Photo Above - Poffenbarger Building, built 1900, New Boston, Illinois. To see the interior as a general store Click. More below.
Alternate Spelling - Puffenbarger
Links - Prouty,
Woodruff, Larrance, Mongerson
Contacts - Bertie Cowlham, descendant of Josias Poffenbarger (furnished the photos at the bottom of the page); Joy Norton, descendant of Elias Poffenbarger (Joy has access to the work of Benita Grooms); Dave Poffenbarger, descendant of Bert Poffenbarger; Dawn Wolfe-Fisher, descendant of Bert Poffenbarger
Michael and Barbara Putnam Poffenbarger
Michael and Barbara Putnam Poffenbarger were the progenitors of the Mercer County Poffenbargers. In his 1880 census record Michael states his father was born aboard ship and his mother born in Maryland, so it appears Michael's father was the first of the family in America.
According to the History of Mercer County 1882 Mr. Michael Poffenbarger settled in New Boston in 1840. He and his wife were charter members of the Baptist Society organized in New Boston Township in 1844. His wife apparently died thereafter as he was married in Mercer County on 4/26/1849 to Mrs. Sarah Woodruff, widow of Truman Woodruff . He was elected an officer of the New Boston Lodge No. 59 of the Masons in 1852. In 1857 his second wife, Sarah, became a charter member of the Presbyterian Society of New Boston Township. According to census records, Michael was a blacksmith, born Maryland about 1800. Joy Norton tells us that Michael's first wife's name was Barbara Putnam and that she is buried in New Boston Cemetery. We find her listed in the tombstone records - Barbary Ann Poffenbarger, but no dates listed. They are thought to have come through Columbus, Ohio, on their way West.
In the 1850 census for T14N R5W (future New Boston Township), Michael Poffenbarger is listed as age 50, born Maryland, owning property valued at $1100. Sarah is age 40, born New York. Michael's children by his first wife are listed as: Elias, age 14, born Ohio; Delilah, age 9, born Illinois; Catharine, age 11, born Illinois. Sarah's daughter Eveline Woodruff, age 16, born Indiana, is living with the family. There is also a William Rickupp, age 20, laborer, born England, in the household. A Cyrus Poffenbarger, age 13, born Illinois, is enumerated with the Samuel Willits family living not far away. This is probably another son of Michael's who may have been bound out. Perhaps two teenage boys were too much for his new wife to handle. (His name was probably actually Josias, see below.)
An Elizabeth Poffenbarger married H. C. Robinson on 2/12/1849 in Mercer County. There is a widowed Elizabeth Robinson living in Viola in 1860, age 46, born Virginia. Curiously, the 1850 census gives Michael Poffenbarger's birthplace as Virginia instead of Maryland. If this is the right Elizabeth she would have been too old to be Michael's daughter and might have been a sister or cousin, or a widow of a relative. Joy Norton tells us family lore has it that Elizabeth, daughter of Michael, went to Australia.
There are two advertisements in the Aledo Weekly Record that indicate Michael Poffenbarger was in partnership with one Leaming. One dated December 15, 1846:
"Horse Shoeing - Poffenbarger and Leaming are prepared to shoe horses on short notice and in the most substantial manner. We would remind our customers, however, that this branch of our business is extraordinarily laborious, uses up material costing us cash, and our charges are so low that we must expect punctual payment of all comers." The advertisement dated March 27, 1847, reads: "Plows! Ploughs! Plows! Poffenbarger and Leaming being prepared to enter extensively into manufacture of their well known ploughs, invite the orders of merchants and traders throughout the county who may wish to supply themselves with this useful implement of husbandry. Wherever their plows have been used, they have met with universal approval, and as they are guaranteed to perform as well as the best of any pattern or manufacture, there can be no risk in purchasing them either for use or to sell. A liberal reduction upon our usual prices will be made in buying by the dozen." Locally made machinery such as this contributed greatly to the successful growth of Mercer County (See Part 3 of the History). We have no further information on the individual called Leaming.
Michael Poffenbarger presented a bill to the estate of Isaac Willits 22 May 1845. It is an interesting example of the type of blacksmith work that he did and of the barter system of payment. The bill was originally $14.89. Credit was given on the bill for cotton cloth, $1.00, flour, 27 pounds at 2 cents per pound, 54 cents, difference in trade (unspecified), $2.00, leaving a balance due of $11.35. The credit was added on at the time the bill was presented and probably represented items purchased at Isaac's estate sale. The bill accumulated as follows: May 1842, 1 bolt, 25 cents; August 1842, Swingletree ironed, 25 cents, repairing hanes, $1.19, ironing bolster, $1.69, September 1843, repairing buggy, $3.50, ironed wheels & axel and ironed bolster, $8.00. Carrying debts such as this probably prompted the inclusion of the plea for prompt payment in the ad that Michael placed above.
More on the Poffenbarger Children
Elias Poffenbarger Family
Son Elias Poffenbarger, age 36 (actually 26 per other census records), born Ohio, blacksmith, is living in New Boston Township in 1860. His wife is Eliza, age 32, born Indiana. They have no children but have not been married for long. According to Mercer County marriage records, Elias married Mrs. Eliza Hoover on 2/2/1859. This is the Eliza Woodruff who married John Hoover on 12/1/1846. The Hoover marriage apparently didn't "take" as Eliza remarried in 1859 and John Hoover remarried in 1860. Eliza was sister-in-law of Sarah Woodruff Poffenbarger. Living with Elias and Eliza are Eveline Woodruff, age 10, born Illinois, and Ladema Woodruff, age 28, domestic, born Indiana. (These relationships are examined on the Woodruff page).
Elias and family are found in New Boston in 1870: Elias Poffenbarger, 36, blacksmith, born Ohio; Eliza, 41, born In; Frank, 7, Il; Burt, 5, Il.
Elias and family are found in New Boston in the 1880 census: Elias Poffenbarger, age 46, blacksmith, born Ohio, father born Maryland, mother born Virginia; Eliza, age 50, born Indiana, parents born New York; Frank, age 17, and Bert age 15, both born
Illinois. There is a Leo Hunt, age 24, blacksmith, working in the blacksmith shop, born Baden, Germany.
David Poffenbarger, a descendant of Elias, tells us that the building above was originally a hardware or general store; he furnished a wonderful photo of the interior of the building in 1915 (linked above). He also tells us that Elias's son Bert was a mason, so likely Elias and Bert were the "builders" of the building. The building was converted to a bank in 1929. While that bank failed, when the above photo was taken in 1997 (by Betty Welch), it was again a bank. An article in the Moline Dispatch 2/11/1996 confirms that Elias was builder of the building, and that it housed city hall before its present conversion to a bank.
Bert Poffenbarger married Ethel Jane Larrance 10/14/1885 in Toolesboro, Iowa. She was daughter of Americas and Rebecca Drew Larrance.
Catherine Poffenbarger Prouty
Daughter Catherine Poffenbarger married Simon H. Prouty on 8/2/1858 (license date). They are living with the Amos Prouty family in the 1860 census and have a daughter May D., one year old. Simon and Catherine went to Harvey County, Kansas, with the Prouty wagon train in 1871.
Delilah Poffenbarger Quayle
Daughter Delilah Poffenbarger married William Quayle on 3/3/1859. They are not found in the 1860 Mercer County census, but William did sign the New Boston Township Militia Rolls in 1862/63. Delilah apparently died young as William Quayle married Christine Moline sometime in the 1870's (see Mongerson page).
Josias Poffenbarger Family
Josias Poffenbarger married Sarah Jane Lowry on 10/1/1861 in Mercer County. They are not found in the 1870 census in Mercer County.
In the 1880 census in Eliza Township, Josias is listed as a wagonmaker, age 43, crippled, born Ohio, father born Maryland, mother born Canada. This may be the person listed as Cyrus in the 1850 census as age 13, since the age is right. There is a Cyrus Poffenbarger, age 22, laborer, born Illinois, living with the Courtney Drury family in New Boston Township in 1860. In 1860 Sarah Lowry was living with the William Drury family in New Boston Township as a domestic, age 22, born Pennsylvania. This is probably the best clue that Cyrus and Josias may be one and the same and that he and Sarah met through the Drury family.
Sarah J., wife of Josias, is listed as age 42 in the 1880 census, born Pennsylvania, and both parents born Pennsylvania. Josias and Sarah have children Ada, age 18, born Illinois; Fred, age 15, born Illinois; Virgie (female) age 5, born Illinois; and Leo, born February 1880, Illinois. Daughter Adda married Charles E. Kennedy on 12/22/1885 in Mercer County.
A further clue in the Cyrus/ Josias mystery is found in the New Boston Township militia rolls of 1862 where "Josiah Poffenbarger" was the second person enrolling. There is no listing for a "Cyrus." Elias Poffenbarger also enrolled in New Boston Township. A check of the Illinois Civil War rosters does not find a listing for the Poffenbargers.
Cemetery Records in New Boston Cemetery
From DAR walkdown of the cemeteries in the 1960's
Vol 2, Page 16
Francis M. Poffenbarger 1853-1941
Vol 2, Page 33
Bert Poffenbarger 14 March 1865-22 Sep 1927
Ethel J. Poffenbarger 26 Sep 1865-May 21, 1932
Elias Poffenbarger 11 Aug 1834-30 Nov 1917
Eliza Poffenbarger 24 Dec 1829-20 Nov 1901
Frank Poffenbarger 3 Jan 1863-15 Aug 1944
Richard Lee Poffenbarger 29 Apr 1887-10 Dec 1948
Vernon Lee Poffenbarger 1922-1926
Vol 2, Page 54
Barbary Ann Poffenbarger, wife of Michael (no dates)
William Poffenbarger, son of M. & B. A. died 7/21/1848 age 2 yr 2 mo
Vol 2, Page 63
Oren L. Poffenbarger 1896-1923
Right: Josias & Sarah Poffenbarger
Below: Elias Poffenbarger
Far Below: Josias and daughter-in-law Addie Poffenbarger (married Fred)
Photos courtesty of