Biography of Adolph Danneffel

Source: Biographies of Van Buren Co., Michigan Residents in 1912 from A History of Van Buren County Michigan
By: Captain O.W. Rowland Volume II
Published by The Lewis Publishing Company Chicago and New York 1912

Adolph and Philippena (Phoebe) Danneffel

Germany has given to America some of its best and most intellectual citizens. From the Fatherland has come much that is great and good, and although our German-Americans cherish in their hearts a tender love for the native country, they have ever proven themselves among our best and most loyal patriots and encourage in their offspring the same devotion to their adopted land. Van Buren county is the home of some of the leading German-American citizens of the country, and prominent among these, one who has risen to the front rank of agriculturists of his section through the force of his own industry and persevering labor, is Adolph Danneffel, of Keeler township, who, by a long and honorable business career, a thoughtful interest in others and public-spirited efforts in behalf of his community, has made himself known and respected all over this part of the county. Mr. Danneffel was born in Baden, Germany, April 16, 1831, and is the third in a family of eight children born to George and Mary (Elgas) Danneffel.

George Danneffel, also a native of Germany, never left that country, where throughout his life he was engaged in agricultural pursuits and in school teaching. He and his wife were consistent members of the Roman Catholic faith, and they were interred in the cemetery of that denomination near their home. Those of their children who survive are: Adolph; Leopold, a veteran of the Franco-Prussian war, and now an agriculturist in Germany; Charles, who received an excellent education and is now engaged in farming in Germany; Otto, also a school teacher in the old country; Phillip, who like his brothers, is engaged in educational pursuits in the Fatherland; and Martha and Phillipine, who are residents of Germany. One son and one daughter have passed away.

Adolph Danneffel received a good education in the German language, and as a youth was apprenticed to the trade of shoemaker, which he followed in Germany until he reached his twenty-second year, at which time, not being satisfied with his prospects, he decided to come to the United States. In April 1854, he boarded a sailing vessel at Antwerp, and after a stormy voyage of thirty-three days, during which the passengers suffered the pangs of hunger and other hardships, finally landed at Castle Garden. On putting foot on American soil the sum total of the money between Adolph and his brother John Danneffel was one dollar and fifty cents, and with this they started out to make their fortunes among a strange people speaking a strange language. During the next three and one-half years Mr. Danneffel remained in New York state, working out as a farm hand at ten dollars per month, and about 1858 he came to Berrien county, Michigan, where he worked for a farmer during the summer. He then purchased eighty acres of wild land in Keeler township, Van Buren county, and this proved the nucleus for a magnificent farm of six hundred acres. On first settling here the country was a vast wilderness of timber land, in which still roamed wild beasts, and Indian camps were not unusual sights. The axe and the ox-team were the principal implements used in clearing and cultivating the land, in sharp contrast to the improved implements of today and the powerful machinery that is used to operate them. Mr. Danneffel's career is a striking example of what may be accomplished by a man who has the determination to succeed and the ability to carry this determination through. He has replaced the primitive log buildings of half a century ago with modern structures, a handsome residence and all necessary outbuildings, and his land is now some of the best in Van Buren county. Since 1903, when his wife died, he has resided on the old homestead with his youngest son, William. Mr. Danneffel stands square with the world, and he has always been honest and fair in all of his dealings with his fellow men. Always ready to stand up for what he believes to be right, he is, nevertheless, considerate of the feelings and opinions of others, and it is this sense of fairness that has made his name known and respected in his section.

Although in his eightieth year, Mr. Danneffel is in full possession of his faculties and his mind is as clear as when he came to this country many years ago, a poor immigrant boy looking for his fortunes in the new world,-clearer perhaps, for the years experience and observation have made him alert to all that is of interest to his community. He has always supported the principles of the Republican party, and cast his first vote for Abraham Lincoln. His fellow citizens have recognized his ability as a public official by electing him to positions of honor and trust, and he has served as director of the school district for six years, highway commissioner for two years, and the supervisor of his township for six years, and in none of these did he betray the confidence thus displayed in him. He has also at numerous times represented his party in county conventions, and as an official was ever alert to protect the people's interests. Now, in the evening of life, he can look back over a well-spent, useful career, content in the knowledge that there is not the slightest stain or blemish upon his record.

On March 14, 1857, Mr. Danneffel was married to Miss Phoebe Arndt, and seven sons and two daughters were born to this union, all of whom survive: George, a retired farmer of Benton Harbor, Michigan, is married and has two children, George and Saide; Mary, widow of Charles Swartz, resident of South Bend, Indiana, has one child, Charlie; Charles, a retired farmer of Benton Harbor, is married; Frank, living in Bainbridge, Michigan, is an agriculturist, and has three children, May, Herbert and Lymon; Adolph P., also an agriculturist of Bainbridge, is married and has two children, Florence and Lloyd; Catherine, the wife of Adelbert Salter, an agriculturist of Keeler township; Albert, who is farming in Keeler township, is married and has three children, Dean, Robert and Ward; Simon, also farming in Keeler township, is married and has two children, Edward and Margaret; and William, who is living on the old homestead with his father, married Miss Emma Mundt and has one child, Johnnie. Mr. Danneffel is a great-grandfather.

In 1880 he made a visit to his native land, where he remained four months, and then returned to his adopted county, more pleased than ever.