Lee County Biography


Since 1867 Francis Leffelman has lived in Lee county and during the intervening period has risen by the force of his ability and enterprise from comparative poverty to a position among the extensive landowners and prosperous farmers of May township. He has witnessed a great deal of the growth and development of the community and has contributed in substantial measure to general progress. He was born in Herofeld, Bavaria, Germany, July 4, 1842, and is a son of John and Margaret Leffelman, also natives of the fatherland. John Leffelman emigrated to America in 1852 and settled in Adams county, Pennsylvania, where he remained until his death, which occurred in Pleasant Valley in April, 1863. His wife afterward moved to Iowa and her death occurred in Westphalia, that state, in 1901.

Francis Leffelman acquired his education in the district schools of Adams county, Pennsylvania, laying aside his books at the age of fourteen. He afterward worked as a farm laborer until 1862, when he enlisted in a Maryland regiment for service in the Civil war. After being at the front for a short time he, in 1863, moved to Ogle county, Illinois, where he worked by the month for Frank Simons, a well known farmer in that locality. At the end of nine months Mr. Leffelman rented a farm in Ogle county and after three years moved to Lee county, where he rented a tract of land from William Long for six years. He then purchased one hundred and twenty acres, borrowing the money with which to pay for his land. With characteristic determination and enterprise he applied himself to the development of this place with such success that he had soon paid all of his obligations, and at intervals thereafter he bought more land until he finally acquired the eight hundred and eighty acres which is his today. Upon this he made excellent improvements in buildings and equipment and engaged extensively in general farming and stock-raising. He has now, however, rented practically all of his land to his sons, although he still makes his home upon the farm.

At Freeport, Illinois, Mr. Leffelman married Miss Catherine Miltenberger, who died in 1865, leaving four children: John, who is assisting his father; George, a hardware merchant of Sublette; Ann, the wife of Cornelius Vossen, a farmer in Sublette township and Sister Mary, who was a teacher in the Franciscan Order and who died in Milwaukee. On the 1st of February, 1867, Mr. Leffelman was again married, his second union being with Miss Catherine Lempey, a daughter of Philip and Christina Lempey, natives of Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany, who came to Illinois in 1860 and settled in Ohio Station. Both have passed away and are buried in St. Mary's cemetery, May township. To Mr. Leffelman?s second union were born four children: Michael, a farmer and stock-raiser in May township; Margaret, the wife of Jacob Kohler, a farmer in Sublette township; Joseph, engaged in agricultural pursuits in May township; and Louise, the wife of Andrew Steffens, of Sublette township.

Mr. Leffelman is a member of the Catholic church, and he gives his political allegiance to the republican party. He was road commissioner and school director for a number of years and proved as capable and trustworthy in public office as in all other relations of life. A residence of forty-six years in Lee county has made him widely and favorably known and has brought him into prominence as a farsighted business man, an able agriculturist and a representative citizen.

Transcribed by Karen Holt - 1914 History of Lee County Illinois Vol 2 by Frank E. Stevens.


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