Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Levi Randall Huffman x 2.5

In trying to remedy my ignorance of the Huffman family, beginning with Levi Randall Huffman, whose 1903 obituary we have already seen, I find that we can learn much about his life from birth until 1882, when this biography appeared in Porter and Lake Counties (Goodspeed/Blanchard):
LEVI HUFFMAN was born in Hunterdon County, N. J., February 1, 1830, and is one of the nine children of Nathaniel and Mary Huffman, both of whom were natives of New Jersey and of Dutch descent. In 1840, the family moved to Wayne County, Ohio, and later to Henry County, Ohio, where Nathaniel Huffman died. After this, Levi being eighteen years of age, he, with his mother, moved back to Wayne County, where, at the age of twenty, he began the milling business. In 1853, he went to California, by way of the Isthmus, remaining three years, the first in the mines, the last in the grist-mill at Sacramento. In 1856, he returned to Wayne County and the milling, and in 1859, worked in the Etna mills at Valparaiso. Soon after, he returned to Wayne County, and in 1868 again to this county. On December 4, 1868, he married E. F. Hammonds,* of Valparaiso, by whom he had two children — V. Estelle and Levi R. In 1875, he purchased the farm in Union Township on which he now resides, giving attention to farming for three years, when he took charge of the Cascade Mills, which he purchased in 1882, and is doing a prosperous business. Mrs. Huffman is a member of the Christian Church. In politics, Mr. Huffman is a Democrat, and also an esteemed and worthy citizen.
The 1880 Census enumerator recorded Levi ("works in grist mill") and Emily in June of that year with their two children, Estella (8 years old) and Levi Jr. (5 months).

Levi Randall Huffman, the father, went by his first name. His son was christened Levi Randall too, and called "Levi" as a child, but as an adult he went by "L.R." or "Randall." Thus we find the elder Levi, in the 1900 Census, living with Randall Huffman, his son. Both give their occupation as miller. Levi is widowed, Emily having died sometime after 1880 — I do not know when, nor where she is buried.

L.R. Huffman, the son, was born on Christmas Eve 1879 (WWI Draft Cards).** In 1899 he married Nellie Edwards (Indiana Marriage Collection). They had five children — Estella, Enoch Randall (who I believe usually went by his middle name as an adult), Richard, and twins Thelma and Zelda (who survived influenza in the winter of 1920).

Back in January 1922, when young Richard Huffman bagged a fox, I casually tossed off some information about his parents' farm, and indeed in the 1920 Census, L.R. gave his occupation as farmer.

2015-7-1. Huffman farm 1921
(Click on image to enlarge)
L.R. Huffman's farm as shown on a 1921 plat map. The map also marks a structure belonging to L.R. Huffman on the south side of Taylor Creek.
Image from , courtesy of Steven R. Shook.

As we've seen, in 1900 L.R. had been a miller, and in the 1910 Census he had been a miller, working his own mill. In the 1930 Census he would again be a miller.

In the 1940 Census, L.R. gave no occupation. He had moved to Valparaiso, living with his unmarried daughter, Zelda. On his WWII draft card, he described himself as a self-employed carpenter.

Nellie Edwards Huffman was still living at the time of the 1940 Census, but she was not listed in the household with L.R., who described himself as single. (I cannot find Nellie in the 1940 Census.) And yet, she was called "Mrs. Nellie Huffman" when she died suddenly on July 13, 1950, at the age of 68, while visiting at the home of her daughter, Thelma Rettinger ("Mrs. Nellie Huffman Dies in Elburn, Ill." Vidette-Messenger (Valparaiso), 13 July 1950).

From the "Deaths" in the Valparaiso Vidette-Messenger of Dec. 2, 1955:
Levi Randall Huffman, 75, 406 Michigan, a retired miller, died Thursday [December 1] noon in Porter Memorial hospital after a short illness.

He was born in Porter county Dec. 1, 1879,** the son of [Levi] Randall and Emily (Hammons)* Huffman. On April 10, 1899, he married Nellie Edwards, who preceded him in death in 1950.

Surviving are two sons, Enoch R., Stockton, Calif., and Richard M., Hammond; three daughters, Mrs. Estella Kenworthy, Porter township; Mrs. Thelma Rettinger, Santa Monica, Calif., and Mrs. Zelda Reynolds, Valparaiso.

He is also survived by 11 grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.
Concerning L.R.'s son, Enoch Randall — well, I had heard stories that a Huffman son know as "Randall" or "Randy" was involved in criminal activity in the 1930s, and I found some confirmation of that, assuming I have the right person, since the newspaper identified him only as "Randall Huffman" (see, e.g., "Hold Porter County Man for Robbery," Vidette-Messenger (Valparaiso), 17 June 1938). In his defense I will also say that I found newspaper evidence that he served in the military during World War II, which always goes toward restoring a person's good name. But we'll get to all this excitement in due time, assuming this blog lasts until I get to 1938 in my regular reading.

*I do not know whether Emily's maiden name is correctly spelled "Hammonds" or "Hammons."
**L.R. himself gave his birth date as Dec. 24, 1879, when he registered for the draft in World War I and World War II; his obituary gives a different birth date.

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