Henry M. STOUFFER is one of the most venerable and one of the most respected citizens of Hennepin and Putnam county. He is still an active man, and although he has passed the eighty-fourth anniversary of his birth, in spirit and interest seems yet in his prime. He was born in Juniata county, Pennsylvania, September 29, 1822, and many a man of but half his years has not his sprightliness nor energy. His parents were John and Nancy (MARKLEY) STOUFFER, and the father was born in Chester county, Pennsylvania, about the year 1800, and died in Juniata county in 1865, when sixty-five years of age. He was a carpenter by trade and followed that pursuit throughout his entire business life. His wife, also a native of the Keystone state, died about a year after her husband's death, when sixty-four years of age. In their family were eleven children, of whom three died in infancy, while eight reached adult age. For over fifty years there was not a death in the family. Six of the number are yet living.
Henry M. STOUFFER is the eldest of the surviving members of the family. His educational privileges were very meager, for when he was only twelve years of age he began earning his own living, learning the printer's trade, at which he worked for four years. He walked from Lebanon, Pennsylvania, to Beading, that state, and obtained employment in one of the largest printing offices in Philadelphia, but when he had worked there for only ten days he became disgusted and returned home, telling his father that he must either teach him the carpenter's trade or give him an education. Not being able to afford his son the school advantages desired, nor wishing him to learn the carpenter's trade, the father advised him to master some other pursuit, and for the next four years he devoted his energies to the silversmith's trade and became an adept at making and repairing clocks and watches. He also learned to make levels and all kinds of delicate instruments used by surgeons. Deciding to become a teacher, he took up the study of arithmetic and 'grammar, passed a creditable examination and then began teaching.
While thus engaged Mr. STOUFFER was married, and after teaching for about four years he decided to study medicine. Accordingly he entered the Physio-Medical College at Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1850, but soon his funds were exhausted and he had to return to teaching in order to get money to complete his medical course. While again busy in the schoolroom he came to the conclusion that the medical profession was overcrowded, there being four physicians in his little town of four or five hundred people. He continued to study and teach, however, until 1870, when he came to Hennepin. His uncle, David MARKLEY, had engaged in the hardware business in Hennepin, having the first store of the kind in the town, and a brother of our subject was employed in the tinner's department of this store. The uncle died, and at the solicitation of his brother Mr. STOUFFER came to Hennepin and took charge of the business in 1870. The next year the family came, and he has since made his home in this town. He continued in idle hardware business for about seven years and then sold out, after which he again engaged in teaching school for several years in Putnam county. He has always been an industrious man and has accumulated a goodly competence. He owns a nice home and four lots in Hennepin, also a good farm of eighty acres two miles north of the town. Until three years ago he did a great deal of work on his piece of ground in the city and had fine gardens, but he now rents this property. He works, however, from five until eight o'clock each morning, and by no means leads an idle or useless life.
Mr. STOUFFER was converted and became a Christian in 1840, at that time identifying himself with the United Brethren church. He soon afterward left the church, however, and has not joined any other denomination, yet has always been a great student of the Bible, and often puzzles able ministers and teachers in the churches through his comprehensive understanding of the Scriptures. He attends the Methodist Episcopal church and teaches a class in the Sunday-school. He prefers to be judged by his life, not by any professions that he may make, and at all times he has walked in the way of uprightness and of peace.
Mr. STOUFFER was married in 1846 to Miss Susan MOLTZ, who was born in Pennsylvania and was six months her husband's senior. She lived to be seventy-two years of age and passed away at their home in Hennepin. They were the parents of six children : Ann, now the wife of Henry MAXWELL, a resident of Sparland, Illinois; John W., who married a daughter of William ALLEN, and lives in Hennepin; Marion, the wife of Jason RANCH, who is living near Lincoln, Nebraska; Sadie J., at home; Mrs. Emma HOFFMAN, who died at Boulder Colorado; and George W., who married Edith JOHNSON and lives at Princeton, Illinois.
Mr. STOUFFER certainly deserves great credit for what he has accomplished in life. He is now a man of broad general information and strong mentality. His knowledge has been acquired solely through his study in his leisure hours, through observation and experience. He is also a fine penman and once gained a first prize in a penmanship contest in Pennsylvania. For three years he preached for the Protestant Methodist congregation at Spring Valley, often going to that place on skates on the ice. Few theologians are better informed concerning the Bible, and many of them have much less knowledge of the subject than Mr. STOUFFER. In his life he exemplifies his faith and belief, being upright and honorable at all times and straightforward in all of his relations with his fellowmen. In politics he has always been a republican, and he twice served as justice of the peace. In his business affairs he has manifested the diligence and perseverance which are always essential elements to prosperity.
Extracted July 2011 by Norma Hass from Past and Present of Marshall and Putnam Counties Illinois, 1907.