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Frederick Prufer


This well-known resident of Washington Township has a good farm of 480 acres on section 26, 27, and 35, a part of which he has owned for more than twenty years. His residence is situated on section 27, and is a comfortable and commodious home. His outbuildings are sufficient for all purposes, and his farm, although somewhat rough in places, is well improved and cultivated. He began his life in this township quite poor, but has been fortunate in his farming and stock-raising operations, a result due to his temperate habits and good judgment, and he is now generally regarded as one of the well-to-do farmers of the county. He first came to this State in the year 1852, but spent his first two years here in Jo Daviess County, where he had located immediately on coming to the United States. He was born in the Province of Saxony, Germany, April 8, 1822, his parents being Christian and Mary E. (Quercaster) Prufer, both natives of that province. The father, who was of pure German ancestry, was a good, honest, hard-working miller by trade, and died in his native place, at the age of fifty-eight years. His wife survived him several years, dying when quite well advanced in life. Both of these parents were members of the Lutheran Church. Their family consisted of four children, all of whom lived to be married and have families. The eldest son, Christian, Jr., lived and died in Saxony, leaving a wife and five children. Charles is married, and is a resident of Baltimore, Md. The youngest of the family is Wilhelmina, wife of W. Hempell, a farmer in Saxony.

Our subject was the second child of his parents, and was reared and educated in his native place, learning the trade of miller from his father. After becoming proficient in it, he worked as a journey-man until early in the year 1852, when he decided to come to America, and, making his way to the port of Bremen, took passage for the United States on a sailing-vessel, landing in the city of Baltimore after a tedious voyage of eight weeks and one day. Having some acquaintances in Jo Daviess County, he decided to locate there, and at once turned his face toward the West. Being too poor to buy any land, he engaged to work as a farm-laborer; but he was industrious and economical, and in a short time had gotten such a start that he was enabled to buy some land in Carroll County, on which he began work for himself. His qualities of industry and frugality have never deserted him, and he has amassed a competence, although by no means yet an old man.

In the summer of 1888 Mr. Prufer made a visit to his boyhood's home in Saxony, and spent three months among his old friends and kinsmen, whom he had not seen for thirty-six years. His arrival at his old home was somewhat different from his departure, and he much enjoyed revisiting the scenes of his boyhood. He speaks of the difference between the mode of life of people in his native country and of those in a similar station in America with much pleasure. The difference in the methods and time occupied in traveling since he first came to this country and the time when he made his visit to his old home was especially remarked by our subject. When he came across the Atlantic in 1852 he was fifty-seven days on the water, but on the return voyage he reached his old home in eleven days after leaving port.

In Derinda Township, Jo Daviess County, this State, on May 13, 1854, our subject was united in marriage with Miss Mary Shibley, who was born in Westmoreland County, Pa., Sept. 30, 1834, and is the daughter of Gotlieb and Christina (Swartz) Shibley. Her father is still living in Hanover Township, Jo Daviess County, with his son Jacob, and is now over eighty years of age. He was born in Wurtemburg, Germany, and there learned the trade of a tailor. While still a young man he emigrated to American, and locating in Westmoreland County, Pa., was there married, his wife being also a native of Wurtemburg. They came to Jo Daviess County in 1837, locating in Derinda Township, where they were among the very earliest settlers. They continued to make that their home until the death of the mother, when the father went to live with his son, as stated. The death of Mrs. Shibley occurred in 1883, at which time she was eighty-three years of age. Both the parents were active members of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Derinda.

Mrs. Prufer was but a child when she came with her parents to Jo Daviess County. She was reared in Derinda Township, and received her education in its public schools. She and her husband are the parents of four children: Mary C. is now the wife of Robert Gillogly, a farmer in Washington Township, this county; Lewis is living at home, assisting his father in the farm work; Catherine is the wife of Leo Helbren, a blacksmith living in Savanna; Charles, the younger son, is employed in a store in Savanna. Father and sons are all Republican in politics. During his more than thirty years of life in this township Mr. Prufer has acquired the reputation of strictest honesty and integrity. He regards his plighted work as sacred, deeming it as good as his bond, and these qualities together with those of industry and frugality, already mentioned, have raised him from the position of a poor German immigrant to that of one of the most prosperous and highly respected citizens of Carroll County. Mr. Prufer served his country in the 21st and 96th Illinois Infantry regiments, receiving an honorable discharge, after the cessation of hostilities, at San Antonia, Tex. Mr. Prufer is a member of R. M. A. Hawk Post No. 406, G. A. R., which meets at Savanna, Ill.

Transcribed & Contributed by Carol Parrish from Portraits and Biographical 1889 Pg 922

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