Lee County Biographies


James Braffet M.D.
Paw Paw, Wyoming Twp.

James H. Braffet M.D. of Paw Paw, is well known as one of the leading physicians of Lee County, whose skill, success in practice, and learning place him well at the head of his profession. He was born in the town of Florida, Orange County NY, October 16, 1834. His father, James Braffet, for many years an honored citizen of this county, was born in the town of Monroe, Orange County, July 22, 1802, a son of John Braffet, who is supposed to have been a native of that county also, and there he spent his last years. He is thought to have been of Scotch ancestry. When the father of our subject was five years old, his father took him to Orleans County in his native State and bound him out to a farmer, with whom he was to live until he was 21. In the meantime he was to have his board and clothes, and when he became of age was to have a new suit of clothes, ten dollars in cash and a horse, saddle and bridle. When he was 18 years old, he bought his time in order to serve and apprenticeship to learn the trae of a blacksmith, but when he was 21, the old farmer generously gave him the horse that he had promised him. At the close of his apprenticeship, he did journey work in different places and finally at Newburg, Orange County, and carried on business in that county until 1855, when he came to Illinois to identify himself with the pioneers of this county, as he wisely thought that skilled mechanics would be in demand in a young and growing country. He came by rail as far as Earlville, then the nearest railway station, and after his arrival he established himself at his calling at East Paw Paw. He carried on business there until 1863 when he removed to Melugins Grove, and opening a shop there, was actively engaged as a blacksmith for several years.

When the railway was completed through Brooklyn Township, he took up his residence at the village of Compton, being one of its first settlers, and there he lived retired until his death, in April 1888. The maiden name of his wife was Melissa A. Furman. She survives him and still makes her home at Compton. She is also a native of Orange County NY and a daughter of Josiah Furman who was born in the Empire State, and was of German ancestry. Mrs. Braffet and her husband wer for many years members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, but she now belongs to the Presbyterian Church, and is held in great esteem by all who know her.

Our subject is the only survivor of the three children born to his parents. He was given liberal educational advantages, obtaining his knowledge of the common branches in the public schools of his native county, and he subsequently became a student at Chester Academy, which he attended 4 years. While there he paid particular attention to mathematics and civil engineering, with a view of preparing himself for West Point. He successfully passed the examination required of those desiring admission to that institution,a nd receiving the endorsement of Mr. Wheeler, the representative to Congress from the district in which he lived, his ambition seemed about to be realized, when his parents strenuously objected to his entering a military school, that he gave up his cherished dream of becoming a cadet, and turned his attention to the studyof medicine, under the instruction of Dr. C.P. Smith of Chester NY.

He defrayed a part of the expenses of his education by teaching, and alternately taught and attended shcool, and engaged in surveying. He came to Illinois with his parents in 1855, and taught the first term of the East Paw Paw Seminary. He devoted his leisure to his medical studies, and in the winter of 1861-62 attended a course of lectures at Rush Medical College at Chicago. He still further prepared himself later on by attendance at Bellevue Hospital College, New York City, in the winter of 1868-69 and was graduated from there in the Class of 69. he had already practiced medicine successfully, and went back to his work with renewed vigor. He had first established himself at East Paw Paw, and had gone from there to Melugins' Grove in 1862. In 1875 he opened an office at Paw Paw, and has remained here ever since, acquiring an extensive and lucrative practice. By identifying himself with various medical societies and by careful reading, he keeps well abreast of the times in his profession, to which he is devoted, and his patients feel that safety and confidence under his care that a true physician ever inspires. He is a member in good standing of the North central Illinois Medical Assoc. of the IL State Medical Society of the American Association and in 1887 he became a member of the International Medical Association. He is also connected with the Masonic fraternity of which he has been a member since 1858, but at the present time non-officiating; and of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, which he joined in 1881 and is a camp member.

Dr. Braffet was happily married in 1860 to Ellen S. Billings who was born near Detroit Mich. and is a daughter of James and Mrs. (Seville) Billings. They have 7 children - Nellie, John, Charles, Mark P., Harvey, William and Essie. Nellie married Sidney Stevens of Beardstown, Cass County. John is supterintendent of a vineyard in Tulare, Cal. Charles is a compositor on the Boston Daily Post. Mark is in the Chief dispatchers office, Rio Grande & Western RR at Schofield, Utah Territory. The three younger are students.

1892 Portrait and Biographical Record Lee Co Pg 433


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