The Huffords
Frank and Annie Hufford before their marriage in 1874.
Photo courtesy of Richard Hufford, via
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
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
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.
Left: The house Frank Hufford bought in 1907 from
James H. Babcock, at 203 N. Henderson Road in
Freeport (northeast corner of Henderson and
This home was near the Stover
Manufacturing plant where Frank was employed. T
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.
Above: 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.