land in the Bloomington district, and here he has developed and improved his fine home and orange grove, the latter receiving his personal supervision.

At Denver, Colorado, on the 8th of June, 1901, Mr. Chaffee wedded Miss Cora M. Cunningham, who was born at Trenton, Missouri, January 16, 1876, a daughter of Samuel B. and Anna (Roberts) Cunningham, likewise natives of Missouri. Mrs. Chaffee was but four years of age at the time of her mother's death, her father having been at the time a contractor and builder in the city of Denver and having later become a farmer in Weld County, Colorado. Mrs. Chaffee attended Denver University, and prior to her marriage was for five years a successful teacher in the schools of Denver. Mr. and Mrs. Chaffee have four children: Dorothy Lucile, who was born in Denver, February 7, 1903, was graduated in the San Bernardino High School in 1920, attended the Junior College at Riverside one year and in 1922 is a student of art and domestic science in the State Agricultural College of Oregon. John Matthew, born at Denver on the 8th of December, 1906, is a member of the class of 1924 in the Colton High School. Robert Denver, born at Denver, July 28, 1910, is attending public schools at Bloomington. Richard Franklin^ born at San Bernardino, January. 12, 1915, is likewise attending the home schools. Mrs. Chaffee was for three years president of the Parents-Teachers Association of Bloomington and is now president of the Woman's Club of this place. Mr. Chaffee is a stalwart republican and while he has had no desire for public office his civic loyalty has been shown in his effective service as a member of the Board of Education at Bloomington, of which he has been secretary since 1919.


History of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties 
By: John Brown, Jr., Editor for San Bernardino County 
And James Boyd, Editor for Riverside County 
With selected biography of actors and witnesses of the period 
of growth and achievement.
Volume III, the Western Historical Association, 1922, 
The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, ILL

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011