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1886 - Portrait and Biographical Album of Ogle County, Illinois, Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1886. Pages: 298-300

Morris Gaffin The first white child born in what is now Leaf River Township is the subject of this notice, he having first seen light June 27, 1838, which was prior to organization of townships in the county. He has, consequently, witnessed all the progress and development Ogle County has made up to the present time, for, in reality, but very little settlement was made prior to that time. His father, Alvah Gaffin, was born near Toronto, Canada. Feb. 2, 1805, the latter’s father, Abraham Gaffin, going through the State of Vermont to Canada about the year 1800, and was therefore an early settler in that part of the Province.

Abraham Gaffin remained there a few years, when he removed to Chippewa, near Niagara Falls, where he bought timber land and worked a small farm. About 1852 he came to Ogle County, and secured land in Leaf River Township, where he lived until his death, which occurred about 1855 at the age of 72 years. His wife, the grandmother of our subject, was a native of the Green Mountain State, her maiden name being Ann Carpenter; she died in 1863, aged 76 years. The great-grandfather of Mr. Gaffin was a soldier in the War for Independence, with the Green Mountain Boys. His grandfather, Hoverland, was a soldier in the War of 1812, and he died from the effects of injuries received; he was in the service of Great Britain and participated in all the battles along the Canadian frontier.

The father of the subject of this notice was reared to the calling of a farmer, and remained with his parents until he was 16 years of age, when he went forth to make his own way in the world, he was employed at farming in the neighborhood of his old home, and was there, on the 14th of February, 1825, married to Miss Nancy Hoverland. She was born in Chippewa, Province, Ontario, March 24, 1804. Her father was the fortunate possessor of a yoke of oxen, and, being a gentleman of sterling worth and integrity and one who paid his debts, was enabled to buy 40 acres of timber land on credit. His wife was a weaver, and with her loom earned considera­ble money, which she applied to the payment of the purchase price of the farm. He worked clearing away the timber and cultivating the land, and by the combined industry of the two the place was soon paid for. After living there 12 years, the parents sold the land, in the year 1837.

From the price received for that farm, together with what they had been enabled to save, they found themselves the possessors of $800 in solid cash. With this amount of money, and a firm determination to establish a home for themselves and children, they started for the prairie land of Illinois. The start was made with a team of horses and wagon, and with their three children they made the trip overland to this county. A neighbor of theirs, from Canada, had previously visited this county and purchased a claim on what is now section 35, Leaf River Township. After arriving here, having no house in which to move, the family camped out near a spring on an adjoining farm, and for three weeks resided in the parlors laid off on the bottom of their wagon bed. By this time a log house had been erected, 22 x 26 feet in dimensions, with a mud and slab chimney on the outside and split slabs for the roof, and into this house the family moved.

On that place they laid the foundation of all their future prosperity, and in that log house the first re­ligious meetings in that section of the county were held; in that same log house the Rev. B. H. Cartwright organized the first Methodist Episcopal Class that was organized in that part of Ogle County. The house was on the main traveled road from Buffalo Grove to Elgin and Rockford, and was to a great ex­tent the stopping place of the weary, worn traveler. As soon as the land came into market Mr. Gaffin en­tered 280 acres. His market was for some years at Chicago, 100 miles distant, and from 10 to 15 days were required to make the round trip. Subsequently he added to his landed interests until he became the proprietor of 1000 acres.

Mrs. Gaffin was somewhat more than an ordinary woman, as far as energy and determination to suc­ceed were concerned. She shirked no responsibil­ity that would add to their exchequer or aid them in establishing their home in the then wilds of Ogle County. While her husband cut the logs for their cabin, she drove the team and aided in unloading them. She was also known as an adept nurse, and was always ready to go whenever and wherever sick­ness called. Mr. Gaffin early engaged in the raising of stock, and as opportunity permitted, improved his land. They continued to reside in the log cabin for about seven years, when they erected a substantial brick residence, and thereon their original purchase they continued to reside until 1860. During that year they moved on another farm, which he had pur­chased, near what was Lightsville. The wife and mother, who had borne such a noble part during their early settlement in the county, and who had by her counsel and advice to no inconsiderable extent prospered the husband in his many undertakings, departed this life on the 1st day of November, 1872,

Mr. Gaffin then returned to the old homestead, but survived his loving and faithful companion only a little more than one year, his demise occur­ring May 12, 1874. Their union was blessed by the birth of five children—John A., born July 4, 1827, at present residing in Gerald Co., Dakota; James H., born Sept. 29, 1829, lives near Los Angeles, Cal.; Frederick. born Sept. 16, 1832, died Nov. 3, 1854; Morris is the subject of this notice; Lydia C., born Oct. 23, 1846, became the wife of DeWitt Wilson, who at present resides in Nebraska. The parents were both members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, which denomination they joined in early life and of which he was Class Leader, Steward and Trustee. Early in life the father was a Whig, but on the formation of the Republican party, in 1856, he joined its ranks and ever afterward, when oppor­tunity permitted, cast his vote with it.

The subject of this biographical notice grew to manhood on his father’s farm in Leaf River Town­ship, received his education in the pioneer log school­house and in the Rock River Seminary. At 21 years of age he began teaching in Leaf River, Mt. Morris and other places. He only taught one summer, that being at Mt. Morris, the remainder of his teaching being during winter terms, and his time being occu­pied during the summer in working on the farm. He was married March 12, 1860, to Jennie C. Ziegler. She was born in Clarke Co. Ohio, June 11, 1840, and was a daughter of Jacob and Margaret (Stan­ger) Zeigler. Her father was born in Virginia, of German descent, and her mother in the “ Faderland,” the latter emigrating to this country when six years of age. The parents of Mrs. Gaffin came to this county and settled in Leaf River Township 1841, and there lived until their deaths, the father’s in 1843, the mother’s in 1876.

Almost immediately after their marriage, Mr. and Mrs. Gaffin located on the northwest quarter of section 35, Leaf River Township, it being a portion of the land his parents owned at the time. There they lived and labored for almost 25 years, when, in 1866, they moved on the old homestead of the parents of our subject, of which Mr. Gaffin of this notice is at present proprietor, and where they have continued to reside until the present time. He has erected a commodious frame residence on the place, together with good, substantial outbuildings. The farm contains 275 acres of land, all of which is enclosed, and, with the exception of 40 acres, is under an advanced state of cultivation. For some years Mr. Gaffin has been, to no inconsiderable extent, engaging in the propagation of stock. Of cattle he has some full-blooded Holstein, and of swine, he has quite a number of full-blooded Poland China. In both branches of his vocation he has met and is meeting with that success which perseverance and good judgment are sure to bring.

He has grown up with the county and has always been identified with its best interests. He and his wife are both members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In politics he has been a believer in a supporter of the principles of the Republican party but now is an exceedingly strong Prohibitionist. Of the union of Mr. and Mrs. Gaffin five children have been born, named Olin M., Ralph R., Charles E., Alva J., and Walter C. Olin M. married Amelia Brown, 18, 1885.

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