Lee County Biography

Levi Rafensperger


Levi Rafensperger, now living in retirement in one of the attractive homes of Franklin Grove, though not one of the earliest settlers of Lee County, may be considered one of its pioneers, as his work as a shrewd, practical farmer when in active business, was a help in developing the soil and making this a prosperous agricultural community.

Our venerable subject was born in Franklin County, Pa., April 4, 1818, a son of Jacob and Magdalena Rafensberger, who were natives of Adams County,Pa. The paternal great-grandfather of our subject was a Swiss emigrant who settled in this country in Colonial times. In early life Mr. Rafensperger learned the trade of a shoemaker but when he attained the age of twenty-seven years he turned his attention to farming, which he carried on in his native State for some years. In 1851 he determined to avail himself of the golden opportunities afforded by the rich virgin soil of the great Prairie State and came here to locate permanently, he being the only member of his father's family to settle in any part of the West. After his arrival in Illinois Mr. Rafensperger selected ninety acres of land that was but little improved, lying near the village of Nachusa, for which he paid $1,000. He had but little money with which to begin his new life amid pioneer scenes, but he had that within him that amply fitted him to cope successfully with the hardships and privations that are sure to follow settlement in a comparatively new and not very thickly populated region. He was strong and active, worked with vigor, making every stroke tell, and he has received ample compensation for his labors. He increased the size of his farm by an additional purchase of one hundred and sixty acres of land near by. He continued to cultivate the soil assiduously and to raise stock until 1883, when he rented his farm to his sons and retired from active business to Franklin Grove where he purchased a fine property and has a home replete with all the comforts of life.

Our subject was married in his native State to Miss Sarah Christman, who was also of Pennsylvania birth, and in her cheerful co-operation he has had needed assistance in the making of a home. They are the parents of seven children, of whom six are living: Jacob, the eldest son, a farmer in Western Iowa; Henry, Lydia, Leah, Ira and Lincoln, the two latter being twins.

Perrusal of this brief biography of our subject will show that he is a self-made man and his career illustrates what may be accomplished by determination, perseverance, a capacity for hard work, seconded by native shrewdness and a good insight into business matters. He stands high in his community as a man of thorough honesty and unquestioned integrity, as an obliging neighbor, as a true husband and faithful father. He is a Christian and an active member of the German Baptist Church, although he was reared in the Lutheran faith. He is independent in his politics, usually, however, giving his support to the Republican party.

Portraits and Biographical Lee County IL 1892

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