The Huffords
Frank and Annie Hufford before their
marriage in 1874. Photo courtesy of
Richard Hufford, via
findagrave.com.
In September 1909, Franklin Manassa Hufford purchased the
74-acre property from David Welling for $5,550. Frank was a
Stover Manufacturing machinist from Freeport who, like the
Davis’ and Grahams before him, originated from Pennsylvania.
He and his wife, Annie, first came to Wisconsin before settling
in Stephenson County in 1891. At the time he and Annie left
Pennsylvania, they had 6 children. Three more children were
born after their move west.  

The 1900 census placed Frank and his family in a rented home
on 38 Douglas Avenue in what is now downtown Freeport. He
would later buy a home on Freeport's east side in March of
1907. His attraction to the Rock City area may have came from
his brother Alfred, who also came to Illinois and resided in
nearby Durand in 1900. Alfred was a farm laborer at that time,
and had daughters who lived in Rock City and Rock Grove.

According to his obituary in the Freeport Journal-Standard in
1919, Frank moved into our house in 1910. The 1910 U.S.
Census shows only Annie living there with her sons Edward
(age 26), Robert (age 21) and Harry (age 15). We couldn't
locate Frank in the 1910 census, but since the Hufford’s were enumerated in April 1910, it’s possible
Frank was still in the process of winding down their Freeport lives as the family transitioned into farm
life. Edward was listed as the head of household.

In the Prairie Farmer’s
Directory of Stephenson County (1917), the Huffords referred to the property as
Bluff Edge Farm.  At their new country residence, the family raised Brown Swiss cattle, as evidenced
by records of Frank’s purchase of a pair of registered bulls in the 1917 edition of
The Swiss Record.
This book, published by the Brown Swiss Cattle Breeders’ Association, indicated that Hufford bought
a year-old bull named Leader of Blackrock from Ira Inman of Beloit, Wisconsin. His other purchase
that year was a 3-year-old bull named Klondyke, from J.W. Smith of Dakota, Illinois.We believe our
barn may have been built by the Huffords after they moved here. The previous owners suggested
that the barn may have been built from a kit, similar to the Sears homes of the early 20th century.
We haven't seen any telltale signs of that, such as printed numbers at the ends of joists and beams.
However, many of the markings which might have been most visible in the heavy lumber are
probably covered over many years of whitewashing in the barn's lower-level milking area.

Another feature we're looking for in the barn is the legend of Willie Hufford, the only sibling who
didn't make the trip to Illinois. Willie died in 1883 around the age of 3, and was buried in
Pennsylvania. A cenotaph memorializes Willie in the Rock City Cemetery. According to the family's
present-day historian,
Richard Hufford, Willie died after eating chicken and dumplings that were
hot enough to burn a hole in his stomach. The Huffords carved Willie's name into the barn, although
the exact location has yet to be found. We wonder if another barn was here first.

When the Huffords moved into our house, the Davis Mill dam was still in existence, according to a
1916 report on flood control on the Pecatonica River (
“State of Illinois Rivers and Lakes Commission
Bulletin No. 18” dated December 1, 1916). The Dam was classified as "Not in Use." Three other dams
on Rock Run Creek were also listed as not in use, including the dam upstream at Epleyanna Mills
(labeled as “Mill Pond Dam”) and the two dams downstream at Knoup Road (labeled as “Polsbury
Mill Dam”) and Farwell Bridge Road (labeled as “Reader’s Dam”). The flood control study was
prepared in response to what had been the worst Pecatonica River flood on record in March of 1916.

In 1919, at the age of 66, Frank Hufford met an untimely death when his horses became spooked by a
train and he was thrown from his wagon. He never regained consciousness and died the morning
after. He and his wife Annie had been married since 1874. They had 10 children and are both buried
in the Rock City cemetery.

After Frank’s passing, Annie lived on the farm until 1942. Her son Robert had lived with her for most
of the years the Hufford's owned the property, but by this time he was having serious problems with
what may have been post-traumatic stress from his service in World War I. On June 15th of that year,
the Freeport Journal-Standard reported that Robert had locked himself in the attic and wouldn't
come out. He was concerned about a nephew being called into military service and was having
hallucinations about shooting Germans.

In a letter we received from Roberta Mullican Schuster, whose parents,
Glen and Grace Mullican,
would later own the property, she recalled that day:

One night he just snapped and took his mother upstairs and thought the Japs were after them and didn't
let
his sister near him and his mother. At the time, we were staying at our cabin on Grandpa's 52 acres
across the road from your house. His sister came over and our dad gave her a ride to get to a phone so
she could get help.

After help arrived, Robert shot at police officers with a .22 caliber rifle after tear gas was fired into
the attic. They responded with more tear gas, which brought him down from the attic. His family
later asked the Stephenson County court to have Robert placed in the Hines Veterans Home in
Chicago.

On November 27, 1942, the 74-acre farm was sold at auction to
Ransom "Tim" Meier. On that day
Annie Hufford would have been a couple weeks shy of her 85th birthday. After more than 30 years
on the farm, Annie moved to Rock City and died there in 1951.
Above: The Hufford family, year unknown. Front
row left to right: Mary Hufford, Franklin Hufford,
Annie Elizabeth (Derr) Hufford, Charles A. Hufford.
Back row left to right: Louis Henry Hufford, Mabel
Roberta Hufford, Edward Hufford, Cora A. Hufford,
Harry Leroy Hufford, Katherine Elizabeth Hufford,
Robert J. Hufford. Photo courtesy of Richard
Hufford, via
findagrave.com.
Gravesite of Frank and Annie Hufford, Rock City Cemetery
(Photo taken December 2013).
Above: 1913 plat map showing Frank Hufford as the owner of 74 acres where we now live. Across the road to
the north, and northwest, is land owned by Walter Lapp. His daughter
Grace (Lapp) Mullican would later live
in our house.
Above: According to the August 16, 1892 edition of the Sterling (IL)
Daily Gazette, Frank Hufford may have had a reputation for frugality.
Above: Two of Frank's sons are pictured in this photo from the 2002
Rock Run Country Historical Society calendar. Harry would later move
to Arcadia, California.
Above: Frank and Annie Hufford's son
Robert struggled with posttraumatic stress
disorder after his service in World War I.
This article appeared in the June 15, 1942
Freeport Journal-Standard.
Left: The November 24, 1942 edition of the
Freeport Journal-Standard advertised the sale
of the Hufford Farm.
Ransom "Tim" Meier was
the winning bidder.

Right: The Hufford family may have been
successful in having Robert admitted to the
Hines veteran's hospital. The 80 acres he
owned about a half-mile west of the Hufford
home was auctioned in April 1947. Robert
died in 1983.

Willard R. Thoren, the conservator, was
married to Robert's sister, Mabel. Two years
later, Thoren would become the president of
Rock City Bank.
Above: The house Frank Hufford bought in 1907 from James H. Babcock, at 203 N. Henderson Road in Freeport
(northeast corner of Henderson and Crocker). This home was near the Stover Manufacturing plant where Frank was
employed. The Huffords lived here prior to buying our house. In June of 1956, Edward "Red" Hufford wrote a letter to
the Freeport Journal-Standard in which he mentioned living in this house. At the time, Ed was living in Marionville,
Missouri, and recalled playing in "Goose Pasture" in his youth. This grassy field bordered Taylor Park on the west.

Frank Hufford may have owned this home for several years after buying the 74-acre property. Real estate records
through 1913 showed no sale of this house. When he bought the 74 acres, Frank borrowed $2,744.60, or about half of
the purchase price.
Above: This railroad bridge over Rock Run Creek was finished the same
year Frank Hufford died. The concrete bridge replaced a wooden
trestle bridge which was constructed in 1884. In the June 5, 1884
edition of the
Daily Journal and Republican newspaper (Freeport), the
wooden trestle was described as 300 feet long and made of 11 spans
of 30 feet each. A footing for one of those spans can be seen under the
iron span above.

The railroad is now long gone, but the concrete bridge structure is still
very visible from Illinois Route 75. According to local historian Dan
Buck, the iron span was still attached to the concrete until the 1980s.
This railroad was mostly likely the source of the train which spooked
Frank Hufford's horses in 1919.

Left: By the 1920s, automobiles were here to stay, and local
communities advocated for more paved roads. Illinois Route 75 was in
the planning stages when this article appeared in the Freeport
Journal-Standard on December 6, 1927. Several news articles appeared
in advance of the planning meeting in Freeport, which was attended by
Illinois Governor Len Small.

We suspect the general path of the highway was probably already
decided by this time, as Route 75 had been identified as early as 1923
in a proposed $100 million state bond issue for paved road
construction. While the expense of paving would be covered by the
bonds, the cost of purchasing the right-of-way for the highway would
be borne by Stephenson County taxpayers. In September 1928, the
Stephenson County board of supervisors more than doubled the
county highway tax levy to pay for land purchases for the new highway.

To help gather support for higher taxes, the Governor was summoned,
and the local communities were invited to send representatives to
advocate for their preferred routes between Freeport and Rockton.
The Davis contingent offered what is the most interesting option to us,
which was a route over a portion of what is now Farm School Road.
Although this was a secondary choice to the path where the highway
runs today, some Davis residents apparently thought it more fiscally
responsible to run the highway between Rock City and Davis on an
already established road. However, the diagonal path of the railroad
provided a shorter distance between those towns, so that's where the
highway was constructed.

Had the frugal Davis representatives got their way, our house would
now be a stone's throw from a state highway. So we're glad the road
planners kept Route 75 close to the railroad.

On a side note, the Master of Ceremonies for the "Good Roads"
meeting was David F. Graham, president of Freeport's Second National
Bank. David was the eldest son of John Graham, who owned our
property in the late-1800s.
Right: In 1939, the United States Department
of Agriculture contracted with Iowa Aerial
Surveys, Inc. to photograph Stephenson
County from the air in 1939. Their image of
our property and the 74 acres that it used to
be part of is shown at a time when Robert
Hufford was farming the land.