On this day, 31 December 1868, John Jacob Huffer, my 4th great-grandfather, passed away.
Born 16 March 1806, in Washington County, Maryland to parents Rev. John Huffer and Elizabeth Line, John Jacob Huffer joined elder brother Joseph L. Huffer, born 6 October 1800, and elder sisters Susanna Huffer, born 28 August 1802, and Nancy Huffer, born 5 April 1804.
When John Jacob was four-years-old, sister Sarah Huffer was born on 15 December 1810, in Rohrersville, Washington County, Maryland.
Sister Elizabeth Huffer was born four years later on 25 January 1814, in Rohrersville, Washington County, Maryland.
Three years after that, sister Magdalene Matilda Huffer was born on 5 November 1817.
Sister Sophia Huffer arrived the next year on 16 January 1818.
Brother Daniel Huffer was welcomed the following year on 14 December 1819.
In December 1822, brother George W. Huffer was born in Rohrersville, Washington County, Maryland
On 25 May 1824, sister Lydia Huffer was born in Rohrersville, Washington County, Maryland
On 21 May 1829, John Jacob Huffer married Leah Blecher, daughter of John Blecker and Barbara Furry. The marriage took place in Washington County, Maryland. John was 23 years old; Leah was 24.
The next year, the Huffers were enumerated in the 1830 U.S. Census. Residing in the District 6, Washington County, Maryland home were one free white male between the ages of 20 and 30 (John) and one free white female between the ages of 20 and 30 (John). Living next door were Leah’s parents, John and Barbara Blecker, and their younger children.
On 9 October 1831, about two years after their marriage, daughter Ruan Huffer was welcomed to the couple’s Washington County, Maryland home.
Daughter Elizabeth B. Huffer (my 3rd great-grandmother) arrived two years later on 1 February 1833.
Amidst all of these glad tidings, sadness struck when Leah’s father John Blecher died on 10 November 1834, Washington County, Maryland.
A few months later circa 1835, John and Leah had another son, whom they named John, after his grandfather and father.
About a year after baby John’s birth, another son joined the household, Alfred Calvin Huffer, who was born on 8 October 1836.
A third son, Jacob W., was welcomed to the Huffer’s Rohrersville, Washington County, Maryland home on 23 July 1838.
Then, on 4 March 1839, tragedy befell the Huffer household when son John, who was only around four years old, died. Heartbroken, his parents laid him to rest in the Mount Hebron Cemetery located in Keedysville, Washington County, Maryland.
A year later, on 14 June 1840, another son named Jonas Quincy Huffer was welcomed to the family.
That same year, the John Huffer family was enumerated in Pleasant Valley, Washington County, Maryland. Residing in the household were three free white males under the age of five (Alfred, Jacob, and Jonas), one free white male between the ages of 30 and 40 (John), two free white females between the ages of five and ten (Ruan and Elizabeth), and one free white female between the ages of 30 and 40 (Leah).
Two years later, John’s father, Rev. John Huffer, passed away at the age of 71 on 23 July 1842, in Rohrersville, Maryland. He was buried in the town cemetery.
Then, on 8 October 1842, John and Leah’s final child, Mary Catherine Huffer, was born.
On 7 August 1850, the Huffer family was enumerated in Election District 1 of Washington County, Maryland. Living in the farm, valued at $12,300, were John, a farmer (age 44), Leah (age 45), Ruan (age 18), Elizabeth (age 17), Alfred (age 13), Jacob (age 12), Jonas (age 9), and Mary C. (age 7). Also residing on the property was a 19-year-old farmhand named Corbin Adley.
A few months later in the fall/winter of 1850, daughter Ruan married George Henry Motter.
Several years passed without incident until 1 September 1858, when daughter Mary Catherine Huffer, just one month shy of her 16th birthday, died. The cause of her death is unknown. What is known is that a grief-stricken John and Leah Huffer laid their daughter to rest beside their son John in Mount Hebron Cemetery.
The next year, on 16 October 1859, approximately 20 miles away, John Brown and his Provisional Army of the United States took possession of the United States Armory and Arsenal at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. The raid drew militia companies and federal troops from Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. On 18 October 1859, twelve Marines broke down the door of the Armory’s fire engine house, taking Brown and the remaining raiders captive.
Two months later, son Alfred Calvin Huffer married Sarah Ann Toms on 2 December 1859.
On 2 August 1860, the Huffer family was still living on their farm in the Boonsboro District of Washington County, Maryland. Residing in the home were John Jacob (age 55), Leah (age 55), son Jacob (age 22), son Jonas (age 20), and servant Jane Keller (age 16). The farm was valued at $22,000 and their personal property was worth $3,000.
In the fall/early winter of that year, son Jacob W. Huffer wed Sarah Ann Elizabeth (maiden name unknown) in Washington County, Maryland. Also married during that time period was son Jonas Quincy Huffer to Mary E. Nikirk.
Meanwhile, the nation was rocked when on 12 April 1861, a shot was fired on Fort Sumter in the Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. With that shot, the Civil War began. Nearly 500 miles away in western Maryland, sympathies were divided between neighbors and within families; some were loyal to the Union while others supported the Confederate cause.
Meanwhile, Gen. Robert E. Lee, after invading western Maryland, marched on Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia) on 14 September 1862. The Army of the Potomac under Major Gen. George B. McClellan pursued the Confederates to Frederick, Maryland, then advanced on South Mountain near Boonsboro. Pitched battles were fought for possession of the South Mountain passes—Crampton’s, Turner’s, and Fox’s Gaps. By dusk, the Confederate defenders, suffering severe casualties, were driven back. McClellan attacked Lee’s Army before they could regroup. However, McClellan’s limited activity on 15 September 1862, after his victory at South Mountain, allowed Lee time to unite his scattered divisions at Sharpsburg and capture the garrison at Harpers Ferry.
Then, on 17 September 1862, less than ten miles from the Huffer home, the Battle of Antietam was waged. It was the bloodiest single-day battle in American history, pitting the Army of the Potomac, numbered at 87,164, against the Army of Northern Virginia, numbered at 38,000. After the last shot was fired and the dust and smoke had cleared, 2,108 Union soldiers were dead, 9,549 were wounded, and 753 were captured or missing. For the Confederates, 1,567 soldiers were dead, 7,752 were wounded, and 1,018 were captured or missing.
The new year heralded the abolition of slavery throughout America when on 1 January 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
Unfortunately, not long after this historic occasion, John’s wife, Leah (Blecher) Huffer, died at the age of 58 on 19 January 1863. She was buried in the nearby Boonsboro Cemetery.